Every highly sensitive introvert has experienced this.
You’re sailing through daily life, ticking all the boxes for health and wellbeing. You’re exercising, sleeping plenty and eating lots of green stuff.
Then, without warning, you have what I like to call an “unruly squid moment”.
I came up with the term just now, but it was inspired by an unforgettable experience I had a few years ago involving a giant jar of seafood antipasto.
My Italian friend got me hooked on the oily appetizer, which consisted of baby squid, shrimp, peppers, and oil. It looked gross, but it tasted delicious. One day, a nearly full jar slipped out of my hands and shattered onto my dark hardwood floors.
A mess of unruly shrimp and squid jiggled atop a massive puddle of oily brine. The tentacles. The oil. The overwhelming scent of seafood —
It was all too much.
I managed to clean up the mess, but the floors stayed slick with oil residue for weeks. The fishy stench lingered for nearly as long.
I never ate seafood antipasto again, but I had plenty of “unruly squid moments” nonetheless. There have been many times when I felt shattered by my own emotions, and frustrated by their unruly ways.
Feelings that ‘should’ have been washed away by the passing of time resurfaced uninvited and lingered long after I told them to get lost. This kind of emotional residue is the reason many highly sensitive (HSP) introverts unknowingly leak energy every single day.
The frustrating part about being a highly sensitive introvert is that no matter how much we plan our life, and structure it to suit our needs, we cannot avoid our own emotions. Of course, we still try.
We hide, we numb, we deny – all in an effort to side-step the discomfort of feeling our emotions. After all, highly sensitive introverts feel things deeply. A surface scratch is easier to deal with than a sharp knife to the centre of your soul. Just sayin’.
Author Elaine Aron explains:
“We feel so intensely. It is part of why we process everything very deeply—we are more motivated to think about things by our stronger feelings of curiosity, fear, joy, anger, or whatever. But this intensity can be overwhelming, especially when we have negative feelings.”
As painful as it might be to truly feel our emotions. The alternative is worse. Unacknowledged emotions cannot be released.
Just like the oily residue my antipasto fiasco left behind, our unfelt emotions stick with us and find other ways of getting our attention. They can raise quite a stink.
Bestselling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle put it this way:
“If you cannot feel your emotions, if you are cut off from them, you will eventually experience them on a purely physical level as a physical problem or symptom.”
Sadness leads to sickness. Stress attacks our heart. For better or worse, our emotions impact our physiology. The good news is that we can use this knowledge to our advantage.
4 Steps To Release Emotional Residue
1. Notice your emotions. Many HSP introverts spend years trying to control and numb our emotions. We get so good at suppressing our feelings that we stop noticing them. We become totally disconnected from our emotions and have trouble both identifying and expressing them.
The first step for releasing emotional residue is to start paying attention to what you feel on a daily basis. Check in throughout the day and practice labelling your feelings at a given moment.
2. Sit with your emotions. One unique advantage of being an HSP introvert is that it is harder for us to escape our emotions. Many distractions are simply too overwhelming. We need our alone time to survive.
If we use this time alone to truly be present with our emotions, they will naturally pass through us and be released.
3. Circulate your emotions. Humans are meant to move. Outer movement changes our mental and emotional state. There is no denying that.
Often we overlook the fact that our internal systems are constantly in flux as well. Nothing within us is designed to stay stagnant. Including our emotions. To keep emotions moving, we must remove the blockages we’ve built up in their way.
4. Release your emotions. Just like skin cells, emotions come to the surface to be gently sloughed away. We don’t cling to our dead skin cells, desperately trying to stick them back on. Why should we do so with our emotions?