How To Be With Family When You Are Oversensitive

Vacationing to see family can be a trigger and that is where I am as I write this. The joke is that if you want to test your mental strength and spiritual attainment, spend time with family. I have always been and continue to be “too sensitive”.  Doing embodied practices does not desensitize me. Quite the opposite. Choosing a path of conscious creation gives me a crystal clear picture that every thought I have brings me toward kindness or suffering. I am the only one who can turn my mind dial off the latter.

It’s empowering. It’s also wearing my full grown up suit of responsibility. Someone or something may “make me feel” a certain way, but how I respond is a choice. It takes constant vigilance to embrace my sensitivity without it being cause of the suffering.

Specifically, being with family is when I battle a lifetime of deeply programmed expectations that swing between what I want and what I fear.  The child is still here: the one that was “over reacting” or “should just ignore it and they will stop”.  Even at 55 years, the mantra of “they only want a reaction” throws the felt sense red flag.  It still happens with siblings. And it perverts itself when in my role as mother, I become the hurt child.

Empathy is a danger and a blessing. For it to be both means I have compassion for someone else’s unhealthy habits, drama and difficulty, but remember that it is not mine. Though they may have heavily influenced my “becoming”, family does not provide an accurate reflection of who I am anymore.  Empathy allows me to love them as much or more for who they are. I can also differentiate between compassion and consideration. Doing so doesn’t mean I don’t still hope for (not expect) things to change. That’s the ‘holding space’ for each other part in our flawed human condition.

Before traveling, I have a ritual of invoking John Steinbeck’s opening dialog in “Travels With Charlie”.  “You don’t take a trip; a trip takes you.” I was reflecting this morning on how I follow this sage philosophy so well on the physical level when I travel. I am ok with crowded airports, delayed flights, disappointing accommodations, dietary changes, interrupted sleep schedules etc.  The traffic that sets off the self inflicted pain party is in my “too sensitive” little girl mind. It starts before I even leave for the trip; wondering who I will or will not see, and worrying about how people will react to my visit. I am taking the trip before it starts. So this holiday, I am going to try to apply Steinbeck’s wisdom to my thoughts. Except, when my sensitivity has been breached, I don’t have to take that trip.

“I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you”.  The Ho Oponopono prayer is my seat belt.

Peace to the Oversensitive, Megan

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