The World Needs People Who Are Sensitive and Dreamy
After a recent workplace misunderstanding, I assumed the blame for my emotional state. While the other person seemed much more level-headed, I was a pile of emotions ranging from anger to disgust to utter sadness.
It started with a conversation — a very public one in front of other team members. The other person announced something that immediately felt like an assault on my abilities to do my own work.
Still reeling, I used my afternoon commute to dull the acute pangs of emotion that throbbed with every beat of my heart.
By the time I got home, that coveted decompression time still hadn’t worked its magic. My heart was bleeding and I was trying to figure out how to patch it up.
Why am I so sensitive? Why do ordinary interactions with people so often leave me feeling wounded? Why can’t we just have love everywhere, everyday?
It wasn’t until the next day, after a workout, a hearty breakfast, and a date with my journal did I really start to come out of my emotional shock. Even then, the slightest notion of events-gone-wrong in the world’s landscape would send me reeling again into a state of rolling tears and a cracking voice.
In my efforts to help myself recover, I set out on a little mission to understand the positives of being a sensitive person who just wants love in the world, to explore the idea of what makes me tick, and then relate it to others.
Qualities That Sensitives and Dreamers Have
Ideas — we’re never short of coming up with ideas for everything: a design for a travel trailer to the layout of a room, ideas for podcasts, creating interior designs, stories, solving problems, and thinking out of the box — these all stem from ideas generated in our brains at any given moment.
Creativity — along the lines of coming up with good ideas, we’re creative. It might be with music, fine art, crafts, cooking, interior design, architecture, storytelling, writing — you name it — but we all have some creative medium in which we like to express ourselves fully.
Empathetic — we’re extraordinary at imagining how someone might feel in a given situation. We also know, instinctively, to look for the underdogs and to lift them up. We identify with the downtrodden, the broken, and the ones who need a hug.
Counselors — we tend to be on the quiet side (though with a trusted friend, we can open up and be as chatty as the lady on that long plane ride who just won’t shut up) and observant. These qualities enable us to be great listeners and confidants. People look to us with this understanding for guidance and advice.
Carve out a unique existence — with our heads full of ideas, thoughts milling, daily observations of the world, and a keen desire to find our place in a sometimes cold-seeming world, we express ourselves in different ways. Some of us go for wild-colored hair, others go for loud clothes. Others live as hermits and are socially awkward. Some people have all these qualities, and that’s okay. Life experience has shown me that I care less about what people think as I get older. Besides, it’s fun to wear purple glasses and orange turtlenecks.
Intuition — wehave a keen sense of intuition. We make assessments and judgements about whether we can keep the company of someone based on what our feelings tell us. If you’re a pushy salesperson who’s obviously out to make money, we sensitive dreamers will go running for the hills. Or at least I know this to be true about me. We use this intuition to “feel” our way through life: does this feel good? Does this person give off a good vibe? Does this place make me feel uneasy?
How These Qualities Translate to the Real World
Right brained — if you look at the qualities of right brain vs. left brain use, people who favor the right side of the brain tend to be the creatives, the dreamers, the sensitive ones who embrace emotions and feelings over logic and facts. Unfortunately, if you look collectively at the United States, this culture is much more left-brained: logic, data, and corporate climates are a given. For us sensitive dreamers, it’s all too easy to find ourselves doing tasks that are mundane and data-driven and that’s not a good thing.
Fluid — we’re not ones for rigid structure and routine. Yes, I have routines set up in every area of my life — what I might do in the morning versus the evening, for example — but strict adherence to the clock, no matter what, is a recipe for disaster. Sensitive, dreamy types need fluidity and the ability to “go with the flow” and have freedom. I dated a guy once who, without fail, had to be at all appointments ten minutes early. I dumped him knowing I couldn’t live with such regimented boundaries.
Flexible — because we love to go with the flow and want as little conflict in our lives as possible, we really strive to be flexible and accommodating. I find I can be flexible to my own detriment sometimes, such as when people take advantage of the fact that I “won’t care” if they’re 30 minutes late to a meeting. I do care, but if I value you as a friend, I’ll let it slide — at least the first time. After that? We’ll need to talk.
Desire for harmony — this need for peace and good relationships is incredibly important to us. We have such a need for harmony, that we’ll often not express our true feelings to help keep the peace. Yes, there’s a sense of dishonesty in that statment, but averting conflict is better than saying we can’t stand the way you’re doing something — unless of course you’re in our inner circle and we feel comfortable letting you know. We know that working toward harmony can make for a loving work environment and as well as a nurturing home environment.
Feminine energy — in a world that has a need to extract oil with big drills, bulldoze beautiful trees, trash riverbanks and empty waste into waterways, use automatic weapons to make a point, it’s overwhelmingly filled with masculine energy. Sensitives and dreamers have the potential to balance the world with more subtle feminine energy: an energy that naturally sends out love and wants to nurture, preserve nature, use diplomacy and look for alternatives to destruction or violence to do the same job.
