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sensitivity! how do u build emotional strength?


livewell
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hi

i am a sensitive person and can be led by my emotions, even manipulated by them. does anyone have any suggestions or books on becoming stronger emotionally? i find that i can easily become full of self doubt (which i guess is better than thinking you know it all, but still!).

thanks :D

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Hi livewell. I am very much like you in that my emotions often lead the way, but I don't see this as emotional weakness. I see it as me being me. Do you think that this is harming you? The best way I manage is by being very self-aware. So sometimes I do have to be careful not to make any major choices while my heart is on my sleeve. Would you like to talk more about this and how it has been affecting you?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Livewell,

Cogntive Behavioral Psychotherapy is the way to go. Also, if you could get the Feeling Good Handbook, by Burns, that has exercises and explanations that really help.

Allan:)

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I don't know if this will be helpful but I read "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aron. It's about sensitivity affecting all aspects emotional and physical. I found some of that helpful to accept more about myself. Like most things though it's a theory some people won't agree with.

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Dear Calla, Allan. Livewell and Irmajean.

Dialectical Behavioral therapy, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy, is my preference. Lots of learning about emotions and self regulation.

Interpersonal Effectiveness. Distrss Tolerance, Core mindfullness. And way more. It's a bit of a commitment, but using the skills taught there have been life affirming as well as life changing for me. I like it as an adjunct to cognitive behavioral therapy. Both result in a broader perspective,

DBT validates my life as it is and has been, giving me much peace of mind and information to embrace the changes I choose to make. I still need medications to keep me in a place I can consistently learn, self observe and apply skills, but am able to contribute more to my own well being and that of others. because of it.

It seems to me to be things we should have learned as children had we been in a nurturing, stable environment. It was created by Marsha Linehan. Am forever grateful to her for her work.

It's available online free through dbtclass-subscribe@yahoo groups.com. It's recommended to have support in therapy or previous cognitive therapy experience as it can raise issues. It is primarily designed with those who have Borderline Personality Disorder, but I believe most anyone could benefit much.

Allan, am I on track here? Irma Jean?

Thanks for giving me a voice.

katleen

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Hi Livewell,

Welcome to the "family," where it seems you've already gotten a very warm and understanding reception.

As I read your question, I had a somewhat different view of what you were asking. The issue may not be simly stated as you're being excessively emotional, but maybe that you have to develop the skills, self awareness, and self knowledge to determine which issues or stressors require which emotions and at what level of intensity.

Is it possible that what you're asking has more to do with leading a more balanced emotional life-- this being your ultimate goal? I just want to be clear b/c many problems with emotion are located in the root, others in the branches or somewhere in between, and moving too extremely or quickly can have untowards effects in other places in your life.

My thinking is that most folks want to create “lives worth living.” What makes a life worth living varies from person to person, and what this means may not be that you are shutting down your emotional lifes, which some people try to do when they experience excessive emotional energy and reach out for anything that will swing the pendulum the other way.

As you read the material shared with you here by others, be mindful that while you may want to be "unstuck" from the emotional extremes, that you may also want to learn to accept emotions as important and not move to change too quickly, thereby slowly achieving the balance you seek- this is the key.

Good luck and I hope all this helps,

David

Edited by David O
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Katleen, That sounds very interesting! And now I am also thinking about what David wrote because it made me reconsider what I wrote and think I have to refine what I meant. Thanks to Calla, too, for that book title. Will check that as well.

Thank you all! Am going to reread David's post...

livewell

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David,

Thank you for the welcome. You really made me think about what I communicated, and I can what I wrote may be a little puzzling.

What I was trying to say is that I am a person whose emotions can be strong--love, compassion, empathy, etc. My emotions rarely come out as anger (though some times I wonder if they should). I am always seeking a higher level.

I am not passive, but I am someone who prefers peace, communication for resolution, and relating to aggression, conflict, withdrawal.

I am an honest person, am generally an upbeat person who is more transparent than most, and do my best to live with integrity and compassion. I, therefore, think that everyone else is equally straightforward and shares these similar values, which, of course, they do not. I am, therefore, quite innocent and do not look for emotional deception.

