When you look at wildflowers, what do you see?
I see a gift from the Earth… a gift that is both delicate and strong, sensitive and resilient. Wildflowers blossom with paper-thin petals, yet withstand many violent wind or rain storms. They allow bees in to work their magic and admirers to pick them.
At once, wildflowers are delicate, sensitive, and strong.
This imagery and description of the wildflower came to me through a challenging, yet provocative experience I had in January 2017. It was relayed to me that my former supervisor had called me “delicate, sensitive, and weak… in mind and body.”
Luckily, I had the opportunity to facilitate an inquiry with the bearer of the news, a child. We sat next to a stream, amongst wildflowers and bugs and the rest of Mother Nature. I asked, “Can someone be both sensitive and strong?” They responded, and I listened.
The child, 8 years old at the time, explored what these adjectives “sensitive” and “strong” mean. I witnessed.
I was curious too because honestly, I felt angry at the fact that I was being labeled weak, and I knew in a very deep way that this was untrue. After the child considered people they knew and experiences they had, they concluded, “Yes, a person can be both sensitive and strong.”
The world exists upon paradoxical truths.
Upon further reflection, I started to realize how powerful delicacy and sensitivity are. I moved through my anger, displeasure at being called weak, and started to see the truth.
Without delicacy, a doctor might make an error in surgery, an artist might destroy a masterpiece with one stroke, a cat might get injured in the jump from the top of the fence to the grass, a chef might over-spice their signature dish, a gardener might pluck the unripe vegetables, and a pilot might not land a plane safely.
Without sensitivity, a parent wouldn’t know when to feed their child, an author wouldn’t transmit sensory images that make readers laugh or cry, a runner wouldn’t see holes in the trail ahead, a teacher wouldn’t notice and adjust to shifts in students’ attention spans, a store clerk wouldn’t recognize a customer in search of an item, and a DJ wouldn’t gauge and respond to the energy of the dance floor.
Of course, each of these people may ALSO have elements of harshness and unresponsiveness, clumsiness or thick-skinnedness, and so on. Yet, it is their sensitivity and delicacy in their craft that enables them to “succeed.”
Seeing Delicacy and Sensitivity as Gifts.
Truly, delicacy and sensitivity are gifts! In a world and a time in which people, like this former boss of mine, strive for power and status, in a time when people feel threatened by the joy and success of people who don’t look like them, and in a society that values productivity and data, we need the softness of these gifts.
Delicacy and sensitivity are simply traits, and these traits influence the way that I process the world, my work, and my relationships. And these gifts give me the strength to keep loving.
If you, too, are a highly sensitive person or have a child or teen who is, I offer you the image and strength of the wildflower.
If it feels helpful and healing, I invite you to consider the following reflection questions. You can also share this process with your family!
- How do I connect with the image of a wildflower?
- What does sensitivity mean to me?
- What types of sensitivity am I gifted with?
- Do I carry any beliefs about my sensitivity being an undesirable quality? Where did these come from?
- How has my sensitivity helped me serve others?
- How has my sensitivity helped me know myself more deeply?
- Where and when do I tend to feel most sensitive?
- How do I prefer to show or express my sensitivity?
- What other gifts does my delicacy and/or sensitivity inspire?
- How has my sensitivity become my super power?
Honoring Your Sensitivity
As you begin this work, you may find yourself and your family ready to reframe old beliefs about sensitivity! Hooray! Let’s love on our sensitivity. This guide will help you and your family members name a develop a system system that honors your gifts.
Remember, it takes time and lots of self-compassion to grow. Be patient with yourself and your family through this interesting process. Like the wildflowers, you will keep blooming, and you will be supported by a community of wildflowers and a gorgeous, loving ecosystem.