Much of my personality was shaped growing up in an emotionally dysfunctional and disconnected environment. My physical and educational needs were being looked after, but there was something missing like a wilted plant receiving water and sunlight, but deprived of nutrients.  My “friends” were always competing to be the best athletes as if that was all that mattered. I was always trying hard to win recognition, but due to my underdeveloped athletic skills, I never got close to getting it nor playing on the school team.

Now as an adult, I am learning to turn my insecurities into strength by not allowing others to quell my love and creativity.  Just because society rejects your sensitivity, doesn’t mean you have to reject it.

~ vincenzo ©

Heightened sensitivity has occupied a prominent place in my head and heart.  As a boy, I’d often gaze at the reflection in windows or mirrors to look at my face. Although I could vaguely recognize or detect it, invalidation permeated my environment. Little by little the emotionally toxic world sowed self-doubt within my sensitive nature. I tried to decipher what triggered the contempt. Why were only some children targeted while others favored? Was it my dark skin, my slower speech or my hesitancy?

When growing up, resources about emotional issues were scarce. Internet was still in its mother’s womb. In order to survive, I grew up out of touch with my emotions. By example, I learned to express pain as little as possible. To complicate matters, communication was minuscule in my family of origin. Thus, I felt unworthy, though I pretended none of the antagonism was having any effect on me.

Self-esteem comes with healing. A background full of pain, anger and sadness often creates dependency without realizing it. When Christ’s love becomes a reality, you begin to feel less compelled to seek approval, and yet it takes time to process insecure attachment, especially when it is the driving force behind all your endeavors.

~ vincenzo ©

“From the first moments of life, our being strives to be in harmony with our surroundings and with each other.” ~ Dr. Sharon Keller

I know what it is to want to belong and yet be unable to. When you face the tears and ongoing agony of a long term unnamed condition, you value every insight that comes your way. I remember being a socially receptive child, but as I grew older, I began feeling more out of place without knowing why. I put on a facade, yet below the surface, I couldn’t make sense of the loud, hard-hitting, competitive climate that prevailed each day.

I adopted a cool detached persona in order to survive. As a loyal people pleaser, I found it exhausting to keep in step with boisterous community standards. There was no escaping the commotion: The desire to be left alone, the necessity of down time, the strain of trying to make sense of social dynamics – made daily life a painful boot-camp existence.

Without a plan of action, having a highly-sensitized temperament is debilitating. It adversely affects your relationships when your heightened emotional responses include unresolved codependency issues.  Without meaning to, you approach love from a place of scarcity.  From a subconscious level, this insecure attachment interferes with your strong need for connection.
~ vincenzo ©

Although sensitivity is not always akin to emotional instability, cultural bias often makes no such distinction.  Therefore, the highly sensitive person may confuse the former for the latter, placing greater confidence in the social mirror than his own perspicacity.

~ vincenzo ©

Although writing usually helps clarify my thoughts, sometimes it clouds me over with angst. I not only encounter complex issues that resist translation, I come into collision with my own perceptions. No matter how the words arrange themselves, they look back at me with trifling glances. The deeper I excavate, the less justice accorded to the lived experience. I tackle it in bits and pieces – save it to draft, then return to it another day. I find I can only devote so much time before I’m consumed with heartache and fatigue.

When we believe we are undeserving, we can involuntarily open ourselves to unsuitable company without understanding the damage it may cause. These unsuitable personalities have abilities to decode susceptibility and hoodwink others through false assurances. While being charming on the surface, they are volatile, combative, and disrespectful of boundaries. They maintain a persistent self referential attitude and suck away energy like vampires.

Abusive episodes operate within cycles and begin with measured doses of seductive sweetness, followed by days of increasing tension, then finally erupting into violent verbal and/or physical attacks. They’re called cycles because the sweetness, tension and acting out become a recurring pattern played over and over again like an endless loop cassette.

You come to a startling realization. What seems real is imaginary. You hold on tightly, only to discover it brings instability, desolation and untold stress. This kaleidoscope of emotional upheaval erodes the soul with unpredictable bouts of dissonance.

You let go. You move on. You grieve. You open up to others. You isolate yourself. You realize many are called but few confidants are chosen. In real time grief is too alien a subject. Society at large fails to acknowledge or comprehend it. There is an unspoken aversion to it. Online, writers convey their thoughts through a generic-sounding-scientific lens. Cold and sterile. Colorless depictions.

