Know When to Say When

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.  

You’re an introvert, a person with ADD/ADHD, or in some other way someone who is put out of kilter by too much social stimulation.  

You get an invitation to a social activity after work on Monday, let’s say, a party for a coworker who is leaving the company (TRAITOR!).  You accept, because you like this person.  

Your loving, extraverted, gregarious spouse says “Hey, honey.  I invited the Hootersmiths over for dinner Friday.  That’s okay, right?”

You say yes, because you really do like the Hootersmiths, and your spouse is wearing you out with all the gregariousness, and it would be nice, after all, to let him vent all that talking onto some other folks.  Plus you have a new recipe you want to try out for Swedish meatball soup or somesuch.  

Then you realize that on Wednesday you also have to go to your book club, or Bible study, or whatever regularly-scheduled group thing that you joined for a variety of reasons, probably including “I need to not hole myself up in my bedroom eating Doritos five nights a week.”  

Shockingly, by Saturday, you are a wreck, and your right eyelid won’t stop twitching.  

One of the more difficult aspects of Self Care for Sensitive People is the fine art of knowing how much is too much stimulation for a given period of time.  Part of the difficulty is that most sensitive folks walk around with a chip on our shoulders, thinking we need to “toughen up.”   We think (usually in error) that if we just keep pushing ourselves past our limits, we’ll expand them.  

Another difficulty is that we often tend to be empathetic, and have a hard time telling people “No.”  Which actually IS an area where we probably would benefit from pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones.  

I’ve learned that for me, three “high stimulation events” a week is my limit.  Ideally, if I had a three or four event week, the next week I would do no more than one.  

Sometimes, I have to go beyond that–but when I do, I try to find ways to get “concentrated calm down” time worked in the mix.  

What about you?  What’s your limit for stimulation?  Do you respect that limit?  What happens when you push yourself too hard to be “normal”?

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