It is normal for humans to feel pulled in many different directions at once. It is also part of life to have many different pressures or demanding energies trying to lay claim to our time and energy. These natural parts of life can be challenging for sensitive people who connect strongly with energy.
The energies we encounter are information but they do not come with instructions. We can ascertain qualities of energies: direct or indirect, sharp or dull, open or hidden, clear or confused, chaotic or purposeful etc. Although al of this information is important, it does not give us everything we need to come to a resolution about what we are experiencing.
As a result it is easy for a sensitive person to act on energy and find out later that their actions were misguided. Energy is just energy and it is a manifestation of the perception and intention of the individual emitting the energy or directing that energy. We cannot come to an effective determination about what we are noticing in many cases unless we are able to engage with the energy, our own energetic responses and the people and situation we are in.
Engagement And Empowerment
Many sensitive people put a lot of energy into self-protection and energy shielding for good reason: they need to prevent or minimize overwhelm. This is a good thing. However it cannot take you to a self-reliant and empowered way of relating to the world.
In order to become truly self-reliant and develop the resilience that comes with it, you need to engage with the world, to put up with the risks of failure and being hurt. Many sensitive people, because they have been devalued and invalidated, think that living in a limited way is the only solution that lets them manage the challenges of their sensitivity and survive.
What many sensitive people do not realize is that there are some skills they need that will help them feel more confident and empowered that shielding cannot give them. When skills are combines with energy processing and inner work, a sensitive person can become formidable.
Inner Work Can Save You
Inner work is the deep inner exploration for self-understanding, healing and transformation. It is gritty work, where we investigate our feelings, reactions, experiences, and thoughts to seek truth and self-becoming.
Inner work and my sensitivity saved my life. I grew up in a very toxic ultra-right wing family that was extremely harsh and oppressive. I knew at a very young age that I was different but the environment was so toxic that I also recognized that although many people around me tried to make me “wrong” for a variety of reasons including my sensitivity, it was my sensitivity that enabled me to see the distortions going on. Of course at a young age I could not understand what was going on. I also had the experience of being related to in a way that was disconnected and had nothing to do with me. So I made several decisions that I think saved my life:
- Seek to understand what was going on in my environment and with the people around me. I found that when others did not try to understand before acting they were invariably wrong. So I made understanding an important objective and safeguard before taking action.
- Think for myself. When I was seeking to understand I was also learning to think for myself. I knew I could not just accept the hostile view of the world I was being offered. By trying to think for myself, I was developing a muscle to support my ability to stand on my own two feet.
- Do not shut down. I sensed that my family was trying to brainwash me and bring me into a toxic way of life. I recognized that if I shut down, I would be taken over and trapped in a way of being that was anathema to me. As painful as it was, I made every effort to process all of my feelings even if I was unable to process all of them. Doing the work kept me from being wholly taken over and was a service to my soul. It was a way to let my natural conscientiousness work for me.
- Invest in doing good work. I find that paying attention to the work and seeking to do each moment’s work is one of the best ways to turn in sensitivity into a gift to the world. It is what makes the challenges worthwhile and at the same time makes inner peace possible. Being able to sleep at night and be at peace with ourselves is an important gift to ourselves.
How This Inner Work Is Necessary For Empowerment
All of this inner work was excellent for helping me develop an inner library of sensory and energetic perceptions. I spent a lot of time trying to “connect the dots” as a I call it: make sense of the energetic information I was encountering. I did not realize it at the time, but the work of connecting the dots to seek understanding is an important part of being creative in the world and a collaborative process. It is the skill of weaving from raw material that is an important part of co-creating with others and the universe.
Connecting the dots let me:
- become more grounded in reality because it helps me see energetically when a reaction or attitude was a distortion or just plain off-the-rails.
- figure out next steps more easily because when you develop this skill you find that you have a stronger footing when it comes to identifying a process to move forward.
- make reality my friend which is important to do because it helps you to move forward more constructively with fewer negative side effects.
There was a caveat. It was only when I started learning cultural frameworks that all of the inner processing turned into a huge asset. Cultural frameworks helped my understand differences beyond personality and identity and see the social constructs people live by. They helped me understand the different narratives of culture, how different cultures shame different things create different identities, allow different feelings and develop different skills. I gained a perspective and awareness that I had not had and which made better use of my sensitive processing and gifts so it is easier to locate like minds and set boundaries in a natural way.
Frameworks do not save you from doing your inner processing. However, they make the process easier because frameworks are a counterbalance to the inner critic and help you get your mind on your side. They make it easier to feel safe in the world when you recognize the limitations inherent in various cultural expectations so that you have more realistic expectations and therefore more helpful boundaries. They also help you identify more suitable environments for work and friendship. They can also help you develop an informed spontaneity when you learn how to use them.
I highly recommend inner work to everyone as an important process for empowerment and for sensitive people especially, frameworks to help turn sensitive gifts into great value in the world.