Sensitive people have a unique nervous system which has an oversized capacity to connect with so much of the energy around them. Like the wings on a dragonfly, our nervous systems can support us with a lot of insight and information. If we cannot use the information we receive, then our nervous systems supersized capabilities become a drag on us.
The Sensitive Person’s Nervous System
Those of us who are sensitive recognize, once we discover how we are different from non-sensitive people, that our nervous system operates differently and as a result, we have unique challenges in living our lives effectively although there are huge upsides to sensitivity.
I like to describe the difference between sensitive and non-sensitive people this way: every morning each of us gets up and tunes in to the world. For a non-sensitive person, tuning in to the world is a lot like tuning in to a radio station. The non-sensitive person tunes in to the one radio station to connect with the larger world. Sensitive people also tune in each morning. However, in the case of sensitive people, the experience feels like receiving all the radio stations in the world all at once. As a result, sensitive people are inundated and since this is caused by a physical characteristic, the nature of our nervous systems, we cannot turn it off. No off switch!
There are consequences, of course. If we want to have integrity in what we do, then we have to process what our nervous systems pick up and find a way to deal with it. The better skilled we are at doing so, the easier it is for us to feel happy with ourselves and our decisions. Getting there is possible and doable and may seem overwhelming but there are ways to make sensitive processing easier.
The DOES Model
Dr. Elaine Aron developed the DOES model which refers to the following key attributes of sensitive people, caused by their unique nervous system
- D: depth of processing. Depth of processing is a very useful capability. It means we pay more attention to what we are experiencing and therefore can make discoveries about what is happening around us that you cannot get any other way. If you look at the work of exceptional artists who bring unique insights into their work you can see how depth of processing contributes to the world.
- O: overstimulation. Overstimulation is the radio station effect. Our nervous systems are very open and available. It seems that our nervous systems do not have filters and sometimes it can seem that non-sensitive people have too many filters which can explain to some degree the disconnect between sensitive and non-sensitive people.
- E: emotional reactivity. One result of our sensitivity is that sensitive people react to both positive and negative images with a high receptivity to positive images. This tendency suggests a naturally positive bias in sensitive people which can be very constructive in the right environments.
- E: empathy. Sensitive people respond to the emotion in others. In essence, empathy acts like an open door to the world which when combined with our positive bias, can help us be constructive or vulnerable to the negativity around us.
- S: sensing the subtle. Connecting with the energy around us provides us with an energetic experience of the nuances in our environment. Energy can offer us insightful qualities about people and situations. However, we do not necessarily know the context, history, and perspective of the energies we experience, which is why many sensitive people hold back from interacting with others.
These 5 characteristics are the most important for understanding the special nature and gifts of the sensitive person.
The Keys To Managing Sensitive Overwhelm
There is no one size fits all way to make your sensitivity work for you. In fact, there are many different strategies to help you turn all the energetic information you receive into an asset. They include:
- basic self-care. Diet, rest, meditation and other strategies like sound management if necessary can help you feel stronger in dealing with all the challenges of being sensitive.
- pacing. The more you can recognize when too much is too much, the easier it will be to begin to pace yourself so that you take the breaks you need to decompress and work in a way that lets you function at your best.
- work. It helps to have work that suits you. Finding a type of work that is right for you and compatible employers (or self-employment) will help you minimize unnecessary stress.
- boundaries. To the extent you can, reduce drama in your life. You cannot function well when drama is taking your energy which is already over-committed just by being a sensitive person.
- learn important tools. Frameworks and other tools that help you understand the “lay of the land”, the road maps for how the world works will make it much easier to release old pain, and enable you to steer yourself toward the healthiest environments for you. They help to release energy, both physical and mental, so that you do not have to ruminate as much and can focus more on the present and what you are creating now.
The Dragonfly Spirit
According to Dragonfly Transitions, the dragonfly
symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization. The change that is often referred to has its source in mental and emotional maturity and understanding the deeper meaning of life.Dragonfly Transitions
Sensitive people who take the time to learn how to handle and channel their sensitivity in the world have the potential to make significant contributions to the world. First, you need to work with your sensitivity in order to channel it well. Then comes the next step: learning how to communicate your insights and gifts so the world can receive them.
Taking the steps outlined above will put you on the path to harnessing your unique gifts. When we master our nature and find our unique contribution we become agents for the good in the world. The more we develop ourselves the better able we are to bring transformative dragonfly spirit into our lives to enrich our own experience and the lives of others. It is a great way to live.