Glennon Doyle, the author of Untamed, says that people have always called her “sensitive,” in such a way that it’s clear it’s a bad thing, because she feels things deeply.
Her words resonated for me. For as long as I can remember, I have heard the same thing from family and friends.
“Janice, you are so sensitive” in the tone of voice one would use to say, “You are so annoying.”
Glennon said it has always troubled her. (Of course it has, she is sensitive.) Glennon came to realize her sensitivity was a gift, that she would rather be sensitive than the opposite—insensitive.
She became proud of her ability to be so passionate and compassionate.
I decided to embrace that I am not insensitive and see my emotional tendencies as a gift. From now on, I will feel honored when someone tells me I’m too sensitive.
Indeed, I am!
I take in everything. I can read peoples’ faces and their body language and know if they are feeling sad or elated, and when people are down, it affects me, and I want to fix or do or help.
Like Glennon, I have had to learn to turn off the volume on the sensitivities that I transmit from others, and from the anxious part of myself. I can’t fix or do or help everyone, and I need to focus on the needs of my stronger self.
Knowing that doesn’t make my compassion go away, though. I will always be a feeler and not a thinker. (Well, I think sometimes!) I will always act from the gut and not the mind. But I can quiet my mind now when my heart is affected by those around me and by stress.
Whether I have been personally wounded, or others have, I have a new method for drawing myself back to my center.
As my mind turns around phrases and thoughts like, “I wonder why she is upset,” “I hope everything is okay,” or “I hope I didn’t hurt her feeling,” I slowly recognize the pattern.
Then, I put an end to it.
“Stop,” I tell myself. “Stop feeling.”
And I do.
“What’s happening with Janice today?” I’ll ask myself instead, filling my mind with what is on that day’s agenda. “How is Janice feeling today?”
I take stock. If I am happy, I focus on all I am grateful for, and then I focus on whatever task is at hand, keeping the afflicted, and my perceived afflictions, at arm’s length.
If I am sad, I focus on why, and I fix or do or help myself, so I feel happy again.
The moral of this story is that it is never a bad thing to feel. It is only a bad thing to let feeling consume you and pull you away from your gratitude and your purpose.