The most important skill we can develop, as sensitives, is to listen to our bodies and support what they are telling us.
As a sensitive, we receive information from everywhere we go. As we walk down a neighborhood street, we may sense the temperature on our skin, feel wobbly on our feet as we walk over the stream of stressed underground water running under the sidewalk, experience the wave of and electromagnetic field emanating from a nearby WIFI, and even feel the deep sadness of the neighbor who just buried his cat of 14 years.
“Make it stop!” I silently screamed as my heart pounded erratically against my 7-year-old chest. “Make it stop!” I yelled silently to my heart, and my fear.
I had jolted awake full of anxiety and all I was aware of was the darkness and my pounding heart; my two younger sisters were still sleeping soundly in our bedroom. Then I heard it – slam, slam, slam! went the kitchen cabinets downstairs. I knew it was my Dad, and I knew something was wrong. I could feel his anger, irritation, and frustration. None of the other 7 children in the household seemed to be hearing it. That scared me more!
I pulled the covers tightly up to my shoulders, even though I felt hot and sweaty. I wanted to hear him because I somehow felt responsible for whatever he was going through in that moment, and if I stopped listening, he wouldn’t be okay.
The funny thing is, our kitchen occupied the back side of our 4-bedroom, 2-bath home. My bedroom, in the front of the two-story house, sat at the top of the stairs. I heard my Dad so clearly, as if he rummaged in the hallway right outside our bedroom. So how could a slam of a wooden kitchen cabinet travel so loudly through a formal dining room, up the stairs and through our closed bedroom door?
Kaboom. Thud! In that moment, the house went eerily quiet. It was the kind of quiet that sent terror up my spine. I hadn’t yet heard him climb the stairs to bed as I had so many nights before. I had listened for that often. I knew without a doubt that something horrible had happened. Perhaps my dad died? Why else would the slamming stop?
I gingerly tiptoed to my parent’s room. I knew that I would get in trouble for being awake, and for waking my mom. But I didn’t know what else to do. I knew I had to tell someone. My dad needed help. Arousing from her sleep-deprived slumber, my mom told me to go back to bed, as she pulled on her bathrobe and trudged downstairs. I listened with hyper vigilant ears for a long time and didn’t hear anything. Somehow, with her in charge, I fell back asleep.
The next morning, life seemed to go on as normal that Saturday. Then I saw it – a large black and blue mark right on top of my dad’s bare head. I wanted to ask him about it. I wanted to know desperately what had happened. Yet, somehow I knew that I couldn’t talk about it –– with anyone. I couldn’t tell a soul. It had rocked my little world, leaving me feeling drained and alone. And, in spite of everything, my dad was alive!
I didn’t know what happened that night or any of the other dozens of nights through my childhood and teenage years when I intuitively felt distress emanating from my dad or mom. As far back as I could remember, I had radar-ears for them. I’d awaken from a deep sleep – terrified. As the fog of sleep cleared, I knew, somehow, that something was terribly wrong in their world. I experienced it deeply in my body, so it also became wrong in my world too. I felt responsible, horribly responsible.
Sensitivity - the Antenna. The more sensitive we are, the deeper we tune in, and the more we pick up. We can have bodiily symptoms to worldly events, feeling the shock and horror of the masses as we lay in bed at night. We can tune into our mom in another state (like the sabertooth tiger around the corner) who is experiencing health challenges. We can even feel the movement of the planet and star systems around us.
Language. Our body can only communicate with us through symptoms. If we eat foods that doesn't agree with us, we perhaps get a tummy ache. Or we develop an achiness over time. Or we develop allergies or skin conditions. So how the heck to we know, when we experience something, what the message is? How do we, in fact, really lislten to, and respond to, our symptoms and bodies.
Quiet Time. The first step is to have regular quiet time with ourselves everyday. This time is meant to more deeply connect you with your physical body, focusing on the quiet and the breath, listening for and honoring your body's messages and releasing the messages that are not meant for you to carry. Whether this is 10 minutes upon waking in the morning to sit in quiet reflection, 10 minutes while you're waiting in the school carpool line, or a 45-minute planned meditation in a sacred spot, it really doesn't matter. Whatever works for you.
Checking In. Next, when we have a symptom, we should always ask ourselves "Is this my symptom?" The answer may not yes, or no; it may come immediately, or it may take a while. But asking to identify if it belongs to you or not is key to a sensitive person.
Many sensitive people will describe events that happen - crying unexplanably, not being able to fall asleep, having a stomach ache, feeling extreme anxiety - and not knowing why. They can't seem to identify what is causing the symptom or feeling. I used to think that something was "wrong with me." In fact, that was my go to affirmation everytime I started to feel very anxious or out of sorts. As I have learned to listen to my body carefully, I can now identify most times if I am experiencing a symptom about an experience of mine, or someone elses. If it belongs to me, then I ask "What would help me feel better?" If it is related to someone else, I acknowledge it. And work on letting it go.
I wish that I could tell you that it is a fast easy process for me, but it has not been. It takes me a while to get out of the "something is wrong with me" thinking (although not half as long as it used to), then I have to spend time wondering if it's my symptom or someone elses. Finally, I can get clear on what's happening for me, and use some of my tools and behaviors to bring about calmness and centeredness.
The most important thing, is that I'm listening. Are you?
Until next time, Be Kind to Yourself.
Transform Your Wellness;
Personalized Strategies for Sensitive People