Are you sensitive? Laura Beckingham explains why this could be the greatest gift you possess.
You’re sensitive to smell and taste, you notice subtle changes in temperature and pressure. You can hear things that others can’t. Your dreams are vivid, rich sensory experiences; sometimes filled with memories, at times a window in to what’s yet to come. You often wake tired, as you live a whole other life in your sleep.
You consciously choose where to sit in restaurants; you arrive early to meetings so you can take your place in the corner, where you can be aware of what’s going on, yet protected too. You can ‘feel’ energy in places and spaces. You crave environments that nurture you, that are alive, yet pure.
You pick up on other people’s moods and feelings; sometimes you don’t know what’s yours and what’s theirs. Your sense of what ‘the vibe’ will be impacts whether you say yes or no to an invitation.
Your sensitivity can be a heavy burden. I know this because I carry it too.
Yet your sensitivity also defines the best of you.
It’s the source of your exquisite kindness. It enables you to remember the way someone takes their tea, or what their favourite song is. You send a poem to a family member if reading it makes you think of them; you remember to ask friends how they’re doing, even though you already ‘know’ and despite nobody asking you. And your sensitivity brings you closer to the best of what it means to be human. Nature enthrals you, you can lose yourself in art, in music, captivated by its spell and the emotion it sirs in your soul. You can choose a happy home, stay in beautiful places, fully experience the magic of this world. Your dreams are a key to your intuitive power, a window in to your psyche ‘illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you’.
And furthermore, you can turn your sensitivity in to your greatest gift.
Sensitivity gives rise to compassion and empathy. Your openness to the world allows you to walk alongside other people in a very special way; the questions you ask, the space you hold invites them to be with themselves more deeply. Your ability to ‘hear’ so well means you can pay exquisite attention to another, not just to what they’re saying, but to what they’re not saying too. Your ability to ‘feel’ emotion on behalf of someone else means you can enable and encourage them to give voice to what’s really going on inside.
The nature of your special gift means you must protect yourself too, because you can be easily over-loaded and over-whelmed. I’ve learned this the hard way. Now I know that two things have the biggest impact for me; two things make the difference between my sensitivity being a burden and it being one of the most potent and unique things about me:
We highly sensitive people are by nature very open and so we let a lot of stuff in. It’s therefore really important to find grounding practices that bring us back down to earth and it’s critical that we each use these methods as often as possible. Though you will learn to find your own way, some of my rituals may give you ideas:
Energy clearing – particularly of my workspaces and my home and especially when I’ve had visitors. The most commonly known method is to burn or ‘smudge’ with white sage. I also use Palo Santo wood, which is equally powerful, but has a fresher, minty fern-like smell.
Water – for me taking baths, washing my hands as I leave places and taking a swim; water is well known in both medical and spiritual worlds for its healing powers. Drinking plenty is also particularly important for highly sensitive people – a lot of energy shifts and moves through us and this can be dehydrating, so remember to hydrate as often as possible.
Getting outside in nature – I have two important rituals: A daily walk to the river (there’s water again!) and a cup of tea, on the bench in my garden, barefoot. I sit or walk in silence, take some big deep breaths and let the sounds and feel of nature wash over me.
Setting and Holding Boundaries
knowing and then being clear on what’s good for me enables me to be at my best for both me and for others. Here’s what I’ve learned works best in my world:
Saying no – when I’m asked to do something, if I know in the moment that I don’t want to, or have a sense that by the time it comes, I won’t want to do it then I say no. Brene Brown says ‘choose discomfort over resentment’ and this has become the mantra that enables me to say no when I mean no, despite what the other person may think. I’ve learned that saying no is often a different way of saying yes.
Protecting my physical space – I spend a lot of time with other people, in a variety of settings, as I’m sure you do, so I always ensure I have a place and space that’s just for me. That can be a room, a seat, even just a spot in the corner. It’s somewhere I can retreat to, to centre and ground. Specifically, I aim to sleep in my own bed wherever possible, and as the healing I get from sleep is so important, I try to protect my sleeping space, keeping it uncontaminated from others, particularly when staying away with friends or having guests stay over with me.
Limiting my time with specific individuals – even people we love (especially people we love!) can be too much at times. So now I leave when I feel I need to leave, don’t answer my phone if I’m not ready to talk and ask for ‘quiet time’ where I need it. Where I know others won’t respond well to this, I find ‘escaping’ for a bath works a treat!
Working where and when suits me – as a self-employed business owner I have the luxury of being in control of my own diary. In the past I have been guilty of working whenever a client needed me, but now, under the guidance of my own Coach, I’m working out and implementing what suits me best. So far this means working at times that suit my natural energy patterns and consciously choosing to work in spaces with natural light and access to the outdoors.
So now to you:
- What’s the power in your sensitivity, the part that makes you uniquely you?
- How can you shift your sensitivity from being a heavy burden in to being your greatest gift?
- How do you ground?
- What boundaries do you need to set?
- And who will you be when you learn to lean in to this part of yourself?
Share your thoughts below!