Journal #202 – Minimalism goes well with high-sensitivities and neuroticism

People with very neurotic personality are always constantly worrying about things, even if they seem trivial to others. I know because I’m like that. Combine that with high-sensitivities, you are practically drowning in your own mind.

Now, allow me to start with a back story so you have a context.

After graduating from university, I got a job and I finally could afford to buy my own things and so I did. I bought gadgets, ate at restaurants, bought a lot of stuff like clothes. It went on for a while and I completely forgot about my own value system and what I enjoy doing.

And with my newfound affluence, my neuroticism was directed to things and money. I’m constantly worrying about things spoiling, someone stealing them, and the need to replace them. Or I’m constantly worrying about not being able to buy the next big thing that I want. I started to worry about money. I found that I’m afraid of losing whatever money that I did gain.

After about two years working at my first full-time job, I left. One reason was because of the lack of emotional and moral support. I need those quite a lot. Another reason was because I wanted to build software products but the company I worked for is a system integrator. And reality was that back then, I felt that Singapore just isn’t the place for product development. We have too many system integrators, not so much of product houses. So I switched to chasing the money and do consulting work. I wanted to be able to afford my lifestyle.

It felt good for a while having a much higher salary. Then over time, I ignore who I truly am and became somebody else, trying to be a consultant. I didn’t know I was a highly sensitive person too and my neuroticism also kicked into high gear. That was about four months into the job. It was about January

Then things start going wrong constantly until I finally slipped into depression by June. Had to see a psychiatrist, hang out with friends, talk it out, and I also decided to leave the company. I knew if I stayed on any longer, I would probably be so overwhelmed and take a shortcut out of life.

Long story short, I lost my way.

If you have been following my journey, you probably know that I went on a month long break from work and used that time to do self-discovery. It was then I discovered minimalism and implemented it.

Over the course of the month, with minimalism, I was able to focus on who I truly am, what I truly want in life, and why do I care so much about buying the latest and greatest stuff. With minimalism, I find myself less worried, less neurotic. I have a clearer head. I used minimalism to ground myself, focusing on the now and whether my short term actions align with my values. I care less about stuff. When I do consume, I consume with intentionality and focus on the quality, not quantity.

Minimalism helps in many way if you are a highly-sensitive person, especially if you are some kind of environment empath where you can feel overwhelmed just by stepping into a place full of stuff, or full of people. With it, you would have been less inclined to buy stuff, more inclined to clear stuff from your environment. With less stuff around you, happiness is derived because of fewer stimulations.

That leads me to the next point of being less busy.

Being highly-sensitive means you get overwhelmed easily by being given a lot of things to do. I am like that. So by being a minimalist, you intentionally make yourself less busy. You will have to train yourself to reject work that comes your way when you know you can’t handle it anymore or really want to focus on one thing at a time. Personally, I use the principles in minimalism (maybe a little bit from Buddhism, they do share certain things) everyday to focus on doing the essentials with focus on quality and then intentionally push myself out of the office at 6pm because there are other more important things for me; like writing or getting my me time to get rid of the stuff in my system caused by my sensitivities or get the chance to sleep at my natural hours without suffering from insomnia (can be brought on at the snap of the finger by a combination of over-stimulation and excessive worry).

But I also know it’s highly dependent on your work environment and your current situation. It may not be possible for you to do what I do. In that case, you really have to ask yourself: do you need this job or do you want this job? If you don’t really need the job, then it may be a good time to re-evaluate what you should be doing next. If you need the job, then you will have to determine for yourself if you can handle the pain, make the necessary arrangements, and keep going until you see some light at the end of the tunnel. For me, I am in the process of building up my savings that are liquidable to keep me going even if I leave my current job and stay jobless for up to two years. And I’m single, so I have less responsibilities or commitments. But then, I think, if you are a minimalist, you would have evaluated if some commitments are just unnecessary and take the necessary actions.

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Journal #180 – New Work Month, Already Mentally Exhausted

So it’s here and I came to realize that I’m actually realizing that I’m starting to feel exhausted.

It doesn’t make sense right? I only just started working for a month or so, writing codes, I’m already exhausted? I haven’t even reach crunch time.

I think I know why.

First of all, I already have a tendency to slip into depression of sorts caused by my neuroticism. This alone drains a lot of my mental energy or in other words, I don’t have much energy left.

Two, I have been drinking so much caffeine just so that I get a massive burst of energy and simulation in the morning for more than a week or so now. This overstimulation is interfering with my brain’s ability to relax even on rest day and it has been that way for two weeks or so.

Three, I am by nature also a highly sensitive person who gets overwhelm so easily by deadlines and my bosses decided to just keep squeezing. I know that’s life and work and we are supposed to just suck it up. However, my intention is very clear when it comes to work. It really is just a means to an end but my subconscious mind may not be processing it that way. This constant pushing is perceived as a threat to me, a form of stressor.

And lastly, by nature, I demand high quality when it comes to my programming work. I have tried to relax this demand because it’s unrealistic but it’s still there, occasionally raising its ugly head, draining my already limited mental resources. This is another form of stress that I accidentally put on myself.

So with all the above reasons, I am not surprised. And then today, we were told that we will be required to go to the customer’s site to supervise the application in production as the users use it and to fix any issues. In another words, it is UAT. This alone, well, will push my stress level over my coping mechanism if I’m not careful (referring back to my sensitivities). And I also know there is only so much worrying that I can have before it starts to look unreasonable. So… I shall accept it and let it go. One problem at a time.