Grief is an inner work. I came to realize I needed God to give me a new viewfinder, for mine was passed broken and looking through it, I only grew more anxious and fearful, even when reading the Scriptures. It was when I was at dead end of myself with no sense of direction did Christ answer my prayer.

~ vincenzo ©

*parentheses mine

We often measure our progress by others’ appraisal. We perceive by their elation or low tabulation of likes what works. Thus, we add to life a distress of our own making by placing our sense of well-being in others’ hands.

The following is one of my favorite stories. It shows how even a remarkable figure can be overlooked. One day a young man drew near to a mighty prophet in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” And the mighty prophet answered the young man and said, “I am the seer.”

The way this story unfolds flies counter-intuitively to what anyone would expect. The prophet displays no striking aura or impressive Hollywood attributes to impress the young man. The seer could have been a gardener or a lowly shepherd. A commoner. Unlike the TV evangelist of today, there was technical wizardry to distinguish him from the rest of humanity. Nevertheless, the prophet was a monumental Biblical figure named Samuel who left an undeniable legacy like few men in history.

Edith Nesbit, a British children book author, expressed how little we count for in the world. However, she places one disclaimer — the exception being those who love us. To paraphrase her words, the consideration we receive as adults is no longer the same as the consideration of childhood, free, ungrudging and invariable, but rather conditioned by the services we render and the extent to which we are pleasant or useful.

Unfortunately, this utilitarian mindset shapes how we see ourselves. Approval is measured out not by merit, but external attributes. We try to reach an unattainable celebrity status, by dressing in certain ways, following the self-help gurus of the day, getting plastic surgery or bodybuilding. These strategies, however do nothing to alleviate our sense of love and belonging.

In other times, people had to write out their thoughts in private notebooks with no immediate responses. They relied upon the inner motivation that came from attaining personal development. There was never any concern for how many likes or comments each entry might gain.

For this reason, creativity is and has been a redeeming kind of therapy. We need to express ourselves even when no one is out there to cheer us on. It allows us to look at ordinary life through the extraordinary lens of love, truth and beauty. It starts off with a rough draft. We go back to it until new insights appear while learning to express ourselves in more engaging ways. All this allows us to transcend the daily demands and pettiness through the higher self.

As long as we inhabit this common body, people will overlook our innermost qualities. It is up to us to believe in those extraordinary qualities no matter how often they are overlooked. Those qualities are like invisible friends. Few have the ability to see or appreciate them.

~ vincenzo ©

Emotional Validation awakens an interest in me perhaps because it was scarce while growing up. Ridicule, reprimand, rejection and sarcasm on the other hand were the order of the day. These made daily interactions painful, intimidating and confusing. As a boy, I’d often gaze at the reflection in windows or mirrors to look at my face. I wondered how my visage could trigger such intense despising and contempt. Was it my dark skin, my slower speech or my hesitancy?

When I was growing up resources about emotional issues were also scarce. Personal computers and/or Internet access were not dreamed possible. There were no online forums, support groups or blogs to compare notes. In order to survive, sensitive souls had little light with which to navigate, so they grew up out of touch with their emotions. By example, they learned to suppress pain as much as possible.

As adults, many sensitive people have chronic difficulty identifying feelings. They are susceptible to indecision, self-doubt, anxiety and irrational fears. They experience emotional instability including a gnawing sense of emptiness. Some become incoherent in their verbal communication when over-aroused, fatigued or distressed. These issues may or may not interfere with their work, yet for me when work is finished, I am usually drained and unfit for any other kind of activity.

For those who exercise and pay attention to their nutritional needs, these go a long way to maintaining a more stable emotional system, yet for all the inner work and personal development, parts will always remain vulnerable.

It is imperative to raise awareness of the need to model Emotional Validation even when it is generally disregarded. Here is one example of EV and the difference it may make.

http://www.smartclassroommanagement.com/2014/04/19/why-you-need-a-good-relationship-with-difficult-students/

~ vincenzo ©

* “Emotional validation is the process of learning about, understanding, and expressing acceptance of another person’s emotional experience. Emotional validation is distinguished from emotional invalidation, in which another person’s emotional experiences are rejected, ignored, or judged.” — http://www.about.com
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