Trauma Hits Differently When You’re a Highly Sensitive Person. Here’s Why (and What to Do About It)

Nearly 1 in 3 people are wired to feel everything deeply. So what does that mean for trauma — and for healing it?

Most, if not all, of us will experience trauma at some point in our lives, simply because we are human. Trauma is not just the threat to life as was previously thought. Instead, it can be any instance that disrupts safety and forces us to reorient and adjust to a new reality. 

Some forms of trauma are small “t” — including major life transitions and chronic stress. But when we think about the negative and long-term impacts of trauma, what we are most often thinking of is large “T” — trauma including things like assault, rape, natural disaster, war, mass shootings, loss of a loved one, or personally witnessing another’s endangerment. 

In essence, trauma reshapes how we see the world; at times, it can completely change the course of our lives.

How Trauma Affects Highly Sensitive People

About 30 percent of the population tests as more sensitive than average, according to Michael Pluess, a behavioral scientist at Queen Mary University of London. Known as highly sensitive people (HSPs), they are wired at a biological level to think, feel, and experience the world more deeply. This is a survival advantage that allows sensitive people to process more information about their environment and notice things that others miss. In animals, high sensitivity can be what saves a creature from the jaws of a predator. In humans, it’s more likely to show up as creativity, innovation, empathy, and depth of emotion. 

But this ability to feel more deeply can have downsides, too — and profoundly changes how HSPs experience trauma.

HSP survivors of trauma tend to feel like the black sheep or the outsider in their family, because they were more negatively impacted than their non-HSP siblings. Based on the “dandelion vs. orchid” theory by W. Thomas Boyce, M.D., there are two different kinds of children: the “dandelion” child — hardy, resilient, healthy — who are able to survive and flourish under most circumstances, and the “orchid” child — sensitive, susceptible, fragile — who, in the right environment, can thrive as much, if not more, than other children. This speaks to why HSPs who experience trauma can be “hit harder” than their non-HSP counterparts. The following are specific ways HSPs are more impacted by trauma.

The Connection Between Hyperarousal and HSPs

Hyperarousal is a common issue that occurs for most survivors of trauma — and, for highly sensitive people, because they feel things more deeply, the experience is intensified. At times, it can even become detrimental. Symptoms of hyperarousal include:

  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance (an elevated state of assessing potential threats in the environment)
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Considering that HSPs tend to be more hyperaroused as it is, trauma can exacerbate the likelihood of becoming overwhelmed and overstimulated. It can be difficult to determine whether someone who has experienced past trauma is a highly sensitive person if they also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is triggered by a scary event. 

The reason for this is because many of the symptoms of PTSD are also found in the HSP scale, an assessment used to identify how sensitive someone is. For example, some features that occur in both are:

  • Being easily startled
  • Avoiding large crowds 
  • Needing to withdraw to have relief from stimulation
  • Discomfort with loud noises
  • Avoiding violent movies and TV shows

For sensitive people, the world can already be overstimulating. So when trauma occurs, it compounds the impact of the highly sensitive person’s previously heightened nervous system.

The Connection Between Compartmentalizing and HSPs

After enduring trauma, HSPs are more likely to dissociate, trauma-split, or hyper-compartmentalize. What this means is that, in order to survive, they will effectively shut off certain emotions or facets of their personality in order to feel less so they can function more. 

A well-known example of this would be dissociative identity disorder (DID), otherwise known as multiple personality disorder. Each identity controls a different part of the person’s behavior. Working with a therapist is important so that the person can reduce the frequency with which they switch personalities and identities.

Other common forms of compartmentalizing that are common for HSPs include ignoring difficult or raw emotions by controlling the environment around them while engaging in a “flight” response (vs. “fight”), as Pete Walker explored in his bookComplex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

Those in flight mode may appear high-functioning, as they are always on the go. But, eventually, they will crash. Hyper-compartmentalizing emotions often results in basic needs being ignored, which can not only lead to mental health issues, but also medical/health issues being overlooked. 

For HSPs who have endured trauma, compartmentalizing can feel like the only way to survive, but there are many healthier — and more compassionate — options. 

Knowing how trauma impacts a highly sensitive person is a good place to start. The next step is to gain knowledge about how to cope with the impact trauma can wreak on the HSP nervous system. You do this by learning ways to thrive and become more resilient.    

