I want to take a minute and send a little extra love to all my fellow sensitives this week.
You know who you are, and there’s a long list of ways you might see or describe yourself -- a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), empath, a “people pleaser”, that little “F” in your MBTI type, or even just the knowledge that you’ve been called “overly sensitive” more than a few times in your life -- I’m talking to you. Instead of giving you an actionable list of tips or a ‘how to’ this week, I just want to shine a little light on the tougher parts of being a sensitive person, and to remind you that you’re not the only one who feels them. I see you.
Sometimes, more than we need a list of tips or strategies or next steps, we really need a little encouragement to restore our energy and refill our tanks.
The Head-Heart Tug of War
There’s a special kind of push-pull that comes with being a sensitive person.
We can get a bad rap for not always seeing the world from a super “practical” perspective, or even for “not thinking logically.” (That last one has always really gotten under my skin.) I call BS. Our brains work just fine, thank you very much.
But that’s just it. Sometimes our biggest struggle is that inner tug of war: our hearts or our gut feel one thing, but on the other hand, we’re so able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine their experiences that we can see their perspective with compelling clarity, too. We start intellectually bargaining with ourselves, until we’re not entirely sure where we stand at all. When you’re pulled in that many directions with equal force, it’s easy to lose your footing… and when the other person whose perspective you’re weighing is especially bold or overbearing, it’s easy to start doubting yourself.
Gentle Strength is Still Strength
For a long time, I bought into this idea that “he or she who speaks the loudest and/or wavers the least is a stronger person with more credible ideas.” Um, false. False false false false false.
Not only that, but subscribing to this philosophy kept me feeling small in my relationships, and instead of seeing the head-heart tug of war as a sign of my emotional capacity and strength, I thought it made me wishy-washy and weak. I thought that if I was struggling so much to figure out where I stood and communicate that position to someone else who had their stuff all figured out, I must not be a very strong person. I became more and more willing to give up on my own ideas in favor of someone else’s who made their case more forcefully.
(I’m cringing as I type this. I really am.)
Take this to heart: Sensitivity is a source of power. Gentle strength is still strength. Your empathy is a gift.
Considering different perspectives and struggling to decide where you stand is NOT a sign of weakness.
You can see value in someone else’s ideas without having to give up on your values.
Loving someone does not require that you do mental and emotional gymnastics to get on board with their ideas.
There is no shame in standing your ground, while leaving space for empathy and understanding.
The more you start to believe and internalize these things, the easier it will be to give yourself to permission to identify and pursue the things you want, need, and believe in - all while leaving room for understanding, compassion, and empathy. Once you can see your gentle strength for the asset that it is, it will only get easier to find clarity, and feel deeply rooted in the things you believe in, while nurturing the confidence to use your voice.
It’s that kind of confidence and belief in your strength that will help you start to see - really see - all that you’re capable of.