Savannah Hanson: The gift of sensitivity |

Savannah Hanson: The gift of sensitivity

When the River Fire started, fear was already on high alert with health scares, increasing stress and tension, uncertainty and collapsing structures. Some people think we are back to normal or close. This one gets a different sense.

Savannah experiences being a highly sensitive person. Much of this life has been spent on learning to manage that sensitivity. Part of the strategies were becoming a spiritual psychotherapist, always putting a lot of attention on the sacred, refusing until lately to ground on the planet and living out of the country for many years. Yet there is no escaping this trait nor should one even attempt it.

I heard an interesting interview recently about sensitives. Their relationship to the vagus nerve, the nervous system, and the brain structure is different. In previous societies, sensitives were highly valued for their ability to sense danger before others did. Yet when danger and fear are frequently on high alert, it can be easy to burn out or fry the nervous system. In these times, it is essential we all know how to manage our nervous systems, but none more so than for sensitives.

This one expended numerous resources first trying to get rid of the sensitivity, then trying to fix it and finally surrendering and allowing it while managing the impact. Ways to navigate an active nervous system are deep breathing, alternate breathing, martial arts or yoga, meditation or another mindfulness practice, time in nature, being barefoot on the earth, slowing down and being very deliberate with activity. Reading spiritual or other uplifting literature, spending time with like-hearted people, all of these can help calm the nerves. Another suggestion to help ease overwhelm is to immerse oneself in natural water. I know water has been my salvation.

Yet one of the biggest fears to overcome, after letting go of special relationships, is survival fears or fear for the body. Nothing like a fire to activate it. It may seem like mission impossible to overcome such primal fears, yet what I am discovering is these very fears can become an invaluable gateway straight into the arms of the divine. Nothing has motivated this one more than having very primal survival fears come up. Now daily dedication to remembering our true nature is easy.

Please take time to be with what is arising in the body. Do not shame or blame when trauma arises in the system. The first tendency will be to shove it away with some distraction, to bring our attention anywhere but on the discomfort. Yet if we have the courage to allow these primal sensations arising in the body, we welcome them rather than shove them into the basement as was necessary usually as children, we will discover an ever increasing spaciousness. This is my direct experience.

Recognizing how much learning to be at peace with sensitivity has “cost” me, I feel dedicated to both normalizing this trait and supporting the 20% (or more) of people with this characteristic. A trait that used to be celebrated is now often minimized or even shunned. I often heard, you are too sensitive.

A friend commented that empaths/sensitive people can be as bad as narcissists in needing attention. The interview talked about that. Sensitives feel such a need to control their environment in order to not become over-stimulated. While they can be the most loving people, kind and compassionate, until they learn to manage this trait, they can also be very controlling.

I do want to honor each of you who gifts us with your sensitivity. It is an incredible gift as rudeness and aggression are on the increase. Please know you do not need to be fixed as you are not broken. My sensitive male friend told me that sensitivity equals love, and is thus a superpower. Sounds good to me!

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20 minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at 530-575-5052 or

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