I am a very sensitive person. Sometimes I feel so emotional about things it is difficult for me to function properly. Last year I went through a very bad breakup. I felt so awful about it that I wrote a blog post thinking that I was actually about to have a heart attack. For days I had barely eaten, barely slept and there was this persistent thump, thump, thump in my chest that made me feel constantly sick, constantly on-edge and very unwell.
I have felt strong emotions like this before. If you have ever nearly fallen (from a height) and righted yourself, you may have noticed that your body reacted. You may have felt a strong surge of energy flood your nervous system, heightening your senses. Some things our bodies do are instinctual and we have no cognitive control over them. Don’t believe me? Well, consider the knee-jerk reaction.
Could I control my body’s reflexes, if I tried really hard?
This is properly known as the Patellar reflex. Basically (as we all know) if you bang your knee, it jerks up. It doesn’t matter how much you try to control this instinctive reflex, it just happens independently of your conscious intentions.
From Wikipedia: “Striking the patellar ligament with a reflex hammer just below the patella stretches the muscle spindle in the quadriceps muscle. This produces a signal which travels back to the spinal cord and synapses (without interneurons) at the level of L4 in the spinal cord, completely independent of higher centres. From there, an alpha-motor neuron conducts an efferent impulse back to the quadriceps femoris muscle, triggering contraction.”
Yup, so when I whack my knee, my body simply reacts, totally independent of my personal intentions.
My body is flooded with emotion when something goes wrong
Likewise, when I nearly fall and I right myself. The ‘feelings’ that flood my body feel so real. Even when I know I am in no danger of falling anymore, the feelings persist for a few seconds, after the danger has passed. My body reacts to the world around it, and to the world within it.
When I get very upset, I get feelings of strong emotions. Sometimes I find these very hard to cope with. Over the years I have learnt many techniques to help me deal with strong emotions, but it is not always easy. Sometimes it feels as if my body has a mind of its own. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the strong emotions I feel.
I also find that when I let my emotions get the better of me, the can get worse and worse. If I let myself get too upset, I can stay upset for far longer than I should, and this adds to my distress.
A personal problem is making me emotional
For the last few months, I have had a very annoying problem. It is fairly minor, and yet something that has been driving me crazy. Over the past few days I have become increasingly anxious about this problem, to the point where it is really beginning to affect my work, my happiness and even my relationship. I feel that I am at the point of emotional exhaustion now; every time this problem is even mentioned, I get very, very upset, irrational and emotional.
Just so you don’t think it’s anything too bad, I can reveal that it is over a sum of money I paid to a dodgy, cheap web design company to help with this very blog, and as you can understand, I am highly emotional about something that I spend so much time, love and energy on. I would rather deal with the devil himself that have to speak to anyone associated with this company anymore.
Small problem, yeah? But it doesn’t feel like that to me.
It doesn’t matter what your problem actually is, just how you react to it. Often, I am great in a big crisis, it’s the little things that get me down. After my long and overly personal rant here, I would like to give you some tips I have researched on how to deal with strong emotions.
1. Centre the self
Detach from the problem and see it as separate from yourself. Do not identify with the problem.
2. Deep breaths
If you are feeling anxious, take some deep breaths to calm down.
3. Return to the senses
What can you see, hear, smell, taste? Take you mind of the emotional trigger by focusing on what is really happening to your body.
4. Take time out
Find a quiet space where you can be on your own for a while.
5. Look in the mirror
Connect with your own eyes and remember that you are bigger than this problem.
6. Ask for help
Ask your guardians and guides (or your higher power or god) to assist you in remaining calm and dealing appropriately with your emotions.
7. Distract yourself
Take on a task that is all-consuming so that you have something else to focus on for a little while.
8. Talk it out
Find someone you trust and talk to them. Ask them not to give you advice if you don’t want it. Often we just need a listening ear.
It went so quickly, really. By age 10, I no longer felt like a child in many ways. Being a child was difficult for me. I am a very independent person and I hate being told what to do. I remember at age 7 when my parents told me that it was my bedtime. I had this thought of, “So…you guys get to go to bed at 10pm and I have to go to bed at 7pm? That is SO not fair!”