Now I’m just left with about 4 days to finish up all the core functionalities of the authentication and authorization module, with audit trails.

Pushing on. Until I break again. That’s joking by the way. I’m not going to put my health on jeopardy again because it is one of my core values.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Daily Journal – Aug 8, 2017

This is my 124th journal.

I woke up earlier today without alarm clock at around 0900hrs. Watched some YouTube video from my favorite youtubers , had a quick morning shower, and then joined my mom to go eat chicken porridge at Jurong West hawker centre.

While eating, I was sweating like mad because I have been eating in air-conditioned environment often. My mom was saying that I have pampered myself too much already. Yeah, I agree. That’s what happen when you feel like a millionaire (not an actual millionaire).

After eating, I had a craving for fried carrot cake and so my mom went to get it. It took more than 15 minutes before it was ready. During that time, the sky started pouring down and my mom forgot to bring in the laundry before we went out. So that’s that.

When my mom finally came back, it was in a packed form. Apparently, the person preparing the food didn’t hear what my mom said about eating in. It didn’t matter as I decided to eat it at home. Then we went to the wet market to get some fishball and egg noodles.

After that we went home. At first we wanted to board bus number 99 but there were a lot of people. So happened that bus number 502 also came and we took that instead. Well, I was under the assumption that the bus will stop at our apartment block but upon checking the details of the bus route, I realized our mistake.

But it’s all good. We alighted at the a mini-shopping mall near our house and went to the supermarket instead. Got more stuff before we made our way home.

Along the way, and running from the rain, I came across two really cute and beautiful cats. I love cats so much, especially when they are all fluffy.

So I went to pet the one of the cats on the head before joining my mom and making our way home.

Upon reaching home, I ate the fried carrot cake and I found it pretty tasty but can’t beat the one that I ate at Ang Mo Kio hawker centre.

After that, brushed my teeth again and I drank some Earl Grey. Then I went to play Cities Skylines for the remaining of the day until dinner time at around 2030hrs. Along the way, my mom went out with my sister to see the doctor as my sister was feeling sick. Then my mom did tried to call me but because I was wearing earphones, playing games, I didn’t know my phone rang. So I missed it. Apparently, my mom wanted to ask me what I wanted to eat for lunch. End up she got me two big meat buns. Ate that for lunch and continue playing.

Here are some night shots of my city:

In the game, I made some rather drastic changes to the roads to ensure optimal traffic flow. I changed the roundabouts and used highways-type roads to force traffic to move in a certain way, taking advantage of the in-game road properties.

For the night, I went to watch a YouTube video by Gary Vaynerchuk. In a way, he’s an inspiration to me and serve as a constant reminder to me that I should continue to be myself and do the things that I enjoy in my own way.

Why the need for reminder? Well, I am someone who has the tendency to emulate or be someone else, is an introvert, and score very high on neuroticism of the five factor model. Since I tend to get overwhelm very easily, I have to learn and practice to do things at my own pace, which I tend to forget or when I feel like I should meet someone else’s expectations.

I have also been watching videos and reading up on High Sensitivity and Elaine Aron’s research. Somehow, I feel like I have some traits of a highly sensitive person. I get hangry, is ticklish, never quite like physical contact with another person, and prefer to work in a dark room or in a cubicle. But then I am rarely in tune with emotions of other people. So I don’t know whether I’m a HSP or is just a neurotic introvert.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Daily Journal – Jun 26, 2017

This is my 86th journal.

I am not even sure if I did enough things today to warrant writing this journal.

Last night, I tried to sleep early but I don’t think it was a quality sleep. I woke up again in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall asleep until around maybe it was 4 or 5am.

*Oh, come on, it’s a freaking public holiday.*

I guess my mind or body somehow knew it was a Monday and I’m supposed to go to work.

I did manage to force myself to play through a couple of hours of Prey in the morning and managed to tune out work from my mind. Then I went to play a few rounds of Plague Inc. and I didn’t quite manage to complete a mission. Got distracted by something else and the thought of work surfaced again.

In the afternoon, I decided to go and get some lunch. Went Jurong Point for that. Then I went to get a drink from Coffee Bean. Starbucks today had a surprisingly long queue. During the time that I was waiting for the bus, I did some writing. A couple of lines for my short story. At least, I guess, it’s better than nothing.

I guess some self-reflection is in order.

I did spent quite some time thinking about certain things, especially how my neuroticism is affecting my life. I also know that I’m a scanner (a term introduced in the book, Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher) or also known as a multi-potentialite but my neuroticism is holding me back, preventing me from seeking out new experiences.

I also know that I’m not empathic at all. I lost count of the number of wrong decisions, statements or comments that I’ve made that hurt someone I know.

Now I wonder if it’s because I simply didn’t take the effort to actually get to know someone, feel, and care for someone that I am like this.

Maybe it’s because of some deeper problems? I can’t be sure but maybe listing them down will help.

First possibility: Is it because of my neuroticism that is taking away the mental capacity for empathic acitivities?

Second possibility: Is it because of me being a scanner/multi-potentialite that I fear commitments?

Third possibility: Maybe it’s both.

Fourth possibility: Maybe it’s because I’m an impatient person that I can’t be bothered to figure out how to make a relationship work.

Fifth possibility: Maybe it all three.

*Sigh.*

I think the only way to know for sure is to take the effort to try to get to know someone, love the person for who he/she is and commit to taking care of that person.

I don’t know if would change me but will it kill me to do so? Not really.

Side note, I uploaded the short story that I submitted for Golden Point Award 2011. You can read it here.

Here I conclude my journal for today.