In defence of sensitivity
Zayaan Buffkins (South Africa) is a Professional Integral Coach and facilitator with a focus on making Integral Coaching more accessible and inclusive, opening up spaces for growth and transformation by facilitating authentic conversations. She collaborates with practitioners whose work transforms the individual and collective.
If you have in any way been tuned in to yourself and those around you, you may have experienced the pandemic as an emotional rollercoaster. But this “tuning in” or sensitivity to what we are experiencing is often neglected. We are told that we must appear strong and told to hide our emotions. The messages received at the beginning of the pandemic continued to push the world’s obsession with being busy and productive. As a coach, this felt at odds with the feeling that we needed to stop and reflect, to notice what we were feeling. Not an easy task in the face of another common narrative: that sensitivity is weakness, and further, that womxn are overly sensitive and therefore, weak. But to be sensitive, which is innately human, is a great gift. Emotions can provide useful information about our experience. I have found that Integral Coaching provides the space to sit with and explore this moment, and to move beyond the over-thinking and over-doing. As I sit with my own experience, and listen to what my clients share, I have seen existing societal challenges being amplified by the pandemic. Existing high rates of femicide, gender-based violence and inequality were made worse by the lack of movement and access during lockdown. But these moments are also a reminder of the power of womxn coming to the forefront to solve these issues. Womxn are helping the most desperate and destitute; womxn have used COVID as a time to pause and look at how the world doesn’t serve them; to further decolonise, redefine and reimagine and no longer just accept things as they have always been. And we do this by tapping into our full range of internal resources, experiences and emotions. As the restrictions are easing, let us tap into our sensitivity and ask: How can we access our ability to sense, trust and feel what matters most to each of us? How can we resist the pull towards productivity, and the pressure and expectation that we womxn rescue, solve and carry everyone? How do we use the gift of sensitivity and care, but balance it with care for ourselves?