Q & A: Intuition vs. Fear, Self-Care, Sensitivity as a Positive, Doing Well Around Others
Recent questions and answers:
Hi there Jenna, Could you please tell me how to distinguish between my intuition, my doubts and fears, and my intellect? I have a lot of trouble understanding which is which. Many thanks, Ray
Great question, and one that many sensitives ask. The bottom line: Intuitive information always brings with it a sense of clarity, calm, and truthfulness, even if it contains scary or upsetting information. There is a depth to intuitive information that is palpable. Fear leaves us in a more jittery, ungrounded, scattered, over-thinking state. Intuition gives us a sense of, "Okay, this is how it is," even if we don't like it.
Intellectual information may not have the feeling-state aspect to it that fear does, but usually won't have the "truth-ring" to it that intuition does.
My teacher, Sonia Choquette, recommends this technique for distinguishing between the two:
Say out loud, "My head says…" and complete the sentence with the first thought that comes to mind. Then, close your eyes, drop your head to your chest, put your hand on your heart, and say out loud, "My heart says…" Complete the sentence promptly again, speaking from your heart. Then, go with what your heart tells you. That's your intuition talking to you.
You can also learn to tell the difference between intuition, fear, and intellectual information by asking for guidance on small things as often as possible (e.g. I wonder where I can find the best parking place? I wonder which way is the quickest way home tonight?). Then when you build up to the big things, you'll have a stronger sense of what's what.
How do I balance my self-care with the rest of my responsibilities?
Another great question! For me the key is remembering that great self-care is what ALLOWS me to best meet my responsibilities.
I've also learned to prioritize my self-care. I know what's at the base of my "self-care ladder" and I always try to take care of those things first. For me, enough sleep, healthy food, and lots water always come first, then high quality alone time, exercise, and sensory input, and finally spirituality and creativity. If things get busy for me, I go back to basics. Then as soon as possible, I start adding in the next tier. But my goal is for my self-care to come first, and to have it well-integrated in my daily routines.
Part of the way I do that is by having self-care systems in place that make it hard to skip and easy to do.
- Having bottles of water stashed in key places like my desk, car, and bedroom,
- shopping ahead for great food for the week and having healthy snacks on hand like yogurt, cheese, nuts, and dried fruit,
- stopping work by 5:30 p.m. so I can wind down enough to sleep well; not setting an alarm clock so I can wake up naturally, and,
- practicing energy skills so I stay grounded and centered.
I'm struggling to understand how my sensitivity is a positive thing and not a liability. ~ Ingrid
Yes, so many sensitives struggle with this. My take is that we have been trained to repress the aspects of being highly sensitive that aren't validated by our culture, like being emotional and intuitive. Instead, we operate out of the shadow side of our sensitivity, like being overly worried, easily overstimulated, ungrounded, and overly enmeshed in others lives, for instance. On top of it, we don't appreciate our sensitive gifts like being creative, intuitive, perceptive, empathic, and spiritual, because 1) we're repressing them, and 2) they are like breathing to us -- we don't notice them and we can't figure out why everyone else isn't doing them too!
See if you can notice all the powerful ways your positive traits show up in your life as a way of shifting your perspective.
Take a look at these articles for more thoughts on this subject:
"What's so great about being highly sensitive, anyway?"
"Sensitive souls have the SPICE of life"
"The shadow side of SPICE"
Where to start -- how to know what's mine and what is others' "stuff". ~ Lesa
Great question! What I teach is that as empathic, sensitive beings, we can first learn to make our empathic ability conscious (it's one of those like-breathing skills I mentioned above).
Second, we can learn to shield ourselves to filter out what we pick up, and to make conscious choices about what we are taking on. There's an article on my website called, "Are those your feelings?" that will help get you started thinking about these ideas:
Also check out my Protection & Boundaries class for more solutions on this subject.
My question is: How can I do better being around people without getting ill, overwhelmed, or very tired? ~Lone
The balancing act of being highly sensitive includes giving ourselves permission to be highly sensitive, honoring our high sensitivity, practicing energy skills, having stellar self-care skills, building reserves of energy, allowing for lots of down time and managing our stimulation levels well. All these things in concert make it easier to be around other people, do our work with greater impact, and generally feel good about our lives.
Then, I think the trick of it is choosing carefully: 1) which people to be around, and 2) when to be around them. In other words, do the people you are around raise your spirits and uplift you? Great! Are you choosing to be around them when you have energy to spare and you are in a good space? Perfect! Are you managing your energy so you aren't overloaded? Good timing!
The very, very best way to answer these questions is to use your intuition, if you will listen to it.
In my Home-Study program, I teach a lot more about intuitive development, self-care, protection and boundaries, and crafting a highly sensitive lifestyle. I hope you'll consider joining me!
Copyright November 2008, Jennifer K. Avery
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Jenna Avery, the Life Coach for Sensitive Souls, offers an original coaching program designed to guide highly sensitive souls to a deep sense of inner rightness, so they are inspired to step forward and shine. You're invited to visit her website at www.highlysensitivesouls.com to take her free online assessment, "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?"