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.