Can you relate to being labeled as "too sensitive"? This one is especially for those of you who have heard this numerous times, & have started to believe that this is a negative thing. If you're already asking what this has to do with health, let me offer a few qualifiers; I often find that "sensitives" display accompanying symptoms, such as sleeping issues/insomnia, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), gastro-intestinal issues, digestive problems, food sensitivities & allergies, chronic migraines/headaches, skin issues/rashes/hives, depression, anxiety, & chronic pain. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's meant to illustrate the connection existing between emotions & the physical body.
I find it valuable to re-frame being a "sensitive" person from a negative, to a positive. "Sensitive" is derived from latin, meaning "to feel". It is defined as, being "quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences" & also, "having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others' feelings." This is a trait of awareness, empathy, & adaptation. Would these be positive or negative attributes to describe yourself at a job interview? Sensitive people tend to pick-up on the emotions & vibe of an environment, & also the unspoken words. How is this not a super-power?
Trouble can arise when a sensitive:
*allows the feelings or moods of other people to change how they are feeling, or throw their day off
*makes assumptions or stories about what other people are thinking or feeling because of what they're sensing
*clings to other people's feelings or emotions, or stuffs them down, which can lead to physical illness
*mistakes empathy for sympathy; that they must wallow with another person who is in emotional or physical pain
*fails to listen to their own gut instinct & push it down or ignore it, repeatedly
*doesn't develop a healthy relationship with their sensitivity & allows other people to criticize or dismiss this trait
*chronically stays in the sympathetic/fight or flight/hyper-vigilant mode, which is the exact opposite of where a healthy body resides
A big part of sensitivity is your reaction to input & stimuli. When other people fire off a, "You're just too sensitive", they're often reacting to your seemingly over the top reaction. There are two parts here, one being the other person's inability to express themselves in a constructive manner (which we're not going to focus on now), but you may indeed have a hyperactive response to a situation that is likely upsetting to both you, & your loved ones. Or maybe your responses or coping mechanisms (OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, explosive anger, panic attack, etc.) leave you feeling exhausted, powerless, or they're destroying your relationships. Maybe you feel out of control, or maybe you even go into full-blown physical symptoms, like IBS (diarrhea), cramps, chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness or vertigo, headaches, or extreme fatigue.
Sensitivity often develops when children have an unreliable or unpredictable care-giver or parent. Meaning, the child learns an acute sense of awareness & vigilance to protect themselves from repeated abusive, neglectful, or explosive situations. Children may often learn to "walk on eggshells" at home, or use humor or talent to deflect or entertain a parent. They may also find ways to disappear or be "invisible" when their caretaker is on the war path. As a result, sensitivity to emotions strongly develops for protection purposes, as someone who is blind or deaf will strengthen their other senses to cope.
As a result, sensitives tend to learn to live chronically in the state of fight or flight, or hyper-vigilance, which activates the sympathetic nervous system. This can eventually lead to issues with regards to the delicate balance of hormones within the body, which regulate everything from sleep, energy, menstruation, fertility, digestion, & more.
Acupuncture is just one of the ways to regulate the neuro-endocrine systems of the body, which ultimately create hormone balance, & sense of calmness & well-being. In a sense, acupuncture helps hit the "re-set" button on our bodies, in the same way doing so re-sets our phones or computers. It doesn't delete all the data, but it clears out the garbage so that the body can heal itself.
Being sensitive is not a crime, nor is it a death sentence. First it's essential to learn new ways to process hyper-vigilance, then bringing awareness to when/where/what situations evoke a reaction out of you, & finally, how to protect yourself from accumulating other people's emotional "garbage". The best place to start is by scheduling your initial visit. Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.