3 Ways Highly Sensitive People Can Cope with Trauma

1. Remember that education is power — know what you experienced so you can heal and regain your power.

For trauma survivors, it is important they understand what they are experiencing (or have experienced), so they can regain power they lost as a result of the trauma. By this, I mean knowing what is happening and why. For example, it helps to understand what triggers you have and how the body reacts to them as a result of trauma — this can help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Since conscientious thinking is common for highly sensitive people, learning about your trauma can fulfill the need you have to seek out answers to life’s great mysteries. Education is so crucial for recovery that, in mental health therapy, the first step of trauma work involves psychoeducation. This provides a language to describe what you’re going through. 

If therapy is not an option, there is a lot that can be learned from trauma-focused support groups, blogs, podcasts, and literature. One of the most widely read books regarding trauma, The Body Keeps the Score by Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, is a good place to start.  

2. Limit negative news on TV, online, and on social media.

After an HSP has endured trauma, it can be helpful to limit the news (especially negative) being watched or read, particularly during times of incredible unrest in the world and in relation to things that are out of our control. 

It can help to set boundaries with friends and family, too, to let them know you are avoiding (or limiting) your intake of the news, as many people tend to spread the distress they experience from negative news by talking about it with others. 

For some, completely cutting the news out is either not an option or it feels uncomfortable. This is due to the strong pull HSPs have toward social justice and wanting to care for the world. In these cases, it can help to set parameters and limit consumption to times of optimal arousal — and not during times of heightened levels of stress.

3. Spend time with others while being patient with your progress.

When recovering from trauma, it is important not to rush the process. Rather, practice mindfulness and acceptance for where you find yourself in the journey of healing. When you do feel ready, however, one of the most powerful ways to process trauma is in the presence of others. 

Trauma can disrupt the sense of safety a highly sensitive person has around others. Some ways to work through this may be attending a support group for trauma survivors or joining group activities that help regulate your vagus nerve, which is responsible for telling your body whether or not you are safe. Some ideas include singing in a chorus or a self-defense class. 

While these ideas can have a positive impact on recovery from trauma, they are not always easy to do. If possible, try practicing authenticity about how you are feeling and share your struggle with at least one person you can trust. 

If the thought of sharing your trauma story with even one person feels like too much at this time, other good options are online support groups, listening to podcasts, finding self-help books that resonate with your experience, or working with a mental health therapist who is well-versed in trauma and HSPs. 

Hope for Highly Sensitive People with Trauma

It is important to remember that healing is not a linear path — rather, it is a dynamic journey that will change over time. The journey for HSPs can also feel longer and more arduous than for others. But it is important to remain patient and loving toward yourself. Self-compassion is not only going to help reduce the negative impact that trauma can have, but it is also exactly what you need — and deserve.

9 Struggles Only Highly Sensitive People Will Understand

It’s as though all highly sensitive people speak a common language — and share many of the exact same struggles.

Are you someone who gets emotional easily? If so, it can be overwhelming, not to mention tiring. It can leave you wondering why you are more sensitive than they are — you’re so deeply affected by things when others seem to just shake them off. 

People often point out sensitivity in others as though it’s a weakness and there is something “wrong” with them. (It doesn’t help that society misunderstands sensitive people, too.) But, the truth is, nothing is “wrong” with highly sensitive people (HSPs).

I mean, everyone is sensitive to an extent — some people are just more so than others. Nearly 30 percent of people are born more sensitive than average, both physically and emotionally. (While about 40 percent of people are average in sensitivity, 20 percent are low in sensitivity.) Researchers refer to this trait as environmental sensitivity — also known as Sensory Processing Sensitivity. And don’t worry: All three levels of environmental sensitivity are considered normal and healthy.

Those who fall near the high end of the sensitivity continuum are called highly sensitive people. As a result, they share many characteristics in common, including: they are often deeply in tune with their physical environment; they easily pick up on (and absorb) others’ emotions; they often notice the “little things in life,” subtle details others may overlook; and they may be affected by textures, noises, and other environmental factors that non-HSPs may not even notice. Furthermore, they tend to be creative, empathetic, and deep thinkers. Some researchers also believe high sensitivity is linked to giftedness.

