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Sensitivity

9 Reasons to Step Out of the Sensitive Closet

There are moments when I’m like, Jeez I’m putting my face on my site…and attaching the ‘sensitive’ label to myself. What am I thinking?! Moments when I question whether this vulnerability is truly worth it. But luckily, those moments are fewer and farther between now. Because in wanting to ‘help others’ overcome this stigma, what’s happened instead is that I’ve removed any last bits of negativity about sensitivity within myself! Funny how that works. The best way to learn is to teach. I’ve also told myself that if I can even help ONE other person who’s struggling with their own sensitivity to become empowered, then this obvious insanity is very much worth it.

However, I would still love it if more of you joined me. Whether IRL or online, bringing sensitivity out in the open could mean just bringing it up to a few trusted intimates or to random people you meet at parties (I’ve been doing that recently, it’s been very interesting – I’ll write about that in another post!). Either ways, it could be a scary thing! But ultimately, I’ve found that it’s been so worth it.

My dream is that one day, we can all have a really sensitive party where we can talk about our feelings, the moon, the Universe, energy, snack on dark chocolate and drink our preferred beverages while deeply respecting each others’ boundaries. And love each other (in totally non-co-dependent ways). LET’S MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

9 Reasons to Step out of the Sensitive Closet

What I’ve learnt from blogging about sensitivity for a year.

1. You might help someone who’s struggling silently to discover that they are sensitive too.

Sharing your own experiences might lead to an a-ha! moment for a fellow HSP/Empath, someone who’s probably silently being hard on themselves for feeling weird, different or exhausted right now. Think about all the comfort you could be providing someone!

2. It helps to normalize sensitivity.

It’s not some weird, hush-hush secret. It’s a lovely part of you! Bringing sensitivity into conscious awareness, taking the lead by showing others how you are comfortable with it, helps people who are silently feeling weird or awkward or anxious to know that there’s nothing wrong with them. Ultimately, you’re playing a role in helping to create an environment of understanding and acceptance. It’s just another thing that exists, no more or less special. But in giving sensitivity its rightful place in the world, that raises its status from ‘that weird thing that makes me feel uncomfortable’ to ‘cool, it’s something that exists’.

3. You become braver.

There’s something empowering about speaking your truth. Not just sensitivity, but about anything really. In this world where truth can be inconvenient, where many people are invested in you not being a pesky inconvenience… GO BE THAT PESKY INCONVENIENCE. Take it as a kind of soul growth challenge.

4. You attract the people you want to be around.

Prior to coming out, one of my desires was to be around other empowered/evolving/self-aware empaths and sensitives and just generally awesome human beings. But then I was too busy being in denial/coming to grips with it for that to really happen. After a couple of years of poking around and learning all I could about myself, it got pretty…lonely! But after I decided to be more open about it, I’ve been slowly attracting kindred spirits. Once you embrace who you truly are, the people around you WILL change. Though simply sharing this trait of sensitivity alone doesn’t mean that you’d necessarily become great friends right away, it is really cool to know that there are so many people out there who really FEEL you. Some of those people could be the soul friends you’ve been waiting for (and who have been waiting for you!) all along.

5. You start to see that it’s just one part of you.

When you’re starting to find out more about yourself, difficult emotions can arise – sadness, anger, resentment – and all of these feelings are perfectly valid. But there is a danger of getting mired in those feelings, having a hard time truly becoming comfortable with it – with ‘sensitivity’ as an all-consuming label that keeps you stuck. A solution to that is channeling that energy out through starting and leading conversations about it, or writing a blog about it instead of letting it eat you up inside. I’ll be the first to read your blog!

6. It helps you to own it about yourself.

You can help to reframe the conversation, especially when your sensitivity has a part to play in any conflict that you’re a part of. And in the process of doing so, it helps you to gain even further self-awareness. Instead of accepting someone’s assessment of you, e.g. the old gem “You’re too sensitive!”, say, “Yes, I am sensitive. But it’s not what you think. I just feel and think more deeply than you, and it’s a very common trait!” At that point, the person in question would probably check out or have nothing to say, but you’re doing a very important thing: you’re standing up for yourself. The response you get is irrelevant. You’ve just owned it and have re-written that script of shame. That is a truly powerful thing.

