CrisMarie introduced me to a book, The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Dr. Elaine Aron. Though I am not generally fond of labels, as I listened and learned, a great deal of the information fit CrisMarie and my experience of her. I, on the other hand, do not think that I am a highly sensitive person.
No, I think I am more of a highly reactive person. Is there a book for that? There probably is.
Over the years, I have worked very hard to take responsibility for my reactivity. Early on I was determined to rid myself of it. I don’t want to say that effort was pointless, but it was somewhat heartless. Yes, I taught myself some self-management techniques, but I was making myself wrong more than helping myself. That approach isn’t sustainable over time.
There are so many books out there about how to be different, how to change and become better: more authentic, more productive, more alive, happier, healthier – better! Some of those books have great ideas. However, I do tire of hearing about how I need to change to become someone other than I am.
To tell you the truth, I am not so sure change is really possible.
For me, over time I have developed some self-compassion and discovered that my reactivity developed for a good reason and did serve me early in my life, and it even has some valuable information for me. In other words, my reactivity was not really my biggest problem.
No – it seems the biggest issue for me, and frankly, I think for most of us trying to live and thrive as humans, is finding acceptance and compassion for ourselves, whether highly sensitive, highly reactive, or any other label out there.
I have shifted the amount of time I spend stuck in high reactivity or making myself wrong through self-hate. Though let me be clear, I am still someone who can catapult myself into a spin of “compare and despair,” or flare when I interpret someone is acting without regard to their impact on others. However, I am much quicker to notice, to pause, and to acknowledge what is happening.
More recently, having just completed a program called Access to Now, with Sherrie Toews from Effortless Momentum, I have put into practice some simple, practical, and elegant tools, that help me re-balance when I hit a bump in my fast paced world.
Many of the situations I am in as a leader, coach, and facilitator demand that I shift out of my reactivity or self-hate quickly and get back in the moment. Once I am out of the immediate demand of the situation I can decide to go back and review something that happened and may even allow some more in-depth emotional processing, but I like that with the Access To Now tools I have a choice rather than just getting stuck.
Bottom-line, this human experience isn’t about becoming someone different. It’s about discovering ways to embrace, accept, and value who you truly are! When that happens choice becomes possible! With choice there is freedom!
If you are interested in learning more about Access to Now, Sherrie is starting her next program October 26, 2015. I highly recommend it, but more importantly, I recommend accepting yourself!