How to find inner peace as a highly sensitive person
Are you feeling overwhelmed all the time and do you want to find inner peace? Here are 5 practical tips to start working towards a more peaceful life.
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My entire life, I have been struggling with the feeling of being on an emotional rollercoaster. One day, I would feel like I am on top of the world and I could tackle anything, while the other day, I would feel incredibly depressed and sad. Somehow, I couldn't find out how to be emotionally balanced and find inner peace.
In recent years, I have been trying to change that. Although I know that it can be tough for highly sensitive people to not feel overwhelmed all the time, I was and still am sure that we can manage to find inner peace with the right tools and knowledge. Therefore, I have been working tremendously on my mental and physical health in the past year and in this blog, I share practical tips that help me to feel more peaceful from within.
One of the first things that helped me in my journey to find inner peace, was to let go of everything that caused me to feel worthless, insecure or negatively stressed out in any kind of way. Perhaps, a specific thing, situation or person immediately pops into your mind when you are reading this. That is a sign that you should let it go. It is your gut and intuition reacting!
For example, you might have someone in your social circle that is holding you back and making you feel bad about yourself, or you might be stuck in a job that limits your growth. Or are you in a relationship that seems one-sided and makes you feel incredibly unhappy? All of these external factors have major influence on your happiness and block your way to find inner peace. Your intuition knows and it most likely has been telling you for a while, but most of us tend to neglect our intuition for far too long until things escalate.
When I started cutting ties with everything that was holding me back in my growth, I did so on two levels:
When you are planning to cut ties with things that no longer serve your growth, you might want to start out at the physical level, as the effect of this often is felt immediately. When you discover that you no longer want to feel a certain way, make a plan on how to change that. A few examples;
- In a friendship that no longer is making (both of) you happy? Cut ties! Do so gently, thank each other for the good years together and wish each other well.
- At a job that doesn't serve your growth? Cut ties! Of course, make sure that you have a good plan for what to do after quitting your job. After all we all have bills to pay, right?
- In a relationship that makes you (both) feel miserable? Cut ties! Break up, start your path to find inner peace and enjoy the fact that you get to work on your growth now without interference from your partner. You can literally go anywhere and do anything you want!
- Living in a house/apartment that makes you feel overwhelmed? Cut ties! Search for a new place that is making you feel happier. You are not a tree, you can move wherever you want!
I know, I know, easier said than done! Usually, our brains immediately trick us into thinking in problems rather than solutions. Try to ask yourself; But what if things WILL work out? Make a list of the things that could go well and look at it whenever that little voice called 'doubt' enters your mind.
Once you have disconnected from physical blockages, you can start to identify your spiritual blockages. These are connections that no longer serve you. You know, those thoughts from the past about people or situations that upset you every time you think about it? Although it is good to deal with your pain from the past (I'll get to that soon!), some of the pain you have inside you, isn't yours.
If you are a highly sensitive empath, you might experience that you absorb other people's emotions and feelings. Often, you do this unconsciously in order to be able to help them better. You literally take over some of their emotional pain. However, many empaths don't return it afterwards and take it home with them. Sometimes, they hold on to it even years after cutting ties with someone physically. That is when you start to develop these blockages that start to ache after a while. Time to let it go and cut ties!
You might want to try out a 'cut the rope'-ceremony, as described in this article. If you want to dig deeper in relation to this topic, the book 'Self-care for the Self-Aware: A guide for highly sensitive people, empaths, intuitives, and healers' might be a good read for you.
Once you have cut ties with all external factors that upset you and the internal blockages that weren't yours to carry, you can start on healing your inner child. When I first started my healing journey, I applied many techniques from Positive Psychology, like gratitude, meditation and thinking 3 positive thoughts for each negative one.
While I love Positive Psychology, it can be misinterpreted in a sense that you always have to be or feel positive. I know I interpreted it like this for a while. While the abovementioned techniques did wonders for me to feel courageous about my career and all the opportunities ahead of me, they did not take away the pain that I was feeling from past traumas. In fact, they pushed the pain away instead of enabling me to feel it.
