Being so sensitive in a world that is sometimes not
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
When my physical therapist told me years ago I was a “delicate, little flower,” I flat out denied it. I’d always thought of myself as strong, powerful and indestructible. Don’t we all?
Maybe because I’m getting older or, perhaps, more in tune with myself, I’ve realized how sensitive I really am. Ouchingly so.
I’m acutely aware of a single hair strand falling upon my shoulder, the subtle moment summer shifts to fall, the itchy label on the back of my camisole. Somewhat of an empath, I’m hypersensitive and hypervigilant to nuances, nonverbals and vibrations. Often, I feel, “I am not of this world.”
Hearteningly, there are other “sensitives” out there and what gifts they bring! Think about the artists, outliers and geeks you know.
Step it up a few notches. Consider the genius and visionary “sensitives” of Silicon Valley, MIT, NASA and beyond. Steve Jobs of Apple, Elon Musk of Tesla, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. None are typical.
More males than females, they are often endowed with superpowers or what we’ve traditionally labeled as “special needs” or “on the spectrum.” Remember the brilliant main characters in the movies “A Beautiful Mind” and “Rain Man?”
While I’m certainly not of this ilk, actually boringly neurotypical in contrast, all of us “sensitives” need strategies to safeguard ourselves living in a world that sometimes is not.
How do we do this? Here are four suggestions:
Shower yourself with buckets of self-empathy.
That is, if it’s within your capacity and is useful to you. Don’t think of yourself as crazy, wild or weird. Or do, if it helps.
Either way, realize you’ve got much to give and share in your own unique ways. Remind yourself of that — often.
Others may not quite yet understand or know how to work with your unconventionality. Kevin Murphy’s article, “The Utter Hell of Working for a Visionary,” speaks to such struggles.
Reflect on who you associate with. Are they helpful or harmful?
Diversity in a team often makes for greater good. Ensure, though, that those closest to you are supportive. Otherwise, make some changes, pronto!
Also, examine how you are spending your time. What are you filling your head with?
Choose what you watch, read and listen to carefully. Stay true to your vision, your mission, your purpose and your legacy.
Pre-plan and pre-play tricky interactions.
Rehearse and prepare for situations that challenge you, just like elite athletes do. Practice what you will say and how you will respond. Envision what you are wearing, your posture, your countenance.
Our thoughts determine our actions. See yourself as you wish to be, then imagine it so. Gandhi wrote:
Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.
Refuel and nourish yourself.
Be mindful of not only the food you eat but of what else sustains you. What feeds your spirit?
Walking in nature is one of my best self-soothing practices. Another is doing yoga.
Whatever your resets are, commit to and do them regularly.
These techniques serve as bubble wrap, taking the brunt of the blow of the bumps we feel that others around us don’t seem to.
Whether you’re a savant or simply a sensitive human being, handle yourself with care as you navigate a world that sometimes is not. Some of us are born to be wild.
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