What have you been told you are “too much” of? Too loud? Too shy? Too sensitive? Just too much to handle? Too wild?
I have been reading “Rise Sister Rise” by Rebecca Campbell. It is a firecracker of a book, one that has nurtured me, challenged me and set me free. One question she asks has stayed with me and found its way into the work I am doing with my one-to-one clients on Walking the Labyrinth:
What if all those things we have been told we are “too much” of are actually our greatest gifts?
I shut so many parts of myself down as a child in order to survive. In order to be loved. We all did. Answering this question is hard because shame lurks at the doorway, guarding it from the light. Keeping it hidden. Keeping me hidden from you and you from me. “Don’t admit that’s really who you are” she whispers in a voice that sounds suspiciously like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. “They will reject you, tease you, ridicule you, make you feel even smaller than you do already”. Fear joins in and amplifies this – “you will have no friends” “you will lose everything” “don’t risk it” “stay safe, stay small”.
They are a powerful combination, fear and shame. They want to keep us safe and loved yet as adults they stand in the way of our truth, our whole selves, of real belonging and connection.
I find my courage to feel my way into this question. To travel back into the dusty corridors of my buried childhood. I hear voices. “Such a sickly child”. “Too sensitive”. “Stop crying”. “Get on with it”. “Stop being so emotional”. I choose to claim these parts of myself now, in this present moment – I am sensitive. I feel things deeply. I cry easily. My body becomes sick when I don’t take care of my own needs, when I don’t honour my truth. I can feel your truth, your pain too. In my body. I transmute this for my clients. I find the gold in their pain.
I shut my sensitivity down when I was very young, maybe 5 or 6, to the point where I didn’t know it was there. The only clue for 40 years has been the pain in my body, calling me home. Calling me back to myself. Slowly, my sensitive self has emerged from the shadows – on retreat, with dear friends whom I trust implicitly, in my women’s group – but then she has hidden away again. Unable to interact in the modern world which is too fast, too loud, too harsh for her to thrive.
But the way I work is changing. Sensitivity, intuition and empathy are my greatest gifts! I no longer want my sensitivity to need to shut down and hide. I want to create a life where I am fully expressed, where I can truly serve those I am here to guide! This means ALL of me is welcome and cared for, provided for, held. If my sensitivity was driving I would have moved to Findhorn by now, to live in community with others who share this gift that can so often appear to be an affliction in modern life. But my soul wants to experience it all, to have a spiritual life that is also a fully expressed life in the ordinary world. It wants to carve a path for others to follow. It has that pioneering sense of adventure, that sense of leadership that says “I’ll go first.”
The answer I believe lies in resolutely following my own inner guidance, my heart, my gut instinct. Even when it appears insane. Perhaps especially when it feels insane! To allow ourselves to be sensitive in this world we need to be acutely aware of the signals and willing to find the courage to follow them. Yes, saying no to that party might mean you lose a friend but it is a step on the way to becoming a true friend to yourself. It’s a case of knowing our own needs and then creating a life that nurtures and sustains us. I want this to be my every-day. I have no idea what that looks like. I know that it involves holding my boundaries strong and true. Letting go of the people pleaser inside me and embracing self-love and self-care. It’s about daring to let go of the life I have in order to have the life that is already there waiting for me. So I breathe, speak my truth and practise letting go. Letting go of the outcome. Letting go of how others might react, how they might perceive me. I rest in the void, that space between stories. It’s in creating this space that I allow something new to enter my life but first I must let go…let go…fight it…and let go again!
I want to prove that it’s possible to live a spiritually aligned life AND be in the world. I want to claim health AND happiness, fulfilment at home AND work, a life of service AND abundance. I want to create a life where I thrive with my sensitivity intact, with my heart open. I am my own guinea pig! Very soon I hope to report back from the frontline of my life – yes, there is a way. Yes, it is possible. Come, I can show you the way.