Therefore, my second advice is to accept the hurt from your past and to feel it whenever you have to. It is not a bad thing to sometimes have a bad day and feel whatever you have to feel at that moment. Don't feel guilty about taking this essential moment for yourself. In this way, you can embark on your healing journey and find inner peace. I know it is easier said than done and sometimes you can't seem to feel less pain. That is when the following advice might be relevant for you:
Seek help! If you feel stuck in your past and can't seem to work it through on your own, don't be ashamed or afraid to seek help. There are many different ways to seek help. If you are like me, you preferably want to give it a try on your own first. For this, you might want to try journalling. Write about what happened to you and then again, write about what you wrote down. Write as much as you need, to process what has happened in your past, that upsets you today.
Sometimes, journalling isn't enough. For me, that was the case. In order to find inner peace, I went to see a therapist to work through my traumas and be able to understand them. Together with her, I went through my life history, cried, felt upset about things she said (only to realize that they were true a while later) and most of all, I healed. By ripping open the wounds that had been closed and hidden away for so many years, I could heal. And it felt good.
Therefore, if you truly want to find inner peace and you have some traumas that you haven't dealt with yet, I recommend you to dare to open up these wounds and heal them properly. It will definitely support your personal growth, believe me!
Once I had identified my traumas and all the thoughts that origin from them, I was able to identify my destructive thought patterns. I finally was able to understand where my perfectionism and lack of self-worth came from, along with all the thoughts associated to the experiences I have had. This knowledge and awareness has helped me greatly in my personal growth.
However, you don't specifically have to go into therapy to identify your thought patterns. For instance, you might want to try these techniques;
- Cognitive defusion (CDef): Step back from your negative thoughts and observe them rather than being swept up by them. Acknowledge that many of our thoughts aren't reality.
- Journalling; Again, journalling can be a wonderful tool to identify certain thoughts that continuously enter your mind. When you feel upset, grab your journal and write down everything you are thinking about yourself in that moment. Most likely, many of your negative thought patterns will pop up in negative kind of situations. In this way a negative situation will contribute positively to your personal growth.
Once you have identified your negative thought patterns, you might want to try out these two methods;
- 'Thank your mind': Act as if your mind is a rebellious teenager, and thank it sarcastically for creating these thoughts in your mind. Belittle these destructive thoughts.
- 'Name it to tame it': Once you acknowledged some of your thought patterns and story lines, give them names. This technique was invented by Dr. Daniel Siegel. Basically, by naming your negative thought patterns, you will be more aware of them once they occur. For example, I named my insecure thought patterns 'Mr. Fear'. Mr. Fear does not like change and therefore, he places insecure thoughts in my mind that prevent me from growth. You get it? Name your thought patterns and see how much more aware of them you will be.
So, you've cleared your mind, identified what is holding you back and now you are ready to grow! For that you need to feed your brain with as much knowledge as possible! Read articles, buy personal growth books, connect with people who inspire you and learn from them, start taking that online course you have been doubting about and do everything in your power to grow.
The times in my life where I have not invested into my personal growth, were also the times where I felt the most miserable and like I was standing still. However, once I grab a book that sparks joy within me, I get that spirit that helps me to set new, exciting steps needed to feel inner peace and happiness!
That excitement that I mentioned above, motivates me to step out of my comfort zone. In an earlier blog, I explained extensively how the comfort zone works. The thing with the comfort zone is, that we want to stay in it, because we know what is going on there. However, many of us actually are unhappy in that same comfort zone! Therefore, in order to feel happier, find inner peace and live a better life, you need to step out of that comfort zone every now and then. Fun fact; I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote this blog instead of laying down on the couch and bingewatching my newest favorite Netflix show! Why? I was triggered by a book that I read about taking action even when you don't immediately feel motivated.
So when you feel that you are in your comfort zone and afraid to step out of it, read a good book or do something that triggers your spirit. Then, immediately take one step out of your comfort zone. It will spark motivation within you to do this more often, trust me!
Ultimately, stepping out of your comfort zone and discovering what truly makes you happy will contribute greatly to finding inner peace.