10 Life-Changing Tips for Highly Sensitive People

9 Mindful Ideas that Will Put Your Soul at Ease
by Mely Brown

“And those who were seen dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Nietzsche

Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weak or broken.  But to feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the characteristic of a truly alive and compassionate human being.  It is not the sensitive person who is broken, it is society’s understanding that has become dysfunctional and emotionally incapacitated.  There is zero shame in expressing your authentic feelings.  Those who are at times described as being ‘too emotional’ or ‘complicated’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more thoughtful, caring, humane world.  Never be ashamed to let your feelings, smiles and tears shine a light in this world.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, because it can be so confusing, right? … Why you get overwhelmed by run-of-the-mill tasks that others take in stride.  Why you mull over slights that ought to be forgotten.  Why subtleties are magnified for you and yet lost on others.

It’s like you were born missing a protective layer of skin that others seem to have.

You try to hide it.  Numb it.  Tune it out.  But the comments still pierce your armor: “You’re overthinking things.  You’re too sensitive.  Toughen up!”

You’re left wondering what on earth is wrong with you.

I know, because I was in my mid-40s when I stumbled across the term ‘highly sensitive people.’  This led me to discover how delicious it feels to be one of thousands saying, “You do that?  Me too!”

Since then, I’ve learned that many sensitive people feel isolated from others.  They feel misunderstood and different, and they usually don’t know why.  They just don’t realize that they have a simple trait that explains their confusing array of symptoms and quirks.

There’s even a scientific term for it: Sensory Processing Sensitivity.  Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychotherapist and researcher, estimates that 15-20% of people have nervous systems that process stimuli intensely.  They think deeply.  They feel deeply (physically and emotionally).  They easily become over-stimulated.

According to my research several successful historical figures were highly sensitive, such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs.  I see this as great news, because it means us sensitive types aren’t inherently disadvantaged.

But when we don’t realize how to handle our sensitivity, we end up pushing too hard to keep up with everyone else.  We try to do what others seem to handle with ease, and try to do it better than them.  And this leads to problems.

For a time, we do a first-rate job of using our natural gifts: we’re creative students, conscientious employees, and devoted family members.  But when we hammer on beyond our limits, doing so can eventually take its toll.  It shows up in things like unrelenting health conditions, muscle tension we can’t get rid of, and being endlessly fatigued or on edge for no good reason.

If you resonate with any of this, here are 10 actions you can take to stop struggling and start thriving:

1.   Quit searching for someone or something to fix you.

Sensitivity is a temperament trait, not a medical disorder.  So nothing is inherently [Read more…]

40 Rituals that Make Relationships Last 40+ Years

40 Rituals that Make Relationships Last 40+ Years

Relationships must be worked on all the time, not only when they are broken and need to be fixed.

Every fairy tale, it seems, ends with the same predictable phrase, “happily ever after.”  And yet every amazing couple I have ever known agrees that nothing about a healthy, long-term relationship is forever happy.  There are moments of bliss, no doubt, and lengthy spans of fun-loving companionship.  Yet these good times come at no small effort, and the guy or girl who reads such fiction and dreams his or her troubles will end when he or she departs the altar is well advised to seek at once a reality check from a real, rational couple who has stayed together through thick and thin.

And that’s exactly what I did a couple decades ago.  When Angel and I were first falling in love, I went to my parents for some relationship advice.  Their advice gave me some much-needed perspective at the time, but what really made a difference was the family ritual born that day.  Every year since, I’ve pestered my parents (they love it) on their wedding anniversary and asked them for a relationship tip or two, and I’ve recorded their advice in my journal.

Today, on my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, I want to share a cleaned-up, copyedited version of my parent’s relationship tips.  These are the little things they do – the rituals – that have helped their relationship last 40 years and counting.

  1. Embrace each other’s flaws. – New couples always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other.  Who wouldn’t?  It’s easy; anyone can love the most wonderful parts of another person.  But that’s not what works in the long run.  What works is this:  Accepting each other’s flaws.  Looking at your partner’s faults, and honestly saying, “I can work around this.  I can support them and make the best of it.”  Because the truth is, good qualities are always going to be there, and they’re always going to be pretty and handsome and wonderful, but the small bits of hidden ugliness underneath can ruin you if you don’t embrace it. [Read more…]

9 Mindful Reminders that Will Put Your Soul at Ease

9 Mindful Ideas that Will Put Your Soul at Ease

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.”
― Eckhart Tolle

Life can be hectic; sometimes chaos surrounds us in every imaginable direction.

