on being sensitive

eroc passed me this interview with gabor maté earlier this week and it’s SO good. i stumbled on maté when doing some trauma research earlier this year as a part of my spiritual formation work but i hadn’t dug in any deeper since then. this episode is diving me in and it’s great.

in his discussion of one of the books that most influenced him, the drama of the gifted child, he offers that a more accurate translation of the original german is actually the phrase “sensitive child.” and then he goes on to describe sensitivity with a brilliant and simple analogy:

imagine you are wearing a shirt and i tap you on the shoulder. you would likely register that i tapped you but you wouldn’t take it as an attack. now imagine you are wearing a sleeveless top and you have a burn that’s in recovery on your shoulder. when i tap you this time, the same tap, it probably fucking hurts. that’s what it means to be sensitive. the same stimulus is honestly perceived and felt totally differently.

so good. so simple. definitely joining my repertoire.

i won’t dig deeply into this but part of why that explanation is so useful is in connection with understanding depression. if you happen to be an emotionally sensitive person, even what some folks call small things might be felt deeply by you. and if that’s you, it might make sense that, over time, you’d develop a coping mechanism that suppressed your feelings instead of had you feeling everything all the time. it might be the only way you could get through life. i’m so curious if depression is actually a gift turned backwards (see gifts by ursula k. le guin)…

words / writing / post-processing
295w / 11min / 4min