Well, you don’t have to.
I used to feel that way. I realized now that it was because I let the ‘sensitivity’ tag define me in some way – as though it said something about ME, my essence as a person. So I had a tenuous relationship with these labels at first – HSS, HSP, Empath; knowing what I do about myself, I used to only see the downsides. It didn’t help that people seldom emphasized the upsides, only the traits.
For that matter, I feel that these traits and downsides are mentioned only as often as they are because:
- there is still a lack of understanding of what sensitivity even is
- many sensitives themselves are unaware that they are sensitive, and how that affects their day-to-day lives. They’re still trying to live their lives as non-HSPs do, and are not taking care of themselves well enough. When negative consequences occur, there’s self-blame and judgement – which invites negativity from others – and in turn causes totally needless suffering!
As a free spirit, all I want to do is live life fully and have expansive experiences. So I still occasionally get annoyed by the fact that I can’t just go out there and do what I want to do without suffering any consequences physically or energetically. I’ve tried living my life forgetting that I’m as sensitive as I am… but the aftermath reminds me that I cannot ignore how in this physical, material world of ours, our bodies are these incredible instruments we’ve been given, and we must take care of them. I refuse to hit bottom before I learn this lesson again. Without our bodies, none of what we want to do, give to the world, enjoy in our lives, can happen.
So, my mindset has shifted. I see these labels as just being useful for better understanding ourselves. The fact is, being sensitive is just our temperament – a framework, a way we experience the world, a way that we process what we experience. It DOESN’T define you, if you don’t let it. The most helpful way of seeing it, is that learning about sensitivity is a way of understanding yourself better so that you can take care of yourself and your body, mind and soul for the long run. And sensitivity is a gift, in so, so many ways.
In my experience, sensitivity:
1. Allows you to perceive deeply, feel deeply. This might seem cruel in a sometimes unfeeling world. BUT – feeling is what makes us human. There is so much repression, masochism around feeling and emotion (a whole other blog post for another day!), when really, feeling is a very valuable form of information to take into consideration when making decisions and living your life. Deep insights are also helpful to others – in knowing how to comfort, how to calm, how to offer tactful advice… etc.
2. Allows you to get in close touch with your creativity. We see the poetry, movement, colour, beauty in things more than others, and often channel this into art and other forms of expression. There’s just so much beauty we can bring to the world.. it doesn’t even have to be Art with a capital A. It could even just be the way you see connections in things that others don’t see or perceive, and channel it into a unique business idea or service to others.
3. You can show others how their own sensitivity is a gift too. By being unashamed of your emotions, how much you really care about things; when you start prizing these traits within yourself, it can change how others view and respect your space, and start seeing and valuing sensitivity in themselves too. My wish is for this to ripple out and impact society as a whole – what if everyone slowed down a little?! But it all starts with you.
And remember: as a sensitive, you can still do everything you want to do. When you allow sensitivity to inform your decisions, it doesn’t stop you from doing what you want – only how you do it. For example, I love to travel, and I love traveling alone. I used to be so overwhelmed by new places though, and thought I could never do it on my own. But once I realized that the fear and panic I felt in completely new environments were just the way my system reacted (despite my brain’s enthusiasm), I tweaked how I did it – by taking more time to do it. Planning my route more carefully. Picking out pit-stops along the way that I knew I would enjoy. Not being hard on myself when it was really too much, and I had to go back for a nap or to rest. I still get to do what I do – but with utmost care and respect for my body.
Again, all these gifts can only be fully expressed when you fully understand, own and embrace all parts of yourself, including your sensitivity. I understand the barriers, including unpacking the shame around sensitivity. But I promise, it is completely possible, if you start by showing yourself some understanding, care and love. It might be a long journey. But you’ll discover the greatest gift of all on this journey – yourself. (In the most non-cheesy way possible.)