Sensitivity and Empathy

To reflect our feelings when with others.
From one state to the other.

I crawled through the podcast and into her story as if it were my own. How she described her pain and feelings of sensitivity was so familiar. Her words depicted the pain my body feels at times. And over the years I am thankful for the clarity regarding my type and I continued to listen as I was curious about how she navigates our culture.

Stumbling upon this podcast seemed like such a fluke. Yet hearing her story, which described and articulated similar experiences for me was comforting. Years ago I was all too familiar with being told, “Stop being so sensitive!” These statements crushed my spirit in a way I didn’t like. The reaction from others prompted me to seek out answers to figure out how I could fit in somehow without causing such (what felt like) a volatile reaction. I had to discover what it was that caused such a reaction in people and how I could change in an effort to not bother people so much. I wondered how could I just be me and be respected? After years of study, understanding who I am helped me overcome and answer those questions. My actions of discovery brought awareness and, wait for it….sensitivity, around my reaction to circumstances, in an effort to respect those around me.

Since navigating life for over half a century, looking back, the obvious is that I am sensitive. Sometimes empathy stimulates signals from my core to every nerve causing me physical pain. Probably similar to how a slug may feel if you cover it in salt. What I changed is my reaction to my feelings. I am able to recognize the feelings, label them and act accordingly. Perhaps if news is overwhelming I may remove myself from the room or conversation. And in other situations I will simply notice. Living with this personality type has its challenges yet we can be thankful for discernment and our ability to utilize these gifts to help others. Encouragement is one of the outcomes.

By the act of naming our feelings, we can choose to proactively convert the energy constructively outward. Perhaps the feeling is, fearful. When I am fearful, I am thankful for the wisdom to know. In the very moment, in some form or another, an entity is feeding us. Notice what entity is feeding you. (Reading this article is feeding you!) When you have clarity be aware of your choice. (Are you about to move on from this post and delete it? Or are you intrigued in finding out more about how you may be able to change similar experiences?) Your choice will determine your outcome (Input: output). Consider this: When we are aware of the food we are ingesting, or are allowing to be ingested (I am referring to the information you are allowing to enter into your mind) your precious cells are reacting. What environment are your cells being subjected to? Choose a loving, constructive entity. In that very moment hold fast to the current that rushes from the same entity that feeds the stars which hold the elements essential for your existence. The opposite could be a destructive entity leaving you feeling defeated or others distraught. Loving and constructive entities help you produce good fruit.

As I write this, I think about how we are all in circumstances beyond our control. In this very moment my heart and body feel heavy. (Exactly what I am talking about.) Move: label the feeling; Act: articulate constructive thought; Participate: inward or outward. Make a conscious effort to connect with:

Painted Love
Daughter’s artwork when learning how to create digitally in elementary school.

In that very moment of connecting with Love I couldn’t resist the thought of all of us in some sort of war zone. And you and I know that war zone can be defined in many ways. However mild or severe, defined by you, …when you are subjected to this reality, make it your objective to hold fast to comfort and guidance. Surrender to that power. Sink into the feeling of surrender and then rise with the strength to carry on. Within that very moment it took me to type these words, I was able to experience dread when thinking of others in a war zone and then strength to fulfill my mission. May all your feats be blessed with love!

Here’s the podcast that describes feelings and gives insight to words like cornerstone, morning star and names of God that have shaped Holley Gerth’s wisdom. About 12 minutes into the podcast is where the story unfolds about how she overcame her challenges which reflect some similarities for me.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/graceologie-40-holley-gerth/id1393906123?i=1000440010221

Perhaps you have some similar experiences. Consider leaving a reply in an effort to share your story for the sake of helping others relate in an effort to share ideas of how you overcame a situation.

Acknowledging Fear

Bungee jump

Bungee jump

My heart fell a fraction of the distance his did when his body plunged off the platform of the bridge.  All I could hear was his voice calling out the further he fell, while the white snow covering the deep narrow valley enhanced my focus on him above the wide shallow riverbed below. I could hardly stand to watch as I clutched tightly to my prayer. Earlier that week when he told us he wanted to bungee jump, I felt sick from fear.  I wished in that moment, that my son didn’t want to do these crazy things.

