I almost never watch the news. I will read it online, but even then, I am careful what I take in. I have learned the hard way over the years that the best route for me as a highly sensitive person is to control and limit my exposure to what is happening in the world.
Watching the news makes me feel stressed, and brings a sense of despair over me. Then, I have difficulty getting rid of those feelings.
It is a balance. I do like to be informed about current events. So, there are times when taking in the negativity from world events is unavoidable.
These past few weeks have been one of those unavoidable times. Recent events in the US have brought much conflict to a head for many of its citizens. The emotional results of the election have been observed and felt worldwide.
I am not a political person, and I am not an American. I have watched the conflicts and division from a distance, with the concern of a neighbour. They still affect me because conflict, anger, hatred and division of any kind always does.
As an HSP, I feel the strong emotional undercurrents behind the conflicts, particularly when I interact online.
For the past while – even well before the election – those emotional undercurrents have been strong. There has been a tautness to the air, and an underlying tension. It has felt like static, ready to spark.
A few days ago I was reading an article about the election on a news website, and I made the mistake of scrolling down to look at reader comments.
As I read through the comments I became more and more tense. The comments were cruel. People were attacking each other. Anger and hatred were prevalent throughout.
One comment stuck out to me above the rest. The tone was was sarcastic and angry:
“We need to stand up for ourselves and fight!! People who say we can change anything by loving everyone need to shut their mouths. There’s no point in love”. This was the gist of it.
The sentiment disturbed me. It is one I’ve seen repeated again and again. It is not a new line of thinking. There is an idea which is very firmly entrenched into the thinking of many people – that I cannot be sensitive and be strong.
The idea is that I cannot choose to love and still have boundaries to stand up for myself. That I cannot be kind and still hold firm to my convictions.
That as soon as I decide to reach my hand out to offer support rather than raise a fist to fight, it means I am allowing myself to be walked on.
The problem with this way of thinking is at first glance it seems like it makes sense. The world scoffs at love, and our minds argue with us – If I say I choose love, how can I be still be justifiably angry?
How can I stand up for myself? If I choose kindness I must be choosing to let go of what I believe is right. It means I lose and they win.
As I have learned more about my highly sensitive nature, there is one truth that has woven it’s way through my mind, heart and soul. It is this: my sensitivity is my greatest strength.
My sensitivity does not weaken my convictions or my passions. Sensitivity in action does not mean my actions are weak.
When I balance myself with introspective thinking, my high sensitivity drives me to be more compassionate with others, to offer more kindness, and to show more love in action.
Love in action is not weak.
Love in action allows me to cry alongside a friend, or foe, in mourning. Or to offer a listening ear to a person who desperately needs support, even if I disagree with what they represent.
Or to be patient and accept somebody for who they are, rather than expecting them to be exactly like me. Or to offer my hand out to lift someone up, rather than push them down, even when I know the action will be overlooked and forgotten.
It is not weak to show love to those who only offer me hatred in return. There is such a yearning for a change to the hatred, cruelty and non acceptance which is so present in the world today.
But we are still stuck in the lie that the only way to obtain this change is with a battle cry, and a clash of swords.
Those who speak a gentle route of compassion are generally scoffed at. Those who speak a way of kindness are considered valueless, and illogical. And so, those who try to speak love quickly learn to remain silent.
I am bothered by this approach even more because I am now comfortable with my sensitive nature. I have learned how to dive into my sensitive nature, and to expose my sensitivity out to those around me.
It can be scary, but I no longer hide my tears when they are there. I allow my emotions to be there as they wash over me, which is often. I speak openly about the longings of my heart, or the pain of wrestling through a feeling.
I do not do these things because they are easy, or because I am out of control emotionally.
They aren’t easy, but I do have control. I choose to be open with my sensitivity because it forces me to strip down to a place of vulnerability and honesty within myself.
Choosing my sensitivity is HARD. It is an action of strength, not weakness.
But when I am honest, genuine and willing to be vulnerable with my sensitivity, I grow. Most importantly, I grow those world-changing traits of personality: compassion, acceptance, kindness, forgiveness.
Love in action. These are not the traits of the weak. These are the traits of a person willing to let themselves be vulnerable in order to grow strong.
These are not traits of someone who will not stand up for themselves. Instead, these are the traits of someone who, when properly focused, is more capable to create change in and around themselves.
Without raising a fist.
I sat outside early this morning to spend time meditating, and to gather some peace for the day ahead. It was quiet when I first went outside.
Where I live, the winter this year has been mild, but the breeze still had a chill. The moon was bright enough to cast shadows across the darkness of the lawn.
A noise interrupted my thoughts. It was a coyote, howling south of town. The howl was long and mournful as it pierced the air. I listened.
When it finished, there was a pause, and then it howled again. Only now, a second voice joined it, singing along side. Two voices piercing through the darkness. I felt goosebumps start to form on my arms.
A moment again, another pause. This time, a different voice answered from somewhere to the east, calling, joining in from a distance. More coyotes began to sing. I could hardly breathe, listening to the sound.
In almost no time, the darkness had erupted from one single solitary, lonely voice, into a chorus. Each voice unique and distinct, but singing together the same song in unison.
We each have one voice.
It can be difficult to think about singing alone in the darkness. But when one voice begins to speak love, others will hear and gain strength. And join in with their own voices.
In no time, there will be a chorus piercing the darkness. Singing the same song, in unison, about the power of love in action, and the strength of sensitivity.
A bend in the road led me to embrace my introversion, and to discover my identity as a highly sensitive person. As I have moved along the path in learning more about who I am, how to take care of myself as an introvert, and how to handle the challenges of life as an HSP - my love of writing has been rekindled and embraced once again. It intertwines with the journey I am on, and is reflected in what I write.