I have been listening to a lot of episodes from The Life Coach School Podcast, created by Brooke Castillo and which talks about entrepreneurship, coaching, and Positive Psychology. There was one particular episode that really hit my brain and heart. It was an episode about grit, our ability to persevere and work towards a specific goal while also keeping our passion alive.Continue reading “Grit Is What It Takes To Make Dreams Come True”
In this blog post you will learn about:
- Highly Sensitive People (HSP)
- How is it like to be an HSP
- Why is it so important to express yourself just as you are
The other day I was on the bus and a little magic happened. I have been feeling extremely heavy and “dragged down” over the last couple of years. I’m not going into details now on the reasons behind that feeling, but I just want you to picture me as someone who has a meteor attached to her right foot! Got the picture? So there I was on the bus, carrying that meteor, when suddenly I looked through the window and there was a beautiful sun ready to settle down for another day.
When I fully engaged with feeling the moment instead of perceiving it through my mind’s filters, I suddenly felt light like a feather and as if my body and my mind were now totally merged and floating together in the ether. Of course, tears started streaming down my face, and I honestly let them roll behind my aviator sunglasses.
And then a question came to my mind: when was the first time that I felt this “tight”, as if I was constantly wearing a corset? When did I start denying myself, my emotions, and my feelings? When did I convince myself that it was not ok to be “just me”, this being who embraces the full spectrum of raw emotions?
I’m what researchers now call “highly sensitive person” (HSP) and to explain you what that means nothing better than provide you here with a description I found on Dr Elaine Aron’s website, the author of the book “The Highly Sensitive Person”:
(…) the highly sensitive person has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. But the key quality is that, compared to the 80% without the trait, they process everything around them much more—reflect on it, elaborate on it, make associations. When this processing is not fully conscious, it surfaces as intuition.
In a nutshell, HSPs feel “everything in every way”. That makes our lives a bit chaotic but it also explains the richness that more often than not we can only convey by putting our creativity to work. According to research, we represent only 15 to 20% of the population. I guess that’s why for me it is always so hard to find people I can deeply relate to and become friends with. HSPs crave those raw, deep connections from the heart.
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However, the social norm most of us have been raised in does not accept or understand the way HSPs perceive and interact with the world. We are often categorised as “shy” and “introverted” people, when actually we just need to have periods of time in which we can disconnect from the wide range of stimuli we face nowadays. And to be honest again… we don’t really enjoy being stimulated all the time. In fact, overstimulation is basically the death of our sanity.
The hardest part, I think, is to make people understand that we feel intensely not by choice but by nature. I now understand too why so many guys couldn’t simply “handle” me. They were half-right when they said that “I am too much”, because I do feel indeed too much. They were also, however, half-wrong, because HSPs have the same right of being as anyone else and we shouldn’t be forced to shut ourselves down just because we use different strategies in life.
Moreover, trying to fit in as an HSP in a world that is currently led by robots-alike can be very draining and destroying. The more we try to fit in by hiding our intense emotions, the sicker we become. The more we convince ourselves that there is something “wrong” with us, the more we despair and the more wounded our core gets. That’s why we need to stop denying ourselves completely and to come clear about our true nature. We are so few that we do need to be each other’s lighthouse.
For more information on my own experience as an HSP, please watch the YouTube video above where I share some more personal details and please let me know whether you would like to learn more about HSPs and the way we “function”. If you think you might be one, say ‘Hi’ in the comments and let’s connect.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
I was first introduced to Mindfulness in 2009, when I decided to take a module on Positive Psychology. By that time, few people talked or knew about mindfulness. No one was running or competing to be the best mindfulness meditation teacher and the researchers who were investigating it were on it because they had experienced the benefits of mindfulness for themselves in the first place.
So much has changed. To be totally honest with you, Mindfulness didn’t create much of an impact on me when I was introduced to it – it was a concept easy to embrace and understand at that point in time, living in Lisboa. Little I knew though that a couple of years later I would be conducting experimental research on it as a disguised way to help myself cope with stress and anxiety or that I would even be today teaching it to students and communities in my second language.
For the last 6 years, I have been doing research on Mindfulness, three of them in the UK. My results have shown that mindfulness meditation can not only reduce momentary stress and anxiety, but it can also contribute to a better society by reducing personal prejudiced beliefs and biased reactions. I confess that I particularly love this last aspect!
I deeply believe that Mindfulness can be life-enhancing when embraced at the right time. It can be a powerful tool for both personal and social change. As such, I decided to make a totally FREE mindfulness meditation online workshop for beginners, based on the several workshops I have been leading face-to-face over the last couple of years. My aim is to reach those who can’t travel or attend my classes but still want to learn and know how to start practising mindfulness meditation in their day-to-day life.
Here are some of the benefits you may experience after attending the workshop:
- lower levels of stress and anxiety
- greater awareness of your own thinking pattern
- increased emotion management skills
And there are a lot more which I will share with you in the workshop! If this is something you are definitely interested in, you can book your place for free here.
**UPDATE** You can now watch my introduction to mindfulness meditation on YouTube.
As a final note, I would also like to remember that I do a free meditation class every other week on Youtube – you just have to subscribe to my channel in order not to miss any of them.
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We become anxious whenever we feel triggered, and the reason why we get triggered depends on our life experiences and on the way we were raised. While some of us learned how to deal with difficulties and problems in a more balanced way (e.g. seeking and receiving support), others might not have had the chance of growing up with good role models in that matter or might have even faced specific traumatic situations in life that conditioned them into a “fight or flight” response.
