As I think about what my children tend to be concerned about, what comes to mind is the idea of fitting in. When I was school-aged, it was a big thing to dress like the well-known kids and act like them too. You would think that for adults, trying to fit in isn’t as much of an issue. But I’ve noticed that adults tend to conform to others just as much as children do. It might be more subtle, but I think it’s there.
How do I know? Well, I’m one of them…
Even now, when I look at my sunglasses and see that they don’t look like the latest trend, sometimes I hesitate a little before stepping out with them in public. I might get over it more quickly now than I did back in high school, but those thoughts can still be heard in the back of my mind, “Will people think I’m outdated?” and, “Will they accept me?”
Out of all the problems and pain in the world, sometimes I wonder, why be concerned about seemingly small things? Have you ever felt this way? They may seem like small concerns to others, but they are still real, valid struggles. For instance, feeling anxious about attending a gathering when there’s no apparent reason to others for feeling that way. After all, the gathering is full of people that are like family, where you’re supposed to feel safe and protected.
“Why do people not want to hang out with me, but they can’t wait to hang out with my friend?”
“People say I’m too thin-skinned, too sensitive. Am I just not good enough for them to want to know me? Something must be wrong with me.”
“I feel so different from my friends; I’m not sure if any of them can understand me for who I am.”
“I love being creative, but I’m scared to show people my work. In fact, I feel like a failure because all my creativity has brought me is restless wandering and not being able to settle down in a ‘decent’ job.”
These are just some of many thoughts that can mess with anybody, but they especially mess with those who are deemed highly sensitive people. They may have suffered this label for most of their life wondering what’s wrong with them, when in reality, they are precious sensitive souls carrying unseen gifts deep inside their heart. If you felt or still feel any of these things, you are SO VALUED. My experience is that God might be keeping you hidden from the world until the world is ready for you – and you are ready to serve in it.
Do you want to use your gifts and talents in ways that are sustainable and not burn you out? If the answer is yes, then there is training involved. As much as we’d like to believe that our talent or passion alone will be enough, it would do us well to wake up to the fact that there’s discipline involved. And although it seems unpleasant and painful at the time, discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
One discipline I’d like to share with you is emotional in nature: Training ourselves to have healthier thought patterns. Studies show that the greatest determining factor to our success in anything is not our education, background, or financial wealth. It is our thought life – our thinking patterns.
We live in a world where nearly 90% of what we see, hear and feel is negative. What can we do about this? Imagine flushing the negative out and replacing it with positive coming in. An effective way is to first identify, what’s the negative emotion and what triggered it? Then, to inject truth.
As an example, I used to feel frustrated and depressed, triggered by these thoughts, “I am worthless. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t even know who I am!” Well, that pattern kept me stuck in a deep dark pit, in which I struggled with progressively more depressing thoughts.
I finally said, “Enough! I *have to* find a way to at least start really believing good things. After all, didn’t God say that He made me wonderfully?” That is the truth I was hungry for deep down, and ready to “inject.” And it is found in the ancient text of the Bible, in Psalm 139:13-14.
Something else that has helped me re-wire some of those troublesome thoughts – thoughts that don’t serve us well – is essential oils. They don’t do the work for you, but they do make it a whole lot easier and quicker to focus on positives, by stimulating brain activity through the limbic system. What makes it powerful is using them in conjunction with Scriptures to help bypass any neural circuitry that might be keeping you stuck in an unhelpful thinking pattern. For a bit more on how the brain works, check out this post on moving towards what you want.
I was reinforcing truths like, “I am valuable. I am loved. I am wonderfully made in the image of God.” I did it consistently, daily even. And you know what? Those depressive thoughts gradually made their way out of my heart. They may still try to get into my head every now and then, but they don’t get me down like they used to, and not nearly for as long.
As you prepare to see family and friends at birthday gatherings and other parties, try to keep in mind that the way they treat you may not be anything about you. They may be seeing you through the lens of their own thinking patterns and be taking it out on you – and you may feel it more intensely because you are so much more attuned to your inner senses.
Remember, you can re-train your brain with the powerful tool of Scripture and reinforce truths deeper with essential oils. And not just these tools, but also with foods that are healing to the body and relational connections that are healing to the soul. I’m learning about some great eating practices that are out there, as well as amazing relational tools for connecting deeper with people.