It was recently pointed out to me that sometimes I judge my own feelings and responses as right or wrong. I recognized this in a situation that occurred not that long ago. A conversation became uncomfortable, and I "shut down". I went into hyperarousal. Usually, this occurs when I feel angry, embarrassed, anxious. I become overwhelmed by what's being said and/or how I perceive the situation. During this particular conversation, I found myself staring off at an object at the floor. I could still hear everything the other person was saying. I just couldn't look at them. My face and ears were warm, my jaw was tense, my eyes started to tear. I felt hurt, angry, silly, sad - all at the same time. I didn't know how to respond, and the best I could do was to sit, stare, and not say anything. Eventually, with tears in my eyes, I verbalized that I felt hurt. I felt like I didn't know how to respond because the things being said weren't true (in my opinion).

When I recounted this to my therapist, she asked what was wrong with my response. I said I didn't know. Then, I realized how often I do that - judge my own response as right or wrong. She asked how I felt about my response. I felt good about it because I took the time to think about it before the words came out. I had assessed my feelings and said all that I felt needed to be said. I didn't get a response; at least, not a verbal one, and I am working on being okay with that. I can only control how I respond. In this particular situation, I felt my character was being questioned, and that didn't sit well with me.

But, back to me shutting down. I know when it happens, and it's a matter of getting out of it. I feel like I get stuck and can't physically make eye contact. In these situations, I am so overwhelmed with feelings - both my own and the other person's. I'm also afraid to turn and look at them because of my own hurt (I'm usually crying) and what I may see in their eyes. My therapist suggested I try not to play "worse case scenario".

I get so very frustrated when the other person continues to talk despite what's happening to me. I want to just shout, "Stop!". Perhaps, I could try turning, make eye contact, and say, "I need you to stop for a moment. I'm having trouble processing.". It's hard when people close to me know this about me and still get upset as if I'm ignoring them. I am doing the best I can in the situation, and when people continue to talk and don't allow me to come back, I don't know what to do. I just become more overwhelmed on top of feeling like I've done something wrong by not responding in the "right" way. I'm not trying to make excuses, and some understanding/empathy for me being a highly sensitive person would go a long way.