If you’re wondering how you “became” highly sensitive, you were likely born this way — and it continued to develop as you got older. You will remain sensitive for life — although you can always learn how to better manage overstimulation, regulate your many (powerful) emotions, and use your smart, sensitive mind to your advantage.

Of course, if you’re a highly sensitive person, you know there are both highs and lows that come with the trait. Here are nine struggles you may relate to as a highly sensitive person. 

9 Struggles Only Highly Sensitive People Understand

1. You’re very self-critical — you have high expectations and are hard on yourself.

As a sensitive soul, you tend to be very hard on yourself, setting high expectations and sometimes seemingly unattainable goals and standards. And, when you’re unable to meet those goals, you criticize yourself. 

In a way, you set yourself up for some real challenges while putting little emphasis on any success you have along the way. And, ultimately, your view of accomplishment — and way of doing things — leaves you feeling like a failure because you feel like you just aren’t good enough to accomplish anything. It’s a vicious cycle. 

Of course, the solution is letting go of perfectionism, but this is not easy for HSPs.

2. You fear rejection — you like opening up to others, but the vulnerability can scare you.

You have a tough time dealing with rejection, and your overstimulated (and perhaps anxious) nature only makes it harder. It pushes your feelings to another level. Of course, this comes into play regarding romantic relationships, too.

When you get involved with someone new, you want to open up — but the fear of being vulnerable can spark feelings of uneasiness and insecurity. As a result, you may find it difficult to fully trust the person (at least at the onset).

In general, highly sensitive people are more prone to relationship anxiety  — they’re afraid of rejection, and their feelings for someone can be so overwhelming, it can scare them.

HSPs can fear rejection in other areas of their life, as well. For example, it may prevent you from going after a promotion at your job or from starting that side hustle you’ve wanted to do for as long as you can remember. 

3. You take things personally and don’t like criticism (even if it’s well-intended).

While everyone sometimes thinks about things people say to them, sensitive people can hang onto the words longer than others. For example, let’s say a supervisor gives them unwarranted feedback on how they can improve on something at work. Even though the supervisor is just trying to help — they’re not yelling or upset — the HSP can take the input very personally. To them, it’s not simply feedback, but feels like criticism.  

Since highly sensitive people are already self-critical, they feel even worse when critiqued by others. It almost serves as a kind of confirmation for the self-doubt they may already have.

4. Your stress becomes physical pain, such as a headache or digestive issue.

When your highly sensitive soul is in overdrive — usually due to too much overstimulation and overwhelm — stress starts to eat away at you. And this can manifest physically in

the form of headaches, digestive problems, and other issues.  

It can all start with an isolated incident that causes you to be upset. Or it can happen over time, when an accumulation of stressors becomes too much. 

To combat this, you can try a grounding technique, like a breathing practice or meditation.

5. You have a surplus of emotions that can bubble over anytime.

Highly sensitive people have a very strong connection to their emotions, and even seemingly insignificant situations can shake them up. 

Of course, everyone has their moments and can become upset when something major happens. But sensitive folks are frequently affected by even the smallest things, from a touching TV commercial to a comment someone makes (to them or someone else).

Similarly, since they absorb others’ emotions as though they were their own, this could weigh on HSPs emotionally, too — it’s hard enough keeping their own emotions in check, but when you add other people’s? It’s an easy way for sensitive people to become emotionally flooded.

6. You are easily distracted by external stimuli — environmental factors are often triggers.

As I mentioned in the previous point, even the smallest things can become stressors for those who are sensitive, and this is also the case with stimuli since HSPs process things more deeply than others. 

Various environmental factors, such as loud sounds, bright lights, and smells, can be triggers and distractions. Thus, these stimuli can be a shock to your sensitive system. 

7. Group outings challenge you — you usually prefer deeper, one-on-one interactions.

As a highly sensitive person, you tend to be much better at one-on-one interactions. It’s just easier for you — they’re more focused and you can have deeper conversations and connections. 

When others join in, things can get a bit messy as you find yourself struggling to be heard in a group of people. For this reason, group outings usually leave you feeling exhausted and may cause you to have an “HSP hangover” the next day.

