I think as Highly Sensitive Women, once we know deeply that’s who we are and what it means, we should have a coming out party! After all, isn’t it something we’ve been hiding from most of our lives?
God knows, as an intuitive, introverted, adventurous, highly sensitive person, I read stacks of self-help books to see why I felt so different from most people. I would seize upon one topic after another to make some sort of connection. I found we usually do have other ways of connecting to groups of people, whether it’s our special interests, support groups, education or careers. But that different feeling still remains, at least it has for me until I brought together a group of Highly Sensitive Women. That is a whole different feeling of connection!
Many of us are not really joiners. While, as individuals, our nature can be introverted and extroverted to varying degrees, we tend to have deep feelings and are highly independent—neither of which puts us in the center of a group for long. I have been a member of many groups and always felt most comfortable on the periphery. I may step in for special projects or social occasions, but tend to like the quick exit option.
I grew up in the Midwest and was labeled as “shy” by my parents and teachers. While I did feel “shy” when I was young, I question whether that label magnified my feelings. As a child during dinner, I was in my own world, creating creatures out of the clouds I watched pass through the sky. My mother said I was such a daydreamer.
That imagination flowed into poetry when I was around seven years old. I remember my grandmother taking me aside during a visit and giving me a journal, saying, “You keep this and keep writing.” I later learned she thought I was the grandchild most like her—sensitive.
Well, I did keep writing, mostly because it’s the easiest way for me to express myself. I often don’t really know what I’m thinking until I start putting it on paper (or computer, as the case may be). Life has a way of giving us what we need to grow, though, and I seemed to gravitate toward the things I found challenging.
Throughout my adult career in Public Relations and then CEO of a Community Health Center, I continually put myself into situations that terrified me. I learned to speak in public and worked in situations that required my meeting, greeting and acting as spokesperson. It was really a way of pushing myself beyond my limits, because I felt those limits were something to be conquered—not honored. Now, I’m glad to have grown from my experience, but no longer feel ashamed of my natural inclinations.
Looking back, I think some of that pushing probably did me good. What didn’t, was what I refer to as throwing out my line and reeling myself forward. My adventurous and impulsive side would get me leaping into a situation that both excited and scared me and I would either sink or swim. Even if I swam, the experience still took its toll energetically and emotionally. Can you relate?
I remember getting myself booked as a speaker on a cruise. I had never been on a cruise ship before and was traveling by myself. The group put me with a roommate, who was deeply depressed. I started feeling out of my element and out of my body. A psychic told me I needed to get off the ship to get grounded (fine time to tell me that!) And while parts of my trip were fun (I went zip-lining through the jungle in South America), I was never so happy to get back home.
Being bold has taken on a new meaning for me today. When I read Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, a few years ago, it was an epiphany. I finally knew why I felt different (only 20% of the population is a highly sensitive person). We were born with different wiring that makes everything affect us more deeply.
I took her quiz and found that I answered yes to nearly every question. She describes us as intuitive, creative, imaginative, intelligent, deep thinkers, conscientious, good with animals and children, great listeners, sensitive to the needs of others, empathetic and many more characteristics. The biggest downside was our frequent plummet into overwhelm.
When the world is in Technicolor or 3-D, it’s a lot to take in and process. Our processing skills run deep, so we need more time than most. When we absorb others’ feelings, get bombarded with nightly news full of violence, deal with loud noise and bright lights (think Rock Concert), we start to shut down.
We can’t BE in the world the way we want to be—that’s where listening to our sensitive nature comes in. We can learn to manage our feelings and environment in a way that lifts us up to be the healers, creatives, advisors and thought leaders we were meant to be through meditative and visioning techniques and lifestyle management.
Being bold today means being a Highly Sensitive Woman who knows and honors herself—she accepts her spiritual purpose on this earth in this time. The more Highly Sensitive Women embrace who they are, the better the world will be for it. A world dominated by violence, corruption, environmental destruction, greed, and other warrior ways needs the balance of soothing energy we bring to it. So I urge you—Be bold. Be gentle. Be you.