5 ways to leverage sensitivity, a strength & trap for the creative

Many who are very creative deal with this thing called sensitivity. It means that there sometimes is a thought, experience or encounter that most people easily forget that stays fresh in the mind of a creative. The ability to relive an event in full color can bring forth an amazing song or powerful painting. But, both the pleasure and the pain can be a trap to the creative if not leveraged properly.

If the event was positive, then disappointment of current reality could lead to depression. Worse, the most painful moments in life fade slowly, leaving an open wound in need of healing. The healing process for a creative then is a bit different. Where others may cope by refocusing on a new activity, the creative is obsessed. So, my personal experience as a sensitive and creative and in working with many of the same has taught me a few things. These are five ways to leverage sensitivity.

  1. Letting go needs a ceremony. When the world has moved beyond using Papyrus font, you have to move ahead with the times. But, it may be you need to have a party to mark the move. When you realize that it really is a big deal to change, change then is possible. Do you minimize the fact that letting go actually hurts?
  2. Pain needs to have meaning. When walking through the tough times, pain can and should make sense. You need to heal for this to happen, though. If it is a wound someone has caused, this means you must find the bigger meaning. Of course, faith helps with this. Christ suffered, but for a cause and for love. Knowing your sacrifice is for a greater good allows you see more than the pain. The question “why” is always the right one. Is there a purpose bigger than you that you are working towards?
  3.  The future needs a dreamer. If you have failed or lost much in the past, the hardest thing to do is to see a future let alone dream about it. Depression robs this energy with obsessive thinking about events you cannot change. They already happened! No positive energy can come from reliving the past when there are things today you can do. What changes in your life that are possible do you ponder?
  4. The human race needs you to join it. Even though you are more empathetic and get messed up because of that, you are still human. I should not complain that people don’t “get me” when I do not spend the time and heart to “get them” as well! Creatives live some things larger than life. But, does that mean we are really all that different? It is easy to stay within our tribe, but there is much to learn from the rest of the human race as well. Do I actually appreciate the people later that I have empathy for in the moment?
  5. Your life is a story that needs telling. We can learn bitterness or can excel in sharing the pain and joys of our lives in healthy ways. Our personal stories as people are a powerful thing. The plot line of our lives can draw out the best in others, inspiring them to love, challenging them to think and soothing their wounds with the knowledge of shared pain. Your story matters, even if others do not feel it with you. Do I take joy in telling my own story as a creative?

 

I am still working on myself, but have found these are helping a bit when I see the sensitivity in my life. Any feedback from my fellow creatives and non-creatives alike?

 

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

85 comments

  1. I can so relate to all of these Rich, particularly #1 and #2 and have big questions about #5 for me personally. Perhaps it’s time to skype again, cause I have no idea how to tell my story or who to tell it to and that in itself at times makes it hard for my pain to have meaning. I feel like I’ve swallowed alot of the pain I’ve gone through and can’t see a way forward without continuing to do so. Because of this I feel like the experiences I had had no meaning and could not be used for good in the future. I see nothing redemptive about it all, although I tried and tried and tried to see it that way for years. I dreamed of sharing my testimony, of using what I’d learned to encourage and help pastors and churches. I wrote, I volunteered to help and …..nada. There are many things about my story that are ugly – and yes, it all happened within the church. It seems the things I learned through deep brokenness are not lessons any of us are eager to learn unless we are desperate. I can say that because it was true for me as well. In the meantime it’s left me feeling a bit like it was all for nothing. The heartache, the sleepless nights, the hard, hard work, the tears, all the sacrifice – it feels like it made no difference at all except perhaps in shaping my own heart. 
    For me, being unable to share a story of redemption in the midst of pain has left me feeling a bit isolated. And unneeded. Except – of course – in Africa. 🙂

    I’m trying to lean into that……

    1. Jan, of all that I know about you, your life indeed is a story to tell! But, yes, this is not so easy to sort out. I pray with you as we both on this journey can do leverage this gift of sensitivity for things beyond ourselves. One person told me this and it has never escaped: with God, nothing in our lives is wasted. 