I am thinking that it would be quite good for me to learn how to be emotionally stronger and to also learn how to be who I am without being at risk for manipulation on an emotional level. Another way to put it is a "good" person always responds in a "good" way, and if you are around someone who notices this who is "not good," I can lead me around by my emotions or fears despite a healthy amount of personal power and strength.

I have gotten wiser, but I would like to be emotionally strong and wise, but still remain open to life.

Now, see, I have remained open to life:):)!!!

thank you for listening, livewell

Hi Livewell,

Welcome to the "family," where it seems you've already gotten a very warm and understanding reception.

As I read your question, I had a somewhat different view of what you were asking. The issue may not be simly stated as you're being excessively emotional, but maybe that you have to develop the skills, self awareness, and self knowledge to determine which issues or stressors require which emotions and at what level of intensity.

Is it possible that what you're asking has more to do with leading a more balanced emotional life-- this being your ultimate goal? I just want to be clear b/c many problems with emotion are located in the root, others in the branches or somewhere in between, and moving too extremely or quickly can have untowards effects in other places in your life.

My thinking is that most folks want to create “lives worth living.” What makes a life worth living varies from person to person, and what this means may not be that you are shutting down your emotional lifes, which some people try to do when they experience excessive emotional energy and reach out for anything that will swing the pendulum the other way.

As you read the material shared with you here by others, be mindful that while you may want to be "unstuck" from the emotional extremes, that you may also want to learn to accept emotions as important and not move to change too quickly, thereby slowly achieving the balance you seek- this is the key.

Good luck and I hope all this helps,

David

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That was beautifully explained Livewell. I think it reflects how I feel as well and I'm also looking for some learning in that department ... I've been thinking lately that perhaps I don't give enough weight to my own needs. I am usually so preoccupied with being kind, caring, and focusing on all those good values that I hold dear, that I forget myself and don't take enough notice, or give enough weight to the fact that people are not being considerate of me....

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I was reading a book of stories today, the Book of Compass, stories based on moral virtues. Anyway, I came across something that may be informative to this topic....

<Philosophers, theologians, and poets have long regarded wisdom as the sibling virtue of morality. If an individual is to be good, the tenets of the heart must be informed and directed by a well-ordered mind. In fact, in the classical Greek thinkers regarded prudence as one of the fundamental virtues; to them, the word meant nor circumspection, as it does to us today, but rather ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. It meant being able to recognize the right choice in specific circumstances, and it was the intellectual virtue that made it possible to put the moral virtues into action.>

Perhaps we do not give enough weight to prudence when we are led by our emotions. I have often wondered about being indiscriminately good, whether it is always for the best. Perhaps using prudence is a mechanisms by which one can discern good from bad, acceptable or not in a moral society... using prudence may in fact temper our emotions...

Edited by Symora
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Good morning Livewell,

Your reply helped me understand much better what you were looking for, so it seems we're now moving on a different track than we imagined, and based on this, the book recommendations may actually not be in your best interest after all. As you describe yourself, I imagine someone who is already very much emotionally strong, giving, resourceful and balanced... and what you're looking for suggests a turn away from this so that you're not exposing yourself to being hurt, exploited or manipulated-- is this a correct interpretation? If so, can you expand on this thinking a little bit more?

I also wanted to introduce another thought, that of looking into positive psychology [PP], a relative newcomer to the field, but a powerful force that will likely change how we view healthy thinking and healthy living. In positive psychology you will learn about such things as the 5 P's: Purpose, Passions, Powers, Principles, and Perspectives-- all of which will better allow you to say no, to manage your time better, to circumvent manipulation and being exploited b/c whatever approaches you or whatever decisions you make will be guided by these principles and not merely by things of the moment. In PP, you will also learn ways to nurture and take care of yourself, how to understand your priorities and live them daily, how to be more mentally efficient, how to maintain a constructive and positive approach to life, and how to meet the unexpected in a balanced (rational, emotional and reasoned way w/o giving to passion or cold logic alone, but operating out of a more centered place within you) way.

In our "family" here, there is almost an exclusive focus on pathology, on sickness of not only the mind, but also the soul, and it dominates so much what we discuss and recommend to each other. Our understanding and deep compassion on the forum is guided by the pain we all have experienced. What we don't have heavy doses of, and what the mental health filed has largely ignored, are those aspects of life that are positive and worth living for- hope, wisdom, creativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, self and social responsibility, and perseverance. Essentially, we know much more about survival and living with great adversity, but know little about how humans flourish. Our focus has too long been primarily on healing, on becoming stronger, on facing yet another day, on de-stressing so we can take another step, and on repairing a damaged life or soul.

