I am still in Daytona Beach for work, and this particular morning I have had a little rare “down time” to do some of that “Self Care for Sensitive People” I’ve been talking about lately. I got to watch the sun rise over the ocean, did a little yoga, and had the pool and whirlpool all to myself for a half hour. I’m currently sharing my room with a huge dragonfly who flew in when I had my balcony door open during yoga. We have acheived a shaky detente. He’s now staying in one spot on the ceiling, rather than buzzing my head, and I’m no longer trying to kill him.
Having all this nice time to reflect, I have been thinking about where I’m going next in life, but moreso I’m thinking about where I came from. This life I’m living now seems so strange and unlikely at times, I find that I have to retrace my steps a little to accept that it really does make sense that I am where I am.
As I mentioned before, I am not by nature a low maintenance person, but I’ve spent most of my life trying to pretend I am. What happens when you fail to do proper maintenance on a high-maintenance vehicle is what happened to me: I spent a lot of time in my twenties broke down on the side of the road. (And just for clarity’s sake, I’m talking about a metaphorical road here, people. I don’t want any literal-minded folks thinking that I was actually sitting on the shoulder of the highway throughout most of the 90s.)
In my early twenties, my tendency to pretend I was low maintenance and laid back when I was in reality really high strung and emotional, landed me in the hospital. For a smarter (or possibly just less stubborn) person, that probably would have been the wake up call that made them realize that they needed to change. Not me. Shocking, I know.
I did adjust my behavior after that incident, for a while, because it was the point at which I first realized that I needed to stop letting my shame about being sensitive keep me from taking decent care of myself. For a while, I did much better. I ate properly, got a healthy amount of physical exercise, and returned to journaling and some spiritual practices that generally helped provide me with a more realistic, less self-centered perspective.
Slowly but surely, though, I drifted back into my old bad habits.
What I didn’t get from that particular reality check was the concept of being centered.
People talk a lot about “getting centered” and they tend to make it sound vaguely mystical and mysterious. Nothing against mystery, but centering is really not some transcendental, new-agey concept–at least it isn’t for me.
I used to take ballet, long ago. If you’ve ever taken dance, or possibly martial arts, you’re familiar with the concept of your center of gravity.
It’s the pivot point, or point of origin, around which you can move and stay in balance.
When you’re aware of your center of gravity, you can move freely, and quickly, even spin in circles, and not crash onto the floor.
For me, “getting centered” means orienting my attitude so that my actions and behavior radiate out from a point of origin that both frees me to move, and keeps me from faceplanting like a bad vaudeville performer.
What I didn’t figure out in that first reality check was where my center is. My tendency, like most people’s, is to assume my “center” is outside myself. For me, my husband was where I assumed my center was. I oriented my behavior around him. When we got along great, I could maintain a tenuous balance, but when things went south in our relationship, I crashed. Similarly, his tendency is to put his center in EVERYONE around him. When everybody liked him (which is actually much of the time–he’s a really likable guy) all those “centers” surrounded him and held him up like a net. But when even one dropped off–his behavior would get as erratic as a spinning top.
Those patterns are consistent with our personality types (I’m an enneagram 4, he’s a 9, and we’re both Feeling types in Myers-Briggs).
When I finally had my big reality check, I realized that I couldn’t make him my center. I’d love to say I stay perfectly centered now, but we all know it’s not a perfect world. I can say that I know where my real center is now, and when I get out of balance, it usually doesn’t take me long to find it again.
If you’re a sensitive person, and you feel like you’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster of drama, you’re not alone. Lots of people feel that way. Remember that feelings don’t always accurately reflect reality.
If you journal, you might want to spend some time thinking and writing about where you think your center is.
- Where do you think it ought to be?
- If you look at your behavior, what person, thing or idea seems central?
- What do you orient around?
- What person, thing or idea do you feel you MUST consider before acting?
- What are the usual consequences of that?
If you have any bolts of insight, feel free to drop them in the comments. 🙂 I’d love to hear from you.
Talk to you later!