‘I get hurt easily because I am very sensitive. Wish I was not so sensitive. ‘ complain many people.
The question is – are we sensitive or are we oversensitive? Some of us get offended, upset and hurt for the slightest of things such that people are always worried about upsetting us?
Are we sensitive and have heightened awareness only to our pain and our emotions or are we sensitive to other’s emotions and the experiences of others?
What is sensitivity? Can we do without it? What I will share will change your mind and you will look upon sensitivity as a strength, not a weakness.
Sensitivity is the ability to be keenly attuned to our surroundings, emotions, and the experiences of others. Sensitivity is actually a gift of this human condition from Bhagavan.
Sensitivity is based on the knowledge that one gains from jnanendriyas – sense organs of knowledge. Sights, colors and forms through our eyes, Sounds and music through our ears, Fragrances and smells through our nose, Taste and flavours through our tongue and touch/sensation through our skin. All living beings sense the environment, process the different sensory stimuli through the nervous system and respond to the environment.
Plants while seemingly do not have eyes, sense the light and hence even if you turn them away from the sunlight, their shoots will grow towards the sunlight. Although the snake cannot see, it can still accurately find its way through the dark. This is because snakes can detect the infrared (thermal) radiation emitted by the bodies of the animals they prey in.
The survival of any species is highly dependent on the ability to perceive and sense any stimulus or changes in the environment and respond to it. Sensitivity is our strength and definitely not a weakness because of the following reasons
Heightened awareness and better ability to respond– Sensitivity helps us survive and thrive in our environment, protects us from dangers. This heightened awareness enables us to notice subtle details and read non-verbal cues. The tone of voice, the look in the eyes, the pauses in the words, the silences in sentences, the emphasis on certain words. Our sensitivity allows us to understand nuances and complexities that may be overlooked by others, leading to greater insight and understanding.
Just like the delicate petals of a flower that emit a captivating fragrance, the fragrance of sensitivity allows us to appreciate the nuances and subtleties that enrich our lives with joy.
Understanding, Feeling and expressing emotions – Bharat Muni through his Natyashastra, an ancient text that speaks of theatre and the arts talks about aesthetic pleasure and the rasa (pleasure) derived from all emotions. Natya Shaastra encouraged everyone to go deep into pleasure! It was written for the common person – not necessarily someone who was into the study of Vedanta. It essentially says that universally, aesthetic pleasure is close to everyone’s heart. The capacity to experience pleasure is called “rasa” and it is related to bhaava, either your own or someone else’s. Natya Shaastra encourages us to be a Suhridaya, the one with a Sushtu hridaya, a beautiful heart which is strong and sensitive. You don’t need a heart transplant for this. Suhridaya is the one among us who can allow himself/herself to experience all 9 bhaavas –
Shringaaraha: love including beauty.
Haasya: Cheerful state of mind
Karuna or Shoka: Compassion or sadness
All these nine bhaavas are in every human heart. Rasa was available to everyone because all emotions are in every human heart. There is no emotion to be avoided, no emotion to be scared of and certainly no emotion to suppress.
In a 4 hour video series called Bhaava – the dance of emotion in Vedanta, I have dwelled on this as well as how our emotions are connected to our ways of thinking. You can find it on the youtube channel – discoveratma including a transcript of the series.
Our experience of watching a series on OTT or a movie which may be classified as a thriller, romance, horror, comedy or an all in one reveals that we want to experience all emotions. In a strange way, watching a movie allows you to experience all emotions without actually being touched by it. We cannot say that our emotions are fake. Our tears and our fears are real but they are not, if you know what I mean.
Just as a calm and clear pond reflects and captures the beauty around it, sensitivity allows us to observe and absorb the world with heightened perception. It enables us to notice details, understand underlying emotions, and bring clarity to complex situations.
Connectedness with others: Sensitivity fosters a natural capacity for empathy and compassion. It allows us to connect with others on a deep emotional level. One can sense and feel what the other is thinking and feeling. Although one may not have experienced losing one’s child to death, pain of loss is universal. Although one may not have experienced buying one ‘s own SUV, all of us have experienced buying something that one really wants. The joy of acquisition is universal.
Since emotions are universal, we can get a sense of what the other is going through and accordingly offer support, understanding, and kindness. A shoulder to cry on, a phone call to the one who is grieving, a thank you note to someone who feels taken for granted, prayers for the sick, making time for a conversation with the elderly, sharing a video of information who is confused are born of being sensitive to the other.
One does not have experience everything to feel everything.
Just like the finely tuned instruments in an orchestra come together to create a harmonious symphony because of the gift of sensitivity, we can attune ourselves to the emotions and energies of those around us. We can build meaningful relationships and bridges of understanding.
Creativity and problem solving: Many sensitive people possess a rich inner world and are highly creative. Because they do not suppress their thoughts and emotions, they are alive to their inner landscape as well as the world’s landscape. Children routinely can turn any object very creatively into something they can play with.
Creativity is seeing things as they are and imagining how better things can be.
Creativity and imagination, enables us to think outside the box, sometimes destroy the very box, see connections others might miss, and approach problem-solving in unique ways.
5. Deep Appreciation for Beauty: Sensitivity allows us to experience and appreciate beauty in its various forms. Whether it’s in art, nature, music, or human interactions, sensitivity enables us to perceive the depth, subtleties, and nuances that make something truly beautiful. This heightened appreciation for beauty enhances our overall quality of life and fosters a sense of wonder and gratitude.
Intuitive Decision-Making: Sensitivity can manifest as an ability to sense the energy of a situation or read between the lines or to have a gut feeling about something. This intuitive aspect of sensitivity can aid in decision-making, guiding us towards choices, helping us make insightful decisions and navigate complex situations. It allows us to tap into a deeper wisdom that may not appear logical with the information available.