Upset stressed woman holding cellphone looking shocked with message she received

Sensitivity, Overstimulation, and Creativity

By Ora North, author of The Empath’s Guided Journal

I check my email for the tenth time in an hour.

I scroll through social media, mostly seeing a combination of ads, vacation photos, and vulnerable shares that may or may not lead to a sales pitch.

My phone dings with news notifications and I get lost in outrage and sadness.

I respond to text messages, mostly links to memes or silly videos or questions about the day.

And then I sit down at my computer, staring at a blank page, waiting for words to pour out like the waterfall of wisdom that surely must live inside me.

…or perhaps not. The blank page remains blank.

Day in and day out we inundate ourselves with information, with technology, with mindless entertainment. Our brains were not meant to process data like computers, and yet, we still treat them as if they were. As if we are not fulfilling our duty as a human if we are not fully aware of everything in the world and simultaneously being creative and productive. As if to break down and cry for a day or even an hour would be unacceptable because we would lose productivity. As if we expect the funny video of the golden retriever to somehow take away or make up for the emotions we felt at the video of the dying children before it. But how are we expected to make sense of anything or feel grounded at all when we’re seeing the heartbreaking evidence of genocide, placed neatly next to an ad for magnetic eyelashes, placed neatly next to a meditation retreat in Bali?

No wonder the blank page remains blank. No wonder we become so overstimulated that we lose touch with our ability to make sense of things, to create. And while this is a problem for everyone, it is especially a problem for the sensitive person, the empath, the person with sensory issues, the introvert.

Those who live with an overly sensitive nature must spend a lot of time managing their environment around them and the way they react to that environment. It’s a different sort of system, one that takes in excess information, whether mental or emotional, too deeply and too often. It is not necessarily a bad thing or a shortcoming, but simply a different way of operating. One of the core truths of the sensitive folks is that they are our creatives. They feel things differently and through their unique systems, give birth to ideas, works of art, inventions, and gifts from whatever realm of genius they reside in. But in order to be able to do that, their systems need to be regulated. When constantly overstimulated by excess information and the expectations and demands accompanying it, the sensitive mind all too often puts itself into a management mode rather than a creation mode. Every ounce of energy is spent trying to process correctly, react correctly, consume and produce correctly—and all of those exhausting tasks leave no energy left for the state of flow and stillness required to create. It’s like having a mind that is so loud with the thoughts of others that it completely drowns out your own.

Once we lose the ability to hear our own minds, disconnection and resentment naturally follow, only increasing our malcontent in our inability to be creative, as well as our dependence on stimulating ourselves with even more information. In fact, this is exactly what ‘doom scrolling’ is. We scroll because we cannot hear our own thoughts. We scroll because we are scared of the thoughts we will not make space for. We scroll because it numbs our pain. Sometimes we even scroll to keep ourselves in a fixed place of rage or hatred that keeps us from going deeper.

We need to know our own pain, though. Especially as sensitive creatures. We need to feel what we feel, once all of the distraction and the external voices fade away. It is through that pain that we also know our own joy, and it is through both our pain and joy that we create. Not produce, but create. To know the stillness of our own souls nestled within the love and the rage swirling about it, and make it manifest.

Sensitive souls, keep yourselves aware, of course. Commit whatever actions of aid you can. But try scheduling time away from all of the excess information. Let yourself become more aware of the absurdity of what you see as you scroll, the contrast in values flashing through your brains, inevitably creating nasty cases of cognitive dissonance. Disconnect from that world, and reconnect to the natural world. Approach your mind as if it is organic matter rather than a piece of technology expected to perform, as if it is a wild animal you must coax into safety by learning its ways. Creativity itself is often like a wild animal, needing the right environment and an abundance of respect in order for it to feel safe enough to be itself. Give that animal quiet and stillness, away from the overabundance of modern noise. Let your system return to one of creation and regulation rather than one of management, reaction, and dysregulation. You may be surprised to see how you feel, and what beauty and wisdom is ready to express itself.

Ora North is a spiritual teacher, witch, and mental health advocate. While very involved in the spiritual community, North does not subscribe to the “love and light” or “good vibes only” mentality that can often whitewash or bypass the very real struggles of the marginalized. Because of this, her focus is on shadow work, and promoting the acceptance and validation of all of our feelings—not just the positive ones—as tools for growth. She is author of I Don’t Want to Be an Empath Anymore and Mood Magick.

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