One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my life involved dealing with one of my ex’s – a very difficult person. During our relationship. I had really let myself get jerked around by his anger, and his controlling ways. It took a lot for me to summon up the courage to stand up for myself within that relationship, and to end it when it became too toxic to save.
I remember one day, when I was preparing to meet with him to work out a few things, after the relationship had ended. I saw him coming from across the parking lot, and I felt really scared. I said to the friend who was with me: “Oh no – he’s really angry.” She gave me a funny look and replied, “Who cares?”
That moment still feels like a great teaching to me. Of course. as compassionate human beings, it is important and necessary to care about other people’s feelings. But my lesson was about not trying to make things right for other people at my expense – at the expense of my own feelings, my instincts, my safety, and my better judgment.
Highly sensitive people have both a gift and a challenge. The gift is a world of feeling – information coming in all the time about the people we’re with, the environment, and our own inner states. The challenge involves learning how not to get flooded by all of that information, and to maintain a sense of self with appropriate boundaries intact. This becomes even harder when we love someone, and truly care how they feel, and want to help them. As women, we’re taught to be self-sacrificing, to place the needs of others before our own. But when that genuine kindness is not reciprocated, or when it is abused, that impulse can pull us dangerously into someone else’s’ power. Sometimes the best way to help someone else is simply to hold space, with compassion, and let them work through their own experience.
Since the time of that incident, the skill-building work I’ve done at Eponaquest has helped me more than any other thing in my life, to learn how to manage my sensitivity, and to develop the assertiveness skills I needed in order to navigate the challenge of dealing with difficult people, which for me was a challenge indeed. I can’t say that I “know it all” now, but I can say I’ve made incredible progress through my work with Linda Kohanov and the horses, and that my life is much better for it today.
Erin Menut, MA, E-RYT