Guest post by by Lisa Dolce, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator,
In a conference room at the 33rd Gathering of Highly Sensitive People in Montecito, California, sitting in a circle with 30 other people, I listened to the facilitator talk and fought my urge to pee.
I can’t, I thought. I don’t want to be rude or disrespectful to the facilitator.
Then, How can I sneak out without interrupting the whole group? I’m all the way on the opposite side of the room. And worse, those big heavy doors are SO loud when they open!”
Amid my panic, I heard the facilitator say, “You are to focus on your needs and not approval this week.”
I don’t think I heard anything else she said after that.
While I was obsessing about all the reasons I couldn’t possibly get up to pee, I was expending a whole lot of energy worrying about what everyone else would think if I walked out—instead of just taking care of me.
Many of us, not only highly sensitive people like me, tend to put ourselves on the bottom of the list. Usually, it’s because we’re afraid we might disappoint someone or give others a reason to criticize us.
For HSPs in particular, feelings like embarrassment or guilt can overwhelm our sensitive nervous system. We tend to avoid doing anything that triggers these feelings, choosing to feel safe in the moment instead.
But just as was true for my screaming bladder, holding back isn’t good for our health. Long term, it robs us of our precious time, energy, and connection to our spirit. It ultimately holds us back from doing the important things that we are put on this earth to do.
So how can you start letting go of this need for approval?
You start by practicing, one small step at a time.
For me, that meant standing up to go to the bathroom. I used that moment to challenge myself, to experiment with focusing on what I needed instead of others approval.
So I got up, making lots of noise moving my chair. Making my way through the tight circle of people to the dreaded big heavy door, which made a huge groaning noise as I opened it.
I continued to challenge myself all week. I even upped my game from just a bathroom run to “cutting out” of a few sessions and getting some much-needed rest. I also said no to catching up with someone over lunch and decided to walk the beautiful nature trails instead.
And guess what? The world didn’t collapse, no one thought less of me and it felt so great to focus on me and what I needed. I left the conference energized instead of exhausted.
When I think about that week, the other great moment came when I left the bathroom that first day and came out to a line of people shouting “thank you, thank you for giving us all permission to go to the bathroom!”
One woman said, “Oh thank goodness you got up, I had to go too but was too embarrassed!” I not only empowered myself but empowered others to focus on their needs as well!!
These days, the experiment continues for me. The things I ask for now are much higher stakes, and they help me move forward in my personal and professional life.
So don’t wait until you’re doubled over in a crowded conference room. Give yourself permission to ask and get what you need. The more you do this, the stronger and more confident you will become—and you’ll inspire others along the way.
What small need can YOU get met today?
Lisa Dolce is a Business Coach and Mentor and Licensed Facilitator of the Right Brain Business Plan ®. She is the founder of The Launch Studio and loves to help sensitive entrepreneurs start and grow soul centered-businesses that make a deep and lasting impact in this world.