Why did I have to go to bed earlier? And more to the point, who were they to tell me what to do? I know, outrageous, right? I remember feeling a strong sense of injustice early on that I was not in control of the basic functions of my being. I was told when to sleep, what to eat, what to wear and how to do things. It used to drive me crazy.
Of course, the answer a child gets when they ask, “Why do I have to go to bed when you say?” is, “Because I am the adult and I work very hard. This is my house and I pay the bills. When you have your own job and your own house, then you can go to bed whenever you want. Until then, you go to bed when I say.”
This is totally fair, but it never seemed fair to me.
From age 7 or 8, I became obsessed with collecting my own money. I was probably given a few rupees a week as pocket money (at the time our Australian family was living in New Delhi) and I would collect extra money from my parents for doing small chores and things like that. I remember how proud I was once I had collected 100 rupees. That’s about $1.75 in Australian money today. Back in the 80s, it was probably a decent amount.
So, thinking back to my childhood, here are some of my favourite things.
1. A new Barbie, fresh out of the pack
When Barbie arrives at your house, she comes in a plastic packet, tethered to her ‘scene’ by countless cable ties that are tricky even for an adult to remove. Within the first hour, I would normally have lost Barbie’s shoe, or her little mirror or comb. Years later, this would appear under a couch or table and by then Barbie was usually relegated to the back of the cupboard.
2. White bread, butter and Kraft cheese singles
Nothing beats a cheese sandwich, particularly one made on fluffy, white bread. Back in the 80s, kids could eat all sorts of great stuff without having to deal with ‘red light/green light’ nutritional guidelines and their parents being fined for giving them Ritz crackers. I loved cheese sandwiches, and I still eat them when I need comforting.
3. Wearing shorts and thongs
In Australia, a thong is a flip-flop, not a piece of underwear. As a little kid, I loved getting around in thongs and shorts and I hated having to wear itchy, stuffy, woollen clothes. I prefer wearing as little as possible at most times and uncomfortable footwear makes me depressed. I love the way heels make my legs look but I value my ability to get away quickly too much.
4. Being excited at Christmas and Easter
OK, I am still excited by these holidays but it’s nothing like the emotions I felt as a kid. I tended to like Easter more than Christmas as in Sydney there is a big event every year called The Royal Easter Show. It’s basically a huge community fair and you go there to see farm animals, arts and crafts and go on rides. I loved this as a kid. Read about The Royal Easter Show here.
5. Running without wearing a bra
Sigh. I practically have to wear two of them now! As a kid I loved running and I was quite active and I enjoyed climbing, building, playing, swinging and swimming. Once puberty hit, my hormones changed and I did NOT ever want to move. Luckily now I have changed this and I am active again but I miss the carefree days of going fast without having to strap myself into an uncomfortable over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder!
6. Watching cartoons
I used to love cartoons. Now I hate them. HATE them. I don’t care how good your next Pixar movie is, it’s still a cartoon to me? The movie Avatar? A cartoon. Didn’t like it. My mum said to me when I was a kid, “I don’t like cartoons,” and I was amazed. How could someone not like cartoons? By age 10, I had completely gone off them. B-o-o-o-o-ring.
7. Treats from grandma
What was better than a treat from grandma? My grandmother would let me eat fried Spam for breakfast and butter Morning Coffee biscuits for me. Grandmothers always let you do what your mother will not. That’s why grandmothers are really awesome.
8. Days that went forever
Time flies. The days go so fast! I remember being a kid and the days seemed to stretch out forever! A weekend would seem like a lifetime, now my weekends are sandwiched as full of activities as the weekdays, and if they’re not, I’m usually comatose on the couch. I miss being a kid and having that feeling of infinite time. My Great Uncle says that the older you get, the faster the time flies.
What do you remember about your childhood? Tell me!
Some things are annoying me today. I have been having a fat day for the last few days. I have even written a post about this called 7 ways to fix a fat day. Some days I wake up and feel really blah. Blah blah blah. There could be many reasons why I feel blah today, so I thought I would share them with you.
