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How to Make Natural Sensitivity a Strength

Many who are very creative deal with this thing called sensitivity. It means that there sometimes is a thought, experience or encounter that most people easily forget that stays fresh in the mind of a creative. The ability to relive an event in full color can bring forth an amazing song or powerful painting. But both the pleasure and the pain can be a trap to the creative if not leveraged properly. Perhaps PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) inflicts more of us than others for the same reason.

If the event was positive, then disappointment of current reality could lead to depression. Worse, the most painful moments in life fade slowly, leaving an open wound in need of healing. The healing process for a creative then is a bit different—because creatives truly are, different. Where others may cope by refocusing on a new activity, the creative is trapped, stuck, obsessed. So, my personal experience as a sensitive and creative as well as my work with many of the same has taught me a few things.

These are five ways I think we can leverage sensitivity.

1. Letting go needs a ceremony. Long after the world has moved beyond using the Papyrus font, you have to move ahead with the times. But, it may be you need to have a party to mark the move. When you realize that it really is a big deal to change, change is then possible. Do you minimize the fact that letting go actually hurts?

2. Pain needs to have meaning. When walking through the tough times, pain can and should make sense. That does not mean everything happens for a reason, just that you have a reason and purpose. You need to heal for this to happen, though. If it is a wound someone has caused, this means you must find that bigger meaning in yourself. Of course, faith helps with this. Christ suffered, but for a cause and for love. And it was not fair. Knowing your sacrifice is for a greater good allows you see more than the pain. The question “why” is always the right one. Is there a purpose bigger than you that you are working toward?

3. The future needs a dreamer. If you have failed or lost much in the past, the hardest thing to do is to see a future, let alone dream about it. Depression robs this energy with obsessive thinking about events you cannot change. This pit not only feels like sinking, it could sink you. We all have loss and terrible circumstances. But those things have already happened! No positive energy can come from reliving the past when there are things today you can do. What positive and possible changes in your life do you ponder? Do you ponder your dream or your doom?

4. The human race needs you to join it. Even though you are possibly more empathetic than the rest of the planet and get messed up because of that, you are still human. I should not complain that people don’t “get me” when I do not spend the time and heart to “get them” as well! Creatives live some things larger than life. But does that mean we are really all that different? It is easy to stay within our tribe, but there is much to learn from the rest of the human race as well. Feeling for a person is one thing. Action is another. Do I actually appreciate the people later that I have empathy for in the moment?

5. Your life is a story that needs telling. We can wear bitterness or can excel in sharing the pain and joys of our lives in healthier ways. Our personal stories as people are a powerful thing. The plot lines of our lives can draw out the best in others, inspiring them to love, challenging them to think and soothing their wounds with the knowledge of shared pain. Your story matters, even if others do not feel it with you the way you feel it. Do I take joy in telling my own story as a creative?

I am still working on myself, but have found these are helping a bit when I see the sensitivity in my life. Any feedback from my fellow creatives and non-creatives alike? 

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Rich Kirkpatrick is a family man, writer, speaker, and musician. A ministry veteran, he has served in worship and pastoral roles in small and large settings. In 2014 he authored the book, The Six Hats of the Worship Leader. You can find him at RKblog.com where he writes about creativity, faith, and leadership.