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Making Sense of Your Sensitivity

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

All through my growing up years, I was fairly ‘the sensitive kind’. The compliments I would get ranged from ‘how considerate I was’ to ‘how I took care and notice of little things’. It felt good to hear these statements but at the core, I cared most about not getting hurt because I was ‘this’ sensitive. I cared about not caring so much and cultivating ‘the amount of’ thickness in my skin that made me take life less seriously and relax a bit. Obviously, I never saw my own asset of ‘sensitivity’ as a gift but as more of a burden. The next thing I knew, as I stepped into the big bad world of working life, was that I started unconsciously masking my sensitivity into a ‘I mean business’ tone or a tacit ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitude. This ‘being state’ of undervaluing my sensitivity translated into the ‘doing state’ as hardening myself physically, while also exercising caution behaviourally. I engaged in learning self defence and would constantly remind myself not to trust others easily, much against my natural trusting ways, lest I should be taken for a ride. It turned out this was more work than just living mindlessly, as my raw sensitive self. No matter how much I tried to ignore it, the sensitivity remained . And the one thing that was hardest to do was not be affected by others or by situations and events. I was clearly forcing something and was going wrong. I soon realised, no amount of external hardening would mute the beating of my soft heart. To really be an authentic version of myself, I probably needed to notice & celebrate what tugged at my core, instead of resisting it. Just when it seemed I had hit a roadblock , life took a turn. Through a series of experiences that unfolded, I began to reframe my sensitivity and nurture it consciously as a strength….Yes, it is still work in progress but this is how I practice it now….

  1. Focus sensitively on a long term vision rather than in every ‘here and now’ . What affects you moment to moment shouldn’t derail you from what really matters. This way you can concentrate your energy for the better than let it dissipate. If you end up disturbed because of an unpleasant conversation with someone dear, acknowledge the disturbance, park it and move on with that interesting project you are working on.

  2. Anchor your sensitivity inwardly, towards yourself, as much as outwardly, on others. Balance collective benefit with self preservation and compassion.Usually sensitive hearts crave affiliation and appreciation. Because of this very strong desire for external validation, they sometimes short-change themselves. Drawing boundaries and taking charge of ones emotions is key. Its important to find an inner source, a centre, a balance within, that keeps you anchored in your own unshakable happiness.

  3. Try not to anchor it fully on another person ever, be it your parents, child or spouse. Now this is hard, to say the least! It is NOT about keeping an arm’s length or being too guarded about your feelings, even with your loved ones. But it is more about taking ownership for your equanimity, so that you can build stronger bonds with them. It is but natural, to be affected by your loved ones, but letting that limit your positive actions would be a disservice to yourself and them. Important relationships always impact our day-to-day emotional states and our life path in general, but it is in our hands to let the impact be balanced and not completely lopsided. Keep cleaning the soot from your lamp and let your inner light shine clearly. Try not to be dominated by a clouded thinking, that would eventually only make you react mindlessly, something you are bound to regret later on. Keep clearing your baggage regularly. It really helps to have a daily practice of checking in and reclaiming power for yourself & space for the other. Meditation works wonders. In this way, you limit exerting the burden of your sensitivity on these precious relationships that matter and you limit being impacted beyond what is healthy.

  4. Look at your sensitivity as ‘intelligence’ rather than a weakness, hinderance or distraction. Use it as a strength to discern and make sharper decisions rather than something that wavers your mind by weighing it down with worry. It is a revelation to many that a lot of times, doing something intentionally, in a way that suits another, is really showing courage and clarity of purpose. It shouldn’t be equated with conceding defeat, as we usually see it. Keep your eye on the big goal!

  5. Harness it for fueling dynamism rather than losing time by letting it make you procrastinate or worry. Sensitive people tend to spend a great deal of time overthinking, only to regret later. So, consciously use sensitivity in small actions rather than for perfection. Let this eye for little things help you develop ‘attention for detail’ but not an obsession for them. Let it help you minimize errors rather than obsess about mistakes .

Living in awareness of our qualities actually helps us manage them better. So, go ahead celebrate your sensitivity and make it work wonders, with all its imperfections.

— Published at Thrive Global on July 17, 2019

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