I was always a sensitive kid growing up. My brother called me a “drama queen” and I have to admit I did have a flair for the dramatic. But in truth my sensitivity came, as it does for most children, from the gift of empathy. I felt part of every gentle smile, every sideways glance, every tensed body, every laugh – as if it were my own.
I learned over time that emotional and empathetic balance can be a tricky thing to find in this world and being “sensitive” or even just aware of what is going on around you can often be a gift hard to bear. Growing up for me was a repeated process of opening up and then shutting down again. Like a lot of sensitive kids I struggled with anxiety: an underlying feeling that something was seriously wrong. And, to be honest, from what I’ve learned as an adult, I realize now that I was right. Something was and is seriously wrong with a great deal of how the world works.
Thus I see the logic of why many people shut down emotionally, to a certain extent, in an effort to protect themselves from the insanity and suffering in this world. But I have also come to realize when we disconnect from the suffering in the world, we also disconnect from the impact our decisions make on the global community, nature and other species on this planet. Thus, we actually exacerbate the very same social and ethical crises we are choosing to shut out.