Being sensitive

Thursday March 12, 2020

Growing up I'd always been criticized for being 'too sensitive' or 'over sensitive'.

Too sensitive meant feeling things too deeply, worrying excessively about people or animals in difficult situations, finding injustice intolerable. It meant that I cried easily.

What people never realised, though, was that I was not always upset when I was crying. More often than not I was actually angry but had no means or ability to express that anger as the fire that it was. I felt so much and so deeply yet it never allowed me to reach 'burst' point. So I cried instead.

I was under 5 when I remember feeling very worried about the chickens in a chicken coop out in our garden one hot and sticky summer's day. They had no shade and, I thought, looked really sad. As I gazed at them I had a sudden idea! I remembered a pile of sand we had around the back of the house. Not lovely and golden as I would have liked but grey. Still, it was all we had and I didn't think they'd mind. It was the thought that counted, right?

I filled my beach bucket to the brim and carefully dragged it to the chicken coop. Once there I tipped it in. The hens scattered. After a further three trips I was satisfied that I had, indeed, give them the beach I had imagined in my head to enjoy.

All I can say is that I am so extremely grateful that I didn't follow that up with any water to be the sea because my grey sand was not, in fact, sand but... cement rather!

Years later I was to discover the principles of being, what Dr. Elaine Aron called a 'Highly Sensitive Person'. By then I had been a teacher for some thirty years, teaching children aged 3 to 18 and student's aged 18 - 7O. It included both people with learning disabilities and people without.

I realised that it was my sensitivity that had made me the best teacher I could be. The teacher I had always aspired to be. It mean't that I had the ability to step out of myself, a process I called 'going empty' in order that I be able to see each learner individually more clearly and know, intuitively what they needed in order to access the session content and the skill. Sometimes there was as many systems of learning going on as there were children or students in the room.

Now I don't mind a bit when I'm called sensitive or even over sensitive because I know that everyone in my life, from learners to friends have all, without exception, experienced the best of me, have gained something 'extra' just because of that sensitivity.

A Moodscope member.

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