The burden of being sensitive

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I bet most people reading this blog post – including you – are highly sensitive.

In fact, one could ask, why are you even reading this?
Why are you not just doing your daytime job, engaging in a hobby or two, being with your partner and children in your house, going on holiday once or twice a year?

Why go beyond this? Why even bother to think about your life and how you can make it more deep and meaningful… How you can bring healing to yourself and be of service to others?

I bet being highly sensitive has a lot to do with it.
And I know this is not always a gift.

It has not always been a gift for me, either. In fact, for a long time I saw sensitivity as a burden. I wanted to get rid of it. I wanted to be a cool player.

In primary school, I remember feeling a degree of disorientation in the classroom. I had a hard time focussing. In retrospect, I believe this is because I was experiencing an empathic overwhelm. 

For many children, including myself, the classroom is the first time one is exposed to being in such a large group. Whereas in kindergarten, there is still a high degree of playfulness allowed – giving room for feelings and sensations to be expressed – primary school formalizes the group setting in a much more rigid way. 

Knowing how much time and energy we spend during Songdance workshops and retreats to give participants the chance to express and release, I look back upon the teachings practice in primary school and find it almost inhumane.

Let’s start with the teacher. Is he or she in tune with their emotions? Do children get an opportunity to express and release their emotions? 
Some children come from balanced homes, others come from dysfunctional families. Yet, without ceremony or ritual, everyone is put together in a classroom, focussing on anything but the energy of the moment which longs to be felt, heard, seen and expressed.

Authentic Singing would have been a life-saver for me as a child in primary school. Instead, I developed learning disabilities that seemed to be only getting better when I was taken out of the classroom and into private tutoring for some hours every week. Those times alone with the tutor, I could actually focus on the school matter.  

Slowly, I developed unconscious behaviors, shields, masks and so on to make it possible for me to function in a – may I call it – emotionally unsettled environment. I drifted away from my true nature in order to survive and get through the system. I did become a cool player in a way, to the outside at least. 

Alone in my room, I would be writing poetry. I would improvise on the piano and invent songs when my dad was not home. I would allow (some of) my sensitivity and return to my true nature.

It’s not that in my family there would be any formal ritual or ceremony to express or release emotions. Or that my efforts to try and help my parents’ career were recognized as a cry to be guided myself. But at least there only being 4 people instead of 25 made a big difference.

My home was not perfect – far from – but it was not dysfunctional either. There was a lot of love. And I’m grateful for that. I can only image how much worse it must be for someone coming from a dysfunctional family and then on top of that having to spend time in a group of 25 loose cannons of children. 

Join Songdance CiRCLE if you’d like to master your sensitivity and live the Gift of Empathy through voice and movement practices. 

Stay tuned for more!

With love,


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