Why Sensitive People Need to Find Our Balance Before We Can Make a Difference in the World

Why sensitive people need to find our balancebefore we can make a difference

Most people with emotional overexcitability care passionately about making the world a better place. But if we’re not careful, our acute sensitivity to injustice and tragedy can leave us flooded by negative emotion.

So how do we find out what’s going on in the world so we can contribute positively without feeling  overwhelmed?  And how do we teach our sensitive children to find their balance?

One evening last week my 11-year-old son came to me in tears.

“I keep thinking our plane’s going to crash or the boat’s going to sink when we go on holiday.”

Despite his imaginational and emotional OE, Jasper isn’t prone to these kind of worries, so I was curious what had triggered him. He told me that after we upgraded his computer to Windows 10, world news stories had begun appearing automatically on his home screen. (“I see all the murders – everywhere!”)

I wonder if the reason Jasper hadn’t got anxious before is because I stopped following the news a long time ago.

I figure that if anything’s that important I’ll hear about it somehow. I see newspaper headlines at petrol stations and subtitled news programmes at the gym, and every fortnight I read the kids’ newspaper NewsAdemic.

I inform myself politically before I vote, I research which charities to support, and I counter the media’s distorted emphasis on tragedy by subscribing to the Good News Network.

The world needs all kinds of people

Some people can deal with life dispassionately and logically. They aren’t overwhelmed by their negative emotions, even when they look directly at tragic situations. Does that make them bad, uncaring people? Of course not. Society needs people who can respond to crises quickly and practically.

And the world also needs the people who are so sensitive and empathic, whose compassion runs so deep that it takes them a while to find their emotional equilibrium when bad things happen.

How do we find our balance?

Here’s my approach:

(1) Be careful what you’re exposed to. If watching the news on TV leaves you so stressed that you shout at your kids,  don’t watch it. If reading the headlines depresses and drains you, don’t read them. We’re no good to anyone – our families or the wider world – if we don’t take care of our own emotional wellbeing.

(2) Have strategies to help you recover when you’re triggered by upsetting events you read or hear about. Go somewhere green for a walk, watch your favourite comedy show, meditate, chat with an upbeat friend or read a funny novel – whatever works for you.

I’m not suggesting we slap a happy face sticker over our empty fuel tanks. We need to acknowledge and be present to our negative emotions. But we also need to know when and how to reach for better feelings.

(3) Increase your resilience by doing things that nurture your emotional wellbeing as part of your daily routine.

(4) Seek out a life philosophy that helps you make sense of the world. Whether it’s mindfulness, a spiritual faith, transforming pain into art, or finding solace and wisdom in a book – keep searching for what works for you.

Model a powerful outlook to children

I started writing this post to help me process the shock and sadness I felt last Friday when 52% of the population of my country – motivated, it seemed to me, by bigotry and short-sighted greed – voted to leave the European Union.

Cordie (12), who knows a lot about current affairs thanks mainly to the intelligent YouTubers she follows, was disappointed by the referendum result too, but she was puzzled by the intensity of my upset.

“I don’t understand why this is affecting you so much,” she said, with genuine compassion.

“Because … it’s our future,” was all I could reply, still reeling from the implications of what my country had just so casually thrown away.

“But Mummy, everything’s our future.”

Here was my little girl reflecting back to me the outlook I’ve modelled to her throughout her childhood. Life is so much more than one bad news story, however devastating it feels.

I gave myself another hour clicking sad, empathetic emoticons on my friends’ FaceBook feeds, then I sat down to watch The Big Bang Theory with my family.

Politics can wait until I’ve found my balance.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

John Lennon

Further reading

Sensitivity, Empathy and Compassion Fatigue – What Can You Do?  Your Rainforest Mind

Top 3 Tips to Up Your Energy and Resilience Level – PowerWood

* * *

How do you find your balance when world events  rock your world?

How do you help your children find their balance?

I’d love to hear from you, in the comments on on the Laugh, Love, Learn FaceBook page. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Why Sensitive People Need to Find Our Balance Before We Can Make a Difference in the World

    1. Thank you, Paula – and thank you for writing your post! I’ve just downloaded your book … really looking forward to reading it. 🙂

  1. We were following Brexit from the other side of the world and scratching our heads, wondering what this really means and what the motivation was.

    On a different note, I’d love to know the youtubers that your children follow.