But just because the world around us is in disarray, doesn’t mean the world within us has to be too.

That’s right, I’m saying there’s a way to stay sane in insane times.  I’m saying you can get rid of all the insanity inside you created by others, the past, and uncontrollable events…

Just by being a simple witness of your thoughts.

It’s about sitting silently, and witnessing the thoughts passing through you.  Just witnessing at first, not interfering and not even judging, because by judging too rapidly you have lost the pure witness.  The moment you rush to say, “this is good” or “this is bad,” you have already jumped head first into the chaos.

It takes a little time to create a gap between the witnessing of thoughts and your reaction to them.  Once the gap is there, though, you are in for a great surprise – that you are not the thoughts themselves, nor the chaos influencing them.  You are the witness, a watcher, who’s capable of changing your mind and rising above the turmoil.

And this process of thought-watching is the very alchemy of true mindfulness.  Because as you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, the chaotic thoughts start disappearing.  You are thinking, but the mind is empty of senseless chatter.

That’s a moment of enlightenment – a moment that you become, perhaps for the first time, an unconditioned, sane, truly free human being.

And you can now begin the process of introducing new ideas that support your inner freedom, and continue to put your soul at ease.  Here are nine such ideas…

1.  You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once.

When you feel like you’re sweating and running in circles, understand that we all feel like this sometimes, especially when life’s demands are high and the work is challenging.  This doesn’t mean you [Read more…]

25 Lessons When You’re Ready for a Simpler Life

25 Key Ideas When You’re Ready for a Simpler Life

Simplicity is ultimately a product of focusing on what matters.

For almost a decade now, Angel and I have been learning to live a simpler life.

Not simpler as in “meager.”  Simpler as in “meaningful.”

We’ve been working on eliminating many of life’s complexities so we’re able to spend more time with people we love and do more activities we love.  This means we’ve been gradually getting rid of mental and physical clutter, and eliminating all but the essential, so we’re left with only that which gives us value.

Our overarching goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the things people fill their lives with, leaving us with space for what truly matters.  A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing and stress, but instead contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects we love.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we have zero clutter and complications.  We’re human and living in the real world with everyone else.  We have a home, possessions, computers, gadgets, distractions and occasional busyness.  But we have reduced it to make space.

Today, after finishing up a call with a new course student who’s working diligently to simplify various aspects of her life and business, I’ve been reflecting on this simpler life Angel and I have created for ourselves, and I thought I’d share some of these reflections with you.

Some lessons I’ve learned about living a simpler life:

  1. A simpler life is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.  Thus, you are wealthy in proportion to the number of unnecessary things you can afford to live without.
  2. Simplifying is not merely seeing how little you can get by with – that’s poverty – but how efficiently you can put first things first, and [Read more…]

7 Things You Gain When You Let Go of Control

7 Things You Gain When You Let Go of Control

When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.  Sometimes you just need to let go, relax, take a deep breath and love what is.

This morning I met up with an old friend, someone whom I care about deeply but have internally struggled with for years because I’ve always been worried about her health.

I want to help her heal, because I feel I’m losing her.

I want to teach her the time-tested tools for living a happier, simpler, healthier life that I’ve helped so many other people with — so she can give up her addictions, take up exercise and mindfulness, nurture her needs, and suddenly be transformed into a healthy person again.

But that’s not reality.  I want to control something that frightens me, but I can’t do anything about it.  Because I’m not in control of anyone but myself.  I want to help my friend, but she’s not interested in being helped.  She’s actually told me so a dozen times in the past.

So today, I let go.

Not “let go” as in “let her go.”  I “let go” as in I stopped trying to control, stopped trying to change her, and instead took a deep breath and accepted her for exactly who she is.

And guess what?  Who she is — is a blessing.  Who she is — is something so ridiculously special and unique I have a hard time expressing it.  She’s hilarious and passionate and compassionate and wise and wild and thoughtful and loyal and did I mention wild?

I let go, and accepted her whole truth, and only then could I actually enjoy all of HER, instead of worrying about losing her or changing her ways.

And this, I’ve learned, is the best way to be in all walks of life…

You can stop trying to change people, and just let go and dissolve into their presence, just notice who they really are, just appreciate every idiosyncratic quirk.  You can stop complaining about your life circumstances, about your losses, about how the world is, and just let go and love what is.

Just be.  Just accept.  Just appreciate.

Here’s what you gain when you do…

1.  You fall in love with people for who they really are.

It’s OK to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by those you love.  But that doesn’t give you [Read more…]