On Being Sensitive

On Being Sensitive

“All trees are not good trees,” she said as she leaned over, placed her hand over my arm and smiled with that knowing smile that she was right and I, because I dare to care about all trees, was wrong. It wasn’t the first time I was put in my place because I am sensitive to life.

My first memory of being ‘put down’ for being sensitive was when I was a child. My dad and I were watching a movie on television where an old man had saved, at great hardship, to purchase a piece of glass for the window in his cabin. After he bought it and installed it, his mule kicked a bucket through the window. I cried and my dad laughed at me for crying. That’s my first memory of feeling compassion and being pushed out of the tribe.

Those of us who are sensitive live in a world where we are put down, outcast, made to feel less than, called names and in general judged to be stupid or simply wrong. And because we are sensitive as part of our very nature, we sometimes feel completely out of step with the rest of the world. I know many of you are keenly aware of this truth.

It is a painful life we live until we become strong enough to recognize the bullies for what they are, until we come to value our beautiful sensitivity and champion ourselves…and even then we can get stung and so begins the process of healing that deep wound again….and again.

Because we receive negative feedback so often about our deepest, truest selves, we have difficulty believing that we are whole and beautiful. If the world mirrors back to us that empaths are silly, flakey, ridiculous then how do we believe the truth about ourselves? How do we learn to trust ourselves? How do we claim our space in the world?

Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, in her series Mother Night, that people who feel, that are sensitives, are pushed to the edge, are outcast…these people who are the artists, the creatives, the healers with their open hearts and minds…they are pushed to the fringes of society. But when this happens, she warns, the culture dies because they are not allowed to do their work, for their work is nourishment for the psyche.

I was having a rough day and asked for guidance. When I arrived home from cycling I put the sound files on my phone on random play and Clarissa’s series was what came to me…as a big answer. Listening to her reminded me that my empathic ability is my gift. My ability to feel deeply is a gift…to the world. How many of us can breathe that statement in? Try it… My ability to feel deeply is a gift to the world.

Besides the fact that we are outcast and have to deal with that our entire lives, we are keenly aware of the seemingly multitude of beings crying out in pain these days….children, families, animals, wildlife, wild places and yes, even trees. So how do we cope with this two-edged sword of empathy, of sensitivity?

I would suggest not trying to fit in to a world that tries to consistently push us out. So you want to push us out, okay. I will walk along the fringe…I will dance along the fringe and I will find those who will dance with me. I will connect with my sisters and brothers who also bear the scars of feeling in an unfeeling world. Clarissa calls us Scar Clan of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart. We recognize each other by our ability to feel deeply, love deeply and we have the audacity to care deeply.

And then I would suggest spending time to connect with our feelings of love and compassion and to do so without shame. We were taught to be ashamed of our compassion and kindness so let us un-teach that to ourselves and simply sit in stillness and silence with acceptance for ourselves….our beautiful, bright selves.

Everything is Possible

And lastly, I would suggest allowing the beautiful feelings to be expressed through the creativity we bring to the world….writing, photographing, painting, dancing, singing, speaking, connecting with Nature. What do we love? What do we feel such burning compassion and kindness toward? What are we waiting for my loves?

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