Some of you may have heard me say that chronic fatigue can be a gift. For me, my diagnosis and perpetual crashes forced me onto a path of self-discovery that provided me with clarity about how I was seeing and doing life in a way that exhausted me. This knowledge then empowered me to make changes that made a massive difference not only to my health but to my experience of life.
Another gift from my fatigue was that my healing was deeply tied to my purpose in the world and from very early on I began to attract clients who were suffering with chronic fatigue. It was not long before I started to see similarities between them in terms of personality characteristics. These characteristics together formed what I called the Holding Personality and I started to explore why it came about and how it contributed to chronic fatigue. I then helped clients do the same.
From a place of understanding how the fatigue had come about and a growing compassion for their current experience many clients found that their fatigue began to shift and a deeper sense of empowerment, joy and ease grew.
So what is this holding personality? Here is a list of characteristics that I often see in people with chronic exhaustion. See how many resonate with you:
- A tendency to attempt to control life and others (including an excessive desire for everything to be organised and a tendency to plan)
- Being very capable and responsible/self-sufficient
- Seldom showing vulnerability
- Driven to succeed and achieve linked to a desire for perfectionism
- Conversely, related to perfectionism – a tendency to procrastinate (which is often due to a fear of failure or generally just feeling overwhelmed by overly high expectations)
- Always doing/being busy and difficulty sitting still
- Being very sensitive to and aware of the emotions of others
- A tendency to rescue others and take on their baggage for them. This can also lean towards protecting others and being a ‘fixer’
- A desire to keep other people happy and possibly worrying about what others will think of you/your actions
- Struggling to say no
- Not wanting to burden others
- Seldom asking for help
- Having trouble being spontaneous
- Having strong and, at times, inflexible expectations for how life should be
- Low self-esteem
You will not resonate with all of these characteristics but if you do resonate with many of them there is a good possibility that this “holding personality’ is contributing to your fatigue. In a nutshell this is a person who is a do-er, likes to feel in control and capable and to be on top of things. Furthermore, this can extend to relationships and a tendency to want to manage and feel in control within relationships. Finally, the rescuer role runs deep. It can be difficult to witness people hurting without ‘making it better’ and to not take on ‘stuff’ from others.
“So what?”, you may be thinking even if you do resonate with many of these characteristics. Well, the way our personality is structured has a deep impact on how we experience life, the beliefs we have about life and how we behave and respond to life including to people and situations.
All of this can result in becoming very, very tired.
If you experience many of the characteristics of the Holding Personality it is very likely that you are tired because:
- It takes great effort and energy to always maintain this way of being (constantly attempting to be in control and match up to high expectations set for the self is exhausting)
- You may very likely have shut down to receiving help and support from othersand therefore cannot share the load with others and cannot receive energy from outside of you to replenish your own depleted reserves.
- Our emotional and mental state becomes physically embodied and then the body cannot function optimally to produce energy.Psychological holding can create physical tension and rigidity in the body which blocks the flow of energy and impacts physical functioning, ultimately resulting in fatigue.
- You are likely experiencing cumulative stress (the fight/flight/freeze response) and no time to counter it with the relaxation response. All the achievement-driven behaviour and doing results in constant andcumulative stress. Cumulative stress impacts physical functioning and upsets various systems in the body such as the endocrine system, digestive system, and creates systemic inflammation. This contributes to fatigue.
Most likely you have been living in the Holding mode for as long as you remember and you were not even aware that this was what you were doing and how it was impacting your body until suddenly your body, health and mind just did not do what you wanted them to do.
This can be a very good opportunity – the gift of feedback from your body – to finally address the imbalanced way in which you have been living so that you can find greater ease, empowerment, confidence, calm and even discover your truth more deeply. All of that on top of having more energy!
In module 1 of my Fatigue to Flow Coaching I focus on assessing if and how the Holding Personality is present and how it impacts life. I also assess with each client how it came about to get a deeper awareness and understanding. With awareness we can choose something different.
What characteristics of the Holding Personality do you recognise in yourself? Please comment below.
P.S. Keep an eye open for the next post where I will share why the Holding Personality develops in some and not others.
Hi Kerry all you have described on the holding personality I relate to. What is uppermost is the physical aspect. I am constantly rigid and tense holding tightly physically and find it difficult to relax and let go . This affects my sleep. Can not sleep, switch off without taking a sleeping tablet. Totally drained and exhausted at the moment.
Hi Razia. I am sorry to hear that you are battling so much at the moment but well done for being conscious of that tension. Many of us can go through life not even realising how much physical tension and contraction we hold. When you do notice it try to be soft with yourself versus judge it and put your hand on your heart and other hand on your belly and breathe for a while while acknowledging the tension. This is a way to reconnect to your body and calm your nervous system. You’ll be learning a lot more in the Rooted membership and I am so glad that you’re joined us!