1. My undies are too tight and are very uncomfortable
I know, I’m sorry to over-share like this, but you know how it is! I am not a fan of wearing underwear. I always, always have to wear a bra because I have big knockers and it’s uncomfortable not to but I do not like to wear underpants. However, I have recently started to do this and I feel that my life has improved. However, on days that I am feeling pestered, a pair of undies makes me feel more constricted.
2. It is windy
Ugh. IT is really windy in Sydney today. Being an air sign, I get really annoyed if there is too much wind. When I was young and dumb, I lived on the Gold Coast in Australia, this is sort of like Australia’s answer to Los Vegas or Jersey Shore. It is where you will find sun, surf, sand and plenty of blonde, tanned chicks, drunk dudes and car enthusiasts. I lived right on the beach which was nice, but too windy. I came to really hate the wind as it was a battle to get out of my house every morning. I felt like I was on the edge of the earth.
3. I had a bad night’s sleep
Blergh. I miss The Boyf when he is not at home with me and often I wake up drowsy and wonder where he is. I sleep a lot better with someone next to me, and many of us are the same. I have one dear girlfriend who used to get extremely anxious sleeping on her own. I think she was able to sort out the issue after some counselling which made her stronger. I have a male friend who used to be anxious at night but he had a good reason as his house has previously been broken in to. I am tough, so I don’t worry about it. Plus I own nothing valuable and I bite when scared.
4. My muffin was stale
Despite being constantly told by people that I am on death’s door because of my food choices, I still enjoy my McMuffin every morning. However, today it was stale and dry and served to me by a cashier that asked me too many questions and had a broken coke machine. These first world problems can really bring you down.
5. One of my friends is being annoying
It’s one I don’t see very often who I have previously written about. The post was how to deal with hurtful insults from someone you love. This person is constantly on my case about not being a good enough friend. I have loads of responsibilities at the moment, including family responsibilities so I don’t appreciate being pressured by someone who should know better.
6. I have bad hair
Well, it’s not that bad today but it’s not that great either. Paired with my jeans and boring shirt, I am not happy with my hair today. Plus as it is so windy – the hair is even worse. Bleeeeeergh – I hate having bad hair.
7. I am not feeling very creative
Grumpy, grouchy and blurry. That is how I am feeling today. I have lots of work to do (as always) and lots of people to see (as always) but I am not feeling like doing it because I am so grumpy. My head hurts a bit too. I don’t really need you to feel sorry for me – but thanks if you do. I’ll be OK. It’s hard to be creative every day and my work pretty much calls for that. Yesterday I couldn’t sleep very well because I couldn’t decide which I preferred:
Do’s and don’ts
Dos and don’ts
Technically, the second one is correct but it bothered me for hours yesterday. HOURS. OK –that’s enough out of me. Thanks for taking the time to read this post!
It happens to us all sometimes. A knock or two to our personal selves can feel like a permanent state of despair. It could be a job loss, relationship troubles or feeling isolated that can shatter your confidence. When we lose our strength, we feel terrible and hopeless.
People think of me as a confident person. A confident person speaks clearly, walks with shoulders back and smiles. A confident person seems like they have everything together and that they can be trusted to get things done. Sometimes, I do not feel confident. In fact, there have been times in my life that I feel so overwhelmed with my situation that it’s hard to get out of bed.
Life is hard, even at my age I don’t always feel confident
I have taken my fair share of knocks in my life. I am now 35 and this means that I have learned to cope with my emotions when times are tough, but every now and then, something happens that completely shatters my confidence and I find it very hard to dust myself and get back up.
By far the worst things that have happened to me in my life are breakups and job losses, in that order. I have had my fair share of both, as most of us have. Not everyone goes through these things, but I can say unequivocally that we all go through troubles and traumas. Some people have different types of traumas; they may have family troubles, money problems, addictions and health issues. I have had all those things too, but it’s work and love that gives me the most grief,
Pain in love. Pain in my career
I can also say that these are the two areas I focus most on in my life, the two areas that I care about the most. I love to work and I love to love but I have serious failings in both areas of my life – sometimes it can be a struggle. I have many flaws as an employee and as a lover – try as I might, sometimes I make terrible mistakes. I am human, I try to forgive.
