Finally, It Is Safe to Feel Safe.
Our brain often confuses hiccups in life with actual threats.
The train does not turn up on time. We feel trapped, claustrophobic, or so enraged that it takes over everything.
Something does not go according to plan — a change in schedule, an invitation we did not expect. We become disoriented, anxious, overwhelmed.
Someone breaks their promises. We feel badly betrayed, resentful, even momentarily losing faith in humanity.
Our friends or partner do not return our calls. We assume the worst, jumping to the conclusion that we have been deserted and abandoned.
Our manager does not respond to us warmly or give us the recognition we hope for. We feel criticized, diminished, rejected, and let shame consume our entire sense of self.
From having an in-depth look at what we now know in human development and neuropsychology, we now know that being hyper-reactive is hardly our fault.
If we have been overwhelmed too early, too soon in the past, we might be carrying the repercussion of a hyper-vigilant system.
We might have a history of having to depend on inconsistent and unreliable adults, so now we feel we cannot trust anyone with anything.
We might have been trapped in a predicament with no escape — a deprived or abused childhood before we have the autonomy to break free, so we quickly get brought back into deep helplessness and despair when life throws us a challenge.
Even with a good enough childhood environment, our mammalian brain is still wired to constantly screen for danger, preparing for the tiger that was never there.
Indeed, there is no smoke without fire.
Life is not ripple-free.
Uncertainty is the reality.
We might think we are walking down one path, but we are never sure what is around the corner.
Even when in good health, sickness and accidents could be lurking.
Even in the most committed relationships, people can change their mind, or be taken away from us by sickness, accidents or death.
As the Buddhist precept posits, impermanence is a fact of life, and change is our only constant.
Inner peace is not achieved by controlling the world, so nothing falls out of place, but in reconciling with the givens of life.
The sooner we could come to terms with the fact that we cannot control the world, the freer we become.
Our level of joy, inner peace and worldly success are all proportionate to the degree to which we can tolerate uncertainty, celebrate changes and dance in chaos.
Life is a swinging door.
We are continually losing something, but also gaining something;
We will always be grieving something, but also making room for something.
But discomfort is not dangerous.
What happens in times of crisis is that we relate to uncertainty with the psyche of a scared, dependent child, believing that we would not be able to survive whatever life throws at us.
It takes a conscious effort for us to rewire our brain, and to wake up to our current reality.
The chance is, my dear especially extraordinary intense and sensitive souls, you have been autonomous, competent and independent for years now, only that you do not realize it.
You were in the role of a warrior from a young age, and have been managing the impossible.
Even when it was not apparent on the surface, you were emotionally minding and taking care of not only yourself but also those around you.
You have been riding the wave of chaos all your life.
The key is to not just conceptually, but also viscerally, embody — be in the body of — your adult self.
Through self-awareness, the presence of a supportive other, and consistent practice, you can close the gap between who you think you are, and who you actually are.
To the adult you, the threats are not as big, or as near as the fearful child feels them to be.
Life may not be bullet-proof, but undoubtedly good enough for us to make room for joy, beauty, delights and pleasure.
The worst really is over.
It is safe to feel safe now.
Safe enough, finally, for us to open our hearts.
If we can flow with the flux, we will be able to hold the pain and seize the bliss. We can have a full feast.
Imi Lo is an award-winning mental health professional, a psychotherapist, art therapist, coach, and author of the book Emotional Intensity and Sensitivity. Her mission is to inspire intense, sensitive and gifted individuals to rise from being the ‘misfits’ to being the leaders of the world. Leaving home at a young age, Imi has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the USA and the UK. She has been a suicide counselor, social worker, artist, mindfulness teacher, Yoga instructor, holistic healer, art therapist, psychotherapy trainer, and lecturer. She has also enjoyed an art model career, during which she toured around the world. Her work reflects her passion for the emotional and existential themes that connect people. She founded Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, where she works with intense people around the world. She also owns over a thousand Japanese comics, and eats broccoli every day.