8. Driving or traveling can be stressful since they’re both full of unknowns.

Driving can be yet another daunting challenge for sensitive people. This means trips may take longer than they should because you opt for side streets rather than dealing with the stress of freeway traffic.

Traveling is hard for HSPs, too, as it’s often full of change and unknowns, which HSPs are not big fans of (especially if you’re traveling with other people). 

9. Social media often makes you unhappy — it’s a funnel of negative news and comparing yourself to others.

As a highly sensitive person, you already have a hard enough time living in the real world — but once you hit social media platforms, like Instagram or Facebook, it just goes further downhill. In a virtual world, everyone’s life seems perfect (“seems” being the key word!). So you may easily get sucked into comparing yourself with others. This is quite detrimental for your mental health, as it fuels thoughts of inadequacy. 

Plus, social media tends to be full of a lot of negativity, like violent-filled news stories which are tough on sensitive brains. (I suggest greatly limiting the time you spend on social media sites, especially before bed.)

When You’re Tired Of The Same Story, Rewrite Your Life’s Narrative

Even when it doesn’t feel like it, you have the power to change your life’s narrative. You are the ruler of your world, no one else. That crown and scepter have only your name engraved on them.

It’s up to you what you do with that power—but have it be for good, not evil. At the end of the day, the only person you’re hurting by being stuck in a rut is yourself. Just know you don’t have to endlessly float down your river of emotions; you can pick up an oar any time and paddle in any direction, even against the current.

Don’t think of obstacles as blocking your path. They’re crossroads, allowing you to choose your direction. You’re in control of your path, even if it’s separate from others. Everyone has their own north star, all in different places in the night sky.

And it’s okay for that place to change. The life you originally imagined for yourself may be different now. Those dreams may be different. The people in it may be different. You may be different.

Change is a scary word. It has permanency written all over it. But what or who changes doesn’t have to remain that way forever. You don’t have to force yourself or your life to fit an unsuitable mold.

That’s the beauty of being human; nothing is set in stone. Not your thoughts, feelings, goals, or plans. Once you learn to embrace the flow of things, you’ll set yourself free. You’ll break the chains of stagnancy.

Evolving means figuring life out for yourself, on your terms, in your own way. Your preferences and personality shift those definitions. Your dictionary and atlas of your world are unique—don’t rewrite or redraw them because someone says your perspective is incorrect.

Remember, you’re in control. Don’t let external factors like others’ opinions or ideas of you prevent evolving into the person you want to be.

This narration is yours to create, so start writing your next story. What are you waiting for?

This Is For The Women Who Think They Have To Be ‘Strong’ To Hide From Their Feelings

You do everything in your power not to face the silence. When there’s silence, your thoughts remind you just how lonely it can really feel—and that’s not a feeling you’re ready to face.

People admire your spontaneity, but they don’t really know you’re running away from yourself. You want to shut off every moment you want to escape from your life and flee. They don’t know about the moments you wanted to be someone else. They don’t know about the moments your free spirit and need for adventure comes with a price tag, the fact that you just keep running away until your thoughts are empty.

People admire your independence, but they don’t know you’re just trying to keep them at arm’s length to not be hurt again. What they perceive as strong and courageous, you perceive as cold-hearted and mean. Because the truth is, this isn’t who you are. This is just who you had to become in order to survive the harshness of the world.

People admire your deep love for adventure and seeing the world for what it is, but they don’t know you’ve been doing this all your life. The moment you’re overwhelmed with your reality and questioning if this is all life really has to offer, you run away. Each time you’re dealing with anxiety, you run away. Each time you feel something—anything other than happiness—you run. 

Most importantly, people admire you for your evident ambition and career path. After all, you got everything you ever wanted, right? But deep rooted in all that success and wealth is just a desire to feel like you belong somewhere. Deep down, it’s a cry for help that you just want someone—anyone at all—to know that your success is one big facade for the desire to be understood for everything you want to scream out loud. 

See, the thing is, being loved is completely different from being understood. You can love someone without peeling all their layers until you discover every part of who they are. You can love the best parts of them without really craving the darkness of their mind. But that’s not real love to begin with. Because with real love, vulnerability shouldn’t even be something you hide away from—it should be a given.