I can be hard on myself too
I want to get things right and I hate it when I make mistakes. Being a copywriter, I took myself on a two day trip to shame town after missing a repeated word in a recent page of copy. It frustrated me so much that I was barely able to focus on the rest of my work for the next day and a half. I had effectively sabotaged myself over my sudden perceived flaw and it really shattered my confidence.
Relationship dramas cause my confidence to sink
Just over six months ago I had a really bad break up and it crushed me for many weeks. Being the age that I am I have had far too long to focus on what I think is wrong with me. It’s amazing how something like this can truly shatter someone’s confidence. What could be worse than losing something or someone you thought you loved? It can take a lot of self-determination to say to the self, “I can rise again. Just because this person does not love me does not mean that I am worthless.” Turns out it was the best thing for me. But it really hurt.
I do not need to be defined by someone else’s love and I am more than the work that I do. To regain my confidence it is imperative that I build up a strong picture of myself from an outside perspective and I celebrate the things about me which are good, which are not good and the things that are mediocre. I will never be perfect and there are no perfect jobs or lovers out there – I have to accept that and be as forgiving of myself as I am with others in my life.
So – I have been doing some research online and I have found some resources that have ways of building up my confidence again.
1. Know your weak spots
There are things I cannot handle people criticising. I am very sensitive about my weight, for example and I hate accidentally offending people, so if I get pulled up for that, it upsets me greatly. “Whatever is making you feel unworthy, ashamed, or inferior, identify it, give it a name, and write it down. You can also tear these written pieces to start feeling positive on those points.” (source)
2. Know your strengths
Yup, I have lots of strengths too and one of the great things about getting older is that I am more confident with what I am good at and where my failings lie. For example (Alyce Vayle): grammar = good but attention to detail = bad. (Alyce Vayle) kindness and lovingness = good but temper = bad. (Alyce Vayle) walking and running = good but boxing and aerobics = bad.
3. Give thanks
Yeah, yeah I here you say, I have heard this one before. It’s true that being grateful for what you have got is very important. There are things I have always been abundant in, for example friends and money, but there are things I have always been lacking in such as security and romantic love. I’m sure if you look at your life, you will find many things that are usually running smoothly, or where you have had lots of blessings.
4. Give compliments
Other people feel bad too and most of us suffer from a lack of confidence. In my work in radio here in Australia I have met many famous people and worked alongside multi-millionaires and extremely successful people. You know what? They are all riddled and wracked with insecurities as much as we are. When someone does something worthy of complimenting – give them a compliment. It makes everybody feel good. Also – I have heard before (on Oprah of all places) that instead of giving a compliment as a value judgement on someone’s appearance, you should go deeper and refer to their personality or character, for example, don’t say, “You look so pretty in that green shirt,” say, “That green shirt is so pretty, you must have a bold streak in your personality to choose such an individual colour.”
5. Accept compliments
Most of my readers are not Australian but there is a thing called Tall Poppy Syndrome here in Australia that is very well known. About the worst thing you can do here in Australia is to “have tickets on yourself” which translates to “having an overly high opinion of yourself.” I know that I often come across as arrogant and this has been a feature of my life since i was a child. I am precocious and I speak my mind and I often irritate people without realising it. As a kid I spent time in the American school system and it was more receptive to children like me. When someone gives you a compliment, say thank you, and take the compliment right into your heart.
6. Stick to your principles
Again, this is very hard, for some of us. I am a people pleaser and I have lots of opinions that upset people, particularly on social issues and politics. I have to learn when to keep my mouth shut and when I need to speak up. I feel that in today’s’ world we are often too afraid to speak up about things that we feel are wrong. Because of this, I have had to learn when my opinions are needed and when they are not. I study a lot about the issues that I feel passionate about, most too controversial to mention here. My copy of 1984 by George Orwell has just arrived at the library and now I am revisiting this classic book, realising how much we are indeed cloistered and gagged in our modern world.
