Just like healing, learning about your temperament could be a life-long journey that’s non-linear. When you think you’ve set something in stone, circumstances shift, new knowledge comes in, and you make detours or quantum leaps. One ‘stage’ bleeds into the next. We could bounce from one to another. Here’s the journey that I’ve found myself on so far:
1: seeking answers
Am I crazy? Is there something wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? Does anyone else feel the same way? Is it only me?…
Sparking off the cycle is the troubleshooting phase: seeking answers and solutions to the perceived problems in your life.
You’ve always been dogged by a sense of feeling different – maybe even for your entire life – and you want something that can help you with what you’re feeling. You might want a cure. You might want someone or something to fix you. Secretly, you might even want it all to go away so that you can feel ‘normal’ again. A sensitive person without awareness of how their their sensitivities work is usually operating on survival mode – devoting their energies to simply functioning the best way they know how.
You’re protecting your heart, your mind, your soul, your body – with all you have. It’s all you can do to keep afloat, to keep treading water. You’re a chameleon. You’ve learnt how to adapt to your environment so that you can survive. But despite all of that, you’ve never quite shaken off the feeling that there is something missing, something more inside of you that craves expression. You might even have wondered, “Who the hell am I?!” You may be depressed, anxious, sad, angry, frustrated – or some combination of the above.
And after all the energy spent doing all of that – performing, conforming, wondering – it’s perfectly natural to reach breaking point.
So then you go seeking for answers…
And at some point, you hit jackpot. Because there are so many answers waiting for you: research from the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’, websites and articles online on the subject, which usually opens the gateway to discovering sensitivity as a trait. Relief starts to flood in. Pieces start to click. There is a sense of wonder, and this strange, wonderful, new feeling of awe. Wow. Someone gets me. I am not alone.
Depending on what your concept and bias about ‘sensitivity’ is, you may either delve wholeheartedly into the next stage: voraciously consume information and learn about this newfound aspect of yourself – or turn on your heel and go into denial mode. Or even some combination of the two!
2: honeymoon learning phase
This is a heady phase of self-discovery, figuring out where all the pieces fit, and digesting of all the information that you’ve just consumed. This is a pretty exciting phase! You’ve lived your life secretly berating yourself for not being able to swim, and now, you’ve finally realized why: you’re a bird, not a fish. You were always meant to fly! And it dawns on you: you can start testing out your wings – and finally stop wishing for fins now.
That doesn’t mean you won’t encounter resistance, though. Many societies undervalue traits related to sensitivity (intuition, tolerance, needing down time/ alone time, quietness, deliberation…), even equating sensitivity to weakness – and depending on your particular upbringing, values, environment, relationships, desires and beliefs about yourself, accepting the very fact of your sensitivity could be a long process in itself.
In fact, people resist their sensitivity to the point where illness, burn out and despair finally leads them full circle back to confront the truth about their nervous systems, their bodies, and ultimately, their sensitivities.
3: walking the path of unconditional self-acceptance
This is the path that we all walk once we decide to embrace our temperament. And with this decision, comes healing.
You finally decide to see how sensitivity truly fits into your life. When you choose to see yourself as who you are – or perhaps, circumstances have forced you to finally slow down and take your sensitivity into consideration – you are finally saying to yourself : This is who I am. And I am okay. I will be okay.
You have decided not to run away anymore. It feels scary, daunting, thrilling and exhilarating all at the same time.
This path is one for the truly brave. There is no timeline for it, because technically it goes on for the rest of our lives! Our healing depends on our willingness to gently look at the places where we feel ashamed, flawed, broken, unloved in any way – related to sensitivity or otherwise – and allowing yourself to unravel the narrative around it. Perhaps you always felt invisible as a child. Or you may have been silenced for speaking up. Or you encountered abusive situations where you had to shut down your sensitivities.
And as you learn more, you start to see certain experiences through a different lens. You start to understand your responses better. You learn to stop beating yourself up so much in the process. You start valuing yourself more.
It is not an easy path. Often, our decisions to heal ourselves often signal to the Universe to bring events, people and memories back into our lives so that we may finally see the truth behind our responses, beliefs and our past, so that we may re-write our stories and take control of our path ahead. These are designed to be triggering and painful so that emotions can come up in order to be fully felt and processed again.
Know that healing is a non linear process, so you can allow yourself to take it easy. As each layer gets stripped down, you drill deeper and deeper down into the core, the essence of the true You, you start to see more and more of who you really are.
You discover that sensitivity is just one of the doorways that have led you back to yourself. You get to be closer to your true self.
4: maintaining mastery
You have mastered energetic techniques to protect yourself and your energy. You value your skills, talents, and unique genius. You are ready to start integrating it into your life, to make your intuitive gifts part of your work in this life. Whatever you choose to do – whether or not it’s even related to ‘energetic’ or ‘healing’ work – it’s all good. Your presence is already a healing and offers light in this world! Don’t underestimate the power of a balanced empath or sensitive person, for it’s truly formidable.
Do any of these stages resonate with you? Where do you find yourself – or have you walked a different path completely?