This highly selective attention to pathology neglects the fulfilled individual and the thriving community-- and your question and direction seem to both be leading more towards how one flourishes and not how one heals (2 distinct processes and mindsets).

Livewell, even your username suggests all of this-- am I assuming correctly or reading to much into this?

With great understanding,

David O

PS: Symora's book suggestion, The Moral Compass, and it's sister book, The Book of Virtues are excellent reads. I use them when working with children in play therapy, with adolescents who can't be confronted too much and with adults who may be stuck and the only way into their world is through the back door-- thru metaphor and analogy.

Edited by David O
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Symora,

Wow. That is hugely instructive and helpful. This is something I can process, a framework to utilize. I agree with the dilemma you described of wanting to be kind or good but at times seemingly at your own detriment. I feel challenged sometimes when someone has acted in a way that seemingly lacks thought, maturity, and wisdom and then I have to respond, especially when that action may have been aggressive or unkind. I am not talking here of the daily to and fro of life in which much is not invested in that individual. I am speaking of building healthy relationships.

Some people do interpret kindness as a weakness. Sometimes, it does seem a little ridiculous to take the higher road when the other party seems to be completely unaware or mindful to the same extent.

I am thinking of a story my brother told me. He converted to Sufism. It was about a snake. I will ask him to tell it to me again, and I will relay it here.

Thanks for listening and your thoughts.

Livewell

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What I wonder sometimes and it can be painful too, is why people so often become very quiet when I express positive emotions. Is it easier to hear of pain and sorrow than of joy? It's a place from within that feels very good to get in touch with and yet it seems to often make others uncomfortable. My struggle is more in not being able to share it as it is often not responded to well. I think we can only act for ourselves (as in taking the higher road) and hope that in paying it forward, one day others might at least understand. I suppose this is off topic some. I apologize Livewell for getting off track here. Something about your thread and the discussion struck a chord in me. David, positive psychology sounds very interesting.

Edited by IrmaJean
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Not off topic at all ... I think the whole topic of <goodness> may be central in fact. I struggle deeply with this, and am still confused as to it's functionning. I too have been upset, in fact terribly distraught, when I get caught between what I believe is the higher road, acting according to spiritual values I believe fundamental to my spiritual growth, and the anger or hurt I can feel when someone treats me with cruelty or deep disregard for example. It literally makes me ill, especially mentally, to figure out how to move forward. I find it very difficult to negotiate the internal paradox... it often begins the roller-coaster ride that leads to my feeling depressed.

As for the discomfort people feel when you express positive emotion, I think it may be because they are just not on the same wavelengh, so it feels dissonant. I'm not sure why people, including me, take comfort in feeling miserable. I see it everywhere. The media feeds it like crazy. I'm not sure if it's like that everywhere, or if it's particular to the west ... it's like we have this big complaining thing going on... :) Our tradition of rebellion perhaps...

I think we could use about 28 lifetimes to learn how to keep virtues in balance - there are just so many of them! I guess that's why it takes many lifetimes to become a Boditsava ...:)

Btw, the Moral Compass book is great David, thanks for suggesting it :-)

Edited by Symora
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David,

I ran out of time and did not want to respond so quickly to your post.

You have perfectly understood what I attempted to communicate and found it intriguing. I had not thought of the board or psychology in that way before. My thought was always that it was meant to give one instruction on how to think about things more fruitfully and to deal with issues in such a way as to bring more joy.

It is in my nature to attempt to be good. I was always described as a very happy baby and child. I was also raised Catholic, and I am sure some of it comes from early training. I was raised to think of others, to treat others with respect, to share, to be considerate, etc, etc.

I am also a very spiritual person, but not religious. I have no set practices given to me. I do pray frequently. I do think about self-growth and spiritual ideas a lot.

More and more, I actually feel more and more alienated, David. Though I am free spirit (lived in a lot of foreign countries, etc. etc)l, our media and what so many others find important, apparently interesting and necessary, I find lacking in basic goodness, and I do not mean moral (thought that is there), I mean healthy, good, balanced, positive, nurturing, nourishing.