Make 2023 The Year You Cut Out Toxic Humans

Here are some poetic reminders when you need to cut out someone toxic:

1. Cutting others out doesn’t mean you’re heartless. It simply means you’re prioritizing your heart now.

2. If you want to destroy your life, keep believing in the sunk cost fallacy. Keep telling yourself that your history with someone means you can’t possibly walk away from them. Keep refusing to abandon anything that you’ve invested a heavy dose of time and energy into, because you mistakenly believe it’s better to hold on until your knuckles bleed than to even consider loosening your grip. But, if you want to enhance your life, accept that you owe it to yourself to examine all possibilities. Staying isn’t a requirement, no matter how many years you’ve poured into this person, how used you are to having them in your orbit. Remember, saying goodbye to someone you were close with for years doesn’t mean you wasted your past. It means you’re making the most of your present. It means you’re saving yourself time in the future.

3. Stop thinking of it as losing them. Think of it as gaining the person you were meant to be.

4. Two truths can exist simultaneously. You can love them. And you can love yourself more without them.

5. Every second you wait to leave, you’re prolonging the pain. Worse than that, you’re putting your eventual happiness on hold. You’re putting your impending future on hold. The sooner you get through the brutal pieces, the sooner you’ll reach the euphoric ones. The moments that will make all of this pain worthwhile.

6. Your time is power, and you don’t owe them a second of it. Even if you choose to accept their apology, it doesn’t mean you have to resume your relationship with them. Forgiveness doesn’t automatically equal reconciliation. You can block them and wish the best for them. You can say goodbye while appreciating the sweet memories you’ve shared. Cutting ties doesn’t mean that you have hate for this person in your heart. It means that they are no longer a positive influence in your world, that their absence is crucial, that you are better off on diverging journeys.

7. You shouldn’t settle for a relationship you can tolerate. A partner you can tolerate. Love you can tolerate. If your connection is not fulfilling you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, then it’s not where you should make a home.

8. If you wish they would cheat, wish they would hurt you, wish they would give you incentive to finally, officially walk away – then that is your reason to walk away. That is the only excuse that you need. That frame of mind, that deep-seated desperation for an out, means leaving is long overdue. A force within you obviously wants this to end, and what is the difference between leaving now or leaving after they screw up? Is it because you don’t want to be the one to blame for the uncoupling? Because you believe it’s selfish to make choices centered around your own happiness? Or because you’re worried of how it will be received? Please, don’t force yourself to stick around because you’re worried about looking like the bad guy, because you feel guilty about breaking a heart, because you’re dreading the whispers that will trail you like a shadow by outsiders who don’t know the first thing about your situation. If you want to leave, you owe it to yourself to walk away. Don’t wait until it gets worse. Don’t wait until you have a more ‘reasonable’ reason to go. You’ve already waited long enough.

How To Transform Hurt And Anger Into Self-Healing

Feel To Heal Our Pain

“Don’t hold on to anger, hurt or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.”

Leo Buscaglia

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve experienced hurt and anger at some point. Whether it involved another person or a situation, we can become embroiled in negativity that may last moments or our entire life. There are many perspectives on how to heal and transform hurt and anger, particularly from a psychotherapy model. But I’d like to explore how to transform these two emotions using a combination of approaches.

Hurt and anger are powerful emotions that can feed off one another if we are unaware. For example, the hurt experienced from a negative event may lead to anger and, conversely, anger usually carries an underlying hurt. We may find ourselves stuck in a vicious cycle of feeding the hurt, which provides fuel for the anger. Therefore, we must become mindful of how anger manifests in our life. For instance, do we act out our anger by expressing it through physical harm to ourselves or others? Do we experience anger within our body via tightness or muscle constriction? This may include a rapid heartbeat, tension headaches or muscle tightness. Namely, anger can manifest in other physiological ways and get stored in our muscles and bodily organs.

The mind-body connection is extremely powerful. So, if an emotion is not dealt with properly, it will find a body system to express itself because the role of an emotion is to move through us. The neuroanatomist, Dr Jill Bolte Taylor, believes it takes 2 ½ minutes for an emotion to move through our nervous system. To express it differently, if we suppress our anger, it may become stored in an area of the body and manifest into something sinister. How do you recognize hurt and anger in your body? Where do you feel it? What practices do you undertake to process the emotional pain?

