‘Sensitivity and the Artist: The Link Between Sensitive Personalities and Creativity’
by Patricia Foster McKenley
Being a sensitive adult can be viewed as either a curse or blessing to the said sensitive individual.
For many sensitive adults, who may deem this a curse, they can probably list a range of unwanted or difficult circumstances such as:
• Being highly affected by harsh and nasty comments
• Taking on board and feeling deeply saddened by others’ misfortune
• Being affected by criticism and judgment from others
• Always wanting to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable conversations
• Bearing childhood traumas that trigger off reactions to relatively similar adult situations
• Excruciating shyness
• Labelled too shy, too sensitive or a walkover by others
• Become stressed easily
• Experience low self-esteem
• High bouts of depression
However, many sensitive adults may deem it a blessing and look at the advantages such as:
• Being a good listener
• Possessing empathy
• Being excellent authors and poets
• Having the ability to express themselves as artists
• Being highly intuitive and spiritual
• Having high levels of patience
I have witnessed highly sensitive individuals, who champion the causes of other people, encouraging them to utilise their gifts. However, when it comes to expressing their own gifts, or operating from their higher selves or to their highest potential, they almost enter the realms of martyrdom, where it is virtually difficult for them to speak up or express their true selves.
Research has shown that many highly sensitive adults end up working as counsellors, teachers, artists, poets, writers, authors, social workers and healers /natural health practitioners and other caring professions.
According to Elaine N. Aron Ph.D., the author of ‘The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You’, the world can be an extremely, overwhelming and unassuming place to sensitive people in general and certain situations and environments are too overly stimulating. She also acknowledges that “one in every five people is born with a heightened sensitivity” and gifted with “intelligence and imagination”.
I speak as a sensitive adult myself, who has experienced or displayed many of the above traits. Reading Elaine’s book about The Highly Sensitive Person (HSPs) was a welcome breath of fresh air; it made me realise there was nothing wrong with me and indeed others I know who bear similar traits.
Due to the, at times, overwhelming and difficult circumstances in my life, I have had to identify the personality traits that I have and go through a stage of healing and being kind to myself. This ‘self identification’ and healing process allowed me to develop the skills and empathy to understand, listen and heal others (especially those who are sensitive) through teaching, training, art, film making, poetry, coaching and Reiki.
Over the years, I focused on ways to harness my sensitive nature and also balance this with being grounded and looking after my physical and emotional health.
I discovered that my emotional health was impacted by consuming certain foods that created imbalance (such as meat and alcohol). Through following a vegan and raw vegan diet and being teetotal, this has prevented me from becoming too overwhelmed and over stimulated by the world.
Being highly sensitive is a personality trait I feel blessed to have and with this, I endeavour to make this world a better place to exist in.
However, this is not to say that non-sensitive personalities are insensitive, impatient or possess little or no creative skills. This is to highlight that sensitive people are ‘wired’ uniquely and therefore respond to external stimuli in a unique way.
© Patricia Foster McKenley
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Patricia Foster McKenley is a Holistic Life Coach, an Award-Winning Internationally Published Poet, Performer, Visual and Multimedia Artist (BA Hons), Broadcaster, Certified Tutor/Trainer & Facilitator, Dynamic Educator and Creative Consultant. She is also a Certified Reiki Healer, Wellbeing Advisor, Vegan and lover of Raw Food. As a writer, she has worked for the BBC and has toured, performed and delivered Workshops in the UK, Europe, Jamaica, Gambia and the USA.
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