Janet, you are so sensitive!
I used to hear that from my mom and when she said it, I just knew it was a bad thing. And so, like a good girl, I became less and less sensitive. Of course, I didn't bother to ask what she meant by being sensitive. I thought she meant my feelings got hurt easily. I don’t remember if my feelings did get hurt easily. Maybe.
I do remember I put my whole heart into my friendships and I got used a lot. I wasn't able to distinguish a real friend from someone who wanted information or who wanted to borrow my yearbook (only to cut out pictures of their new-found love that went to my Jr. High School) or if I would be tossed aside for the next best friend.
Yeah, so maybe my feelings did get hurt. But at least I had feelings.
And through the years, I became less and less sensitive. I viewed being sensitive as a flaw and a fault. It was something to be denied and contained. I never questioned that. And I became very good at blocking and burying my feelings.
The problem is, it wasn't just my sensitivity that got buried, it was also my joy. .
And I thought I was a master at hiding this part of who I was. But there are people in our lives that see through the carefully sculpted veneer. I thought I was so clever and then a good friend of mine said these words the week before I moved to Arizona:
Janet, you are a delicate flower!
Wham! Double wham! Well, I got on my ‘high horse’ and denied this completely. Wasn't being a ‘delicate flower’ the same as being sensitive? I didn't want my friend to go into details as I was vehemently denying her statement. And her statement has stuck with me for the past eight years.
Her statement cut to the core of me. And it frightened me.
You see, it wasn't safe to be delicate or vulnerable or sensitive in my 25-year marriage. So, in my mind, being a ‘delicate flower’ was something that needed to be eradicated once and for all!
But this idea never went away. I began to think about what it might mean to be a ‘delicate flower’ or to be ‘sensitive.’ And maybe it didn't mean that my feelings got hurt easily at all. Maybe it means that I feel things deeply; that I am compassionate, and empathetic. Maybe it means that beyond the exterior I present to the world, my heart is wide open.
And then a few months ago, I was a guest speaker at a women’s retreat and one of the other presenters was a well-known astrologer. She was engaging and funny. And she put us into groups based on our astrological chart and then she said it.
I was in the group of sensitive souls; I was in the group of healers.
And not only did she say this was most definitely NOT a flaw, but this is our strength, our talent, and our gift. Wham! Double Wham!
So let me ask you these questions:
When I have allowed this particular piece of my personality to show itself (my sensitivity), magic happens. And I’ll be honest, it has frightened me. And since I have declared 2015 my year to show up, I’m also declaring that I’m allowing all of myself to show up. Delicate flower and all!
So, let’s get to the beautiful core of who you are that you might have buried. Get a piece of paper and just start writing: I am _____________. Fill in the blank. See if you can find 50 - 100 things. Oh, you’ll likely start with the roles you play, like I am a father, I am a mother, I am a friend, I am (occupation), I am (name).
And then maybe you’ll move onto your feelings, like I am frustrated, I am sad, I am happy, I am hopeful, I am tired.
And then maybe you’ll move onto ideas you have about yourself, like I am successful, I am a failure, I am independent, I am working my way to the top.
When you have finished, take your list and see which of these statements you over-identify with. And see which ones you want to avoid and deny. If you don't have any you are uncomfortable with, your are either far along the path to enlightenment or you need to write some more statements and be honest with yourself.
And for these, dig deep and see if this is actually your strength, talent, or gift that has been buried so you could fit in.
I’d be interested to hear what you come up with. Feel free to comment below.
Until next time,
Have some fun, stay aware, and rock on!
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.