Dear Urbanites, I hope that you are well. This month I would like to explore with you how being a sensitive person is a real gift and also ways to protect that sensitivity.
Are you a sensitive person? Throughout my life I have often been described as ‘over-sensitive’ or ‘too emotional’. These are put-downs that resulted in me growing up to believe that being sensitive was a negative character trait that crying easily was a weakness. My understanding has changed and I now believe that being sensitive is one of my gifts.
Being sensitive can mean many things; crying easily, being deeply hurt by criticism and hurtful remarks, worrying about what people think, taking things personally or experiencing positive and negative emotions more deeply. Psychologist Elaine Aron author of ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ estimates that 20% of people are highly sensitive.
There are many benefits in being a sensitive person. It could be that you feel deeply connected to people, nature, animals, music or art. I believe that it can mean you love deeper and hurt deeper. It is likely that you have developed a finely tuned intuitive side to your nature. You can pick up on other people’s needs, you are a giver rather than a taker and you more often follow your heart rather than your head. Sensitive people tend to be empathic, kind and compassionate people who can easily put themselves in the shoes of another. These are wonderful gifts.
Once you decide to embrace your sensitivity, you may find that instead of feeling more vulnerable, that you feel stronger and better able to use your gifts.
In order to protect your sensitivity, it helps to be aware of people, places and things that cause you to shut down, feel numb or leave the present moment.
There are some positive steps that you can take to protect your sensitivity:-
- Be in the present moment – presence ignites sensitivity. When we’re ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, we miss the only real experience we can ever have: the one that’s happening right now in this moment. It’s in the present that we find the richness and meaning that we long for. So bring your attention back to now – this is the place to feel truly alive.
- Turn down the noise – Sensitivity is nurtured by silence. A still space can give you much better access to creativity, wisdom and insight, as well as the ability to solve problems with more ease. Often answers to questions can emerge from stillness. What’s plugged in, turned on and making noise? To get an idea of how turning down the noise can benefit you, you could turn the radio and TV off now and again.
- Stop the violence – It helps to limit exposure to all forms of violent news or films. The level of fear and anxiety contained in most media stories is toxic to the nervous system, when we listen or read it on a regular basis, we begin to shut down to handle the emotional stress. Research shows that watching such news lowers the immune system, then we become naturally desensitized and can tolerate more negativity, which in turn adversely affects us.
- Put limits on toxic people – These are people in your life who dump their frustration, anger and disappointment on you, who put you down, are consistently negative or with whom you feel anxious or on your guard. It can help to set boundaries – perhaps by having an honest conversation about how things need to change for you, or limit the amount of time you spend in their company or avoid them altogether.
- Manage technology – Today we can be plugged in 24/7 in this age of ‘let me get to you whenever I want to or need to’. We need to remember who’s in charge – the trick is to manage technology in such a way that we become responders, not reactors.