Can we feel too much?
I’m sure many of you can think to a time when someone said you were ‘too sensitive’, or ‘too soft’. Perhaps they were judging you because you feel strongly affected by other’s emotions, because you cry easily, or because you feel emotionally affected by the sights and sounds around you. But what does it mean to feel ‘too much’ and should we try to change ourselves because of this criticism by others, or our own self-criticism?
Sensitivity is neither a good or a bad thing, instead it should be seen as a spectrum that every person sits along. Some people on one end of the spectrum are hardly affected by their immediate environment or the emotions of the people around them. Other people might feel moderately affected by such things, and others on the other end of the scale are acutely aware of, and impacted by, their environment and others’ emotions.
Where does this come from?
There are many things that impact on our sensitivity, some of this is likely to do with our biology, especially our hormone levels. High testosterone may help cushion people from some levels of emotional sensitivity for example. We might have generally high or low levels of certain hormones, and for some of us the changes of things like adolescence, maternity or the menopause will change our hormones and may heighten how sensitive we are.
Other factors are environmental, such as how we were brought up, what positive and negative experiences we have had, and whether we have experienced trauma. If we have experienced a trauma or grief for example, these might mean we are hyper-sensitive to anyone else’s’ emotions related to your own experience.
Finally, the last factor is spiritual. This is about how we connect on a spiritual level. This might be through religion, ritual, meditation or in other ways. Our experience and levels of openness to spirituality can undoubtedly make us feel more connected and aware of our senses, our environment and of others’ emotions.
Is this a bad thing?
Being sensitive is often portrayed as a weakness, unprofessional or something we need to keep under control. This is much more common in the West (e.g. Europe and the USA) where culturally people pride logic over emotional intelligence.
But what is we think about it differently, perhaps more like ‘the force’ in Star Wars – something powerful that can be a great force for good, but something that we have to learn to control, develop and hone as a skill with lots of practice.
Some people now use terms like ‘empath’ to describe being more aware than the average person of our emotions or the emotions and energy fields of others. This may be a more positive term to think about when harnessing your power of emotions.
So how does Reiki fit in? Many people are drawn to Reiki because they feel emotionally overwhelmed, stressed by their own emotions or feeling worried for the people in their lives. Though these are all natural feelings, Reiki can help us harness our emotional power, our ‘force’ to still feel emotion, but not feel paralysed or overwhelmed by this.
Reiki teaches us how to stay within our own strength, in the power of our own being and to protect ourselves from taking on other people’s emotions. This means we can be emotionally present with others and empathise with them, and be in high sensory environments, but be able to do this in a lighter way that does not burden us.