Tension can be good.

It is not my favorite thing in life, and as a highly sensitive person it can be challenging, but it has also made my life better in some ways.

Tension Seeks Resolution

Tension seeks resolution is truth that I have learned from Robert Fritz through his class, Structures, which teaches how to use the creative process to create what you want in life.

One thing I know about as a highly sensitive person is tension. Like many other HSPs who have nuanced perceptions, I often see what others do not, which naturally creates tension.

It leads to a lot of questions:

  • What do I do with what I see?
  • What do I say?
  • What is my responsibility?
  • When do allow events to unfold without interfering?
  • When should I intervene?

These are all hard questions for a highly sensitive person to answer.

Even harder when it feels constant.

Is Tension Dangerous?

I have experienced tension my whole life so I almost feel like an expert on it.

When I was young others in my life promoted the idea that tension was bad, that it was a sign that something was wrong. So if someone else was unhappy I was the cause.

It meant that I was creating pain and unhappiness for others, which as an HSP I did not want to do. I found this thinking to be a little crazy since I could only do my best and you can’t read anyone else’s mind. Nonetheless, I lived in an environment where there was an expectation of constant pleasure.

The weird thing was that in spite of all these desires and demands everyone was miserable and it did not take much to upset someone. As a creative HSP that was a huge problem since I do not know how to be anything other than creative or myself.

Tension Is Very Useful

In spite of the reactions of others, I have always listened to tension to try and understand it. Most of the time I have found  the tension around me puzzling. I would listen to it, take it on, and trying to understand.

I found it difficult because implicit was an expectation that something should be different, or the tension not there. But how can the moment you are living be anything other than what it is? I scratched my head a lot.  I felt burdened by expectations that seemed misguided since each moment is different with different requirements and needs.

Expecting no tension means that you are actually creating problems for yourself because you are not facing life from reality, but from your imagination. It is one thing to want good things in life, but you have to be in touch with what is going on around you. If you want to make a chocolate cake you do not go to the garage for a ladder. There has to be some relationship between what you are doing, how you are doing it and where you want to go,

There is no magician or wizard to protect you for unrealistic expectations and unwanted outcomes. Is it really someone else’s job?

Tension helps us learn where our desires and reality diverge so that we can figure how to manifest our desires. Expectations are not meant to provide us with a cop-out when we want to avoid the realities of life.

Using Creative Stress Constructively

What I like about creative stress is that it can feed my creativity. I call it creative stress.

It can help me see where I am at, what I know or do not know in relation to what I want, and help me develop the tools and skills to make something happen.

Creative stress is a way of being with what I want that ensures that I do not put what I want on others.

I think that is important.

Using creative stress constructively is doing something HSPs are good at because we can listen to the gaps:

  • between what we want and what we have
  • between what is said and unsaid
  • between what we know and need to know
  • between what we are able to do and what skills we need

Tension is an important tool that HSPs can use to manage their lives better.

I highly recommend that highly sensitive people try to embrace it to empower themselves.

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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. Annys on September 5, 2014 at 9:07 am

    This is a really powerful article, Maria; thank you. Growing up ain’t easy in some families! (Oh, I know…) But I love the idea that we can assess each moment of tension constructively and evaluate how to use it. Something to consider.

    Which I will be doing! Power to your elbow.
    love, Annys

    • Maria on September 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Thanks, Annys! I love learning from tension. It is an easier way to live with it and makes it constructive. I hope it becomes a friend for you.


  2. Eatnowheat on September 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    The most useful article of yours I’ve read. Thanks very much. The idea of listening to gaps puts into words something I hadn’t been able to describe.

    • Maria on September 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      I am so glad that you found it helpful. I tend to be a gap listener.

      All the best,

  3. Derek on September 7, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Thanks for sharing an interesting article. I would like to share my thoughts, if I can get them to make sense! As a Zen practitioner, I can identify with what you are saying. In zazen (Zen meditation) when there is distress or pain, I take it as a ‘communication’. Focusing into the experience, I can eventually reach the source, which is a total experience of the stress itself. The source of which then returns to itself, leaving just the awareness of no-thing – like a going back to a void, an experience of no-thingness – feeling as if there’s a gap in awareness. Staying with this gap, it also goes, leaving a feeling of release – that some refer to as bliss, often experienced in Zen practice.

    • Maria on September 7, 2014 at 6:06 am

      Thanks, Derek,

      That is how I have been doing my inner work my whole life.