    2. Jan…it was #5 that got me, too.  God has taught me recently how to tell my story and who to tell it to.  And what I discovered is that God is blessing ME through its telling!  He’s cementing to me the new life He’s creating in me and I can much more clearly see how He’s at work IN and THROUGH me.  Praying that you come to that place where you truly can share your story…and bless others and yourself by so doing!  And Rich is right…God never wastes a hurt.  Ever. 

  2. I can so relate to all of these Rich, particularly #1 and #2 and have big questions about #5 for me personally. Perhaps it’s time to skype again, cause I have no idea how to tell my story or who to tell it to and that in itself at times makes it hard for my pain to have meaning. I feel like I’ve swallowed alot of the pain I’ve gone through and can’t see a way forward without continuing to do so. Because of this I feel like the experiences I had had no meaning and could not be used for good in the future. I see nothing redemptive about it all, although I tried and tried and tried to see it that way for years. I dreamed of sharing my testimony, of using what I’d learned to encourage and help pastors and churches. I wrote, I volunteered to help and …..nada. There are many things about my story that are ugly – and yes, it all happened within the church. It seems the things I learned through deep brokenness are not lessons any of us are eager to learn unless we are desperate. I can say that because it was true for me as well. In the meantime it’s left me feeling a bit like it was all for nothing. The heartache, the sleepless nights, the hard, hard work, the tears, all the sacrifice – it feels like it made no difference at all except perhaps in shaping my own heart. 
    For me, being unable to share a story of redemption in the midst of pain has left me feeling a bit isolated. And unneeded. Except – of course – in Africa. 🙂

    I’m trying to lean into that……

    1. Jan, of all that I know about you, your life indeed is a story to tell! But, yes, this is not so easy to sort out. I pray with you as we both on this journey can do leverage this gift of sensitivity for things beyond ourselves. One person told me this and it has never escaped: with God, nothing in our lives is wasted. 

    2. Jan…it was #5 that got me, too.  God has taught me recently how to tell my story and who to tell it to.  And what I discovered is that God is blessing ME through its telling!  He’s cementing to me the new life He’s creating in me and I can much more clearly see how He’s at work IN and THROUGH me.  Praying that you come to that place where you truly can share your story…and bless others and yourself by so doing!  And Rich is right…God never wastes a hurt.  Ever. 

  3. I can so relate to all of these Rich, particularly #1 and #2 and have big questions about #5 for me personally. Perhaps it’s time to skype again, cause I have no idea how to tell my story or who to tell it to and that in itself at times makes it hard for my pain to have meaning. I feel like I’ve swallowed alot of the pain I’ve gone through and can’t see a way forward without continuing to do so. Because of this I feel like the experiences I had had no meaning and could not be used for good in the future. I see nothing redemptive about it all, although I tried and tried and tried to see it that way for years. I dreamed of sharing my testimony, of using what I’d learned to encourage and help pastors and churches. I wrote, I volunteered to help and …..nada. There are many things about my story that are ugly – and yes, it all happened within the church. It seems the things I learned through deep brokenness are not lessons any of us are eager to learn unless we are desperate. I can say that because it was true for me as well. In the meantime it’s left me feeling a bit like it was all for nothing. The heartache, the sleepless nights, the hard, hard work, the tears, all the sacrifice – it feels like it made no difference at all except perhaps in shaping my own heart. 
    For me, being unable to share a story of redemption in the midst of pain has left me feeling a bit isolated. And unneeded. Except – of course – in Africa. 🙂

    I’m trying to lean into that……

    1. Jan, of all that I know about you, your life indeed is a story to tell! But, yes, this is not so easy to sort out. I pray with you as we both on this journey can do leverage this gift of sensitivity for things beyond ourselves. One person told me this and it has never escaped: with God, nothing in our lives is wasted. 