7. It gives others the courage to do the same.

Why I’m even writing this now is the result of reading the work of so many people before me who have put in so much thought, research and vulnerability into this. Go spread the light in your part of the world now! There can never be too many people talking about this – your message might be meant for someone who only YOU can speak to, who can draw strength from you to become empowered too.

8. You can educate people.

Gently, and not in a pushy way that violates people’s boundaries – you can share about what it means to you, so that not-so-sensitive people could start to learn more, if they are willing and ready to listen.

9. We are all going to die anyway.

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

As I type this on my Macbook, the ghost of Steve Jobs reminds me that ultimately, we have to share what’s in our hearts. We have to reveal who we are. I think empaths value authenticity more than anything, truth above all else – and there are respectful ways to do it. One of the ways is to step out, show the world who you really are by speaking your truth. The light outside the closet may be dazzling at first, but it is there, and there is a place for you in it.

Sensitivity

How to Ground and Centre Yourself

Grounding and centering yourself is super important in times of change and intensity. It helps you to deal with stuff with more grace and clarity, essential to holding yourself steady through wobbly times.

If you’re standing strong and rooted, it’ll be much harder to topple you, in all senses of the word!

I definitely learned this the hard way (i.e. a lot of humble pie eating, unnecessary conflicts etc. – it’s the fiery dragon in me, I have to own it!). High five if you’re also in the learn-the-hard-way camp by the way, you’re so not alone. As an empath and HSP, it’s already innate for us to feel deeply. But when I’m off centre, I get really carried away by my emotions. All obligations and concerns take a backseat as I feel almost incapable of directing my day or focusing on essential tasks. So what happens when you feel like you’re spiraling, struggling to pull yourself back?

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Sensitivity

The Journey into Sensitivity So Far

This entire blog is an experiment in writing about sensitivity – and has been a learning journey for myself as well. The more I read, think, talk and write about it, the more feedback I get (which I greatly appreciate!) and the more self-awareness I gain along the way. One marked difference since I first started is how much more aware I am now of the soup of energy that we are all in, all the time. Being aware of how others’ energy is discrete and disparate from mine has been an epiphany – but learning what to do with that knowledge has been full of pitfalls and bumps and knocks. I want to say: hey, I am there – already full of self-mastery, but to be honest, I am just groping around in the dark, though thankfully guided by some bright spots and teachers who are further along the path, while I simply experience the truth of their teachings via trial and error.

I am often impatient to get ahead and to achieve FULL SELF MASTERY right now, please, but I’ve also learnt (over and over again) how patience has never been my strong suit – and that all things take time – especially worthy things. Lessons that take time to unfold may also impart the best lessons – at least that’s what I tell myself. And at the heart of it, I’ve also learnt that my impatience is often a desire to have control out of a fear of uncertainty, and to know things for sure. But life is uncertainty.

Life is uncertainty. 

I might need to get that tattooed somewhere, if not on my brain.

I’ve also realized just how much angst I used to direct at people when I wasn’t taking care of myself. “Why don’t they just get me the way I can read them?” especially in close relationships – and this manifests sometimes as a really unfortunate victim mentality. When I pick up energy from others, there is an enmeshment that happens – sometimes detouring towards Codependency-Land. And to be sure, being in a close relationship requires healthy interdependence. But I never really had a role model for what that looked like – so learning where those lines are drawn has been an ongoing challenge for me. Owning my feelings has been a huge step toward getting rid of that sense of victimhood.