To transform our hurt and anger requires practicing mindfulness and self-compassion. I’m focusing on these two qualities, but there are many others, such as forgiveness and psychotherapy-based approaches, which are all very helpful. Through the gift of mindfulness, we become attuned to where hurt and anger are stored in our body. What is more, we learn to identify when we are triggered and notice the hurt and anger present within our body. So, it becomes an embodied experience, meaning we somatically perceive the emotions through our nervous system without deferring them. Through the power of mindfulness, we move our attention to the area of the body where the emotion is active and create a container to observe the emotion. In other words, we feel the hurt and anger as they arise and allow them to pass through our nervous system without passing judgment or criticism.

Being Compassionate With Ourselves

“When you forgive, you heal your own anger and hurt and are able to let love lead again. It’s like spring cleaning for your heart.”

Marci Shimoff

The second part to heal hurt and anger involves becoming intimate with what we are experiencing. Through the power of self-directed compassion, we nurture ourselves and attend to our wounded parts that need attention. What does this look like you ask? It is the process of emotional regulation, where we become comfortable with the discomfort of feeling hurt and anger instead of running away from them. Activities that defer dealing with our wounds and are the opposite of self-directed compassion. For instance, the Buddhist psychotherapist Tara Brach who wrote the book Radical Acceptance coined an acronym she calls R.A.I.N. Using this method, we become intimate with our negative emotions and process them in a healthy way instead of ignoring them.

1. Recognise what is happening;

2. Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;

3. Investigate with interest and care;

4. Nurture with self-compassion.

Is this something you’re willing to give your attention to? Could you stop running from your negative emotions and sit with them, even the difficult ones like hurt and anger? I realize this is a big ask and you may not know the answer, which is okay. The only way to discover it is by trying Tara Brach’s method. So, when hurt or anger arises, instead of blaming the situation or the person for your emotional pain, use the R.A.I.N. method to process your emotions. Through the gift of mindfulness and compassion, we can investigate our painful emotions by visualizing a white room with an open doorway. We are standing inside the room and welcoming the emotions passing through. We become curious and open to the messages the emotions convey. For instance, in IFS (Internal Family System), it is called being Self-led and inhabiting our core identity, which is undamaged and whole. The Self (purposely capitalized) represents what is called the 8 C’s: compassion, curiosity, clarity, creativity, calm, confidence, courage, and connectedness.

The aim in IFS is to perceive our hurt and anger through the lens of the 8 C’s. So if we feel hesitation towards our hurt and anger, it is a queue to create space between ourselves and the emotions. Then we can investigate them with openness, so we can inhabit the 8 C’s more often. This can take some practice, hence why it’s important we become mindful of our reaction to negative emotions. More importantly, we become compassionate with ourselves as we process the wounds of the past, particularly our hurt and anger. We are rewiring our nervous system and dampening our response to being triggered. We are grooving new neural pathways to facilitate the gift of self-directed compassion and kindness.

This can be a beautiful journey because hurt and anger needn’t dominate our mind-body permanently. We can choose to respond differently when these emotions surface. If you keep a diary or journal, take notes on your progress. Don’t give up because it seems difficult or you’re not experiencing immediate results. To draw an analogy, if you’re injured or have undergone surgery, you know it can take weeks and months to fully heal. Emotional healing is similar and we ought to be patient with the process and ourselves. After all, if we wish to transform the hurt and anger we’ve been carrying, it lies in our ability to be mindful and compassionate with ourselves.

How To Let Go Of Perfectionism And Achieve The Life You Really Want

So often we stop ourselves from doing things in life because we don’t feel like we’re good enough at them. But ironically, we know that it’s only when we give ourselves permission to fail that we can ever become good at these things in the first place.

We’re afraid to be seen as a failure in the eyes of others so we don’t bother trying at all. But it’s time we changed the narrative. It’s time we encourage people to make mistakes more often, fail at things miserably, and encourage them to develop their skill at something. It’s time we change the story and encourage more people to take the chance of looking like a failure.

There are so many people out there who are hiding their desires from the rest of the world. They wear a metaphorical mask in their life and do things that don’t ultimately align with who they really are because they’ve adopted the limiting belief that they must live the perfect life.

