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The Power Behind Sensitivity

I spent the week-end with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We were college roommates. She’s seen me through all of my “D” days: Divorce, Depression, (self) Doubt.

She could not be any more different than I, and yet, we’ve managed for the better part of 30 years to stay in each others’ lives.  In that time, of course, we’ve changed.  It didn’t dawn on me how much until this last visit.

In my life, she has been a steady lighthouse.  Having lost both parents before the age of 18, she knew how to fend for herself in ways I could never imagine.  I could always count on her to tell me, in the most candid way, what I needed to do to get out of self-created messes.  I referred to her, growing up, as “Mama” – as she had, this fierce maternal quality that I both sought and needed.

This past week-end I told her about some challenges that I was experiencing and all of the thoughts that were coming up for me as a result.  She came back with “You don’t have to be so deep, Joëlle”.

Whoa Nelly, those words brought forth echoes of old voices:”you think too much”, “you make a bigger deal of things than you need to”,  “you over think”.  In the past, this kind of comment would send me deep into doubt and self-questioning.  Because I had this propensity to “dissect” situations, I carried the overwhelming feeling that there was something terribly wrong with me.  After all, wouldn’t it be simpler if I had the kind of mind that did not concern itself with such “minutiae”? I used others’ words and view of me for decades as weapons against myself – thinking myself broken and unable to fit in.

I’ve grown to realize that we are all wired differently: some more sensitive, some more analytical, some more logical, some more goal-oriented, some more autonomous, others more practical.  It’s what makes this life, and each other so juicy and delicious.  The trick in living our own lives is to recognize how we are made, to stand in this truth, and to use ourselves as our own measuring stick for progress and evolution rather than comparing ourselves to others.  The latter just sucks us into a vortex of self-deprecation and defeat.

I sat with my friend’s words, and, for the first time chewed on them, noticed the old habit of self-deprecation open up it’s sleepy eyes and told it to go back to bed.  “No”  I told her, “What you don’t realize is that thinking like this is truly a matter of survival for me.”  It is.  I am one of the sensitive ones.  I think a lot.  I’m “deep” and for whatever reason, this is how I am wired.  For the first time, I stood unapologetically in this truth.  A huge step for me.

It is exactly this sensitivity which serves me well in my coaching – it allows me to tune into my client’s needs with amazing intensity, to listen with my heart, to ask powerful questions, to simultaneously lead them through the kinds of experiences that will have the most impact, and see, on the spot areas of resistance or growth.  Being sensitive is not a curse, as I first thought.  It’s a gift.

So, for you sensitive ones, out there, know you have loads of company.  Know that you are perfect exactly as you are.  You have a specific role in this life.   Surrender to it and find your joy.



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