Sensitive people are, well, sensitive. Duh! That seems so completely obvious, yet I find many of us, including myself, don't always honor that sensitivity in our daily choices. Or we regret being sensitive because it's oh so inconvenient.
Yet, it is what it is, so we might as well embrace it so that we can live our best, healthiest life.
I am sensitive to caffeine, as many sensitive people are, yet I LOVE coffee. Decaf just isn't the same. So, I've wrestled with this for many years, sometimes drinking only decaf, sometimes drinking too much caffeine and regretting it, sometimes going off coffee all together.
I'll never forget the awareness I gained about my sensitivity during one of my breaks from caffeine and coffee. As a New Year's resolution, I gave up coffee and did a cleanse, drinking Essiac tea to clean out my liver, eating vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and nuts, and eliminating grains, coffee, dairy, etc. from my foods. After an initial rough week with headaches, fatigue, and the general blahs, I started feeling much better. Then I was out shopping and decided to take a sampling off coffee. I could not believe how quickly I felt the caffeine, or that I even felt it at all. Oh, my gosh, only 2 ounces, I thought to myself. I wasn't feeling that good about that side of my sensitivity. Lesson learned.
And then there was the time when I was in my 20's and living in an apartment with a couple of roommates. I came down with something that the doctor felt that antibiotics would handle. And did I get handled. I went on a standard dose of tetracycline, and after a couple of doses, I ended up with dry heaves. Or the time I had period cramps so severe, the doctor recommended a prescription dose of ibuprofen. Walking along Dewey Beach with my friends, I felt so high - from ibuprofen! - that I didn't think my feet were touching the sand. This was clearly another sign of my sensitivity. Lessons learned.
So here we sensitives are, walking the earth, and feeling completely overstimulated in many ways. We can respond so strongly to ANY stimuli that it makes it a challenge to approach new experiences with open arms. And I think that is okay. It's important to be purposeful and cautious.
One way of self-care is to acknowledge our sensitivity and what that means to each of us.
For me, I must watch anything that has caffeine or a stimulant in it (and that includes chocolate and sugar), or I can get heart palpitations, lay awake all night, or be on edge for hours. I need to watch any medications; I start out slowly with them and build - if necessary, to make sure I'm not having a reaction. I will also explain my sensitivity to doctors, and let them know that I want the lowest effective dose - like something they would give to children. I need to watch supplements too, that they don't give me adverse effects as I adjust to them. I am careful with my foods, for if I eat something that my body doesn't agree with, I can be affected for a couple of days.
I believe it's so important for sensitive people to choose anything we put into our bodies wisely; that means from the water we drink, to the prescriptions and supplements we take, to the food and snacks we indulge in, and to the thoughts we think. We need to do this because we are affected by them more than most.
What is the upside of being so sensitive?
It's so important to keep these positives in mind.
For me, whatever I take in, I experience deeply. I am keenly aware of events around me; I can pick up on nuances. My feedback to others hits "the nail on the head" because I am so sensitive. In fact, I "see" things that many of my colleagues don't, and I can get a gut feel of the impacts these things can have in the future. I don't have to work at this; I allow my sensitivity to guide me. This skill helps me on business teams to hone in on what the team is doing that is and isn't working for them; I can then give feedback that is "right on" for how they can move forward to accomplish their goals. Teams have told me that I have valuable ideas. I have also won corporate awards for my ideas and my insights.
When I eat, drink, or ingest anything, my body gives me immediate feedback through symptoms. I may have been like the ancestors that foraged for berries and vegetables for the tribe because I could tell what would make the tribe sick, and what would be okay to eat. Today, this sensitivity helps me to choose wisely. It's not that I need to eat healthier than my spouse or my neighbor (although it can feel like that!) We all need to be eating healthy. I CHOOSE to eat wisely because I have the feedback, through my sensitivity, to make these choices. Less sensitive people may not know that certain foods or medications are bothering them because their feedback system isn't as fine-tuned as mine.
As a coach, I can tap into the other person naturally. I find that I can ask meaningful questions that help my client think about what's going on and come up with solutions. This connection with my client usually feels supportive to him; the increased awareness can help her move towards her goals and dreams.
Take a moment to think of the ways you are sensitive. Are you supporting yourself in the best ways possible? And how does this sensitivity benefit you?
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