    Our favourites are:
    – It’s Okay to be Smart (oh, I do love Joe)
    – How to Make Everything
    – Mental Floss
    – Sci Show
    – Crash Course
    and the website called unplugthetv.com which has a great mix of all of these and more.
    As you can see, the flavour is nerdy and sciencey :o)

    1. Hello M!

      A lot of us on this side of the world are also scratching our heads and wondering what the 12 million people who voted ‘Leave’ were thinking, too. 😐

      Okay so I just asked Cordie for some of her current favourite YouTubers. Of course she mentioned Crash Course, Sci Show and Mental Floss, and she’s keen to check out How to Make Everything and It’s Okay to be Smart (as am I) – thank you. 🙂 We also like Veritasium and Vsauce.

      Both Cordie and Jasper also love Dan is not on Fire and The Amazing Phil, who are British and very funny apparently. Cordie warned that one of the two (I forget which) swears, but whichever one it is is also the funniest, she says. (Edit: I just started watching Dan and Phil. Very OE and funny. Not ‘educational’ in the usual sense but very good for reminding us intense and sensitive types that we’re not alone, and uplifting us enormously at the same time. Just the thing to take one’s mind off politics!)

      1. Oh my, Dan and Phil!
        My two older daughters (22 and 19) LOVE Dan and Phil. The ones they’ve shown me are really very funny.
        They are coming to Australia but our local show sold out in under 1hr. Oh no! My girls are watching and hoping they add extra shows.

        Dan and Phil remind us of British versions of our Australian duo Hamish and Andy. Also not educational, but lots and lots of fun.

        PS We have no problem with the odd bit of swearing.
        PPS Our favourite series on How to Make Everything is the suit. It has quite a few episodes and each is really fascinating and very entertaining. If you watch it, be sure to watch to the very, very end of the final episode :o)
        PPPS I’m quite happy to admit that I have a nerd-crush on Joe from It’s Okay to be Smart

        1. Wow – How to Make Everything is amazing! Really brings home how much work goes into the everyday products we take completely for granted. I see what you mean about how the suit turned out. ?

          I checked out Hamish and Andy, too – v funny.

          I’ll cross my fingers for extra This-Amazing-Tour-is-not-on-Fire dates over there for your girls!

          Thank you for sharing. Perhaps I should write a post to share our faves with everyone…

          PS I see what you mean about Joe Smart 😉 (Even though the first episode I found was about allergies and all the sniffling was a bit triggering!)

          1. I’d love to read more about the sorts of things your two children enjoy. There aren’t many blogs about homeschooled, high-ability, unschoolish children of this age, so I grasp at anything I can find. I’m always keen to hear what others use and enjoy as learning resources, but also just for fun.
            I’m also always keen to know what the parents read, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m sure it was you that put me on to The Rosie Project, possibly one of my favourite books of all time!
            PS Knew you’d love Andy and Joe!
            Here’s one of my faves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_RLz0whDv4

          2. M, I just typed a long reply to your lovely comment and then clicked on the YouTube link and lost it all – doh! ?

            Anyway what did I say..? I thanked you for always being so inspiring. I too would love to hear more about the kind of things children like ours (and adults like us) enjoy. I shall have a think and put something together, and I look forward to hearing what you and your daughters like too, and hopefully a few others will join us.

            Books… I LOVE The Rosie Project! (and the sequel). Definitely one of my all-time favourite books. I think you’d like ‘Man at the Helm’ by Nina Stibbe. I liked it so much that even though I only finished it yesterday I’m going to listen again with Cordie when we finish our current audiobook (‘Off to be the Wizard’ by Scott Meyer – also nerd-good.) The young narrator (of Man at the Helm) is definitely one of us.

            Now you’ve got me thinking… I shall have a good scroll through my Audible library and put together a post of all our/my faves. I’d love to hear yours, too!

            And thank you for the YouTube link, which I am going to check out carefully now after I press ‘send’!

  2. Glad I’m not alone with screening news reporting. I have always found it affected my mood negatively but thought I ‘should’ know what was going on so listened to Radio 4 news (lack of visuals helped reduce the impact). Once I realised that my daughter was taking it all in at the tender age of 3yrs (“what does abuse mean Mummy?”) I switched even that off. (Like you, I do keep in touch with world events and do my research before voting.) Thank you for validating my decision and introducing me to the Good News Network! As ever I find your posts thoughtful, interesting and informative.

    1. Kirsty, I’m so sorry – I was just looking over this post and realised I hadn’t replied to your comment! Not sure what happened there.

      Thank you for your kind words, and I’m very happy to share the Good News Network. 🙂

      It’s funny how we take action much more quickly when we can see the impact the (bad) news has on our kids, isn’t it?

      I once worked with a hypnotherapy client who said she couldn’t sleep at night – instead of sleeping she’d find herself lying awake feeling anxious about the world. When we discussed her evening routine, I discovered she’d fall asleep every night in front of the 10 o clock news. She hadn’t seen the connection!

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