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” 
― Rumi 

Ultimately, all this focus on sensitivity for me is about empowerment. Know thyself, the sages said. And part of that meant delving into this numinous world of energy. They didn’t really leave an instruction manual of what it would entail: but now I do know that taking that time to know yourself involves gritty, often painful work: going within, digging into your past, facing your demons, knowing how their voices sound like so you can tell them: “NO.” So you can make the decisions that bring you toward the light, instead of mistaking those darker voices as the Real You. Because the Real You is Love. And Light. But embracing darkness within you – the intrinsic darkness that comes with being human – is vital so that you can learn to make decisions from a real place from within You. It’s not pretty. You might end up spewing all over your loved ones, but luckily I’ve also learnt that those who love you enough will stick with you and not hold those moments against you. I’ve been lucky enough to have these people in my life. Very, extraordinarily lucky.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 
― Rumi

It’s been so humbling to see just how much capacity for love the people I’m surrounded by have. For sure the world can be riddled with pain and negativity right now, but when I look around me and see the love that’s just busting out of people’s hearts I know for sure there is hope. It’s made this whole process of me breaking apart and softening – an entirely scary process for me – extremely gratifying. And the courage to keep writing and speaking my truth. There is hope for a better world and this sounds earnest and hippie dippy but I want to be a part of this better world, because I can see it: it’s right there around the corner – it’s right within our reach.

Sensitive Warriors Sensitivity

Sensitive Warrior: RUYU

I first fell in love with Ru Yu’s work when I saw her illustration of a girl with flowing, aqua hair. The serenity in it is so palpable, I was drawn to it immediately. I wanted to gaze at it all day! So as I am (very slowly) putting together my personal branding to represent myself online (it’s always hardest to do it for yourself!), the easiest part was in picking the person to help me convey my self visually to the digital world.

Funnily enough, it was through working together and reading my fledgling blog that she found out that she’s a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) as well. And that’s also how the idea for my column was born – we bonded over “OMG, me too!” moments and it was such a revelation to me to finally start being open about my sensitivity, and in meeting other kindred spirits in this way. This openness and bonding over our shared experience of the world felt so valuable to me, that it inspired me to create this column for others like us out there too.

So here’s Sensitive Warriors – my column featuring Highly Sensitive People/Empaths, their thoughts on sensitivity and the work they put out into the world. I’ll also be quizzing them for their thoughts on how they convey who they are through their personal brands – especially relevant I feel, for the growing number of self-employed/freelancers/multi-hyphenates out there!

GET TO KNOW RUYU, 26

Ruyu is an illustrator and polka-dot painter. She also works part-time at Ohvola, a Singaporean blog shop.

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Sensitivity

Working as an HSP/HSS

HSPs are often driven by a need to find ‘meaningful’ work, something that seems to connect with our soul purpose. All other kinds of work seem to be just… passing time. Chasing our own tails. Work is really such a huge topic for me, that I’ve basically been obsessing over it for like, a third of my life so far. But this post isn’t exactly about work itself. Instead, it’s the corollary to work: disciplining myself to actually get down to doing the work.

Having sat in offices, playing the part of dutiful employee and all, a part of me is still trying to shake off the conditioning that work = sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 6 of which are spent surfing Facebook, texting someone, finding excuses to go out for a snack/drink/walk (without alerting the boss, in case they start muttering those sweeping ‘Gen Y’ or ‘Millenial’ epithets), leaving only about two hours that can be considered productive in any way at all. (…What? You don’t do this? Okay, then.) And then wait with bated breath for that moment when magically, the paycheck at the end of the month appears in your bank account. Woohoo! 

Years of flirting with this mode of working, and I know I’m definitely not the only one who finds it such a struggle.

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Sensitivity

My HSP Story, Part 1

HSP? What is this thing you speak of? I get it, it’s okay. There are a million and one issues in this world, big and small, begging for your attention. And this is no more or no less important than whatever you’re thinking about right now..

..But it is a pretty big part of my world, in the way things like being a girl or needing oxygen are – you don’t notice those things about yourself 99% of the time, yet it still matters, and comes up now and then in your decision-making process during your day to day life…(Which toilet do I go to? Can I hold my breath for longer than 60 seconds?) And so it needs to be talked about. Right now.

Here goes – The HSP Story:

 

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