This event was a defining moment for me; to give my fear, of my son’s desire, over to God.  In these times of fear I start praying, giving my concerns to God knowing that He will oversee everything according to His plan.  I remind myself that just because I have fear around bungee jumping doesn’t mean I need to shield my son from it.

In an earlier time of raising my children, my daughter and son were playing with toys until my son slapped a stuffed toy over his sister’s head.  I immediately took the toy and slapped it over his head telling him we don’t hit.  Fear struck me as my thoughts raced around about how hitting back doesn’t teach no hitting.  And when I heard the “thunk” on his head I was petrified and terrified that one of the hard plastic eyes had struck his head leaving a small bump.  The fear I felt overwhelmed me for what I had done.

I immediately called my dad at work and with tears flowing and hardly a breath to speak, I shared with him what I had done.  I was scared thinking the worst: “People that do these kinds of things go to jail.”  Devastated!  I couldn’t hardly breath I was so distraught by my actions.  I couldn’t even think clearly about what I should do.  He was only about two and a half.  My dad assured me that as parents, we all make mistakes we regret.  The pain I felt was overwhelming and I felt so ashamed.

Fear is overwhelming when we don’t know what to do with it.  In this case, I felt the need to tell someone what I had done wrong.  Confessing to my dad helped me get grounding.  Not only did my kids need consoling but I needed to get myself collected to continue my responsibility as a parent.  It was a teaching moment for all.  I needed to give grace to my son and myself saying mommy was wrong too. He needed to learn how to apologize by my actions of telling him I was sorry and that I love him.  I needed to have him understand truth that we treat each other nicely. He told his sister he was sorry and we all gave each other hugs.  In this moment I prayed to God for forgiveness and to help me control my actions.

Roche Harbor Restaurant

Roche Harbor Restaurant

Another time in my life my boss asked me what my worst fear was and I said, “Flying with you.”  He immediately responded and said, “What days do you have open on your calendar next week?” I knew where this was going.  That next week I was flying in a Cessna 150.  I definitely was afraid of this small plane and his piloting!  We flew up to the San Juan Islands and I wasn’t quite sure where we were going nor did I talk much.  I was scared and it seemed like he was too since he had just accomplished enough solo hours to fly having a passenger.

When I spotted the landing strip at the Roche Harbor Resort airport a sense of calm came over me.  I loved that place and I thought, “Oh good, I can get out of this plane.”  No sooner than I thought we were landing, we were taking off again.  Talk about a rush of fear!  I asked him with a bit of stress under my breath why he did that.  He told me it was a “touch and go.”  So what that means is a plane touches down on the landing strip and immediately takes flight again. Feeling extremely anxious by now, I wished he would have explained what he was doing.

We can’t say no to what we fear when we don’t have the right tools.  Whether you face this with children or not, if you don’t want to do something you have no interest in, then say no, even if it is your boss.  Take a leap of faith.  If your boss intimidates you, speak out your concerns.  Relying on God’s Word for guidance is a great way to learn about overcoming fear.

However fear strikes us, knowing what to do with the emotion attached to it, is what keeps us at peace.  ~ Susan Husa

Found you in my heart

Found you in my heart

Fearing God with reverence and trust in all that we do should lead our actions. Anytime we are outside of doing what God truly would guide us to do is sinful.  As sinners we can be thankful for the fear we have in disobedience as a follower of Christ.  This fear is like a compass which steers us in the right direction.  If we fear God, we acknowledge His commands to Love.  We accept his son Jesus and His sacrifice. We bow our heads and remember that this act of love is what has set us free from condemnation.  Christ in us enables us to transform as we practice what we learn, one step at a time.

We can’t control what other people want to do. We can’t control what other people do to others.  We can control what we do.  In all of these scenarios, if we acknowledge fear with reverence to God, it is He that will lead us by His Word to that place of peace as we bask in His Truths.  A great time to acknowledge The Lord’s Prayer.