Mutual understanding — because we’re listeners and seek out harmony, this means that we’ll seek to connect with people and arrive at points of agreement easier than folks who aren’t.
Diplomacy — sensitive people and dreamers often have a gift for engaging in dialogue that invites peace and understanding. We’re good at peacekeeping. If we’re in positions of leadership, we’ll seek out the approval of subordinates before making decisions — at least up to a point.
A Needed Kind of Leadership — while leaders of every kind inhabit those top hierarchical spots, sensitive, dreamy types are extraordinary leaders. Alas, it’s not always obvious. When a CEO “rules with an iron fist” we know that this is far from the only way. Empathetic individuals have the power to motivate and inspire, to listen to “the other side” and to make informed decisions. In fact, they are so adept at ferreting out all the nuances of an issue, sometimes they just have to make a decision already. Think of the world’s peacemakers: the vast majority of these people were sensitive, compassionate beings who understood the complexities of their work and were able to lead the world in their peacemaking efforts.
Approachable — Because of our ability to forge connections, be diplomatic, use intuition, and exercise compassion, sensitives and dreamers are extraordinarily approachable. This approachability can inspire a loyal following and lead to lifelong friendships.
Listening to a hunch — we listen to our instincts. If we’re not right, it’s because we weren’t appropriately tuned in to what our gut was saying. We understand that past experiences and interactions guide current decisions and if something feels good, we’ll go with it. If it doesn’t, we’ll move on to the next thing.
Drawbacks To Being a Sensitive Dreamer
Sensitive, dreamy people have a lot to offer the world. But, there are drawbacks and I personally experience them more often than I’d like.
Easily misunderstood — we often don’t relate our feelings well in a given situation. There’s a well of emotion that lies beneath the surface and we’re hesitant to share what feels private and off limits to the world out there. We often like to keep to ourselves and tend to stay quiet in crowds. Unfortunately, societal pressures to conform and perform can and do stress us out and we can turn into caged lions.
Labeled as “emotional” — when we’re fighting tears after a staff meeting gone-wrong, it’s easy to think that a sensitive person is unhinged. But really, we just wear our hearts on our sleeves and want what’s best for all. When someone violates our value structure, or we feel that we are invalidated, these are the moments when we tend to show our emotions — the ones that society deems less desirable: anger, sadness, fear, contempt, frustration, and anxiety.
Head stuck in the clouds — the dreamy side can kick in and take over our thoughts such that it can be hard to focus on the task at hand, and sometimes even those long-term goals. The risk of getting bored with an idea or a plan is very real. More often than I care to admit, half-finished projects litter my landscape.
Need alone time and lots of it — it’s a big world out there with lights, noise, traffic, the emotions of others, jolting commutes, rigid schedules, juggling relationships and other stimuli. These are a drain on our energy. In order to recoup that energy, our alone time must remain sacred.
Open office space is dreadful — due to the need for space and having a place to be able to think without too much external stimuli, I know that I personally do not thrive in an open office environment. Having a quiet space means my productivity nearly doubles. Unfortunately, the majority of people out there can handle the hustle and bustle of an open office while the sensitive dreamer has to use extreme measures to concentrate.
Not seen as team players — we desperately want to help the team, but we need to do it in our own way. Sometimes this feels and seems counterproductive to the bottom line. We care about the bottom line, but if it doesn’t jive with our values — harmony, peace, love, ingenuity, innovation, not trampling on others — it can be extraordinarily difficult to rally behind any idea or cause.
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. — Harriet Tubman
Dealing With the Sensitive, Dreamy Person In Your Life
Based on the information above, sensitive dreamers can’t always articulate what they need — especially if they’re overwhelmed. They’re often better at articulating feelings in other media: in writing, in a drawing or painting, in a poem, through music, that sort of thing.
They require lots of down time. This down time is far from “just lazing around.” It’s time to create, read a book, listen to music, daydream, journal, attend to a hobby, work on a project, or any number of other solitary activities.
Understand that we’ll “disappear” for awhile sometimes. When the rest of the world wants to go out on a Friday after work, we will often want to retreat to a sacred space: home, (as long as it’s not stressful there, if it is, they’ll find somewhere else to unwind) and no one will hear from us for days.
When we get really interested in a project, we’ll often pursue that project to the detriment of everything else. Forgive us if we forget to clean the house, feed ourselves, call, or otherwise communicate. We’re working on something that gives us meaning, a reason to be.
We have a vibrant, inner world and if we perceive you as someone who “gets that,” then perhaps we’ll let you in for a glimpse. Once you’re in, you will be part of a tight inner circle where few will ever venture. That, for you, is the highest compliment we could ever bestow on anyone.
Now…to just relate this to my level-headed coworker.
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