    2. Jan…it was #5 that got me, too.  God has taught me recently how to tell my story and who to tell it to.  And what I discovered is that God is blessing ME through its telling!  He’s cementing to me the new life He’s creating in me and I can much more clearly see how He’s at work IN and THROUGH me.  Praying that you come to that place where you truly can share your story…and bless others and yourself by so doing!  And Rich is right…God never wastes a hurt.  Ever. 

  4. I can so relate to all of these Rich, particularly #1 and #2 and have big questions about #5 for me personally. Perhaps it’s time to skype again, cause I have no idea how to tell my story or who to tell it to and that in itself at times makes it hard for my pain to have meaning. I feel like I’ve swallowed alot of the pain I’ve gone through and can’t see a way forward without continuing to do so. Because of this I feel like the experiences I had had no meaning and could not be used for good in the future. I see nothing redemptive about it all, although I tried and tried and tried to see it that way for years. I dreamed of sharing my testimony, of using what I’d learned to encourage and help pastors and churches. I wrote, I volunteered to help and …..nada. There are many things about my story that are ugly – and yes, it all happened within the church. It seems the things I learned through deep brokenness are not lessons any of us are eager to learn unless we are desperate. I can say that because it was true for me as well. In the meantime it’s left me feeling a bit like it was all for nothing. The heartache, the sleepless nights, the hard, hard work, the tears, all the sacrifice – it feels like it made no difference at all except perhaps in shaping my own heart. 
    For me, being unable to share a story of redemption in the midst of pain has left me feeling a bit isolated. And unneeded. Except – of course – in Africa. 🙂

    I’m trying to lean into that……

    1. Jan, of all that I know about you, your life indeed is a story to tell! But, yes, this is not so easy to sort out. I pray with you as we both on this journey can do leverage this gift of sensitivity for things beyond ourselves. One person told me this and it has never escaped: with God, nothing in our lives is wasted. 

    2. Jan…it was #5 that got me, too.  God has taught me recently how to tell my story and who to tell it to.  And what I discovered is that God is blessing ME through its telling!  He’s cementing to me the new life He’s creating in me and I can much more clearly see how He’s at work IN and THROUGH me.  Praying that you come to that place where you truly can share your story…and bless others and yourself by so doing!  And Rich is right…God never wastes a hurt.  Ever. 

  5. Thanks Rich. That was enlightening. I may have to print that out so I can look at it as a reminder.

  6. Thanks Rich. That was enlightening. I may have to print that out so I can look at it as a reminder.

  7. Thanks Rich. That was enlightening. I may have to print that out so I can look at it as a reminder.

  8. Thanks Rich. That was enlightening. I may have to print that out so I can look at it as a reminder.

  9. Rick, this is great! Mind if I repost it on my site?

  10. Rick, this is great! Mind if I repost it on my site?

  11. Rick, this is great! Mind if I repost it on my site?

  12. Rick, this is great! Mind if I repost it on my site?

  13. Wow, that was like reading one of me journal entry’s. Than you Rich for sharing that wisdom. I needed to read that.

    1. HL, It came out of mine, so lets compare notes next time? 😉 Thanks!

  14. Wow, that was like reading one of me journal entry’s. Than you Rich for sharing that wisdom. I needed to read that.

    1. HL, It came out of mine, so lets compare notes next time? 😉 Thanks!

  15. Wow, that was like reading one of me journal entry’s. Than you Rich for sharing that wisdom. I needed to read that.

    1. HL, It came out of mine, so lets compare notes next time? 😉 Thanks!

  16. Wow, that was like reading one of me journal entry’s. Than you Rich for sharing that wisdom. I needed to read that.

    1. HL, It came out of mine, so lets compare notes next time? 😉 Thanks!

  17. Top shelf stuff!  Thanks

  18. Top shelf stuff!  Thanks

  19. Top shelf stuff!  Thanks

  20. Top shelf stuff!  Thanks

  21. Rich, This is great advice and very timely for me. Sometimes I think it’s harder to live as a creative person, who feels more deeply and is more sensitive. But the joys DO outweigh the struggles–esp. the joy of creating something meaningful out of pain. Thanks for this post, and  for joining the High Calling network!

