Finding Your Sensitive Tribe
Having just come back from an incredible trip to Europe and getting (wait for it....) ENGAGED while I was there, I have relationships on the brain!
I did a vlog awhile back where I talked about what to do when you have a partner who doesn't understand your sensitivity. And I was really thinking about this a lot this week because my fiance and I have been together for 8 years. When we first started dating we were very different people then we are now, especially me. I was working actively on my self esteem at the time, but was still struggling with truly loving myself. And unfortunately, in the beginning of our relationship, he was not very respectful of my sensitivity. And it wasn't because he was a mean person. Usually when someone is critical of your sensitivity it is because people are afraid of things they don't understand. It makes them uncomfortable, because they don't really know how to relate to it. But as time went on and our relationship progressed and we both grew, he really started to make an effort to see things through my eyes. To let me explain to him what it's like to experience life through the lens of being highly sensitive. And so, I was really thinking about the importance of building your sensitive tribe; having a support system around you of people who really honor and nurture your sensitive nature. Because so many of go through our lives surrounded by people who are criticizing our sensitivity all the time. And that starts to eat at you over time and break you down and make you feel bad about yourself. So I really encourage you to start building your own sensitive tribe!
How can you do that? Well, I'm not just talking about romantic relationships, but relationships in general. Wether it's family or friends or a romantic partner. But one of the ways you can start to build this support around you is to look for other sensitive souls. So if you're not already a member of my Facebook group, the Super Sensitives, I really encourage you to come and join us there. It's a great community- everyone there is Highly Sensitive and it's a really great place where we build each other up and we start to really pay attention to the ways our sensitivity SERVES us. And to start seeing it through a positive lens.
Also, I'm sure there are plenty of people in your life who you deeply love who are NOT sensitive. So what you can do, if they're critical of your sensitivity or you feel like they don't respect it is you can tell them how that makes you feel. And educate them! Because once again people are afraid of what they don't understand. But if you educate them on the fact that this is actually a genetic trait and explain to them what it means and how it makes things different for you, then they can be more respectful of it. Have them watch the movie "Sensitive" by Elaine Aron that explains it beautifully, read an article- whatever it is that you can use as a vehicle to teach them that this is how life is for you, this is how you experience the world. This will help them to have a deeper understanding of why you might react the way you do sometimes, why your emotions seem to be bigger, why you need more self care, why you need more process time. And if it's somebody who truly loves, respects, and appreciates you, they will take the time to learn about it. And then they will understand the next time, for example, you're on a trip overseas and you need some extra down time after the long day of being on the tour! ;) But this is not just about getting them to understand all the extra needs you may have- but also the positive aspects of being sensitive. Sensitivity has unfortunately in our society been looked at through such a negative lens for so long thats that kind of the default for people to see it that way. There are not enough people talking about why it's great! When you start to really learn about it you see there is SO many things about why it is a gift and it's awesome and makes you a better friend, creative, a better healer, etc.- how it really contributes to your personality in a POSITIVE way!
The other thing I realized this week in talking with some of the members of my sensitive group is that not everyone is fortunate enough to have people in their immediate circle that are willing to do the work to understand their sensitive trait. I have two things to say about this.... One; I'm not saying at all to just go cutting everyone out of your life if they're not open to learning about it. But I would just invite you to start to question, if you have a relationship with someone and you've tried to get them to understand your sensitivity, and you've told them how it makes you feel when they criticize it or disrespect it... If you've told them this on several occasions and they're still not willing to make an effort- even a small effort, at that point you may want to ask yourself "what am I getting out of this relationship?" What is this person telling me by disregarding something I've been asking for that is so important to me? So I'm really just asking you to look at that. Just start to look at the quality of your relationships. And see how people are showing up for you. Two; if you are having a difficult time finding understanding or other sensitive people in your immediate circle, then start to look online. Wether it's my Facebook group, another one, whatever- just go online and look for communities. Because the internet is a big place and the best thing about it is the ability to connect us with other people that we couldn't otherwise connect with. When you start to make friends with people online, take it off the computer (SAFELY of course)! You can do phone calls and Skypes! You can start to get your support that way.
And my final tip for building your sensitive tribe is this: the more that YOU honor and respect your own sensitivity and the more that YOU look for the positive in it the more you're going to attract other people to you that will do the same. If people sense in you that this is something you're ashamed of, that you think is a flaw, then they're probably going to treat you as if it is. But if somebody says to you "gosh, you're so sensitive" and you say "I know, thanks!" that totally changes the perspective. So work on OWNING your sensitive gift and starting to work on setting your life up in a way that honors it and stop criticizing YOURSELF for it. And that's going to project this confidence in your sensitivity that is going to attract people to you that will treat you with respect.
So I hope these tips have served you today. I know that when I started building my sensitive tribe it changed so much for me! Just having people who "get it" and who you don't always have to explain yourself to is a huge relief! You may be "different" than 80% of the population, but the more we support one another and educate others on what it truly means to be sensitive, the more we begin to feel free, and whole.