Do you want to rock the boat? One way is to make art!

Abstract art does many things but it is best at rocking the boat and causing us to see things in a new way. Rocking the boat is an important life skill, and one that highly sensitive people should embrace.

Mindless Activity

Currently, we are besieged by change. Given the endless activity of novelty and new “trends” you would think that we allow and accept rocking the boat. In reality, we are probably not that open and accepting. Mindless activity is not change. Mindless activity can stop change because it invites shallow activity and serious change requires a deeper commitment of time and attention. Mindless activity is activity for activities sake; it is not purposeful and well thought out.

Another way to limit change is by creating chaos in the form of constant emergencies. Evolutionary psychology points out that the easiest way to stop growth and development is to have a war – which is a form of aggressive chaos.  Chaos is limiting because each moment is divorced from the next so that sustained activity becomes impossible. Under chaotic conditions, time and continuity are under siege; in war, people are, too. COVID-19 has brought this home to us.

The Serious Business Of Rocking The Boat

When you are serious about anything, you have to invest time and energy. Serious intention requires a lot of thinking, experimentation, testing of the waters, mistakes, and creativity. Serious intention means you have to slow down enough to make the necessary investment in what you are trying to accomplish.

Working fast reduces investments of time and energy which creates shallow results. One way to keep people from rocking the boat is to have them fixate on a lot of ever-changing novelty. It keeps people busy and creates illusions of change. The phrase, “The more things change, the more they say the same,” describes these conditions.

Serious lasting change, then, requires a considerable amount of sustained effort. Any process of long-term change has to be well thought out because of the need for long-term commitment. Chaotic conditions keep people fixated on the short-term.

Rocking the boat is not the same thing as being challenging or provocative. It is relatively easy to be provocative but not easy to take a new idea from conception to reality. That is hard work!

When we deeply rock the boat we are changing ourselves and developing strength. In doing so we are changing relationships and power structures. Not everyone welcomes this.

Rocking The Boat May Mean A Fight

Sensitive people are natural although often inadvertent boat rockers. Being compassionate and empathetic are two culturally different values. Being creative and energy aware are others because these characteristics are not present in everyone or honored widely. Our very natures, being different from non-sensitives, cause us to create conflict just by being ourselves. .

The challenge for sensitive people can be the focus required to sustain long-term change. Seriously rocking the boat takes sustained work and focus, something that may be challenging because of our tendency to be overstimulated and therefore have our attention fragmented. Serious boat rocking also may mean a fight although I mean fight in the sense of constructive engagement. To create any lasting change the old and new engage in a struggle over the merits of their positions and contributions. The necessity for change, the comfort of the old, the dangers of complacency, the skills that we know and the ones we have yet to learn all are weighed as we decide how to move forward into something new.

It is only in the struggle that the merits can be known, and strengths and weaknesses of anything assessed.

Sensitive people are good at grappling with the merits but not with the fight. We may be good grapplers but we often do it in private because our grappling may not be welcome. We may also avoid fights because they often seem like a smoke screen or a distraction used to obscure the necessity of change or to hold us back. Fights often seem to be more like resistance to change so we may resist the fight.

Sensitive People Can Become Great Advocates For Change

Rocking the boat should not be thought of as a reckless activity. You could make the case that the best people to rock the boat and create change are empathetic sensitive people. However, we also have to be willing to fight. Fighting does not have to be fighting against, which is often how we think of it. Fighting can be the activity of bringing our hearts to a conflict. It can be a form of open-hearted grappling with the factors involved in the need for change.

Bringing our hearts, sensitivity, creativity and seriousness to change gives sensitive people the potential to be great agents of change. We need change and we need sensitive people to embrace it and become part of leading it.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Ingrid McNeil on February 1, 2016 at 8:16 am

    So interesting! Thanks for sharing this with me.

    • Maria Hill on February 1, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Glad you liked it!