‘Highly sensitive beings suffer more but they also love harder, dream wider and experience deeper horizons and bliss. When you’re sensitive, you’re alive in every sense of this word in this wildly beautiful world. Sensitivity is your strength. Keep soaking in the light and spreading it to others.’ (Victoria Erikson)
What has sensitivity to do with power?
I think it has a lot to do with it.
It may sound like a contradiction or a paradox.
Sensitivity is a superpower.
Many of us grew up in a society that ridicules women’s and men’s sensitivity. How many jokes do we remember about women being lunatics or irrational because they are on their menstrual cycle? What about shaming and toxic phrases that are thrown at children such as ‘boys don’t cry’ or ‘be a man!’?
In industrialised countries, culture praises logic over feeling and linear thinking over intuition.
I remember as a child that the adults around me often told me that I was too sensitive, overreacting or exaggerating. Sadly as a consequence, like many other children, I developed a belief that something was wrong with me. I had to toughen up and swallow the pain. The opinion and ideas of the adults dictated how I needed to behave and view the world.
Dr Gabor Mate says that children often chose attachment to their carers over authenticity as a way to survive. It would be too painful or dangerous for them to express what they feel because the message that they can get, also unconsciously if their parents are too stressed or traumatised, is that they are not acceptable or lovable for who they are.
Children suppress their emotions and sacrifice vital and basic needs like authenticity and dignity because they cannot lose the relationship with their parents. Their lives depend upon them.
As a consequence, many people also as adults, have no idea about what they feel. Getting out of touch with one’s gut feelings becomes second nature for many.
From a historical point of view, there are numerous cases that show us that it was somewhat dangerous to be sensitive or ‘different’.
Many artists, rebels, poets, visionaries, lesbians and gays who dared to express themselves and their truth in the last century have received forcefully electroshock.
Witch doctors, herbalists, midwives and medicine people whose art was rooted in their expanded capacity to feel and connect to invisible realms were persecuted during the Dark Age.
Sensitivity is an exquisite gift and there is no need to be afraid of it. It is vital to reclaim it, to re-write stories about it and invent a new way to relate to it.
I invite you to nurture it and use it as a compass.
The journey into tapping fully into one’s sensitivity is not about navel-gazing or becoming excessively preoccupied with oneself.
On the contrary, it is also about developing tools to cultivate more empathy, compassion and solidarity with all living beings. It is an opportunity to restore sacred kinship with all life.
Sensitivity can be a catalyser for change. It can point towards what is unjust, unsustainable and that until all beings are liberated and free from suffering, nobody is truly free. It can become a tool to deconstruct colonialism, individualism, inner and outer systems of oppression.
It is through an exquisite capacity to feel that many realise that what we do against Mother Earth we are doing it to ourselves and vice-versa.
At the more personal level, our sensitivity may tell us when to say no or yes, help us establish firmer boundaries and make better decisions. It is like an antenna catching vibes and what is appropriate or not for us. It brings information about places, people and situations.
Sensitivity teaches us to sharpen our senses and to feel with our bellies and hearts. If fully grounded in our bodies, it gathers information from our inner sensations, signals and landscape.
I like to imagine that it can teach us to tune in with animals, the living world around us and the whispers of the winds. It can show us how to savour the taste of the rain, chant the songs of the rivers and thunderstorms, sense the ancient wisdom of the mountains in our bones.
I like to imagine that when we open up the soles of our feet we intertwine our roots with the roots of the forests.
What if you could dream awake and become the lake, the thunder, the oak and the eagle? What could you do to develop deeper empathy and communication with four-legged friends, flowers and plants?
If you could slow down and listen, what would be their message to you?
‘To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.’ (William Blake)
Sensitivity allows us to open up to beauty, art, poetry, creativity. It strengthens our embodied imagination and the capacity to dream of new a world and narratives. I like to think that, unlike what our Western culture taught us, that this is ultimately empowering and life-affirming.
Our sensitivity is a tool to get to know ourselves better and care for our community, planet and beloved ones.
If we learn to trust it as the most precious and sacred gift, we can also relax into who we are more fully and dedicate our passion to what truly matters to us. That is the power that can be used to protect life, not to destroy it.
What is your sensitivity whispering to you today? What do you want to dedicate your power to?