Ep. 180: For the Sensitive Ones

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Sensitivity is hard, amiright? Last week, I talked about how after a personal journey, I realized the importance of softening my own heart and allowing myself to be vulnerable again – to feel whatever it was in the moment I needed to feel, good or bad… even when I felt I had to protect myself from the increasing pain and suffering around me. 


The great thing about opening up my heart again is that I feel so much love and beauty as well. And I cry more easily again, which I actually really like. I feel like me again.


But on the flip side… I’m so much more sensitive again too! Not that my sensitivity has disappeared before, but I armored up to not feel it as much, and it got stored away in my body.


Now I’m feeling all the things again, and a lot of things are even more intense than I would have expected. Like finding out from my house sitter that someone entered our house in Alaska and used our bathroom and left the front door unlocked. We asked all the people we knew had access to our house if they’d gone in and they all said no. 


Weird right? AND f*cking scary, especially with my history of having people break into our house multiple times growing up.


Anyway, while it’s fully understandable that this would concern me (especially given my history), I was super stressed and anxious about it for at least two days, even though nothing was stolen or broken. 


And I realized that it’s because I invited these big emotions back in again, you know? In the past I’d have just armored up and dealt with it and moved on.


But instead, I felt the shitty feelings…and this allowed self-compassion to come in, and I was able to regulate my mood more easily. I was able to say it’s okay to be disturbed that someone might have entered our house. This shiz is supposed to be upsetting, and of course it’s magnified in me because of my history.


Choosing to feel fear and anxiety was harder, but more authentic. And I was being with what IS in a deeper way.


Sensitivity is HARD – but it’s also a gift to all of us. We really need people who are exquisitely sensitive in our world so that we can see where our environment isn’t supportive of our physical or mental health.


Sensitivity comes from the latin word for “feeling.” The more sensitive we are, the more we feel. And the more we absorb and sense and get attuned with our environment.


But this sensitivity also means we are more susceptible to pain – so the same thing that would be experienced as minor by someone less sensitive feels so intense for someone that is more sensitive.


In modern industrialized society, sensitive people are looked down upon. I have even been guilty of this in the past. I would judge people who were more sensitive than I was wondering why they wouldn’t just “buck up.”


I’ve learned since then that this was really just my own shit being projected. That I was witnessing people take care of themselves in a way I could not at the time (but wanted to).


Let’s face it: it’s hard to want to feel like we “need” self-care in a modern, industrialized society because people that need things are looked down upon. It’s hard to say you can’t do more or don’t want to do more in a society based on colonialism and supremacy that devalues anyone who can’t contribute economically anymore.


But being less sensitive isn’t even an option for a sensitive person! We can’t change that any more than someone could change their skin color. It’s part of our nature.


So when a sensitive person is told to stop being so weak or sensitive, we will armor up. Or we’ll escape with buffering or overdrinking or other addictive behaviors. But we are still feeling – it’s just getting held inside and tucked away.


Now, in an unsupported environment, sensitive people get more hurt and have to put up defenses. But in a supportive environment, that same temperament can become an intuitive leader or  member of society.


My hope is that as a society, we help parents and teachers learn to recognize this sensitivity and honor and cherish it early on in children. 


I also hope that we can learn to be grateful for the sensitive ones.


In Gabor Mate’s book The Myth of Normal, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, who is of Cherokee-Lakota heritage, told Gabor that in the Lakota ideal, “We need to celebrate and support people who are ill [and this includes physically ill] because they’re canaries in the mine.”


Lewis goes on to say that these people show us that our society is out of balance, and not only should we thank them for taking that one and doing it for the rest of us, but also we should ALL participate in their healing. After all, if not for them, where would we be?


So, sweet sensitive ones, let’s walk this together ok?


And if you aren’t highly sensitive, please rally for the sensitive ones. They’re the canaries in the mine – telling us something is toxic. And we need to listen.


You Will Learn:

// Why it’s hard to be sensitive in today’s modern, industrialized society

// Why it’s essential that we allow ourselves (and others) to be sensitive

// How to support those around us who are more sensitive than us



// Episode 152: Sensitivity and Addiction


// Episode 179: Medicine for These Times


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