How do you handle change?


After reading chapter one of The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, I was able to note some interesting facts about my highly sensitive experiences with change.


  • When I went through my first breakup as a teen, I was devastated and didn’t eat anything for a week. I never had an eating disorder; the sadness was just so deep that I didn’t feel like eating.


  • When I first started college at a rather large state school, I couldn’t handle it. I was used to small town life where everybody knew my name. I didn’t make friends there, the classes were so big that I couldn’t get my questions answered, and marching band exhausted me. I felt depressed. I dropped out of band after the first week, and left the university after the first semester (although it required an intervention and my parents telling me they wouldn’t be disappointed in me if I quit!).


  • When I moved across the country for a new job, there was so much newness there that on the first day, I burst into tears in front of my new coworkers. Later in the bathroom I was so overwhelmed with the life change that I threw up.


  • For most of the morning on my wedding day, I had terrible anxiety. I do not like being the center of attention, and I almost passed out before having to walk down the aisle. I didn’t feel well most of that day.



Do you see a pattern here?


Most of these changes were wanted changes. And most of them turned out great after the “change period.” I ended up transferring to a smaller college where I did exceptionally well academically and thrived as a person. My new job situation turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Change resulted in personal growth.


But I have always felt ashamed of my dramatic initial responses to changes. And the shame over my reaction to change often just makes it worse! Not only am I dealing with my brain on overload, but I’m also dealing with the shame of my body’s responses.


Right before my wedding, as I think I was probably having a panic attack, my perceptive sister told me, “Kate, you have always manifested your emotions physically in your body.” I now realize that what she was talking about is what so often happens to highly sensitive people – when our minds become over-aroused, our bodies often flip out.


What to do.


I have decided to say goodbye to this shame for how my body faces change, and accept who I am as a mighty sensitive. I don’t always like how my mind and body react to the over-stimulation that comes with life changes… but good things, like empathy and intuition, also come from that same sensitive part of me. So in accepting the reality that my body may need time to adjust and react, I can equip myself to handle changes better.


Now when I got through changes, I’m more aware of my self-care needs and support myself by:


  • Having a support system with others going through the same changes. That feeling of “togetherness,” and knowing I’m not going through it alone, is so comforting.
  • Using a somatic practice to uncover what I need, and responding to those needs.
  • Inhaling my essential oils to feel grounded and stable.
  • Processing the changes and what I’m experiencing with my therapist.
  • Letting go of other people’s expectations of me during the change.


First and foremost, I want to allow myself to need these things, without feeling selfish or weak. To honor my body and soul, as a way of acknowledging and honoring that this is the way I’m wired.


Your needs for going through life changes might look different than mine. What are those things that help you handle big changes? Leave a comment to let us know!