But the truth is, there is no perfect life. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to being human, and as much as we’d like to hide the fact that we’re not, we need to embrace imperfection and connect to one another on the notion that you don’t have to be perfect.

The need to be ‘perfect’ is often a function of a person’s past belief systems that they’ve adopted. Perhaps your parents wanted you to be perfect and now it gives you immense anxiety when you aren’t. By becoming aware of your prior beliefs, you can change the story for yourself and start adopting new, consciously chosen beliefs that serve you.

You can build any skill that you’d like if you’re willing to put in your 10,000 hours into it. It was never about building the perfect life; it was about building the life that feels right, which is more often than not a result of trial and error, missteps, and wrong turns along the way.

Let go of the need to be perfect and watch your life change; perfect is boring anyway. Nobody is inspired by someone that had the perfect life. People want to hear the real story—the true story—that sets our souls on fire when we hear it.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Being afraid of failure is the silent killer of success.

10 Uncomfortable (But Powerful) Signs That Prove You’re Evolving

Growth is inherently uncomfortable because you’re entering new spaces you’ve never ventured into before. But discomfort is not a bad thing. It is just a sign that things are changing.

Here are 10 uncomfortable but powerful signs that prove you’re evolving.

1. You’ve stopped talking so much shit.

Gossip used to be an easy way for you to make conversation but it no longer aligns with the person you’re becoming. In fact, you actually feel ashamed and embarrassed of the things you used to say about people in an attempt to bond with others. Now, you have bigger, more important things to talk about than the perceived shortcomings and faults of other people. You also realize that, more often than not, talking a bunch of shit about someone else says a lot more about you than it does them.

2. You’re finally facing what isn’t working in your life.

Rather than ignoring the things that aren’t serving you, you’re choosing to be honest with yourself instead. Whether it’s your job, your love life, your lifestyle, or your living situation, you are finally coming to terms with the fact that you are not where you want to be. And even though it totally sucks and is uncomfortable to face this truth, you have decided you no longer want to lie to yourself either. To you, this is a worse fate.

3. You’re outgrowing friendships at a rapid speed.

Nothing was wrong with the friendships necessarily. You’re just realizing you have less and less in common with some friends as you grow into more adult versions of yourselves. You’re spending far more time solo as a result, and it can get lonely, but you also feel more like yourself than you have in a long, long time.

4. You’re having more uncomfortable conversations.

You’re having more uncomfortable conversations, but only because you’re no longer afraid to have them. You now understand that in order to maintain healthy relationships, you need to be willing to talk about the hard stuff.

5. You’re beginning to put yourself first (even though it makes you feel guilty).

This isn’t to say you aren’t there for the people in your life, you are, but you no longer bending over backward and stretching yourself too thin in order to be a “good” friend, daughter, girlfriend, etc. because you realize the right people will understand. While you still feel guilty about putting yourself first as needed, it’s only because you’re not used to doing so. It will get easier with time.

6. You’ve stopped trusting as easily.

You now understand your story is earned, not a given. Trust is built, not guaranteed.

7. You’re questioning pretty much everything.

Your world literally feels upside down. You feel completely ungrounded. Your morals are changing, your worldview is shifting, and your perception about pretty much everything is no longer familiar. This is good. It shows you’re starting to think for yourself.

8. You’re noticing your negative self-talk more.

Your negative self-talk is becoming more and more difficult to tune out. This isn’t because it’s increasing. It’s because you’re finally becoming more aware of the ways you talk to yourself and how detrimental those words can be. Now, you’re attempting to reroute your self-talk into a more positive voice. It’s difficult, and it feels unnatural, but you know it is necessary to become a healthier version of yourself.

9. You’ve stopped numbing yourself to pain.

You’ve stopped coping in unhealthy ways in order to numb pain. Now, you let yourself feel whatever it is you do because you realize that this is the only way to move past what hurts. It’s the only way to heal.

10. You look back at former versions of yourself and cringe.

Your old Facebook memories make you roll your eyes. You think back to who you were in your teens, your early 20s, or even last year and begin to shame spiral thinking about who you have been. But this is a good thing because it proves you’ve grown and that you’re on the right path. Just know, younger versions of you deserve love, too. You wouldn’t be who you are today without them, after all.

