girl-fetal-position1I witnessed a lot of pain this week. The kind where people curl up fetally and ache deeply. The kind where they cry until they are numb and limp.

People are fragile. Physically, mentally and spiritually. True, people are strong and endure magnificently as well, but this week was about fragility.

This week was exhausting.

I’d never heard the phrase emotionally exhausted until my guitar teacher used it five or six years ago. I remember thinking, I know exactly how that feels. I know how emotions swell and fill our beings. I know how tears take every bit of energy out of our bodies. I know the malaise that follows emotional flooding.

Here let me hold that for you

I not only feel my own emotions but I feel those of others as well. As my insightful writing coach, Lauren Sapala, says, INFPs take on the sadness of the world. My Myers Briggs type preference of INFP is especially empathetic. Because we feel so deeply, we tend to harbor intense compassion for others. I always root for and protect the underdog. I cannot stand mean comments or cutting criticism. I feel them viscerally whether directed at me or someone else.

People are drawn to my type because of our soft safe hearts. We’re like the big bright lights at ball fields, the ones that all the moths collect around. We’re warm and offer a way out of the dark.bogongmoths_wideweb__430x286

One day last week, five people sought me out for non-judgmental listening and loving encouragement. They know their vulnerability will be honored and protected by me. They know I will receive their darkness and reflect back their light. I feel bad when I don’t have a  quick resolution to their suffering but quite often they just want to be sweetly heard and positively seen. I can do that…until I can’t.

Burned out on negativity

When my senses and spirit are full of emotions they either drown or dance. It depends on what I’ve absorbed.

I am sensitive.

I absorb negative energy quickly and deeply. It seems to know the short cut to my nervous system, whereas positive bright energy, while just as deeply absorbed, takes longer to reach me inside. Like most people, I need large quantities of happy energy in order to believe it. It takes mountains of happy energy to quash an ant hill of hurtful energy.

If I am around acerbic and negative people who never have a kind or productive word to offer, I wilt. They profoundly empty me. My energy is involuntarily withdrawn and there isn’t much I can do about it except remove myself from their presence.

Too much time immersed in antagonism and criticism and I don’t have much to give. I remove myself from their presence by cocooning my psyche in reservedness. I forever want to listen to and soothe souls but it becomes difficult to do through the thick and comforting cover of detachedness I knit for myself. I withdraw my availability in order to save myself.

Three ways to unload the heaviness

(besides deep restorative sleep)

1. Solitude: Space and time to myself replenishe my well of good vibes and wishes. Away from people I am responsibility free. I don’t have to care for, carry or tolerate anyone else’s feelings. I am only responsible for my own inner harmony. It’s liberating and energizing. It’s where I put together solutions for broken hearts and broken spirits, because I want to. In solitude I come back to me in order to reach out to others.

2. Intimacy: The opposite of solitude, this is where I seek like-hearted companions for nourishing connecting. This is where I am filled up by meaningful stories and healing touches. In the company of safety and calm, I unfold, unload and renew.This weekend I will attend a writing retreat with a sacred tribe (enlightened women friends). There I will release the weight of the week onto the page and into the universe, which brings me to the third way to weightlessness…

3. Creating: All of the heaviness of the world (sorrow, negativity, frustration) can be expressed creatively and constructively. Creativity alchemizes pain into beauty. During this week of high skirtdanceremotions I also viewed exquisite dance performances set to brilliant music (So You Think You Can Dance, seriously recommend this show for sensitives) and a deeply touching film (The Fault In Our Stars, also a big thumbs up). They both made me cry but in the cathartic, intensely moving way. Writing, dancing, playing music, welding, teaching… The list is endless for art that lightens pain by sharing it beautifully and vulnerably.

How do you release the heaviness?  When was the last time you felt highly emotional? When was the last time you felt weightless? 

If I Feel People… hit home with you then you may also like: 

Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You

How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy:A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained

Introvert Rising: More Secrets to Staving Off Overwhelming Emotions and Shifting Your Whole Experience

How to Remedy Anxiety and Stress When You’re an Introverted Feeling Type

Why You Are Anxious All the Time (Philosopher’s Mail)

The Eight Basic Salves for Burn-Out  (elephant journal)