I have learned to appreciate my ability to feel pain. When I was younger, I (like many others) wanted to bypass the experience of pain, not understanding its purpose and benefit. Then, I discovered that some lucky people DID get to bypass it; they never felt stings or burns or any physical pain... and I envied them. But they didn't want to be envied. Their inability to feel pain is, in fact, labeled as a disease, because when fire DOES burn them, they have no pain to signal them to move their hand out of the fire. And the fire does still burn them. So now, when I touch a burning stove, I (somehow) appreciate that a shooting pain alerts me that something is hurting my skin. I am thankful that I FEEL, even though experiencing pain is far from delightful.
Though I appreciate this sensor, I still struggle to appreciate HOW MUCH I feel in my soul. I am what people call "highly sensitive." Many people equate the phrase 'sensitive' with being a cry-baby... (which, yes I -maybe, sometimes- do cry more than others), but high-sensitivity is SO much more than that. It is SENSing more: being alert to the moods and surroundings. My favorite definition of high sensitivity is ‘a more heightened awareness to subtle stimuli.’ There are plenty of articles, blogs, and books on high-sensitivity, but, in summary, a few ways you can tell if you are a "Highly Sensitive Person" is if you find yourself taking on the feelings of others, are deeply moved by art and beauty, are sometimes overwhelmed by sounds and images around you, have a very vibrant inner life, and can understand the another's feelings before they are communicated.
Sensitivity has a bad reputation, and because of this, we have been trained to deny the title, as if attaching ourselves to the word marks us as incompatible with the world's systems. I declare, with complete confidence, that sensitivity is a gift given to us. We, sensitive people, feel so much, and many do see this as weakness. The world looks different to us, and we probably look different to the world. But I have seen the purpose of this quality. I believe God gave high-sensitivity to certain people for His purposes.
Like I said, our physical sensitivity alerts us of good and bad stimuli in the enviroment. (A flame's sting tells us that our skin is burning). Our emotional sensitivity alerts us of our surroundings in the same way- through our feelings and reactions.
Being highly sensitive means our soul recognizes stimuli more extensively or vividly than others do. I think everyone is sensitive at least to some degree. But highly sensitive people will pick up on the smallest of cues, which can feel like a burden. Because we are highly sensitive, we sense more joy, more pain, more anxiety, more support than others will. BUT sensing the subtleties does not make us defective.
This sensitivity to the environment and to others gives us a keen awareness to what is actually affecting all, even if all do not see.
I'm going to use another comparison and I hope this doesn't confuse you:
Along with having a sensitive soul, I also have sensitive skin. I have always detested my skin's 'difficult' nature, especially when I want to apply some cheap sunscreen and jump in salt water without my face feeling like it is going to burn off. I never appreciated my sensitive skin until I started looking into organic skincare. I researched chemicals and oils, and what do you know--- that cheap sunscreen that brought a searing pain to my skin had harmful chemicals in it. My skin was alerting me to its toxicity. As I researched more, I found that every product that WAS good and natural for me DID NOT cause my skin pain.
The stinging was my skin's way of alerting me of harmful ingredients in the products. The fact that my skin can sense this is a SUPERPOWER. I am thankful the pain can guide me to see what is healthy for me and what is not.
My sensitive friends,
Your soul's sensitivity is like this. It is a superpower...which brings awareness to the subtlest of dangers in your surrounding. If there is rudeness, or sadness in the air, you will most likely sense it. If there is beauty around, you will notice. You have different glasses on...but these glasses are a gift! Sensitivity may feel difficult because you seem to be affected more easily, BUT this affectedness can lead the world into betterment. In fact, I believe sensitivity was designed by God for this betterment, and given to the people He picked to carry it.
If you walk into a room and sense some bad energy (or whatever you want to call it), others may not notice it. Just because they don't notice it DOES NOT MEAN IT IS NOT ALSO HURTING THEM. (Just as the chemicals in cheap sunscreen are not good for them despite their faces not stinging). You can often see as someone's negativity spreads through the room, while others may not realize it spreading. You, my sensitive friend, can see what others do not...and therefore you have the ability to bring attention to these unhealthy occurrences, making the world a better, more intentional place. In addition, you may notice the subtleties of the beauty around you. Noticing this is used for good as well!
There are some hardships that come with sensitivity. At times, we may make decisions purely from our emotions (I am sometimes guilty of this), and we may also allow our fear of being offended hold us back from sharing ourselves with the world (I am also sometimes guilty of this). We are more prone to depression and anxiety and we also may feel alone in the world.
BUT these hardships do not have to be the anthem of sensitive people. We can be careful to be resilient against taking people's opinions for more than they are- simply opinions. We can look to remain vulnerable and brave, knowing our God-given worth regardless of others' negative feedback. We need to stand up tall when we FEEL so much weighing down on us, we need to know the immense strength of this 'standing tall', and we need to be diligent about caring for ourselves through all of it. As for making emotional decisions, this can be okay in some circumstances. In others, we can be self-controlled and decide to reason with logic even when reasoning is not our first instinct. Just like any form of self-control, accomplishing this balance of logical thinking -when necessary- is more than possible.
Most of all, dear sensitive people, remember your super-power. The sooner you embrace sensitivity as a tool used to better your communities (and to avoid harmful environments yourself), you will realize its necessity in the world. Know its benefits. Know that others may not see the same things as you, and be thankful for the responsibility to see the world in this deep way. Just like all traits, sensitivity has pros and cons and it is our responsibility to let it help the world rather than hurt it. Try not to let the gift turn to a curse; know your worth in God. Let the super power encourage you to be superman/woman, and step into the large role you have in the world. Your life may feel harder because of sensitivity, but really, you are noticing the harms and joys which ARE affecting all whether they see it or not... you just see behind the curtain.