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November 10, 2016

Protecting my Sensitive Self: How to Cope with Anxiety about the World.

I can’t bear to watch the news any longer.

I am trying to have faith—in myself, in other people, in our country—but I often feel like I am hanging onto gossamer threads.

Negativity seems to dominate. And sometimes I worry that my light is not enough to spread hope, keep peace and help people feel valued again. I get on Facebook and I don’t know what the words are that will heal, calm people’s anxiety, and settle my own worries.

I’m ashamed to say that sometimes I’ve stayed quiet. I worry that speaking up would make me a target somehow. A cousin once told me, “You’ll know the leaders because they are the ones with a knife in their back.” That idea scared me into silence for too long.

I stayed small trying to protect my heart and my little family from the negativity. I hid my light so as not to attract attention from the bullies. I doubted myself, thinking I couldn’t handle the criticism.

The violence, racism and deep division in the world is unfathomable, and it makes me feel vulnerable and sensitive. I not only hear the reports, but feel the heavy energy of these horrible, unspeakable stories.

There is a growing discourse that being sensitive like me is a curse. Many believe that those of us who are more sensitive than others fall victim to the negativity more than our cavalier peers.

I disagree. I think being sensitive has been my greatest blessing. Even though I feel vulnerable watching the news. Even though I have to work to find my faith again. This effort invites me to a more conscious life. It is from the mindfulness of my vulnerability that I can find my invulnerability: my beliefs.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

If I believe that I am sensitive and overwhelmed by negativity, that will happen.

If I believe my light can shine so bright that anything negative can be quelled, that will happen.

I’m done limiting how I show up in the world. I’m done hiding. I’m going to take the blessing of being sensitive and let go of the curse. I’m not interested in avoiding negativity. I want to help heal it. The weight of the world is not on my shoulders, but bringing a peaceful world out of my heart is.

There are two ways I handle the negativity of others. One is believing that even though I feel it, I don’t have to allow it close to me. Being sensitive doesn’t mean I don’t have a choice as to what I take into my heart. I absolutely have a choice. Once empowered by this, I no longer feel vulnerable. I don’t have to avoid the news or negative people. I can stand in my light and trust myself.

The other way I handle negativity is to meditate on the light. Every morning, I meditate on feeding and growing this light. Instead of a light that attracts and zaps mosquitoes, I turn my high beams on and push them out from all sides of me. I imagine this light as a powerful outward pressure and this makes me feel strong, and more able to trust myself—like nothing can get me if I don’t let it. I conjure this image before I do anything else.

I can be knocked down, and I have been, and then I can get back up. I can be called names and still know who I am. I can hear horrific stories of abuse. See the hopelessness in someone’s eyes. I can be with people in pain and seek to fully understand them, and still know without a shadow of a doubt that there is good in the world. I can hold that space and allow people to be who they are in that moment and show them how important they are. And give them a little bit of love. Even if they don’t accept it now. It is right there for them, and for their whole lives if they want to say yes to it.

Sensitivity is a blessing. We feel a bit more. We love a bit more. And we don’t have to have faith in the world; we just have to grow our faith in ourselves.

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Bonus: a little love from our editor in chief, Waylon Lewis:

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Author: Jodi Aman

Image: Penelope Dullaghan

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Jodi Aman

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