In the chaotic year after I left my marriage, I put my oboe on the shelf. After years of performing and teaching, it was a big change to work as a sort of Girl Friday for an arts organization. It wasn’t a bad change, but it was a big one, and my emotional state was intense as I dealt with all the painful details of the divorce. One day a co-worker looked at me kindly and remarked, “You wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t you!”
I was mortified. I had wanted to be professional and discrete. But my face evidently blew my cover, broadcasting my emotions like a TV screen with weather updates rolling across the bottom: “Severe emotional weather advisory! Grief mixed with overwhelm and a 20% chance of tears from now until 6 pm…”
“Too intense, too serious, too sensitive”
At that point I knew of the existence of the trait called high sensitivity, and I knew I was an HSP. So I understood why I was “more emotional” than people around me. But I still had no idea what to do about it. It seemed out of my control.
Imagine my profound relief when I discovered I have choice over when I show or express my emotions. In Focusing partnership I learned two things that were life-changing for me as sensitive person:
- I could “hold” emotions—even strong ones—in a safe place in myself.
- I could be at peace in myself even while feeling pain or distress.
Before, I had to either “stuff” my reactions, or express them. Now, I could acknowledge them and choose to revisit them later when I had time, privacy, and energy…yet be at peace in the meantime.
Before, I feared painful feelings because of the way they took over my state of mind. Now I no longer feared “feeling bad.” The less I feared feeling bad, the better I felt: a much-welcome “virtuous cycle.”
A relationship revelation
What’s more, I was astonished to discover I could hold sadness, or anxiety, or excitement AND still be present with my Focusing partner. When it was my turn to be the companion, I could “put an arm around” my own inner stuff. It could be there without being in the way.
What a revelation. Which brings us to one of the many reasons sensitive people love Focusing:
In Focusing partnership you can have deep connection AND maintain control over your level of stimulation. This has often been a “missing experience” for sensitive people.
Remember: we take things in and process them deeply. This is particularly true with strong emotions. We may even physically shake after exchanging sharp words with someone or receiving alarming news.
This can make you wary of other people. But before you apply for a hermit permit, consider learning Focusing partnership. It’s an elegant way to modulate the impact on you of intense emotions. Whether these reactions are yours or other people’s, they hold messages. And good relationships are all about hearing each other’s messages. Focusing gives you the presence to do that.
On the other hand, you are free to let your hair down when you Focus if you want to. Even better, you can do it without fear of judgment, thanks to another item from the list of reasons sensitive people love Focusing:
Your Focusing partner will never tell you that you are “too serious” or “too intense.”
Why? First of all, they won’t likely be thinking it, because they’ve been there themselves. And second, even if they did think it, they wouldn’t say it: in Focusing partnership, you don’t comment on your partner’s process unless you have their explicit consent.
Instead, they learn to honor their reactions while holding them to the side. And you will do the same for them when it is their turn to Focus.
It’s a beautiful thing. Which brings me to another beautiful thing: the web page is up for my new class, Focusing 1 for Sensitive People! I hope you’ll join us…