Mental Minimalism: The Luminous Golden Egg
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
High Sensitivity at Work
Approximately 20% of all people are what is called "Highly Sensitive Persons" (HSP-ers). Highly sensitive people are people who are more sensitive than the average population. High sensitivity is not sensitivity to criticism that is born from pride or wounds, causing us to live a defensive lifestyle that is sensitive to any form of threat. With high sensitivity I mean a sensory sensitivity. Highly sensitive people sense signals, emotions, and changes more strongly than others. Both for good and for bad. For good, because HSP-ers can be very happy and energized by the people around them. For bad, because HSP-ers easily take the emotional baggage of people around them, especially people that they love, to themselves. HSP-ers can worry all day about the frown on their boss' face and wonder if they were the one to displease him, or wonder whether he is down, whether they should check if he is okay... , ending up buying him a donut out of pure agony as if that is the only thing that they can do to make him happy again.
Although high sensitivity is a genetic trait and can in fact be physically measured, all people's emotional stability is largely bound up with their physical health. I see this prominently in my own life. When I sleep well, and live healthily, I can balance my own emotions and even the emotions of the people that I love. On the other hand, when I am physically weak through neglect of self-care, my emotions are harder to manage and I feel shaky, and out of balance.
One day, recently, I had one of those emotionally draining days. I felt like I was balancing my emotional life while I felt I was standing on one leg. No. In fact, I balanced on three of my toes while I was standing on a pole within the water while the wind was blowing around me. That is how I felt. Yet the day was still long. I had just started my workday and had to survive another 6 hours while feeling overwhelmed and weighed down already. So I consulted the internet. Because that is what we do, is it not? The internet provided a solution that was tailor-made for the highly sensitive worker:
"...visualize a luminous golden egg of light surrounding your entire workstation to repel negativity and only lets in positive energy. You are safe and protected within the golden egg."
I was very amused by this solution, chuckled my way through the day and realized that this solution indeed made me happy. Not because the solution worked, but because the visualization of it applied to my particular workspace was funny.
What would the biblical solution be to the high sensitive burdened minds among us?
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30).
This verse is certainly not cliche. What Jesus offers here is a mindfulness that brings tranquility to the soul. What Jesus offers here is something that we in our Western society do not offer to ourselves. When we feel burdened and overwhelmed, we do not think of gentleness and humility but rather we think of a swift kick in our pants while we critically tell ourselves to man up, to have grit, and to move on, while we snark at the people who are around us.
When we look at Jesus' solution to overburdened minds, we see gentleness and humility as a key to rest for our soul. Gentleness is a form of (self)compassion. A tenderness that does not pressure but that leads us according to the capabilities and the limits of ourselves and the other. Humility is a form of tenderness that does not strive for a greatness to be achieved, but accepts things the way that they are. Both of these traits are traits that God offers to high octane, pressured, and stressed out people in today's work environment. If we learn to offer these traits to ourselves on the basis of Jesus' imitation, we will find rest for our souls. But how to apply this?
How to apply gentleness and humility to the soul
What I could do when I feel overwhelmed is, take a short break from my day, go outside to sit in the sun, and pray: "Jesus, help me to get through this day, I cannot oversee it myself." I can put on some calming music that blocks out the sound of my colleagues and allows me to go into a quiet space in my mind. Or, I can go be gentle to the person who seems to struggle too on this particular day, and the gentleness I give may translate back into my own soul. I could also go make a tea, drink it slowly while I tell myself "tomorrow will be better, Jo, some days are just off." I accept that this day is a day that simply will not feel good, and that some days are just like that.
"Jesus, you offer me everything good. Help me to apply your offer to myself."
I may not need a luminous golden egg of light when I have a Prince of Peace right inside of me. I just have to become more aware of his presence during my days.
For more on this topic, look at the international bestseller The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, by Elaine N. Aron.