The truth is that each person has his or her own triggers. The more conscious or aware we become of our triggers though, the better equipped we become in the future to respond and manage our anxiety or tendency for panic attacks.
Here are some of the feelings we go through during an anxiety/panic crisis:
- a deep and sudden fear
- a sense of being ‘frozen’
- a struggle to breathe
When we notice that we are struggling to breathe, we start thinking that we are not in control of our body and mind – that’s when we panic for real. In this Meditation Class I will guide you through an exercise that I find helpful to learn on how to deal with anxiety or panic attacks in the future by using the breathe and visualisation.
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Anthony Robbins has suggested the existence of six core human needs. He divides these needs into personality and spiritual needs. Within the personality needs, he identifies the needs for certainty, uncertainty or variety, significance, and the need for love and connection. As for the spiritual needs, Anthony talks about the needs for growth and contribution.
This framework or way to categorise human needs makes sense to me. Of course, it’s not an extensive categorisation of our needs as human beings but it’s a simple way to start to get to know ourselves a little bit more. Using Anthony’s suggestion with a twist, I think the following are indeed 6 paradoxical human needs:
The Need for Certainty and… Uncertainty
We like to have some control over our life and work. Imagine how stressed you would feel if I told you that tomorrow morning you need to pack all your office stuff and leave. And imagine if you returned home just to find the notice that your building is about to be demolished in one week. How much would your life suddenly change thanks to these unpredicted news? So we do like to have some predictability; actually we need some of it to remain sane. However, we also like to be surprised from time to time. We like to feel the mystery of the unknown and have some unexpected (good) news knocking on our door!
The Need for Individuality and… Connection with Others
We want to feel and be seen as unique, special or one of a kind. We want to be acknowledged by our personal talents and own character. We want our individual experience to be validated. However, we also want to connect with others and be part of a group. We want to have a sense of belongingness and be part of the whole!
The Need for Expansion and… Grounding
We have a natural tendency to want to develop ourselves. Our human curiosity is present in us from a very early age. Just think about all those babies who look at the world for the first time – their eyes screen reality with intense curiosity and admiration. As we grow up, such curiosity takes different shapes and forms, but it remains within us, making us expand in different areas of life. But while we may have the need to expand and learn new things, we also have the need to ground ourselves, to have a reference and core sense of who we are. We like to have some inner experience to which we can call “home”.
Today I woke up to the following thought:
“I am tired”
This could be because I spent most of the night awake with a massive “wisdom tooth” ache, but I am sure it is not only that. I haven’t had a full-weekend break since… late February. Between my private coaching practise, teaching, testing, writing, submitting abstracts, co-organising different events, and preparing my way out, there hasn’t been a weekend in which I can simply engage with other activities beyond work.
Curiously enough, Facebook reminded me today that three years ago I was in the middle of nowhere with my DSLR camera, taking random pictures of people, flowers and any other object that inspired me or made me feel somehow positive. Seeing that on my phone screen I realised that I haven’t touched my camera since then, and it’s not because I haven’t got it with me in the UK. It’s simply because… I have done nothing else than work over the past three years (except writing my “Sex and the City” posts in this blog – thank God, I have no interest in being the academic here!).
Next week I’m flying to Lisbon and I haven’t even had the time or energy to book train tickets to get to the airport. I’m indeed over-worked, but luckily enough I’m not burned out as in the past. I’ve been enjoying what I’m doing and the time to submit this PhD is almost here. Four more month to go, and yet there’s still an enormous list of things to take care of around public engagement and social impact. These are indeed exciting times… but I do need a break, so I hope Lisbon will treat me well.
I know I don’t write in here for an awful lot of time. I guess I ventured out for a little while. What’s life anyway without trying something new, pursuing new ideas? Well, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you do it so by pure reasons and by “pure reasons” I mean reasons that overflow from your heart and true will.
I often get confused and derailed by the reasons behind my thoughts and behaviours. My mind is so good at trapping me within illusions that if I don’t create the time and space to still it, it will certainly cause me trouble, sooner or later. And that’s basically what happened since the last time I wrote in here.
I don’t regret anything that happened – another narcissistic abusive pseudo-relationship, another failed project to save others, another sad birthday -, because I am sure I needed to repeat some lessons. I need to graduate, to go past this game level, right? So I better study and make sure that I know everything I need before I start the next level. I am just not sure when that level is going to start or how much time will I need to finally understand that I can’t keep running away.
I have been running away from the fact that I am now a gown-up adult and no one will ever show up to erase or fix whatever I missed in my childhood. That’s actually my job now and, instead of running away, I should spend some of my research time on learning ways to self-parenting. So far, I have managed to keep a ceiling above my head, food in my fridge, and I have showed up for work and done the best I can. However, I haven’t done a pretty good job at managing my internal life. I keep creating side-projects that I never really finish and I keep letting myself go with the hyper-seductive talk of every narcissistic person who crosses my way.
I read somewhere today that people only change for real when they reach a saturation point of despair and suffering. I am sure I taught that somewhere in my Psychology lectures as well. And in those same lectures I have also taught the million excuses we find un/consciously to avoid change. I think I am getting closer and closer to that point though, because I am sick of repeating the same lessons over and over again. It’s OK to get lost while we try to find (or build?) our way; it’s OK to walk in circles for a while. But it’s not OK to stay on that loop almost like… forever.