Before I learned this one tool I used to dread going into any public space.
I am no longer flooded with anxiety or negative self-talk when I go into a crowded space such as a gym, a grocery store, a shopping mall and the workplace. Now I’m equipped with this one tool that changed the game for me and gave me the comfort to know I can handle anything that comes my way.
I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and one might not know this by looking at me, but on the inside I’m hyperaware and I easily pick up on the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the people around me, as if they were my own. It can be hard to tell the difference if a person doesn’t know what to look for when meeting someone who is like me.
When a Highly Sensitive Person goes into a store, a gym, a restaurant or any crowded place, we might start to pick up on the thoughts and feelings around us that other people are suppressing or repressing.
Picking up on all of these energies can overwhelm our sensitive system if we don’t have the tools to thrive in these situations. Let’s be honest, Highly Sensitive People without the tools to manage life’s obstacles are faced with overwhelm and anxiety on a daily basis. That can be very difficult to navigate.
An example of how Highly Sensitive People function
While I was working out at the gym something very strange happened. I suddenly became overwhelmed with the urge to cover up my legs and hide my body from being seen. The urge was so strong that I wanted to run out of the gym.
This sudden feeling of discomfort that washed over me made me remember that just before I walked into the gym I was not experiencing any of these awkward feelings. This had me wondering why I was going to that place of negative self-talk and low self-esteem.
I paused what I was doing for a moment and took a deep breath. I asked myself “What’s really going on here?” and “What can I do to change this?”
As soon as I asked myself those questions, I remembered that I was probably picking up on the thoughts or feelings from someone else at the gym. I may have actually been aware of many people at the gym who had body insecurities.
This realization allowed me to know that the dislike of my legs did not belong to me. It was in fact my heightened sensitivity picking up on what others were feeling around me.
How To Release What’s Weighing You Down
That awareness that I was picking up on other people’s thoughts gave me a sigh of relief. I remembered a tool I learned that goes like this.
Every time I have a thought-feeling or emotion that doesn’t belong to me, I ask myself, “Does this belong to me?” If I suddenly feel a little better just by asking the question, then I know that energy was not mine.
A tiny secret I’ll share here is that almost all of our thoughts, feelings and emotions don’t originate from us. We pick them up all of our lives and we get so used to holding on to them that they feel like they are our own.
Once we ask “Does this belong to me?” and we feel a little better, say in your head “I release those thoughts and feelings that don’t belong to me.”
This is when we will feel a huge relief as we peel back the layers of other people’s stuff that have been weighing us down.
I certainly didn’t want to hold on to the thoughts and feelings of negative self-talk and low self-esteem, so when I released those feelings I felt like lead weights had been removed from my ankles. It was freeing!
Now, anytime I go to the gym or any public or crowded place (including school, work, the mall or even the grocery store) I am careful to look for negative self-talk or feelings of low self esteem that seem to appear out of the blue, and I let them go immediately.
When I find myself feeling unhappy or have emotions or thoughts that feel “off,” I ask myself if it actually belongs to me or if I’m being aware of other people around me and their insecurities or judgments that they are thinking about.
Anytime I feel a thought, feeling or emotion sneak it’s way into my thoughts, I acknowledge it by asking “Does this belong to me?” and let it go if I feel better after asking the question.
I wonder how much more consistently confidant we could feel without taking on other people’s limiting beliefs? I invite us all to peel away the layers of other people’s energy and free ourselves to feel like ourselves again.
Author: Ashley Stamatinos
Editor: Jean Weiss
Photographer: Estitxu Carton/Flickr