As a little girl I was often told I was too sensitive. I was a child who was very open to feeling everything all of the time which meant I was very honouring and expressive of how much I felt. If I was hurt I would cry, if I was sad I would go and have some quiet time often out in nature or ask for a hug, if I was tired I would stop and have a nap, when I loved someone I would not hold back all the affection of how much I adored them and equally if I found someone creepy I would not go near them. I remember clearly that as a child when I was full of joy I would dance and laugh and be light and exuberant and not care who was watching. I was totally open in how I felt. It was a very beautiful and liberating way to be and at that time I knew that being sensitive was natural and a strength to support me to sense what was going on all around me, and to stay open to all that life presented.
Do you remember this in yourself as a child?
The thing that often happens when we are so connected to how we feel and open to letting people see it, is that it can make the adults around us feel uncomfortable and we get the message to shut down our sensitivity. You may remember this happening, but why does this happen?
When a person is being real about their feelings, they offer everyone around them a reflection of being sensitive, it’s like their very presence reminds people of how they cannot stop feeling everything all of the time and let’s be honest, most adults have chosen to live in a way that avoids this conscious awareness of how much they are picking up on. So when someone, adult or child, comes along who is not avoiding their sensitivity and open to being intune with all that is transpiring around them and within them, this calls everyone in their sphere to connect equally to the all that is going on and to come back to what and how they are feeling. This can be a big stop for people, it requires honesty and realness about where they are at and a return to an awareness of what they are feeling which may have been shut down for a very long time.
Let’s be clear, sensitivity is an innate quality. If it has been shut down for a long time when it begins to reawaken it can sometimes feel uncomfortable or painful. There can be a sense of loss and overwhelm and a not knowing of what to do with how much we immediately feel. This can bring a lot of tension to the body which many will focus on and in this very real and raw state we can feel vulnerable and want to stop this feeling of being exposed so choose to immediately shut down our sensitivity by going into protection. This choice brings hardness or dismissiveness to the body or we may choose a very familiar coping strategy that brings immediate comfort. Sound familiar?
So a person experiencing a reawakening of their awareness who has a reaction will send a very clear message to those maintaining their awareness and expression of sensitivity, all of us as children and some of us as adults, that being in our sensitivity makes people uncomfortable and if we continue to express in this way, we do not fit in.
As a child when we were constantly met with the “you’re too sensitive” message either verbally or in a person’s behaviour, we very quickly learn to tone down the expression of how we feel and how much we feel and the cycle of shutting down awareness to our sensitivity perpetuates and we become the adult that struggles with the reawakening of how we feel.
The thing is… sensitivity is innate, so even if we have a diminished awareness of how much we are sensing all of the time it is still being registered by our body and by our inner being. We cannot stop feeling, we can only dampen, dull, disconnect or make ourselves racy so we are not so aware or intune with what and how much we pick up on every single moment of every day.
Reaction is not the only way to be when we meet a person who is reflecting their own connection to and expression of their sensitivity. Initially we may have the same explosion of uncomfortable feelings as described in the person reacting to sensitivity above but there is also something else that ignites within us. There is a curiosity, an inspiration that occurs from the reflection that is in front of us and we begin to wonder “how does that person remain in their sensitivity?” In this cracking open we remember that we too where like that once and we give ourselves permission to feel. We instantly accept the tension, the yuck that might be there, and we stay in the vulnerability of how we are feeling. In this moment we choose not to use protection to close down our heart, but we stay open and respond from our inner being.
There is no “perfect picture” in this response but there is an openness that supports you to be very real and honest. You might cry (if needed), say how it is for you, get support or simply hold steady and breath. If you can stay with the honesty of that moment and not push what you are feeling away you will see that the intensity won’t last for ever and underneath the tension is a beauty that you have known before, simply waiting for you to reacquaint yourself with.
Living connected to and in the expression of your sensitivity is an unfolding process. There is no quick fix, just like a flower needs time and the support of the sun and water to blossom so to do we need space and support to come out of holding back our sensitivity. Many have done this, and you can to. Your practitioners at Living Stillness can support with this, as can other counselling services, true friends etc.
I have a fun example that illustrates sensitivity in action and how we are picking up on everything all of the time…..
At the very beginning of the realisation that COVID-19 would spread to Australia, some people responded by stocking up on toilet paper, this was not yet a movement that had been talked about in the media, it was simply happening in supermarkets across the country. So, I went to my local supermarket with my list and as I walked around the fruit and veggie section, I suddenly got this desperate thought “I need to buy toilet paper.” It made me stop because it was so random, that I questioned it and dismissed it immediately in the awareness that I did not need toilet paper I already had some at home. As I proceeded with my shopping what I then saw was many in the store walking past me with multiple packets of toilet paper. What I realised in that moment was that with my sensitivity, I was picking up on the feelings of many people in the store “I need to buy toilet paper.”
Sensitivity is innate, we are feeling and picking up on everything all of the time, whether we are aware of it or not. Re-connecting to our sensitivity helps us to re-learn that sensitivity is a strength that allows you to stay open to all that is happening around you and supports you to know from your inner most being how to respond to life.