A weather analogy

I have said many times in my life, and probably many times on this blog, that I feel people’s feelings. I know that the highly-sensitive people out there know what I mean, know what it is like to have someone else’s emotions permeate your soul. But I also know that for the majority of people, that concept makes no sense. And for whatever reason, the other day, I found an analogy that might explain it better (and we know I love using analogies to understand things!)

So, you know when you go outside? If it’s windy out, you feel the wind. If it’s cold, you feel the cold. If it’s rainy, you get wet. You can’t NOT feel the weather. And that’s how it is for me. I’m wired to feel people’s emotions, such that I can’t not feel them, the same way that I can’t not feel the warmth from the sun on a 90 degree day.

Of course, you might feel the wind but not be bothered by it. Like, it’s there and you notice it but it doesn’t consume you. And that’s what I work towards. Knowing that I’m wired to feel people’s emotions, but, like the wind, I can notice it and move on without letting it become the main focus of every single cell in my body. And it’s hard! If you’re outside on a day where the temperature is 3 degrees Fahrenheit, you are going to feel cold to your core. Your bones will feel cold. Try as you might, you can’t really ignore it.

But you can try. You can feel the cold yet know it will pass when you go inside. And I can feel the emotions of the loved ones around me, without letting them become my own, without letting them permanently take up residence inside.

Does this make any sense? Can anyone relate? Does anyone have another way to explain it?

The silly 911 script

I’ve written before about scripting, how it’s safe and comforting to our kids, how it’s often a way for us to get “in” to their brain and form a connection, how scripting can be so positive and we should utilize it. (And as a side note, I thought of another real-life example of scripting. When my favorite yoga teacher ends a class, she always, ALWAYS ends it with, “Drink water, be good to yourself.” And it’s a routine and I love when she says it, and if she didn’t, I would feel unsettled)

There’s a script/routine that I do at least once a day with one of my kiddos, Joey [not his real name]. Joey has high anxiety and often feels as though a problem is an emergency, and will react as such. For example, in the past, his anxiety combined with his impulsivity would lead Joey to push a child if he lost a game, call a peer stupid if Joey wasn’t picked to go first, or just get stuck ruminating if he wrote his name messily. Joey has learned all about the problem scale and though in a moment of calm he can understand and identify what’s an emergency and what’s a glitch, and what’s in between, he has a hard time accessing that in the moment.

When I teach the Problem Scale, to any of my kids, I often say that since a number 5 is an emergency type problem, if there’s a problem for which we don’t need to call 911, it’s probably not an emergency (e.g., though your pencil falling on the ground might feel like an emergency, we don’t need 911 to help with it, so we don’t need to react as though it’s an emergency). Joey latched onto this almost as a security blanket, and for whatever reason, it clicked in his brain.

So when a problem arises, like he spills water on his worksheet, he often turns to me and mimics dialing on a phone and says, “Do it, boop boop boop.”

And I hold out my palm like a phone and I pretend to dial and the noise I make for the pretend numbers is, “Boop boop boop.”

I hold up my “phone” to my ear and I say, “Hello, 911? Yes, we have an emergency. Joey spilled water on his sheet. Oh. Really? Hmm. Okay. Thanks. Bye.”

Then I “hang up” and tell Joey, “911 said it’s just a glitch and they don’t need to come.”

And Joey laughs and laughs and then moves right on. Calm. Comforted. Reassured.

We have done this countless times. For not winning a contest, for tearing a corner of his paper by accident, for not getting to have speech one day if there’s an assembly, for losing a game. The script is always the exact same, and it brings Joey comfort. For whatever reason. The reason doesn’t matter.

So yesterday when there was an assembly and a something happened that Joey perceived as upsetting and problematic, he tugged on my sleeve and I knelt down and he mimicked dialing, so we whispered the script to each other – and he was fine. He rocked that assembly and not only was I psyched that the script worked, but I was proud. He sought it out, he used self-advocacy, he knew what he needed and what he needed was reassurance, and this is how he got it. And that is no small accomplishment.

Without judgment


Today was a gloomy, rainy, gray day. I hate feeling cold – internally, down-to-my-soul cold, and at times I did. I hate when my feet are wet in my flats, and they were. And I felt a few rushes of sadness come over me, as I often do on gray and gloomy days. And at first my brain automatically responded, with “Stop, don’t be sad” and “Try to be happy” and “Why are you sad, there’s no reason to be sad” but in the spirit of noticing and observing without judging, I gently reminded my brain, “I can feel sad. I have a wave of sadness right now and that’s actually okay. And embracing the wave makes it less scary and less intense. It’s when I judge and criticize it that it gains power.” And it worked, and I felt a wave of sadness but it wasn’t all-consuming by any means. And I had a meeting for work this afternoon, so I went, and I left driving in the rain, and I went to the gym because today, in that moment, the gym felt like self-care, and right now, in this moment, I feel good. And whatever the next moment brings, it’s okay. Because I’ll be there, too. Embracing it, whatever it is.

There’s something to be said for staying present, staying mindful. Noticing. Observing. Without judgment.

So raw

Today I am raw.
Like there is no outer layer of skin protecting me and everything is getting through. I’m hyper-porous and permeable and feelings, thoughts, memories, are all swirling around inside, filling me up up up and I think I might burst. Tears have pricked my eyes so many times today, threatening to spill over into sobs. It’s all too much.

As with the weather, the seasons, the tide, it just happens. I have an idea of a few contributing factors, but the factors are influential, not causal. Which is hard to accept, because it means accepting that this is my wiring. That I can’t control it. That I can’t make it start or stop.

So what do I do? Do I fight the feelings, the memories, the frustration, the disappointment, the fear, the sadness, the heaviness? Do I ride it out until it recedes (as it always does, but I always fear it won’t)? That’s the constant struggle – try to feel it and ride it even as I feel consumed. Even as it weighs so much I’m pulled down. To just…..be.

Never met anyone who does this….

I can smell emotions in weather. I go outside each day and the air either smells calm, happy, scary, etc.

Yes, I know this is weird. No, I don’t know why it is.

Maybe it’s a part of my extreme sensitivity and porous-ness. I know that my mom and brother all have some sort of synasthesia/mixing of senses – – seeing colors for days, 3D visual representations of dates and calendars in our brains, etc.

But then, there’s this for me. I usually don’t say a word, but sometimes it slips out: “Do you smell that air, it smells SO calm!” and then…cue the weird look, and the “Um…I didn’t know air smelled like emotions.”



It never fails to amaze me how sensitive I am to lack of sleep. When I say that I need at least 6 or 7 (ideally 8+) hours a night, I don’t just mean because I’m tired the next day otherwise. I mean because otherwise, my head goes crazy. Without sleep and rest to give my brain a break, it goes into overdrive. The thoughts, the fears, they all magnify. I lose the ability to shut off, or at least decrease somewhat, the absorption of other people’s sorrows and emotions. I am so permeable on a daily basis, but without sleep, there’s no stopping it — every feeling, every emotion, every thought that every person is thinking goes right through me.

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