We have all heard the phrase “good things happen in threes” but what about good, meaningful conversations? It happened to me. That’s what I find myself reflecting on as my son and I parallel play. (Yup, you read that right. He digs deep into the dirt with his shovel and trucks, and I dig deep into my thoughts and musings with pen and paper.)
Three times this week I heard myself having the same conversation with three different clients, all who had their own unique story. One was describing a difficult relationship, another how she felt after an awkward confrontation, and the third her frustration with a nagging injury that was taking more time than expected to heal. All distinct. All legit. But what was similar was my response. What was that response? I told them that they were sensitive. That’s right, sensitive. Did you shirk? Did you cringe? I don’t blame you. However, I meant it in a 100% positive and affirmative way. Let me explain.
Until recently, I too, despised this word when it was directed at me or even when it was directed at someone I love or care for. You see, growing up the description of ‘sensitive’ or the phrase “you are being too sensitive” was wrought with negativity. It was usually meant as a diminutive dig, tossed in the middle of an argument or used as a dismissive comment to finish off a conversation. Being sensitive meant being soft, weak, maybe even a bother to be around. To be called sensitive was effeminate if you were male, weepy if you were female. It was a down right ego killer in moments of emotional exhaustion. I wonder if you can relate. But now, as an adult, I realize it was also something else. Being sensitive was misunderstood.
Back to the three conversations. After listening to my clients (really, truly listening with an open, empathetic heart) I started with “You are sensitive” and continued with the following, “…thus you are not numb. You feel the world, humanity and other people’s energy. You are not apathetic to sensations.” In the case of the client struggling with her own feelings of frustration with her nagging physical discomfort I added, “…you are body aware and open to listening to what your body is trying to tell you.” And to all three clients, I completed my thoughts with “This is all good!”
The beautiful and satisfying thing for me, was that because these people have trust in me (and I in them) I didn’t have to do much explaining of my word choice. I didn’t have to go into my past experience. That being said, I did share that I was actively redefining this particular word to hold a more positive connotation in my life, and in the lives of those I care about.
So why is this all good? What could possibly be good about feeling, about not being numb, about listening? Well, I am of the persuasion that being sensitive or in tune with what, who, or how things bother us gives us information. It keeps us awake and attentive to situations where we feel uncomfortable, relationships that may need re-calibration or a reset of our own expectations. To me, being sensitive is being aware. And often, awareness calls us into action.
For my part, the ability to redefine a word that was negatively charged is a game changer. It is liberating, and an affirmation that we truly can create the world we want to live in by altering our mindset.
I hope today you feel. I hope you connect to yourself or people you love. I hope you are sensitive to the beautiful world around you.
In health and mindfulness,