A passage from 1984
“Winston leads an austere existence, confined to a one-room apartment on a subsistence diet of black bread and synthetic meals washed down with Victory-brand gin. He begins retaining a journal criticising the Party and its enigmatic leader, Big Brother, which – if uncovered by the Thought Police – likely warrants certain death. The flat has an alcove, beside the telescreen, where Winston apparently cannot be seen, and thus believes he has some privacy, while writing in his journal: Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death.”
Constant, crushing, paralysing pain. This time last year I was in a really bad state of affairs. I had been made redundant from a job I loved, my relationship was seriously on the rocks, I was working in a (new) menial job that was beneath me and very hard work, my rent was a huge pressure and (not to sound too trivial) I had no extra money to buy clothes or get my hair done. I was miserable.
“I felt like the world was ending”
All these external events led to a terrible state of mind. I felt as if I was treading water every day and I couldn’t see any land in sight. I knew though, that I had no other options. I had to keep going. What other options did I have? By far the worst thing that was going on was my relationship. I was miserable a million times over and I really didn’t know if I would ever, ever feel better.
Coping through the ups and downs of life
Today is my birthday and I am 35. It seems surreal to me, because of course, I feel the same as I always did – if not better. I bring this up because by this grand age I have lived though many crises. I have lost lovers, jobs and apartments. I have given things up, taken things up and gone through enormous amounts of pain. There have been times in my life that were so dark, I really can’t even bear to look back with my memory. I feel pain for the woman that was. Sometimes even thinking about what I have lived though fills mw with pain and dread.
But I can guarantee you one thing now: If you are having a crappy time, I promise this will change. It has to.
Dealing with change, graciously
Heraclitus of Ephesus, who lived approx 500 years before the birth of Christ, was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He led a very lonely life and was known as “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”. Bit sad, really, but he did say one thing that has made his name live throughout the ages. Pretty nifty. Do you know what it was?
“The only thing that is constant is change.”
Throughout my lifetime, I have investigated this statement and I have found it to be true. Change is constant. Change is unending. Change occurs every second of every day. I am not the woman I was yesterday, and yet I feel just like her, but I have changed. We all change every day. This is both terrifying and heart-warming. We need to learn to embrace change. Change is inevitable.
Evolution and devolution
There is an esoteric principle of evolution and devolution. Everything has a peak and then begins to deteriorate. If this was not the case, I have been told, then one single plant would take over the universe. Things evolve and then they devolve. At least that is what I have read, and I cannot say for sure. One thing I do know for sure is that at one time I was younger and at another time I will be older. There will be a time when this body no longer walks this planet, and I’m cool with that. I can’t think of anything worse than staying the same forever.
Studying the beginnings of humanity
I won’t bang on about evolution and devolution too much because those terms seems to rile people quite a lot. I love this stuff. I have been reading lots about the beginnings of mankind, the new theories of evolution – or how evolution is evolving itself. I have been reading about the missing link and about Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis, a skeleton of an upward-standing primate. She was walking around 3.2 million years ago. I love this stuff and the best part about it is that there are always massive gaps in our knowledge of who we are and where the hell we came from.
I am not quite 3.2 million years old. I am only 35. Hopefully I will have many more years to walk the earth – I still have lots that I want to do. If you are having a hard time right now, I feel for you. I hope things will get better soon. Because I have had so many crises in my life, I have found a few things that may make you feel better if things are really, truly very crappy for you:
How to cope when times are tough:
Be nice to yourself, turn off your internal critic. “You are not your thoughts”.
Stay in regular contact with those you care about. Try to meet up or talk on the phone, not just via social media.
Pray and meditate. It doesn’t matter if you are not religious, you are a spiritual being who is being supported.
Go somewhere every day. Never spend the whole day in the house. Shower and change your clothes.
Do something new. Join a group, start a new job, take up yoga or some other healthy pastime.
“When I hear somebody say ‘Life is hard’, I am always tempted to ask ‘Compared to what?’” –Sydney Harris.
Good old Sydney is right. There is no alternative. You have to learn to cope with the crappy times. You are stronger than you think. Be brave. I promise things will get better.
