Have you heard about the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”? Well, I hadn’t until one evening when I stumbled upon a TED talk (click the link below and check it out!). I certainly have that “syndrome”..! 😀 Every time I go to a restaurant my friends quickly choose what they want to eat. Me, I’d like to have a little taste of everything! The waiter comes to take the order and I get stressed because I have no idea what to choose. I try to hurry but since everyone is waiting, the words I’m reading in the menu don’t seem to reach my brain. Impossible to focus!
During the period of my burnout I searched everywhere for hope, answers, guidelines, lifelines..! So that TED talk where Elena Herdieckerhoff describes her life as an HSP or “Highly Sensitive Person” blew my mind! With a few exceptions she was describing me! This was totally new in my world. She was talking about Dr. Elaine Aron, her research in this field and what it’s like to have this personality trait. How we connect easily with others, take in their moods and feelings and analyze things deeply. How we absorb the atmosphere in a room and notice little details going on around us. Everything made more sense now, because since we notice so many details and take in people’s feelings we lose more energy than others. Even though many of us are outgoing, like myself, and we love being around other people we also need more time alone to recharge our batteries. At the end, just before I hit the wall, I remember saying to a close colleague of mine that I felt like I could never catch up with myself. It was a weird feeling, almost like my body was always ahead of my soul somehow.
Working as a school counselor with teenagers I had been questioning myself. I was wondering why it was so hard for me to handle all the noise, the conflicts and the fights like many of my colleagues did. I didn’t understand that being surrounded by the energy of so many teenagers filled with anguish and stress made me exhausted because I sucked it all up like a sponge! I couldn’t distinguish my own feelings from theirs.
Another thing I realized is that the high level of empathy can make it hard to watch violent movies or videos where someone falls and gets hurt. I’ve noticed that I somehow feel the pain of the person being hurt. I never understood before that this is not the same for everyone. I even stopped watching the news, because let’s face it, how many times did you watch news on TV that made you feel good? It just brought my energy down and I felt like the world was going mad.
The insights I got from all this gave me something that I am very grateful for. I stopped running and struggling to earn my living the same way other people do. I let go of the need to look clever and capable in other people’s eyes, doing something that didn’t lift me up. I let go of the need to try to save everyone from their heart aches. I became aware of the fact that we can only do what is necessary in our own world. What I mean is that when we take care of ourselves, and do what feels right for us, we can give so much more to others than we can when we’re struggling.
When I let go of the fight I got inspiration to do something completely different, something much more fulfilling and in line with my true identity and my soul. I hungered to reach out by writing, and connect with other human beings who are experiencing the same things.
..so here I am..! 🙂
The link to the great and amusing TED talk:
And here’s the link to Dr. Elaine Aron and her website about being highly sensitive: