Sensitivity is a Superpower

1781I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am. You take away my conscience, my ability to empathize, my intuition, my creativity, my deep appreciation for the little things, my vivid inner life, my keen awareness of otherโ€™s pain and my passion for it all.
-Caitlin Japa

Don’t be so emotional. Why are you so sensitive? On the way up to the microphone to give a speech at my sister’s wedding, a well meaning relative said don’t cry as I passed by. The message is clear and comes from a variety of sources: keep emotions to a minimum, don’t let things get too unwieldy or embarrassing. This is the message I have been receiving for most of my life, and of course, it is not just me. Loads of us are sensitive. This is simply how we are. Just as there is a spectrum of body sizes or IQ or athleticism, so too is there a spectrum of how people feel and choose to express their emotional selves. These soft hearted, on the expressive side of the spectrum people (which I count myself among), are artists and parents and therapists, teachers and philanthropists, scientists and administrators. They are world leaders and average and everything in between, but they are the heart, they process and make sense of this life in a very important way that deserves more respect than being told to stop because it makes moments less manageable. The incredible emotional work these people do is often for those around them, those who don’t have the same capacity, or won’t risk sacrificing appearances. It takes effort, it is a huge give and it is valuable. To my mind, it’s actually a superpower, to feel things acutely, in the deepest possible way, to carry the weight of what it all means, even if others can’t.

Almost as often as someone expresses a feeling, someone else is trying to avoid it. I get it, it can be terribly awkward to be around someone expressing big emotions. But here’s the thing, whatever someone else is feeling, chances are you’ve felt something like that before, too. So the next time you are tempted to indicate to someone that they stuff whatever they are experiencing, or at least keep it for a more “appropriate” space, look inside and see why you feel compelled to do so. It can be challenging to stay present with someone through their feelings, but the connection that comes from simply holding space for another is usually worth it. This isn’t to say that individuals are exempt from regulating themselves, boundaries are always good. But if we can encourage and nurture soft hearts in each other, the room for growth and connection is infinite.

19 thoughts on “Sensitivity is a Superpower

  1. I hear you and agree with both you and Caitlin. Emotions are frowned on. I too get emotional as I’m frequently called on to speak publicly. But guess what, you can hear a pin drop as they absorb the words. ๐Ÿ’ž

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Some people are like that and some are not. Just different ways of living and seeing the world/reality. Room for everyone. The two may never truly understand each other but they don’t have to. People just need to let everyone be who they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad Shelly! Thank you for your comment. Just this morning I heard from a developmental psychologist that the ability to communicate through emotions is often directly correlated to the degree of plasticity in the brain. Amazing!

      Like

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