So perhaps this is why more and more, I find these challenges more weighty.

I think I am rambling a bit, maybe in a circular fashion (ha!),

Thanks for listening and your reply, livewell (and yes, this is the reason for my moniker-positivity).

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Irma Jean,

Could you say more of what you mean? I mean can you give an example?

Symora, you say what I feel--I get almost distraught as well, and I really find that people frequently misunderstand me. I have one friend who tells me that I talk like 6 levels above and so far out in the future (he means seeing easily cause and effect).

I have no idea. I had considered the idea that the more you try to evolve your consciousness, the more you are, in fact, aware what consequences choices have and how they may injure another. The problem is then that you are frequently living in the future rather than the present moment. I make so many decisions based on sort of mental calculations of how my words may affect another or what actions may lead to.

Thanks for listening. livewell

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Kateen,

I fully agree. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is enormously helpful in learning how to control or calm stormy emotions. Learning mediation is one way for people to begin to do that on their own.

Irma Jean,

I have diffiulty understanding terms like, "evolve your consciousness." What does that mean. I find it helpful when people talk about themselves in terms that are concrete and real, here and now. Could you that and help us understand?

Allan

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I enjoy talking metaphorically and symbolically, but I don't recall saying that. I guess I'm just a bit down at the moment, feeling as if I can't do anything right.

The emotional thing...it's something that I've noticed throughout my lifetime. But fully expressing the sentiment that runs through my heart seems to be something that I really need to do. I need to be hopeful and to try and spread joy. If I can't or my words are quashed, silenced and not understood, I start to wither.

Something like that...

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Thanks, Symora. I recall something my friend Julian once relayed to me. He believed that one of the deepest of all human pains stemmed from feelings of not having been known. Maybe then that is this with me. I like getting these parts of myself out and when others seem to connect with my words, I feel understood and known. When others don't connect with my thoughts and feelings, I sense that I didn't reach them with the parts of myself I want so very much to share. And then I find myself back to my theme of not being able to give and share, which hurts that much more since that is where much of my deeper pain lies. Interesting. Thanks for getting my mind going. Maybe building emotional strength, livewell, also involves utilizing an ongoing "in the moment" kind of energy as well. Or perhaps even introverted types such as myself want to make an impact too.

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I want to connect with people and share myself with them. I can remember how saddened I was when showing my H some of my stories and he couldn't even make it through them. It's a part of me that he "doesn't get" and so then I can't spread it out. Or the way I enjoy talking about my relationship with my former therapist. Talking about it and hoping that others understand helps me feel connected with him and with the parts of myself that the relationship brought out. It's almost like turning on your own light and hoping that others see it and feel your presence. Probably then, it goes back even further and deeper with me to feeling unnoticed and unimportant. This likely resonates with me even more so as I am getting older. I want people to know me and understand me. It cements my existence in some way. I don't want to be dust in the wind.

Being heard may even have roots that go back to infancy. The first communications with a caretaker are non-verbal. There are moments of connection between child and parent. The child offers a familiar expression, you get the message and send another one back to him/her which means "Got it. I heard you." Child feels attended to and loved.

Livewell, I want to apologize again for getting offtrack. What is it that you are fearing when you think ahead about the potential impact your words might have on others?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi IrmaJean,

I understand that you like to speak in metaphors. The trouble is that it does not help you feel connected to people and it does not help you feel understood. That is why I am encouraging you to speak in plain and concrete terms so that you can feel heard and understood.

For example, I did not know you were feeling down when I posted to you.

Allan

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Um, it was actually livewell who talked about evolving your consciousness. I read it as "becoming more aware". Livewell, is that what you meant?

... I had considered the idea that the more you try to evolve your consciousness...
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I'm a late however,

David O, is not all that you said to Livewell, a process or growth?

I mean that since Livewell is looking for "a more balanced life" for himself, and since he seems to me to have an awareness of himself, and he wants a higher plane or this and/or more, would not he grow to the depths or heights of what he seems to be looking for through experience and knowledge, with his continued awareness?

just asking because maybe I have missed the point. Thanks

Edited by musemuse
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