An invitation: When what’s happening in the world is uncomfortable, stand there anyway

There are serious things happening in the US (and world) right now.

Serious things. Sad things. Oppressive things. Dangerous things. Hateful things.

The neo-Nazi marches and violence that happened in Charlottesville last week have broken my heart on many levels. That we have White Supremacists marching to maintain the status quo, when that status quo oppresses and marginalizes large groups of people. That a 32-year old woman named Heather Heyer died fighting against this movement. That people are claiming that there are shades of gray in a matter that is very clearly not gray at all.

These are just some of the ways that last week’s news breaks my heart. You may have a different reaction. But – regardless of your position within what’s happening – we need to talk about it.

“But Anna, this doesn’t apply to your work at all. I come here to get away from politics, from what’s happening, to come to a sanctuary that’s all about high sensitivity.”

The thing is, this does apply to this work. It does and it must. The bubble has burst. We live in this world – as highly sensitive people, we live in this world. So we will have this uncomfortable conversation.

When things like this in the world happen, it’s so easy for us – especially when we’re highly sensitive – to go numb, shut down, bow out of the conversation, sit on the side lines, try to appease all sides or simply tune out. Talking about sad, uncomfortable news is, well, sad and uncomfortable.

But growth – whether personal growth or the growth of a nation – is never comfortable.

I don’t really consider myself a leader, but hundreds of people will read these words. So no matter what I consider myself, there is an aspect of leadership to the work that I do. I believe that part of leadership is standing for what you believe in.

This makes me uncomfortable. Extremely, extremely uncomfortable. That I must stand up and talk about this will make some of you turn away, unsubscribe, seek leadership elsewhere, unfollow, dislike me and write me nasty emails. I understand that, and it makes me squirm.

But you see, I’ve realized that I can sit back and watch what’s happening and not say anything because I’m privileged. I can choose to bow out because I’m white, and able-bodied, and straight, and cis-gendered. I can bow out because my safety is not being directly threatened.

When I realized this, I had to ask myself the next question: Knowing this, should I bow out? Can I? Because when I bow out, it means that others, who have less privilege in this world – less of a voice, less of a sense of belonging, and less safety – must fight harder. When I bow out, I create more oppression and hardship to the very people I want to help.

When I look to my teachers, I can’t take seriously those who continue to promote their products and practices without acknowledging what’s happening in the world. Yes, we all have to make money to survive, and I do that through my services and courses. But these courses and services focused on personal growth as a highly sensitive person do not take place in a vacuum – their purpose is to help you thrive in this world. 

This world is what provides the context for these services. And so I must address the environment around us – uncomfortable as it may be – as part of what I do.

When you work with me one-on-one, or take one of my courses, my goal is to help you get confident in who you are as a highly sensitive person so that you can take a stand in the world – no matter where it is you want to stand.

I am taking a stand on these current issues. I do not support racism, white supremacy, and the kind of so-called “free speech” that dangerously oppresses and marginalizes large groups of people.

I believe that those of us who are just now feeling uncomfortable are feeling that way because our privileges are being called out. It is a privilege that we’ve lived in comfort for so long. And when we’ve come to expect a certain level of comfort and safety – at the expense of others’ comfort and safety – equality may feel like oppression. But it’s not. We just have to scoot over at the table to make room for others to join us.

This is where I stand on the racists issues facing the US. It’s where I’ve always stood.

It’s uncomfortable for me to take a stand. A public stand. It also feels necessary for my personal integrity.

As you get confident as YOU – embracing your sensitivity as part of who you are – where do you want to stand? What’s important to your personal integrity? What issues – subtle or overt – do you sense with your sensitive gifts and want to be a part of?

When life gets uncomfortable, it’s so easy for us highly sensitive people to hide, to get away, to close the curtains and hum a happy song and pretend that everything is okay. And because we take in so much from our environment, I’d even say that it’s okay to do that for a while, to get fortified and find your feet.

This world is changing – it’s trying to grow. I think it needs all of us to stand up and help it. So I invite you – as uncomfortable as it is, to find a place to stand.

2 Comments on “An invitation: When what’s happening in the world is uncomfortable, stand there anyway”

  1. LOVED this post, Anna! We all need to do our part: white people, people of color, all of us. It’s not enough to say you’re not racist. It’s time to stand up and take actions that are ANTI-RACIST. Sensitive or not, we all have to stand up for what we feel is right for ourselves and for the good of humanity. Thank you for this great essay.

  2. Thank you for writing and sharing this! As a highly sensitive person, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by recent events and want to hide from them. But that’s not really an option, and I appreciate your clarity on privilege and taking a stand in the world especially when it’s deeply uncomfortable.

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