Would you like to be more visible in the world? … but everything inside you screams “Stop! You won’t be safe! People won’t understand me! They never have.”
Many of you will connect with this email that I got today:
“I never realized that I was a highly sensitive individual, but I heard an interview with you, and your words hit me deeply and profoundly. For once, after 49 years, I realized there really isn’t anything wrong with me – I’m just a highly sensitive person – and that has helped me immensely! I am starting to come to terms with that knowledge and I am learning to stop beating myself up.
“I have felt that I have lived most of my life at 1/2 speed – afraid to be who I am and use my gifts and talents – too often felt I couldn’t do things – afraid to fail so I held myself back. I have made some progress in my life- I can’t say that my ENTIRE life has been a waste, but I am at a point in my life where I am feeling stuck in fear and have been looking for a partner to help me get past this. Your work, and your deep understanding of my nature feels like it would be a great benefit to my ability to move forward in my life.
“I lost my job over a year ago, and although, by the Grace of God, I am managing financially- I know this is a crossroads – the time to find my authentic path and face my life with strength, determination, confidence and without the crippling fear, doubt and unworthiness that has plagued me most of my life. I don’t want to die with the music still inside of me, and I fear that if I don’t get help to move past these blocks, that will be my fate.”
These paragraphs reflect the story the Kelly is telling herself about her life, a story that has kept her spirit caged. It also indicates that she is ready now to open to her own music! It is a revelation to discover that you have been good all along.
We all tell stories about who we are and what is possible for us in the world all the time. Everything we do and say tells this story. We get so practiced at telling it that we believe it is true. Especially if this is a story that we picked up in our family of origin as a child. Maybe someone told you you were stupid, or wrong somehow. Maybe that message came from your parent or your teacher or a sibling in a look, or a gesture, or an action—and you, in your child mind, decided that it meant something bad about you.
Now your story about yourself has possibly turned into limiting behavior, and even body symptoms.
Maybe you stay sheltered at home, kind of hiding out, or in an unchallenging job, or your life is filled with trying to meet the expectations of other people. Maybe it feels like that has been your only way to get love and approval and a sense of belonging.
Maybe you have even manifested an illness, or chronic emotional or physical pain, which is not fun but at least it allows you to say NO when you need to. And then you have time to do what you want to do.
So you keep on keeping on, soldiering on, wishing your life would change but having no clue how to make that happen. (And maybe there is even a little voice in the back of your head that is saying, “Yeah, but if I change, then what? Who would I be? I won’t know how to be in the world without my pain/anger/fear/self-criticism! It is safer to stay where I am…”)
A lot of spiritually sensitive people are hiding in traditional jobs that feel soul-killing. Having a strong sense of perfection, they do their work exceptionally well, trying to meet the expectations of those around them. But inside they are tense, tight, sad and angry.
They can’t express these feelings though, or maybe they are no longer even noticing that these are the feelings that they have. They think that their anger or sadness is just more evidence that there is something wrong with them. If I were a better person I wouldn’t be feeling this way. It is my fault! I should just suck it up and get on with it – quit whining!
From many years of working with people with a spiritually sensitive temperament, I know that they have been swallowing and stuffing those difficult feelings for a long long time.
Now they are feeling overwhelmed. They are either extremely touchy with explosive anger, or they have turned the anger in on themselves as self criticism. By now, these buried feelings may be showing up as chronic pain or a chronic immune system illness, or ongoing emotional pain in the form of depression.
Sensitive people may stay away from crowds, afraid or shy to develop a social life or engage with the world. They feel vulnerable and invisible.
OR, they are outwardly very extroverted, life-of the party types.
But, as one person told me:
I realized that other people seemed dangerous to me. So when I am with people I am actually over here to the side of my body. I didn’t want anyone to see me, that was too dangerous. I created a lot of clamor, extroverted activity so no one would see me. I seemed very extroverted. I also drank socially. Drinking would take the cork out of my inhibitions. I would be a very amusing great storyteller. Creating a whirlwind activity, noise, interesting things to look at or hear, so no one would ever notice the real me over there. A diversionary camouflage.
It is not that it was unauthentic. This is what I would do if I could really be alive. Life really comes down to knowing: do I like this or not? When you are outside your body you don’t know. There is this terrible starvation going on. I am terrified of intimacy. I lost the ability to be alone with myself, or to be myself, or with myself, or with anyone else.
Unbeknownst to to me I was deeply unhappy but I thought that was just the deal. (Sarah)
It turned out that the woman who sent me the email at the beginning of this article had also volunteered to be the tapper in my most recent monthly complimentary teleclass. She sent me her “Story Map.”
I ask potential tapping volunteers to fill out what I call a Story Map. It is a way of getting your story down on paper so you can think more clearly about it. Even just filling out the Story Map can be a triggering, and then a healing, experience. Once you have the story put together, you can lift some of the phrases and create tapping routines for yourself out of them.
Try it for yourself! Here is Kelly’s Story Map. You can tap for her phrases, and add your own as they occur to you. The Story Map Phrases are in bold, and Kelly’s completions are below each phrase.
STORY MAP ~~~~~~~~~~~
I have to be PERFECT because
If I am perfect, maybe my parents will love me.
A belief (behavior, outlook on life, self-image…) about PERFECTION that I got from my family is
I never felt loved or protected by my parents and MAYBE if I was perfect they would love me.
That has created a problem in my life because (or when – )
I am really hard on myself – expect myself to be perfect which is not attainable. I have developed a way of treating myself and I am seldom loving and compassionate with myself.
A good example of that was that (particular, specific) time when
When I lost my job, I was so angry with myself that I was feeling suicidal. I couldn’t see things getting better – could not see that things would get better.
The worst part of that particular incident was
I wasted so much time in worry, doubt and fear.
That made me feel
Like I wanted to die – I couldn’t see things getting better. I just kept feeling like my life was spiraling downward- that I was being punished.
It made me think I was
Unworthy of life.
I feel that in my body here:
my gut would be really tight- my breathing was consistently shallow.
Sometimes I even think maybe I don’t deserve
to find my life’s purpose – and find the job that suits ME.
But deep inside, I yearn for
To find a job/career where I am valued for my gifts and talents. Where I can be me – where I am challenged and rewarded and accepted.
If I had that I would feel
That all of the challenges were a part of the journey. The bad experiences helped to create the contrast that showed me what is possible and I am worthy of having a satisfying and rewarding career that uses my natural gifts and talents.
So now… I forgive myself. I was doing the best I could. I choose to ___________instead.
Let go of the past – find more loving ways to be with me – to forgive me and see the perfection in all that my life has been.
If reading this Story Map itself is triggering for you, you may want to begin by just reading the Story Map aloud to yourself, tapping while you do, until you can read it easily. It would be a good idea to expand on the specific experience in your own life that you choose as an example of this belief and story.
Tease out all the disturbing elements of it, and tap for them until you can think about the incident without reacting emotionally. Then turn to tapping for other elements of the Story Map. It is a very useful tool!
With my love and blessings to you –