How do you work with being more sensitive than others?

Sensitivity and youYou’ve felt “different” all your life and you remember being told off for being “too sensitive” by well-meaning friends and family. You dread somebody thinking it about you at work.

Now, you hear that some people are naturally more sensitive  than others.

But what to do with this revelation?

Depending on how you came about the discovery, you may be confused, intrigued or… depressed.

“You mean this thing is… permanent? Heeeeeelp!!!”

A completely understandable reaction.

You and me grew up in the world of unacknowledged bias for “bigger”, “brighter” and “louder”. Owning sensitivity as your nature seems like a rough deal in this context. It can be a difficult thing to want.

Please, let me be something else

Ten years ago I witnessed the wish to be “something else” on a workshop discerning one’s colour and style “personality”.

Clothes, not whole life was at stake there, but even so, the participants were full of dreams and dread around the possible results.

I had signed up for the workshop because I had been struck by a natural, congruent beauty that emanated from the several people I knew who had been through the process. Yet you wonder about potential self-revelations: Will life get better with this or … will I get boxed in?

Liberation and the role of labels

You may well be uneasy contemplating the label of sensitivity. The word can sound weak if not negative and aren’t we more than labels and boxes people try to put us in anyway?

Similarly, when the clothing ‘verdicts’ came, on my course back then, people needed to process their reactions. Like wishing to be the style a friend was, instead. Or hoping to be the style that was in vogue just then. Looking around the group, I felt lucky: I was just intrigued about the support.

Because I really wanted to get who I am (then: visually) but struggled to see it myself. I had brought along my whole wardrobe to get help sorting out what was or wasn’t ‘me’. When it was done, I could finally experience shopping and dressing as fun, not frustration.

It HAS been fun! And, it’s also opened my eyes to the value of operating within one’s nature-given ‘specs’ (as the course was based on the body parts’ shape, proportions, etc.)

The wise woman who taught us suggested that we explore the difference between being limited by a label and the liberation that comes from understanding and choosing what works for the individual you.

She was right. It took compassion and encouragement but time proved that it was well worth to learn what I was about!

What is your type of sensitivity?

Since I’ve had mainly joy with clothing ever since my course, I’m inspired to bring the power of knowing your “parameters” across into the area of sensitivity.

I believe that, like with the tapestry of colours and styles, there is a spectrum of sensitivity and everyone is somewhere on it. Knowing HOW you are sensitive is powerful because it gives you the guidance to find daily choices and alternatives that will work well for you.

In turn, as Neil Crofts said so succinctly, “finding alternatives that work for you will mean that you no longer have to do things that create a tension for you.”

Being highly sensitive is a natural and now scientifically documented variety of human psyche that has an implication on the levels of stimulation that are optimal for you.

You won’t be surprised to hear that only a minority of 15-20% are at the more sensitive end of the spectrum. It’s why sensitive ‘norms’ are not much known or understood yet!

Understand this. The important question is not IF, it’s HOW you are sensitive. Some sensitives tend to overwhelm, some to frustration, yet others pendulum between both.  Either way, it’s worth knowing and loving your ‘type’!

Key questions to ask yourself to start enjoying sensitivity

When my colour and style workshop finished, I came home with booklets, diagrams and role models to assist the journey of relating to a better understood self.

There’s nowhere near the complexity of resources for high sensitivity as yet but people who love and understand it are emerging to help. This one will start you off with a few useful questions to ask yourself.

  1. How do you feel about being more sensitive than others? Consider the paradox that to be able to integrate something, you first need to admit + allow uncomfortable feelings about it. Example: When I first discovered my sensitivity, I needed a lot of empathy for my fears of being ‘weak’. I really needed the help and ‘container’ of my journal and also a good, listening friend.
  2. What are the blessings of sensitivity? What do you most like about yourself or about a sensitive person you know and appreciate? How can you be lifted by the goodness of thatExample: I have really looked up to my mentor whom I see as both a sensitive, caring person and somebody who has a powerfully positive impact on others. I’m very happy the world has her in it!

  3. What are the aspects of sensitivity you struggle with and could do with support for? Example: Self-acceptance? Overwhelm? Frustration? Being real in relationships? Sustainability?

  4. What can you do to increase understanding of your sensitivity so that you relate more easily to your health, work and loved ones?



Hint: Stay tuned for future editions of these articles. Research what you can about the beauty of sensitivity. Find others who belong to the sensitive tribe and compare notes. Above all, be your fab gentle self. Yey!

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