Would you consider yourself a highly sensitive person or an empath?
What I’ve discovered is that sometimes we are so consciously and unconsciously dialed into our environment that it can compromise internal peace.
The concept of Auto-Accommodating refers to the unconscious compulsion to avoid conflict or issues even when they are not your own. Sometimes it can present as just wanting to be “helpful,” which seems like a nice thing to do unless you can’t turn it off.
Let’s say you’re in a restaurant with a loved one with a beautiful meal in front of you.
Are you aware of everything going on around you? The people’s conversations at other tables, the wait staff, maybe even the party of 4 that came in frustrated that they have to wait and are giving the hostess a hard time?
Now let me ask you this…in this scenario, do you find your eyes sweeping the room to check and see which diners are almost ready to leave so as to help “accommodate” the person hassling the hostess? (even if you say nothing, the act of seeking a solution to what is not your problem is the point, here.)
If you’re nodding your head yes, then this episode is for you.
While it might seem like you’re being kind and helpful to others (and you might be!), I want to shed light on how the unconscious mechanism of auto-accommodating could be compromising your precious mental and emotional space and what you can do about it.
Auto-accommodating means being in a state of hyper-awareness, that is, being acutely dialed into what is happening around you to see if you can help avoid conflict or correct a problem even if it does not directly relate to you. If you identify with being an empath or a highly sensitive person, chances are you feel like your “antennas” are up all the time, scanning every room and everyone.
If you follow my work, you know that I myself am a recovering high-functioning codependent. That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about teaching others how to change these behavior patterns.
Despite more than two decades as a therapist and many years of my own personal work, I recently found myself feeling emotionally compromised. I share my own story in the video, but in short, I could see my old behavioral patterns being more activated than they would usually be.
For me, a BIG one is this auto-accommodating thing. This isn’t just the difficulty with saying no or always saying yes to others…it goes beyond that into compulsively feeling responsible to make everything and everyone around you feel ok…so you can feel ok.
It may or may not be conscious. For all of those who identify with being an empath or a highly sensitive person, I see you. I want to help draw your awareness to auto-accommodating behavior because, as I well know, there’s a COST.
If you’re doing this consistently (the way I used to in my 20s), it can create exhaustion, brain fog, anxiety and other physical repercussions from over-functioning, over-doing and using your bandwidth to be acutely dialed into what is happening around you.
Think of your mind like a computer and imagine there’s a giant software program that’s constantly processing things and taking up a ton of space on your hard drive in the background unseen. Your computer runs slow, but you don’t know why.
That’s what auto-accommodating does to your brain.
So why do we over-accommodate?
This kind of behavior is adaptive. That is, it is a learned behavior. For most of us who have the auto-accommodating reflex, it means there was some adaptive reason for us to learn and act out these patterns in our childhood.
If you grew up in a home with…
- Verbal, Physical or Emotional Abuse…
- Daily Chaos…
- Mental Illness…
…a hyper-awareness of your surroundings as a child was necessary for your protection or to avoid negative feedback. Human beings are incredibly adaptive, especially as children, and so we learn very quickly how to stay safe and that usually means our needs cannot be at the top of the list.
In order to remain safe, a hypervigilant child learns to prioritize the needs of others and to stay under the radar. They become very skilled at constantly scanning the room for possible conflicts, threats or problems.
Even if this is at our own expense, we build up this kind of adaptive armor and learn how to take care of things and how to avoid unwanted, negative attention.
Hyper-awareness is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I consider my ability to read a room and to empathically know how others are feeling to be one of my superpowers.
That said, being in a constant state of heightened external awareness like this takes a toll. If it goes unchecked, it can be debilitating.
What’s going on in the body is some level of the fight or flight, a continuous state of reactiveness. Even if it’s happening unconsciously, your body is pumping out cortisol and stress hormones…and the effects of this can last as long as 12 hours. ¹
The energy that it takes to constantly have your antennas up can be exhausting and have a negative impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.
If you haven’t brought this from the basement (your unconscious mind) up into the main part of the house (your conscious mind), I want to invite you to take some time for reflection and then commit to taking a different action.
As a child, you didn’t have a choice. But now you do.
You can create inner expansion and space and STOP auto-accommodating. The first step is to become aware, and I’ve put together a few simple practices in this week’s cheat sheet to help you work through this and create new habits.
You can download my best tips to start to make a positive change and stop auto-accommodating right here.
It takes some practice, but trust me, it’s SO worth it and you so deserve more bandwidth, more energy, and more peace so you can be present in your beautiful, one-of-a-kind life!
If this episode resonated with you, please share it on your social media platforms. This is how you can support the show and my desire to reach people and add value to as many humans as possible.
I want to say thank you – I so appreciate your time, your interest in your own mental health, and you sharing the love!
I hope you have an amazing week and as always take care of you.
¹Harvard Health Publishing. “Understanding the Stress Response.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response.
Wow. No Wonder I am So Exhausted. Thankyou for explaining this Terri!
Mind blown! I thought I had chronic fatigue syndrome because I’m always so tired but this resonates with me. I’m just not sure if my childhood was all that bad.
I’m glad it is resonating! It might not stem back to your childhood per se. But if you find yourself auto-accommodating in a situation, perhaps take a pause and ask yourself the 3 Questions. Who does this person remind me of? Why is this dynamic familiar? Where have I felt this way before?
Your blog and resources have made a huge difference to me this year. Thank you for all of it. I love the sound of the workshop at Kripalu. If you ever do one in the UK sometime I will be there : )
I am so glad to hear it resonates with you. 🙂
Yup that’s me. Thank you for calling attention to this. I will take your advice. Proudly wearing my elastic. 🙂
Way to go Denise!!! I’m cheering you on!!!
Thank you Terri ! This is so helpful. I have lived my entire life this way! I really needed this video to help me realize i do this automatically and i can change this behavior and thought pattern
Thank you again Terri! You are Amazing!
You are very welcome, and you are definitely not alone! Many people find themselves stuck in this, and you definitely CAN change. I’m cheering you on!!
Thanks for this, I listened to this on way to work and knew this was me. I believe I have cut some of this out, but it will be interesting to watch myself over the weeks to see what is still roooted.
I also internally reprimand myself and go over my actions if I notice and choose not to do something!!!
I’m glad to hear it resonated and that you’re going to stay curious and continue to observe yourself. I’ll be cheering you on!
OMG!!! Thank you!
Terri I love this and it couldn’t have come in a better time. I am always tuned in to what is happening around me for years and years and took the decision a couple of days ago to be conscious about it and change it. It’s a big one for me, the inability to focus on what is happening with me and lose hours and days and miss opportunities this way. Thank you so much for this vlog, best ever ❤️
I am so happy to hear that Rania and happy to hear that it resonated. I’m cheering you on, because yes you can change it!!