    1. Dena, thanks for the comment. I am so glad we have each other as creatives to keep going and creating!

  22. Rich, This is great advice and very timely for me. Sometimes I think it’s harder to live as a creative person, who feels more deeply and is more sensitive. But the joys DO outweigh the struggles–esp. the joy of creating something meaningful out of pain. Thanks for this post, and  for joining the High Calling network!

    1. Dena, thanks for the comment. I am so glad we have each other as creatives to keep going and creating!

  23. Rich, This is great advice and very timely for me. Sometimes I think it’s harder to live as a creative person, who feels more deeply and is more sensitive. But the joys DO outweigh the struggles–esp. the joy of creating something meaningful out of pain. Thanks for this post, and  for joining the High Calling network!

    1. Dena, thanks for the comment. I am so glad we have each other as creatives to keep going and creating!

  24. Rich, This is great advice and very timely for me. Sometimes I think it’s harder to live as a creative person, who feels more deeply and is more sensitive. But the joys DO outweigh the struggles–esp. the joy of creating something meaningful out of pain. Thanks for this post, and  for joining the High Calling network!

    1. Dena, thanks for the comment. I am so glad we have each other as creatives to keep going and creating!

  25. Welcome to The High Calling, Rich. Being creative and sensitive certainly adds an element of challenge to my life, but I don’t think I’d trade it.   

  26. Welcome to The High Calling, Rich. Being creative and sensitive certainly adds an element of challenge to my life, but I don’t think I’d trade it.   

  27. Welcome to The High Calling, Rich. Being creative and sensitive certainly adds an element of challenge to my life, but I don’t think I’d trade it.   

  28. Welcome to The High Calling, Rich. Being creative and sensitive certainly adds an element of challenge to my life, but I don’t think I’d trade it.   

  29. Great post, Rich. I featured it here: http://www.thehighcalling.org/hcb-community/culture/new-our-community-rich-kirkpatrick

  30. Great post, Rich. I featured it here: http://www.thehighcalling.org/hcb-community/culture/new-our-community-rich-kirkpatrick

  31. Great post, Rich. I featured it here: http://www.thehighcalling.org/hcb-community/culture/new-our-community-rich-kirkpatrick

  32. Great post, Rich. I featured it here: http://www.thehighcalling.org/hcb-community/culture/new-our-community-rich-kirkpatrick

  33. Good ideas, RK, especially that of working toward a higher purpose.  I have to keep it in mind while engaging in my favorite method of dealing with the pain of being a creative working dangerously in a business environment.  My method is commonly known as grudge writing.

    1. “grudge writing” sounds like a plan, but in ministry settings that is called  being prophetic 😉

  34. Good ideas, RK, especially that of working toward a higher purpose.  I have to keep it in mind while engaging in my favorite method of dealing with the pain of being a creative working dangerously in a business environment.  My method is commonly known as grudge writing.

    1. “grudge writing” sounds like a plan, but in ministry settings that is called  being prophetic 😉

  35. Good ideas, RK, especially that of working toward a higher purpose.  I have to keep it in mind while engaging in my favorite method of dealing with the pain of being a creative working dangerously in a business environment.  My method is commonly known as grudge writing.

    1. “grudge writing” sounds like a plan, but in ministry settings that is called  being prophetic 😉

  36. Good ideas, RK, especially that of working toward a higher purpose.  I have to keep it in mind while engaging in my favorite method of dealing with the pain of being a creative working dangerously in a business environment.  My method is commonly known as grudge writing.

    1. “grudge writing” sounds like a plan, but in ministry settings that is called  being prophetic 😉

  37. Wandered over from The High Calling. My husband are uber-Type A, structured people who function best when using lists and spreadsheets. Our son is highly sensitive and creative, and heaven knows what pain he carries around, having not been able to make sense of the household he grew up in. Posts like yours give me hope that he will find healing and purpose in living and telling his story.

    1. Hi Nancy, it is important to know who you are and learn to be that. Your son is fortunate to have parents who see who he is!

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