Saturday, April 2, 2011


Lately I'm noticing that my emotional sensitivity level seems set to an all-time high. The tiniest thing can make me weep, or burst out laughing, and the other day I drove past horses standing in a muddy field and felt sad at the idea that their feet were wet and they seemed tremendously bored. At first I panicked that the jig was up and I'm finally losing my tenuous grip on reality.

But upon further examination, I realized that the hypersensitive nature which I've always assumed to be a bad thing, is actually a positive when it comes to my writing career. When I notice specific things and feel them deeply, I can describe what I observe in fine detail, and hopefully make it meaningful to someone else in the telling. Or at least this is my hope, because looking at it from this direction makes me feel more useful and less crazy.

I've always had an issue with sensing the distress of others and empathizing so that I feel the pain as well. For a long time this was related to my permeable and shifting boundaries, and had an unhealthy side because I felt responsible for the suffering of others, and wanted to fix what ailed everyone. Now that I've tightened up my boundaries, I think I finally understand that I can't fix the pain of others. Each person has to work on themselves, or choose not to make improvements, and I don't have to obsess over that. It's very freeing.

My sensitivity will probably never go away. It's part of who I am, and before this I pretended it wasn't there by carefully constructing layers of false bravado on top of it so the world thought I didn't care and couldn't be hurt by people when in fact it was the exact opposite. Possibly now I'm just not covering it so diligently anymore. I'm trying to define this depth of feeling as a strength and not a weakness.

I recently heard a statement about how changing the way we see things, is changing the way we do things, for action follows understanding. Becoming more aware of my sensitive nature has altered the way I see myself and the way I exist in the world. It doesn't make me weak or lame to feel the good and the bad in such specific ways. It is simply the way I am wired, and it can be a skill if I will stop pretending it away because it doesn't fit into my "approved" list of character qualities. I'm changing the way I view it, and that fact alone is warming me up to this aspect of who I am.

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