On being sensitive

“You’re so sensitive.”

“You’re too sensitive.”

Said innocently. Said with a smile. Or said with a laugh. Or sometimes said with a thunderhead of judgment in the air.  I’ve heard it said in so many tones, in so many ways, through so many phase of my life. I do not remember someone not saying it in my life, beginning with my mother and continuing on until this very day.  People I love have said it.  Also people I have learned not to trust have said it.

When someone says this to you, really what they are doing is making a judgment about how they think you should feel. Sometimes it’s more of a statement of how they want you to feel, a manipulative statement.

As empaths or as very sensitive people, we do have to accept it’s who we are. I work with that. Where I’ve gotten into trouble is that I can get swept up into situations before I know it. I’ve been spending a lifetime learning to act, not react. I’m getting better at it, but this isn’t going to be a struggle that draws to a rapid close any time soon.

Another place I’ve gotten into trouble stems from making it a survival technique from a rough childhood…looking for the best in people. I tend to find something lovely in a dung pile. And then embrace the dung pile. Sigh.

What has benefited me the most, recently, are Buddhist teachings on “idiot compassion.” One Buddhist teacher calls it a form of common sense. Not so common to people like me. I spent my childhood and youth feeling out any lost fragment of good in everyone and took it way too far. Now as an older woman, I need to examine it as a youthful survival technique — it did help then — which I no longer need to get by.

This is what I’m thinking right now. Take some time for yourself because your body and mind really need it. Guard peace by walking circumspectly to protect your heart. Recalculate.  Face the pain, don’t  just embrace the joy. Don’t run away into excessive and false positivity. Don’t sink into negativity.

Breathe and bend and act. Adapt. Take a chance. Be creative. Sit with the natural world.  Create.





About rainshadowfarm

I teach anthropology, am an archaeologist, a drylands agroecologist, community educator, and a single mother of eight grown kids. I currently own and operate an educational and research farm in the southern Mojave Desert, Rainshadow Farm. I'm 100% West Virginia hillbilly. Not necessarily in that order.
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