“You’re too sensitive!” I’ve heard these words most of my life, and if you are highly sensitive, you probably have too. Many artists are.
What is it that people who say “you’re too sensitive!” expect you to do about it? Turn it down? If I had a dial to turn down my sensitivity sometimes, believe me, I would welcome that!
The reality is that being a so-called Highly Sensitive Person is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s both my greatest gift and my biggest challenge. Sometimes it’s pure hell, feeling every emotion—not only my own, but often what others around me are feeling—at an 11 on a scale of 1-10. Reacting to small things in huge ways. Being flooded with emotion and sensation, often unpredictably.
And it doesn’t stop there. I’m extra-sensitive to sound, light, smell, touch, taste. Loud noises or music and bright lights or lots of visual stimuli, such as fast-changing images in movies, are really hard on my nervous system. I go into sensory overload in places like shopping malls.
I’m extremely sensitive to brutality, violence or unkindness, and to lies.
All of this makes living in this contemporary world hard, hard, hard!
The Gift of Sensitivity
Being highly sensitive is also a great gift. Most, if not all, of our great artists were probably highly sensitive people. Our sensitivity to sensory input, to perceptions and emotions, to the external world, as well as to our inner landscape and the invisible realms, makes us uniquely able to create works of startling beauty, depth, honesty, imagination and power.
We are the trailblazers, way-showers, visionaries and standard bearers for the culture. We help people feel more deeply, experience life more broadly, open their minds, hearts, bodies and spirits. We uphold sacred values, often not cherished in the forefront of our contemporary culture; values such as beauty, truth, love and connection, Spirit, imagination, play, wonder, possibility. In short, we help make this human world more beautiful, livable, connected.
My sensitivity is at the heart of my deep empathy for others and my ability to be of service to others. Many healers have this gift of extra-sensitivity, though others benefit from a greater detachment to help them do their work.
So, the next time someone tells you that you are too sensitive, you can hear it as a compliment and acknowledgement of your unique gifts, a signpost of something you are meant to use in your sacred work, sacred play, sacred beingness in this world.
In my next post, I’ll share some simple, practical, effective tools to help you deal with sensory and emotional overload and come back into feeling good in your own body and being.
Until then, to your beautiful sensitive heart,
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