The change in the weather as the season shifts from Summer to Fall is one that I welcome each year. There is something about the crisp coolness of the air, the changing colors of foliage, and the unique smell which only comes with around this time of year. As with every big weather change however, there is a downside for me, and that is a temporary increase in pain and fatigue levels. Knowing that Fall is arriving makes it easier for me to ride out the physical symptoms.
I’ve written before about the fact that I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (which has been renamed) and fibromyalgia as well as spine and nerve problems due to a car accident and autoimmune issues. I do not define myself by the conditions that I have. The reality is that I do have to live and work around and with these conditions and the many symptoms which come along with them. It took me a while to learn to work with myself instead of against myself when it comes to this. Now, I’m a little older and I’d like to think a little wiser, so I no longer think myself overly weak when I need to stop and take care of myself.
The trait of being Highly Sensitive, which is a term coined by Elaine Aron, who has studied and written extensively about this group of people which makes up about 20% of the population, while not related to my conditions, definitely makes self care even more important. You can find all kinds of helpful information on her site. Not long ago, I began thinking about how overwhelm can feel in my physical body as a highly sensitive person, and realized that when I’m feeling really fried, that it either feels very similar to a flare up of my conditions or actually triggers one. I recently attended an online “Soul Party” as part of Jodi Chapman’s Soulful Life Sanctuary, and the topic of this month’s party was being highly sensitive. It was such a warm and positive experience…being in a welcoming and safe space to talk about this trait with others who share it! I’ve received many benefits as part of my membership in this wonderful community of people. There’s a lot of comfort, sharing, and learning to be had there. It isn’t a group only for or about high sensitivity…it is for anyone who is looking for support and assistance in connecting more deeply with themselves. Click here to check it out.
It is important to note that according to Elaine Aron, being a highly sensitive person in no way indicates that you are more likely to have one of the conditions listed above, so I am not connecting the two. Rather, I am talking about my own life experience of having these conditions as a highly sensitive person. As Elaine Aron states on her site in article, it is important for HSPs to take care not to be over stressed or stimulated in order to minimize susceptibility to illnesses such as the ones listed above. Avoiding those things are crucial to a comfortable level of functioning for an HSP, regardless of whether the person has a health condition.
Okay, now that all of that is out of the way I will get to the actual point of the post…which is the physical human experience. I used to buck against the reality of my body and this attitude caused me to take actions which exacerbated things and stood in the way of my happiness and success. While I am still taking actions to minimize the intensity of my symptoms…I am no longer pushing myself to the point of injuring my body, spirit, and psyche. I am learning to live within the scope of what works for me, so that I can thrive…as myself.
Letting go of the preconceived notion of what success “should” look like has been such a help. This is true for everyone…not just someone who has a health condition or who is a highly sensitive person…everyone! We all bring our own unique gifts and qualities to the table, and frankly, the world needs all of them. Some of us bring physical strength and high energy levels to achieve the things which require those abilities. Others of us bring creativity and sensitivity to the table in order to offer things of that nature to the world. All of these things are important, and it’s time to stop shaming ourselves and one another for not being something that we aren’t…and that we recognize the value of what we each bring into the world.
When allowed to shine, the light of every type of personality, ability, and gift radiates brilliantly out into the world and is a benefit…an asset. I have come to understand that my sensitivity and even my health conditions are a part of my physical human experience. It is because of these things…not despite them…that I am who I am. Some experiences can be difficult, but they also provide great gifts when we allow ourselves to see them. Earlier today, I was talking to someone and said to her that I realized that I came here to have a physical experience and that my job wasn’t to beat myself into perfection…my job is to be me. Her response to me was that all things about me, are a part of the reason why I am able to offer to the world what I came here to offer. Pow!