During a Whatsapp conversation with a dear friend recently, I innocently typed a heartfelt message that ended up making a lasting impact on our joint visions of the world and helped her come to terms with the fact that she was a highly emotionally sensitive person; much like myself. This message made such an impact that she wrote it up on a scrap of paper and posted it on her bedroom wall. I’m honoured. In a lovely turn, she gave this message back to me for Christmas, in a frame that now sits proudly by my fireplace in my living room. It reads,
‘Yes, lucky us! Because we feel and we know how to live in a way that many others can’t understand. Every curse is a gift in disguise. We are very sensitive people, that’s the way we are. We have power in our emotion, once we stop letting them have power over us’
Eli Woodbine on Whatsapp 2015.
My message is by no means a condemnation of those who do not ‘feel’ as intensely as we do. Quite inversely, there are many times that I rue my intense emotional experiences. It is merely an acceptance of what I am, and an openness to this being something that helps me be more useful for the world.
As a highly sensitive person, I have the ability to finely understand other’s feelings, reactions to situations, and hurt. At first, this is a real problem, because you end up becoming a surrogate for their hurt, you take on their emotions as your own. You feel their pain. But with time, you learn to understand this. You can never manipulate it, but you accept what you feel. You assume someone else’s suffering and help ease it.
It can be a real gift and you can help to heal the world.
In my experience, when I ran from this emotional sensitivity, I ended up only hurting myself. The constant inbound emotion from others can be really overwhelming. I often drank to supress the feeling of drowning in emotion. Pushing them deeper, causing myself problems.
Once accepting it however, and learning how to channel this feeling back out of me as a positive, I started to be able to really help people. Taking their pain away, ingesting it, and turning it back on them in a positive and constructive fashion.
(Photo – Eli Woodbine, London, 2015)