What began as “quick 2-block walk” has turned into a 1.5 mile slog across a shadeless bridge in the high-noon sun.
I’m with a group of friends in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on what we later learn is The Hottest Day in All of Recorded Human History.
And I’m facing what feels like a lose-lose scenario:
If I force myself to walk back across the bridge with everyone, I’ll pay for it the rest of the day.
If I don’t, everyone will think I’m a wimp.
Although I’ve lived where summer temperatures rise above 100 degrees much of my life, back home in California I could always say, “At least it’s a dry heat!”
But here in Chattanooga, my body responds to the combination of heat + humidity with alarm: I’m pouring sweat; my heart is racing and skipping beats; my head is throbbing.
I know — from a lifetime of living in this HSP-wired body — that if I attempt the return trip on foot, I will become light-headed and dizzy.
I’m also keenly aware that I’m the only woman in our group who seems to be experiencing any difficulty with the weather.
And I hate being the “odd one out.”
The woman who really should just
- suck it up
- grin and bear it
- do whatever it takes to act “normal”
What I really want to do is call a Lyft.
But I don’t want my friends to think I’m avoiding them.
And I certainly don’t want the group organizer to feel like I’m second-guessing her leadership.
Then it hits me:
This is the perfect time to call a Lyft!
After all, I’ve done a lot of life with these women. They all know I’m a Highly Sensitive Person; I know that they’re responsible for their feelings, not me.
And our leader is a truly safe person. She’s done a lot of her own personal work in therapy; I can trust her to honor my need to make my own choice in this situation.
“You guys go on ahead,” I tell them. “I’m going to find a ride and meet you at the coffee shop.”
Nobody looks offended or even surprised as they nod, wave, and head toward the bridge.
Then, right on cue, my Inner Critic shows up:
- “Who do you think you are, wasting money like this?”
- “You have legs that work perfectly well!”
- “Do you think a little sweat is going to kill you?”
But I ignore my Inner Critic and ask:
What is my body telling me right now?
The answer is crystal clear:
Call a Lyft.
And so I do.
For most of my life, I couldn’t make this kind of self-stewardship decision because I was so focused on saving the almighty dollar.
Surely I can suffer for another hour rather than waste hard-earned money.
But I’ve come to realize that there’s always a cost.
Let me say that again:
There’s always a cost.
And for far too long, I underestimated the long-term toll of prioritizing a few dollars over my body’s well-being.
But now that I know better, I can do better.
I can actually listen to the the messages my interoceptive system is giving me about what’s going on inside my body.
In the past, I would have ignored the distress signals my body was sending me. Or dissociated from my body altogether.
But part of trying softer in 2023 has meant intentionally learning to live an embodied life. One where I’m no longer “a head on a stick,” as I used to joke. Rather, a life in which I am connected to and actively listening to all parts of the HSP body God’s entrusted to me.
I’m so grateful for all the new information that’s coming to light about interoception. And I’m excited to add this vital research to the “Growing Sensitive & Strong” group coaching program*.
Here’s to shutting down your Inner Critic by learning to truly listen to your God-given body, instead.
* The “Growing Sensitive & Strong” group coaching program is open for registration right now, with limited spots available.