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Ode to the "Sensitive" Ones


Ode to the "Sensitive" Ones

Marina Smerling

I write today to the “sensitive” ones.  The ones among you who try to hide your sensitivity, to talk not-too-much about it, to seek help without burdening those around you.  I see you in my coaching practice, I see you in the world, and I see you, here too, in the mirror.

Hello dear hearts.

Yes, I know, believing you are too sensitive can feel horrible.  Over the years, I, too, have received this label, as well as messages variously telling me: “You get swept away in your emotions.”  “You feel too much.”  “Pull yourself together.”

Hot aching damn, the pain of a shaming label on top of the place where you're already the most tender, the most squishy.

The pain of being taught to look away from the place from which the cry emerges in order to attain the status of “good,” likeable, wanted, fitting in.

The pull between attending to the part of you that aches and smarts, and contorting yourself to look like “all the others,” the “normal” ones, the ones who belong (or so it seems).


The messages of “grow up” and “get it together” are often offered by folks with good intentions.  They see your suffering, they may feel overwhelmed by it, telling themselves it’s their job to help, fix, make it go away.  But rather than come forward with their own honest self-expression of what’s happening for *them* in your presence (I feel scared/overwhelmed/frustrated when I see you crying/pulling away/getting aggravated), they instead label and diagnose you.

Despite their intentions – whether to take care of themselves, or genuinely care for you – their words hurt, and they have the opposite impact from what's intended.  Because when you hear these messages, you are likely to feel even *more* defective, wrong, fundamentally effed up.  And thus the cycle of belief --> hurt --> acting "sensitively" --> unhelpful messages begins again.

What we sensitive ones need to hear, and what I want to tell you, is that if the message doesn't feel loving, drop it.  If what you're hearing feels like more violence, let it go.  Don't drink the poison.  Hand it back, perhaps with, "Thank you for wanting to help, but this is not the way."

Because your healing gets to feel *good"… not self-deprecating, *liberating*… not like additional weight on your shoulders, like love, freedom, a sigh of relief… rather than additional stress.

My clients often respond:  “But aren’t I resisting something I need to hear for my own good?  What if it’s true that I’m too sensitive, that I’m acting like a baby, and that I need to grow up and get it together?”

The truth is: what hurts others is not our sensitivity, but our denial of it.  It’s not our pain that causes harm, but our actions based upon messages that tell us our pain is not okay.  It’s the turning away from ourselves, from truth, from presence – it’s these that hurt us, and that hurt those around us.

And it’s our turning *toward* ourselves that serves.

When people criticize your sensitivity, they are often really saying: “I am telling myself I have to take care of you, and I don’t know how.”  They want to know that you have your own back.

But the *only* way to have your own back is to *listen* to your sensitivity, rather than bury it.

Your sensitivity, if you listen to it, will tell you *exactly* what you need.  It knows precisely what is your medicine.

Your only job is to ask it: "What is it that you need?  What is it that you long for?

Is it to run?  Is it to be embraced?  Is it to hide?  Is it to express anger?

Your body will tell you.

It may be saying:

Let yourself run and find freedom.
Let yourself be embraced and find warmth.
Let yourself hide and find safety.
Let yourself be angry and find your own preciousness voice and desire to be heard.

When you've found your medicine, you can live it, embody it, breathe it, speak it.

You can become:

The One Who Stands for Freedom
The Goddess of Loving Kindness
The Protector of Life
The Speaker of Truth

And you can live, breathe, feel, embody, roar, rage, whisper, and sing your medicine into the world.

So dear ones, oh sweet sensitive ones who feel deeply and may at times feel lost, confused, or under-resourced...

May you let yourself feel the ache, the hurt, that cry within you, and may you listen to its longing.

For therein lies the strength/warmth/protection/freedom/truth for you to breathe into your dear body and then breathe out into this world.

What "the helpers" forget is this:

You have the medicine inside of you.  And it's through *listening* to the sensitive part that you find it, and that you grow your strength-born-of-weakness, your truth-born-of-confusion, your love-born-of-terror.  It's from here that your gloriously grounded and powerful Wise Mama self emerges from the mud of self-doubting confusion, her feet rooted in the earth, her spine standing tall, her voice strong and unwavering.

Here, sensitive, shameless.

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