Even sensitive souls can be insensitive
Have you ever wondered how it is possible to be sensitive but also sometimes thoughtless? It can feel like a contradiction. But the truth is that even sensitive souls can be insensitive from time to time.
So far, I've noticed three main reasons why this happens: 1) we get over-stimulated, 2) we make assumptions, or 3) we feel threatened or scared.
Over-stimulation and insensitivity
When we are over-stimulated, we can feel attacked by further stimulation. For example, my clients notice that they are more likely to be upset by loud noises or their partner's behavior when they are already over-stimulated. They are then more likely to react insensitively toward the source of the extra stimulation.
1. Prevention. Do what you can to prevent yourself from getting over-stimulated in the first place. This skill takes practice because our culture validates busyness and because stimulation can be addictive. Learn to be smarter than your own impulse to over-stimulate yourself.
2. Course correction. As early as possible, notice when you are getting over-stimulated. Then, do something about it. Even if you just take a few deep breaths or close your eyes for a minute, you can shift your energy. Even better: go for a walk, use energy skills to release the excess energy, or call it a day.
3. Confront the situation honestly and take responsibility for yourself. Before you indulge in blowing up at the people around you, acknowledge to yourself that you are at your limit. Take some deep breaths. If you need to talk it over with those around you, let them know you are already maxed out.
You might say, "Gosh, I'm feeling maxed out right now and I'm noticing that I'm feeling upset about [fill in the blank], even though I'm aware that you're not doing it to upset me. Could you help me out by limiting that while get myself sorted out?"
First, acknowledge how you are feeling to yourself. Then, acknowledge it to the other person. And only then, make a request for support. (Notice, though, that there is no discussion about being sensitive -- it isn't necessary.)
Assumptions and insensitivity
Sensitive souls can be quick to make assumptions about the reasons for things. For example, I recently received e-mail from someone whose assessment results didn't come through to her. She wrote, "So where's the score that I was supposed to get? Apparently this test is just a front for procuring leads. Stupid me for thinking that it might be legitimate."
Ouch! She made an assumption about why or how her results might have gotten lost, without thinking through the possibilities. Instead, she chose to attack me as the source of her upset. Making a quick assumption here caused conflict.
Another example: It's easy to assume that when people don't get back to you quickly that they are angry or upset with you. I've had e-mails go missing from cherished clients who think I'm not responding to them. But when we've reconnected and cleared the air, it's obvious that it was simply a missed communication.
Sometimes people are simply busy and things slip through the cracks. Though there might be people out there who would find this disrespectful, it is also human nature to lose track of things.
1. Be compassionate. Remember we are all human. Each one of us makes mistakes, things get lost, and technology fails. Have compassion as you reach out and don't give up.
2. Trust your intuition. Assumptions are usually NOT validated by our intuition. Assumptions are often fear-based responses that don't have a lot to do with reality. Tune into your intuition instead and trust that. What does the voice of trust say?
Feeling threatened or scared and insensitivity
When we feel threatened or scared, it's easy to jump into a protective stance. It's similar to being over-stimulated in that we feel attacked, so we respond in kind and attack back. We fight to protect ourselves and can say sharp, uncaring things to each other.
1. Slow down. When you are experiencing a conflict, try what my teacher Sonia Choquette says: "Whoever breathes the slowest, wins." Her point is that by breathing deeply and slowly into your solar-plexus chakra, you can reclaim your power, stop feeling victimized, and have a rational interaction with the source of the upset. You don't have to be insensitive to protect yourself.
2. Set clear boundaries. Remember that anger is a great sentry of boundaries. It lets us know when someone else or ourselves have crossed a boundary. Rather than rushing to offense, notice what boundary was violated and make a request or change your circumstances so that the breach doesn't happen again.
Above all, let's find ways to be kind to one another. We're all in this together.
Copyright 2007, 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?"