I was driving home from work when my cell phone beeped notifying me I had received a text from Angie, a close friend whom I’d been teaching intuitive awareness for the past year. Without looking at my phone, I knew it was a request to call her; usually, a sign that life was giving her another lesson and one she wanted to discuss.
One thing about highly sensitive people is that we spot each other in a heartbeat. I met Angie during an impromptu intuition workshop I had held while visiting a friend in another state, and when talking with her and her husband I could feel what a highly sensitive person she was. Outgoing by nature, Angie had a deep desire to work with people as a healer. Her husband’s energy, on the other hand, went to the other extreme. He had no interest in intuition and my efforts to share tips on using intuition in a business setting fell on deaf ears. Eventually, he grew fidgety and impatient; insisting they leave early during a break to attend a home show. Watching them walk away, I saw Angie look over her shoulder at me; although she didn’t say anything there was a pleading in her eyes which left a lingering impression in my thoughts.
In the days which followed, I had a gut feeling that there was something important being conveyed through her expression. Since I gain intuitive information through a person’s eyes and always trust my gut feelings, I sent a message through a mutual friend for Angie to call me if she needed to talk. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, her call would be the start of a friendship which would be a learning experience for us both.
Early in that first phone call as Angie shared her thoughts with me, I realized that there was a much broader range of personal concerns Angie was trying to address than anyone I had previously taught. As a highly sensitive person who was dealing with past addiction issues and trying to be the ideal wife in her marriage, Angie was experiencing numerous conflicting emotions. She was feeling worn out from setting aside her needs in order to meet the expectations of her husband and the people around her.
Intuition she told me, was a subject she wanted to learn more about; she saw it as a path to making better personal decisions in all area of her life, allowing her to be herself rather than a reflection of what she felt people expected of her. While I agreed to teach her over the phone in lieu of a small donation to an animal shelter, I also had a gut feeling that I needed to be at my personal best if I was going to be able to help her.
The Definition Of Sensitivity
“I hate being so sensitive” Angie comments during a call; “I’m tired of my constant reactions to people and all the emotions which come with them. Why can’t I be normal like everybody else? ” Since I believe that each minute of our lives is a gift in self-awareness, I decide to ask her what she feels is the definition of sensitivity. “Sensitivity is a constant reaction to things.” she replies; ” At work, I can feel the negativity of the people around me and then have to come home to feeling my husband’s expectations of what I should look like and how I should live my life. Even the women in my church group are petty and condescending to me”. “Based on your comments” I ask her; “Would you agree that your definition of sensitivity is your ability to feel the world around you much more intensely than the average person?” After a quick agreement Angie is quiet. She knows I teach through questions about the definition of sensitivity.
“Remember that the first rule of thumb when working with our intuition is to recognize that everything is energy. For highly sensitive people like ourselves, we can soak up the different energies the environment around us like a sponge. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Think of how different you feel when you’re walking in the woods versus when you’re at work. You’re still the same person, the only difference is your reaction to the energy in the environment around you.” Angie agrees and is quiet again. She is integrating my definition of sensitivity.
“Let’s distill our definition of sensitivity down even further,” I tell her; “Let’s say that sensitivity is simply heightened awareness. Perhaps, it is this heightened awareness within you that is leading to these reactions. With that being said, can you see a positive element here? “Is there one? ” she asks, laughing.
The Gift Of Our Sensitivity
As highly sensitive people, we can be reactive to the multitude of different energies and personalities contained within our current environment. It is part of the definition of sensitivity. Through my questions, I wanted Angie to use her sensitivity to focus on recognizing the nature of that energy rather than just feel her reaction to it.
“Angie, if we recognize that heightened awareness is the driving force behind our sensitivity, we can consider each reaction as an indicator of sorts; similar to the compass in your car each reaction points something out to you. The starting point to making better decisions in your life is to recognize what each of these reactions is telling you about your current environment.
Awareness is the gift of our sensitivity; it offers us guidance during the trials of daily living. Because this gift of awareness which we readily label “being sensitive” is often so wrapped in judgment, we never see the gift itself; instead, we are distracted by the wrapping which surrounds it.”
Awareness And The Voice Of Sensitivity
I never had a set schedule with Angie for our phone calls. Instead, I asked her to call me when she felt she was losing direction. Now legally separated from her husband, life was throwing Angie a multitude of financial and personal challenges which had her feeling overwhelmed at times. It was that feeling of overwhelm that I wanted Angie to work with.
“How do I know I’m making the right decisions?” she asks me; “My marriage has fallen apart and I feel it’s all my fault.” I can hear the guilt in her voice; using her intuition is the farthest thing from her mind right now.
“When birds fly south for the winter” I reply. “How do they know what direction to head in; what is guiding them?” She is quick to answer. “Their instincts guide them.” “What about your instincts?” I ask; “How have they guided you on this journey?” Angie doesn’t reply as she contemplates the changes she has made in her life. “Angie, keep the focus on your gut feelings. The intuitive voice of your own instinct is always felt through gut feelings. That is where the answer to your question is.
The gift of your sensitivity created a self-awareness that you weren’t happy in your marriage and things needed to change. In your gut you knew this was true and you had the courage to act on that knowledge. The process hasn’t changed at all; to answer your question simply listen to what your gut is telling you.”
“But all I’m feeling is guilt!” she replies. There is an edge of frustration in her voice. Rather than argue my point, I leave her with another question. “And where exactly is the voice of that guilt originating from? Is it really a gut feeling or rather an emotional response as a result of your thinking?”
Intuition Versus Ego
Angie’s frustration highlighted a key point in working with awareness. To properly utilize the gift of awareness our sensitivity brings us, we want to discern between emotions created by the judgmental voice of ego which originates from our thinking versus the more neutral voice of our intuition which is a flash of feeling felt in the gut. In my own experience, the difference between the two is that intuition is felt as a sense of knowing something to be true rather than as an emotion.
The Sum Of Our Choices
While through our conversations I could make Angie aware of how intuition worked, life was always the real teacher here. While I was teaching her how to use her sensitivity to rely on her own instincts, I was also being taught about the struggles that people who suffer from addictions face. It was an ironic situation; in order to teach Angie to use her instincts, I had to rely heavily on my own.
This past weekend, Angie mentioned how for the first time in her life she could be herself in a relationship with a man she had met. Her comment reminded me of the Albert Camus quote “Life is the sum of our choices“. As she thanked me for my help, in my heart I knew that our phone conversations were going to be shorter from this point on; Angie’s life had become a reflection of the better choices she was making. Instinct was her teacher now. For the highly sensitive, that is where the gift is always to be found; in that quiet voice of awareness which never, ever leaves our side. In the definition of sensitivity is our clue to the beautiful gift that can guide us on our path.