I love a good argument but I hate to fight. I am a Libran and by nature we are peace lovers, having said that, I have withstood my fair share of fighting and I can be a right-royal pain on the ass sometimes, so I have had my fair share of fights.
It’s fine, really. The closer you are to someone, the more likely you are to fight. The Boyf and I have (up to this stage) avoided fighting but now we are past that magical four month mark where you think that everything they say and do is simply perfect and that all their faults are adorable, we have had a fight.
Luckily for me – at one stage he was trying to fight with me after having just got out of the shower, so he had his shirt off and was dripping wet. I was thinking, “You’re so annoying but DAMN you’re cute!” As usual the fight boiled down to not much more than a combination of a grumpy mood and a few misunderstandings. I hate to fight with people and I love to make up as quickly as possible.
Luckily for me there is a plethora of advice online about how to fight fairly. Learning to fight fairly and respectfully is a pretty good tool to have in your tool belt. Here are the seven major rules I found after consulting many sources online and anecdotally in my own life. Here we go:
1. Choose your battles
You don’t need to fight over everything, There are certain times when it’s best to just let ‘sleeping dogs lie’. Sometimes I get into a bad mood for no good reason. Often this is when I am hungry or tired and I get stroppy like a giant, overgrown toddler. Choosing the time to fight is a good tool as we are not always in the best frame of mind. Don’t attack someone when they’ve just got home from work, on their birthday or after they’ve gotten off the phone from their mother. Choose your battles and choose your times.
2. Avoid bad language and name calling
As I have gotten older, I have realised that importance of this point. I can’t say I always do this, but I realise that it’s never a good time to use bad language and certainly not a great time to pick on someone’s flaws. Sure, bad language and fighting go together like bacon and eggs, but there’s a difference between slipping in the occasional f word and tearing into someone’s person character with petty name calling.
3. Use time outs when you need to
I am terrible at this one, as I have problems with self control, as do many tantrum-throwers in my generation. As I age and get more mature (ha!) I have learned that I often calm down if I have a chance to gather my thoughts. I often use these time outs to breathe, mediate or pray (please let me get to the end of this argument with respect!) even though I am not a religious person. I think that taking a time out is a good way to calm down.
4. Set a time limit
There are many reports I read that suggested that you should never argue for more than 15 minutes. I am not sure about this time limit, but I think that seems fair. Really, if the thing you are fighting about is an established problem, 15 minutes might be enough, but sometimes it takes me a while to get to the bottom of what is really wrong. I do not like fights that drag on all day. I usually have lots of interesting and wonderful things to do – so I try to time-limit myself when fighting.
5. Acknowledge attempts to end an argument constructively
Sigh – often we harp on about things well pats their use by date. If the person you are arguing with is trying to end the argument, then consider letting the issue drop, particularly if you have reached the 15 minute mark. One thing I am trying to get better at is dropping an issue. I have had many dreams that indicate to me that sometimes I simply ‘won’t take no for an answer’ and I need to learn when to let go of an issue.
6. Keep to the issue at hand
Remember that thing you did last year? Or that awful thing your relative said two Christmases ago? When you are arguing with someone, it’s best not to dredge up the past. Try to keep to the issue at hand and not complicate things. Sometimes I think that I am keeping to the issue at hand and then I realise that I have brought up other things that are bothering me, because I am upset.
7. Learn what your partner’s triggers are and don’t go there
We all have triggers. For me, it is the F word. Never, ever call me fat or talk about my weight or appearance during a fight because I get very sensitive and I will cry and become irrational. I had one rotten partner who would do this all the time and it was very childish and not constructive at all. The closer you are to someone, the more informed you are about their triggers. Don’t go there. When fighting like an adult, don’t fight dirty. If you know your friend or partner’s triggers – steer clear of them.
“People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.” Will Rogers
One of the best things about The Boyf is that he leads by example. He doesn’t ever tell me what to do, he just does things correctly and hopes that I will catch on. Often I do. I have done this in the past and it often works, particularly if the person you are trying to influence cares about you and your relationship.
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Colin Powell