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I Feel the Weight of the World

Or at least this is how I always described it before I realized that I am highly sensitive.

I would actually still describe it in this way, however, I now feel like I have more of an understanding of why it happens. I am writing this post because when I used to feel this way, I felt very alone. I would type into the google search bar anything that had to do with this topic, simply to find others that I could relate to. I would dig for a bit, but only find one or two individuals that seemed to resonate specifically with how I felt the experience. This makes sense of course, as no two people experience something exactly the same. But, doesn’t it feel so nice when you find someone who gets close? With this, I know that some people reading this post will not relate. For those who do relate though, I am happy to be that person for you, and I hope you can go about your day feeling a bit less alone!

Again, the only way I knew how to describe this sensation was: I feel the weight of the world. And I really only told this to my husband and mom, the two people who seem to truly understand how sensitive I am. The weight seemed to come in waves, every two months or so, and I would get hit very hard for a day or two. It felt like symptoms of depression, however, it was also paired with a knowing that what I was feeling was not really mine. I would just feel this deep deep sadness. It was almost like I was feeling an intense grief for all the hardship in the world. What I can say now is that the occurrence of this deep sadness has decreased for me, and I truly believe it is because I keep learning more about myself and what being highly sensitive means for me. My capacity to feel the weight of the world is still there, but my ability to not let it add up so much has also improved.

Using the overarousal scale, I started to realize just how much I was becoming overstimulated throughout my day. For example, I could pass a homeless individual and literally in seconds “see” and feel their life experience. Whether it was accurate or not, I never could know. But the main point is that it happened either way, within seconds. I would pass by, be hit with a very strong feeling and sensation wave, and then for several minutes after have this dense feeling inside of me. Once I started to become more mindful of this, I was able to pull myself out of that reality more and come back into the present moment, back to my own life.

This sounds too easy, but it honestly kind of is once you start increasing your awareness of the kinds of situations that personally affect you. If you do not take the time to build your awareness, it is very easy to get lost in the feelings and experience of someone else’s stuff (while also I may add, then thinking it is your own: “why do I feel so off today all of the sudden?”). Once you have more of an awareness that five seconds before seeing this person you were fine, then this means it is probably not yours to hold, and it is time to come back to the present moment.

It does not mean that I do not care. I will still often provide a homeless individual with some money or extra food that I have from a dinner out. But there is a large difference between that and actually holding on to the energy of the experience.

It started to make much more sense to me why randomly I would get hit so hard, feeling the weight of the world, since it was clearly a bunch of things piling up...for weeks! I am sure we can all list examples: passing by someone who is struggling, watching the news, seeing roadkill, witnessing a child upset, hearing about the effects of global warming, etc. Again, it does not mean you cannot care about these things... but being more mindful of how much you are taking on is very important. Taking them on too much can actually debilitate you to the point of not being able to help at all. This whole concept of taking on other’s emotions and energy is also described as being empathic, highly intuitive, psychic etc. I find all of these titles helpful too, especially if you are wanting to find out more information. For me, specifically finding out about the high sensitivity trait and realizing that I process things at a deeper level, helped me to have more understanding of myself. It also provided me with a language to describe what was going on inside of me. The next person who is not as highly sensitive will not take on a situation as easily, so it is helpful for me to compassionately notice when I am doing this, and work to bring my nervous system back to the present moment.

Here is a tool to help come back to the present moment more easily. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful!


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