What does sensitivity have to do with healing?

Sensitivity is required for healing – be it physical, emotional, mental or a combination (here’s a secret – it’s always a combination).


Because sensitivity is your ability to respond to your environment – whether that’s your physical environment or the environment of your physical body. When you can respond, rather than react, to sensations of pain and dis-ease, you keep our wits about you (i.e. you keep your personal power) and are able to listen more closely to sense what needs to happen next.

But you don’t usually start here.

I don’t know if my mom was one of those super reactive mothers (although I suspect that maybe she was, sometimes), but I learned to react to pain as if it were a big hairy spider in my bed that needed to be taken care of RIGHT NOW thankyouverymuch. Forget those nice new spider grabbers I keep seeing on Facebook – my reaction to pain was like, FIND A SHOE! OR A BOOK! OR A WHOLE BOX OF TISSUES!

You might have been taught to react to pain, too. That pain indicated that something was wrong, and you need to fix the wrong as soon as possible.

Now, I won’t deny that in some cases of acute pain or injury to the physical body, reacting to what’s wrong quickly is indicated – you need to respond to a heart attack, for example, really quickly. Or a stroke. Or a broken bone. Get thee to a hospital and get someone to help you with that shit ASAP.

Sadly, chances are that you also learned to treat emotional pain like an acute condition – something that needs to fixed immediately. That sensing and having your emotions – to their full extent – was wrong.  Don’t cry here, Larry. You’re embarrassing me. And all that sensation you experience? You learn to cut it off. You see it happen all the time (and probably experienced it) – an adult telling a child to stop crying right this instant. So what does that child do? They hold their breath. They stop sensing what is real for them.

Hold your breath for a moment and notice – what do you smell? What do you taste? What do you feel in your body? A whole lotta nothing, and tension, right? You’ve essentially just cut off your sensation and your ability to feel into what’s true, important and what needs attention.

Highly sensitive people are not immune to acute physical trauma. However, the type of physical pain and dis-ease that is more common for us is the kind that creeps in, sneaks in, plays games, goes away for a day, comes back, switches sides, makes peeing feel weird and then just aches – it’s the kind of pain that is illusive.

Your emotional pain might be similar. Some weeks feel dark for no reason, others feel confusing, others are just bundles of joy on top of whipped cream on top of ripe berries, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason.

Pain that is illusive, that is changeable, that seems to have no direct cause requires response rather than reaction, and responding requires sensitivity. 

(Hell, I’d argue that all pain requires sensitivity in order to make good decisions – but let’s just stick to it for the illusive stuff for now, okay?)

When you are taught that your feelings do not matter, that you must push through pain, that you must be in it to win it no matter the cost, that pain is beauty and that there is no crying in baseball, you are learning to de-sensitive yourself to what is real and true for you in your body.

Yes, pain can be uncomfortable, but it is simply a sensation that asks for your attention. For your response. For your sensitivity.

de-sensitizingWhen instead, you try chatting with your feelings, pausing at pain, being in it to win it unless your body has another suggestion, see that beauty is simply not an obligation in the first place and try on the notion that crying in baseball is fine it’s just harder when you’re trying to catch a ball – you allow yourself to sensitize. You allow yourself to be responsive to what is. 

When you de-sensitize, you fight reality in order to live in a delusion that makes someone else more comfortable with their reality.

When you sensitize, you allow yourself to become closer to the truth of what is.

Allowing yourself to be sensitive creates an incredible amount of permission – permission for you to show up exactly as you are and to allow others close to you to do the same (this is especially important for parents and children).

Sensitizing allows you to be with what is so that you can be empowered to get the kind of care you need – whether that’s as simple as backing off those declined push ups or more, like taking the time to shop for a practitioner who resonates with you (rather than choosing the first one who promises to “fix” you. For the record – you’re not broken).

And when you’re empowered in your health, you create real healing. Because, let’s be honest – healing is not in the hands of any practitioner – healing on a holistic level is completely up to you. You sensitivity is your ally – use it.

Leave a Reply