When Life Overwhelms You


Tune in to any news network and you’re faced with police killings, bombings, racial divides, political corruption and economic uncertainties.

We’re constantly being challenged to choose a ‘side’, whether it be gender, race, politics or any other controversial topic, we’re expected to make a determination as to who we are with and who we are against.

There is constant stimulation around us and by the end of the day it can leave us with our heads spinning out of control.

I’m not normal. I was thin skinned from a very young age and was accused of being ‘overly sensitive’. I have always felt like the ‘odd man out’, whether I was with a group of friends or within the structure of my own family.

I love people and care about my friends and family deeply, but I feel lost in most social situations and, therefore, try to avoid them as much as possible.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I learned that I was a part of a small percentage of people who are highly sensitive that I was able to finally take a deep breath and realize I wasn’t alone.

I finally “belonged”. The group is known as Highly Sensitive People (HSP). The sense of belonging to others who understand my behaviors was beyond incredible. I could look back and see how my trait affected countless situations. I could finally see how normal stress to someone else was majorly overwhelming to me.


In her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Elaine Aron explains: “The downside of the trait shows up at more intense levels of stimulation. What is moderately arousing for most people is highly arousing for HSPs. What is highly arousing for most people causes an HSP to become very frazzled indeed, until they reach a shutdown point . . . ”

She goes on to explain, “per the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, that the most basic inherited difference among people was how soon they reach this shutdown point.”

What I gather from this is that even those who are not highly sensitive, if exposed to constant daily stimulation from the effects of the media, work, traffic, etc., will eventually reach the point of shutdown.

This may explain why, according to a report published in November of 2015, by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), that from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13%.

My guess is that among those percentages are people who fall within the HSP realm as well as outside of it. My guess is that the stress levels of living a “normal” daily life is affecting much of the population.

So what should we do so as to not allow the daily effects of life to alter our sense of peace? Here are few solutions:

  1. Don’t chose a side – just be and allow others the same freedom.
  2. Watch, listen to and surround yourself with positive people and news.
  3. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
  4. Go outside and take a walk. Move around.
  5. Use water to take the stress away. Drink it or swim in it.
  6. Set your thoughts on some thing you love and smile softly.

Doing these things may not change the circumstances around you, but your goal is to bring some inner peace in the midst of chaos.

Positive or negative – you have the choice as to what you surround yourself with. Only you know what it takes to become overwhelmed.


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