Read This If You’re Still Trying To Heal From Your Trauma

Trauma is the deep wound that creeps up on you out of nowhere. It’s the hurt you think you got over but still says hello from time to time. It’s the fear, the panic, and the crippling anxiety that something terrible might be around the corner, because that’s the thing about trauma—it’s the thing you never thought would happen. It is nights spent crying and mornings that remind you of the past. It’s the joy tainted by deep-seated pain that has made your heart its home. It’s the fear of enjoying something good. Trauma shocks you and leaves you with all kinds of questions. It leaves you confused about how the world can be so cruel? It’s this element in your life you want to shake off but can’t unsee or unlearn. It happened.

And perhaps you will never shake it off. Perhaps it’s a terrible truth that you have to learn to live with. Sometimes we can’t sugarcoat it. Yes, we can try to work around the narrative, and we can try to heal, or we can try to justify why the world can be cruel and unkind. But maybe the pain doesn’t necessarily completely go away. Trauma often has long-lasting effects. It’s the thing that you don’t have to succumb to but rather have to fight against once you know its effect on you. Fear of abandonment? Anxiety attacks? Anger? You name it. You’ll have to work around it and I am so sorry you encountered a trauma in your life. It takes a lot to stand and face the pain. Traumatized people are all around us. 

But don’t lose hope yet or ever. Yes, you’ve experienced something heartbreaking, but you can also be the person to make sure that what happened to you never happens to anyone else. You can try to make the world a safer place and a kinder place. You can try to minimize the pain. I know your pain cripples you but trust me, when you play a role in making someone avoid the pain you felt, you’ll feel like you weren’t a victim, and you’ll set your heart free. You would be doing the opposite of what happened to you. You’d be making others feel safe, held and cared for. You’d make the world a less traumatic place. Your pain doesn’t have to drown you. Your pain can stir change. 

On that note, I believe there is a way to heal and that is by having something beautiful happen to us. Something unexpectedly soothing. Just like the trauma threw us off balance, something beautiful can restore it. I believe we can heal when something heavenly happens to us, something that almost feels like a dream. At least then we can say that the world is not only cruel but it can also be very kind. And it’s true the world has both, but we have to have experienced them to believe it. My wish for you is to experience something extremely wonderful that will restore your faith in humanity. But until then, start by doing that yourself, and there I think you will find what your heart needs. There I think you will set your heart free. There you’ll untie the knots in your heart.

Healing From Trauma Is A Battle (And I Hope You Show Up)

Something happened to you and you became numb. You stopped feeling. You took your pain inward and banished it to the depths of your mind. You did this as a means of protection. You thought it was an act of self-love, not allowing yourself to feel the hurt. You suppressed the trauma and the hurt became dominant. 

But let me tell you this: exiling your trauma to the back of your mind will allow it to become a part of you. And it’s tender, the way it settles quietly into your body. 

You will start to notice the body language of trauma: your body tightens and caves in. You fold your arms and tuck your legs to your chest and let yourself become as small as you can be. Your body will become afraid of its own shadow, afraid of the way its darkness takes up space. 

The longer you pretend your trauma doesn’t exist, pretend it doesn’t still hurt, the more distant it becomes – but it will also get stronger too. Eventually, your hurt will swell. It will take up so much space inside of you that you don’t even realize it. And it will become nearly impossible to defeat. It will become louder and it will convince you that the trauma was your fault: what happened and how you dealt with it. 

This is the brutality of it all: you hold yourself back from feeling that pain, despite how crucial it is. You fawn. You tiptoe around it as if your mind is a minefield: you dodge the memories of how it felt and what hurt the most. 

It’s complex, the very thing you’re afraid of is what you have to face the most. In its own twisted way, this “armor” is self-sabotage: by letting your trauma make a home in your body, you’re keeping yourself from true healing. 

You have to return to the war. You have to let yourself feel it all: the righteous anger, the quiet grief. Bring the trauma to the forefront of your brain and fight it. Don’t let yourself be numb to it forever. By confronting it, you can then let it go. Don’t let yourself become numb to the trauma forever. Be brave enough to go back to the battlefield and face it head-on. Stare it down until it surrenders. Fight for your healing. Your heart. Yourself. Because you don’t really have another choice.