Updated: Mar 12
“You’re so Sensitive!”
When I was growing up I came to view being ‘sensitive’ as being weak. It meant ‘too much’ ~ too emotional, too reactive, too dramatic, & taking things too personally. Every time someone implied or told me I was ‘sensitive’ I felt ashamed. It was like there was this whole part of me that was broken or wrong in some way. No matter how hard I tried ‘not to care’ or ‘not to take things personally’ I did & when I did I judged myself even more for being ‘too sensitive.’
The reality is I’m sensitive. I’ve cried twice this week watching Schitt’s Creek (David & Patrick season 3 seriously!) & I feel the effects of everything from the food I eat to subtle shifts in my environment. The difference is, today I respect & honour this sensitivity. More then that, I’ve learned that this perceptiveness is incredibly useful in connecting with myself, my clients, & my world. When we hone our sensitivity it becomes a gift. It teaches us how to honour ourself & others, diffuse conflict, & speak in ways that are impactful & heard.
The Strength of Sensitivity
Years ago when I was teaching yoga full time my manager came to evaluate one of my classes. I knew through the grapevine that some of my peers had found their feedback quite challenging & also that my manager was somewhat conflicted in evaluating us. As we settled in for class I could feel myself buzzing, my nerves were shaky, & my mind was grasping on ways I might impress.
Instead of ‘trying’ to push aside these feelings, or berating myself for ‘not being calm!’ (both of which I would’ve done years earlier), I settled into my body & felt the subtleties of sensation & emotion. I spoke directly to this uneasiness ~ through posture, metaphor, & breath I guided the class to meet their experience & emotions with tenderness. I didn’t think about what I ‘should’ say, instead I listened & felt how each word landed in my body & in the breath & presence of my students. Intuitively, I sensed that I was speaking to my manager, not my narrative of who they were or with an agenda to impress, but to them as they were in that moment.
At the end of the class my manager came up to thank me & I could see the emotion in their face. It was touching. They never actually gave me feedback or evaluated the class. They didn’t need to. It was a point of real connection & that's all it needed to be.
Sensitivity is a gift. It allows us to meet others with warmth & welcoming. Attuned our sensitivity is like a compass that gently guides us into that which desires to be seen, healed, or heard. When this sensitivity is reactive it may be defensiveness, hyper-vigilant, or overwhelmed. But even here it carries wisdom & the reminder to meet our self with that same warmth & care.
Attend in You (A Place for Reflection)
Sensitivity tends to be destructive when the impetus of control ~ that which we are trying to appease/ evaluate/ understand ~ is outside of ourself. If we are in constant evaluation of how our being/actions/ words will effect the other person, how people might perceive us, or even how our ‘handling’ of a situation fits some idealogical construct we are likely not fully in ourself.
To Attend in You means to give yourself the space & permission to ‘feel’ the entirety of your experience from your personal perspective. All thoughts & emotions, no matter how 'unseemly' are welcome. In witnessing & clarifying your experience you can begin to discern those areas which require attention & care.
It’s helpful to journal your thoughts & feelings, particularly if they tend to spin in your mind.
Some journalling prompts;
~ I feel…
~ I feel angry/ frustrated/ annoyed because…
~ I feel sad/ hurt/ disappointed because…
~ I am scared/ nervous/ worried because…