Friday, September 18, 2015

Being Sensitive Can Be AWESOME

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Elaine Aron coined the term HSP with her studies of the trait of high sensitivity in the 1990s. In essence, it means you feel everything more than the average person. You're hyper-aware. You're effected by other people and your environment more than most.

For many, being sensitive feels like a curse.

I'm on a mission to make being sensitive feel more like a gift. My friends and I call ourselves "Sensies". We're sensitive to smells, sounds, people, emotions, energy, tastes... all of it.

I've been acknowledging my highly sensitive side, getting to know it, learning how to work with it, and finding ways to let it enrich my life for a few years now. Sometimes I take for granted this knowing.

I had friends over recently and a man I haven't seen in many years came...

"So what do you do now, Alex?"

"I make custom aromatherapy perfume and body products that I sell on Etsy. And I do workshops!"

"Whoa, cool." He raised his eyebrows. "How did you get into that?"

"Well... I'm a very sensitive person - to smells, tastes... to other people... to pretty much everything. And I can't stand mainstream perfumes and synthetic scents."

His eyes got wide. "Me too!!"

Sensies always get excited when they meet one another. It's like discovering you're both secretly into the all-night rage scene in San Francisco... Except not.

Thing is, this man probably never had the words to identify and acknowledge that sensitivity That being highly sensitive is an actual trait that 15-20% of the population have. Are you a Sensie? (Take Elaine Aron's self-test here!)

I've found there's quite a range of experience for being so sensitive. For some people, it's a curse they've lived with their whole life. I know people who've always felt like something was wrong with them, and who were outright criticized for being "too sensitive" or a "cry baby". For others, high sensitivity is a part of their personality that's been honored and nurtured. One young man I know was homeschooled and encouraged to follow his calling to compose classical music. He's now going to Juilliard!

My own journey has been challenging and messy. It took me a long time and a lot of literal stomach aches (which turned into full blown Irritable Bowel Syndrome), swings into depression, repeated back and shoulder injuries, burn outs, getting sick, and emotional breakdowns to realize that something wasn't actually WRONG with me. Really? I was not cursed.

As a Sensie, I need to take care of myself differently than most people if I'm going to feel good and be happy.

Turns out, taking care of myself is actually Awesome. Massages, yoga, eating delicious healthy food, taking vacations, baths, aromatherapy, reserving nights to do absolutely nothing...

And being extra sensitive has a lot of perks.

Think how much richer the experiences of wine & craft beer tasting, eating out at nice restaurants, sitting on the beach, and getting foot massages are when you're acutely attuned and your senses are all turned on!

My experience in discovering the awesome gift of my sensitivity has felt transformative and deep. I've named myself Alchemist Alex. For me, the alchemy is in taking the little, everyday things around me and finding the sensory delight, the beautiful nuance, the intense wonder of the moment in it all. It's meant slowing down and enjoying life more.

Yes, I make custom aromatherapy perfumes and products. Yes, I teach workshops on natural skin care and eating for more energy. Yes, I currently work part time in San Francisco and commute an hour each way on public transportation and it's not all peaches and rainbows.

But I'm into finding the magic and joy in as much of it as I can. It's a commitment I made to myself. You in? Sensies unite! Stay tuned for more...

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