Some of us are spongier than others. It derives from a good place - it means you're empathetic, you absorb and process the feelings of others and are deeply aware of the experiences of people around you. However, it can lead to hyper-sensitivity, which can be a MASSIVE deterrent toward optimal wellness.
On the other hand, waltzing around in your own bubble at all times to a point where you reject empathy is of course a little bit of a cop out, and doesn't offer much of a contribution. But some degree of a bubble is important. So what's the right balance?
What inspired this post/idea today was simply this: I was training my first client of the day in the Marriott hotel gym in downtown Toronto. I bumbled through the streets of lights, honks, jaywalkers and all the mania that morning downtown traffic is, and arrived at our training place and was stopped dead in my tracks.
A woman was in the gym (in which we've been training about twice a week for six years) doing Tai Chi. My respect meter rose automatically. This woman was the most calming sight I've seen in a long time. Smack dab in the middle of a relatively chaotic city, and in a loud bustling gym, there she was - in her peace bubble. My brain brushed against the concept of our ability to be able to shut out the world around us to focus on the most integral bits for that time. I realized that I'd lost a grip with this lately.
It is important to train yourself to listen to people and to feel what they feel. To some degree it is natural, but to a larger degree it takes practice, and it varies from person to person. Obviously, empathy is crucial in my particular line of work. I'll step away from the personal to explain that sometimes, any one of us who practices or naturally feels a lot of empathy toward others can experience the external, less important stuff poking its damn head in among the important stuff, and mucking it all up. We get confused about what to let in, if we're not careful.
Sometimes we have to step back and put things in their place.
The soft expression on this woman's face, her unawareness of her loud surroundings and her complete inner focus and waves of physical energy blew my mind. There wasn't one grain of sand of a thing that does not matter that was floating through her thoughts or her insides. I'm quite positive about this.
My point is, being too empathetic or too "spongy" can sometimes lend itself to becoming too crowded by opinions, feelings, circumstances that are external, potentially toxic and completely disruptive to a positive simplicity we're supposed to really hang onto, inside.
I'm sharing this because I needed this reminder, and perhaps a few of you did too. Claim what's yours on the inside, don't disrupt your own peace. We learn in never-ending, ever-evolving circles. Thank you, Tai Chi-woman-in-the-gym for peaking my internal interest on a Tuesday!
Here. I'll offset my sappy thoughts with a Missy Elliot video. Enjoy.
*photo from scholastic.com