You’ve Got Nerve(s): The Creative Living with Jamie Podcast eps 279

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 279:
You’ve Got Nerve(s)

Often artists are highly sensitive people.  Learning to navigate the world and our work through the gift of our sensitivity can open a whole world of possibility and healing for the creative soul.

Take It to Your Journal

Here are some journal questions from today’s episode about being a highly sensitive creative.

  • I find that I am highly sensitive to…
  • This has been hard because….
  • It’s also been a blessing because…

Resources & Mentions



Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, will wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.


Hey everybody. So I titled this episode you’ve got nerve… s and it is especially for my HSCs out there, my highly sensitive creatives. And let’s face it, if you are creative, chances are you are highly sensitive, sensitive to nuance, sensitive to subtext, to colour, to meaning, to energy, to sound. In fact, I’d love for you to take these three prompts to your journal. Yep, we are getting right into it. I’m going to give you all three. These are each sentence stems so I want you to finish the sentence. When you’ve done all of that, come back.  

So, the first one is, “I find that I am highly sensitive to…:

The second is “This has been hard because….” 

And the third, “It’s also been a blessing because…” 

Trust whatever comes out of your pen and then come back and we’ll chat a bit more about what it means to be a highly sensitive creative. 

One of the reasons that I love to give you journal questions right off the bat is because I want you to look inside first. As a sensitive creative soul, you take in a lot of information and sometimes it’s hard to know what’s yours and what you’re taking in from the world around you.  

As a creative, what you have to offer the world is something unique to you so learning to hear that voice within and then to trust it and then to use it is powerful work for the creative heart. I hope you take the time to listen to yourself before you listen to me. 

Let me tell you a little bit about my own experience. In my family, many of the women have what we call “nerves.” I would define that as a tendency to react strongly to stimuli. That could look like sensory overload. It could look like anxiety rising and trying to anticipate every possible outcome and then a rush to plan for every single one. It could look like supreme unfettered delight in taking in something beautiful or delicious or fun. It’s like we’re finely tuned instruments resonating with the pluck of the world. Only sometimes we don’t want to be plucked! 

Can you relate? 

Some of the gifts of this sensitivity is that we tend to see to the heart of things, recognize what’s unspoken, identify patterns and revel in the arts, both the making of and the drinking in. We do so in deep ways that include both struggle and bliss. 

As you’re listening, maybe you’re hearing, like I am, all the voices that you’ve internalized along the way. What makes you think you’re so special, little snowflake? Stop being so sensitive! Toughen up. It’s not that bad. What are you talking about? Nobody actually said that. You’re just being oversensitive. I’m sure you have your own version of these critical reactions. 

Some of you may have heard how I feel about dentists. In part, it’s because I had some awful experiences as a kid. I won’t go into them. Don’t worry. But I do want to say what a relief it was for me when a kind dentist told me that I did have a complex array of surprisingly tiny little nerves. Even now I feel a deep release in my body when I think about it. I was not playing it up. I was not being dramatic. I was having a normal and appropriate reaction to my unique set of circumstances. 

Now, isn’t that familiar? This happens all the time, in all different ways. The world gets frustrated when we do anything, want anything, need anything or are anything that is outside of standard operating procedures and those standard operating procedures were usually not made for us. 

Do you know Patty Digh? She’s a wonderful, creative soul. She is an author and an educator who works in the area of diversity and inclusion. Please, go ahead and check her out. She’s amazing. 

Recently she shared the story of going to the doctor and being told she was having a panic attack when, in fact, what she was having was a serious coronary event. (I’ll link to her post in the show notes.) Thank goodness she ended up trusting her instincts and getting help when she needed it, and one of the things that Patty said allowed her to save her own life and how you can save yours is by valuing your life enough to make hard, and what might be unpopular decisions. 

So, okay, how did we get from talking about being a highly sensitive creative soul to talking about life and death and what does this have to do with art? 

Have you heard this saying, “How you do one thing is how you do everything”? Well, I don’t always agree with it, but in this instance, I do think it points the way to something important. Our art gives us the opportunity to practice with how we want to do and how we want to be. The more we learn to navigate anything in our art, in this case our sensitivity, the more we’ll be able to navigate it similarly, in our lives. One of the reasons this is so helpful is because with our art, the stakes are so much lower.  

What if we get used to speaking our truth in our journals (like the real truth, even the unacceptable truth)? 

What if we got used to trusting our own choices in our work? Color choices, no choices, phrasing choices, costume choices, anything. 

What if we learned to tend to our nerves, our beautiful, sensitive, nervous system, learning to ride the waves of adventure and risk and failure and success, rejection, visibility, vulnerability and more? 

There’s a reason that we sensitive souls are drawn to the arts. They are a path for us, a pathway to understanding ourselves, one another and the world. What we learn on that path can grow our resilience, deepen our self-trust and build our confidence so that more and more we can bring to life into the world all the gifts we are here to share. 

I’ve got some resources for you to continue exploring these thoughts about sensitivity and our tender nerves, and I’ll share them right after Studio News. 

Studio News

This season in the studio we have two wonderful things to bring to you. The first is the Studio Yearbook, a guided fill-in-the-blank journal designed to bring your creativity to life and includes all the practices I use myself to support my creative life, from working with focus areas so I know I am spending my precious time and energy on what really matters to creating full mentoring boards so I can stay attuned to my wildest, deepest, most precious and most current dreams. 

The Spring Studio Yearbook has just begun, so it is not too late to get yours and all the wonderful bonus lessons that come with it. Come on over to open and check it out.  

I’m also excited to share that this summer, the one and only Journal Club is back. We will gather together weekly live for an hour of inspired and intuitive journaling. You’ll discover so much about who you are and, in the process, also connect to a really encouraging creative community, not to mention a creative mentor. That’s me. Journal Club is one of the all-time most popular offerings at Jamie Ridler Studios and I’m excited to bring it back this summer. 

Registration will open soon, so make sure you’re on our newsletter list. You will get first notice (not to mention a discount!) So again, go on over to open 

Resources for the Highly Sensitive Creative

Okay before we go, here are a couple of sensitivity resources that I promised. The first is the book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron. It includes a self-test at the beginning to see if you relate to such statements as:  

  • I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment. 
  • I have a rich complex inner life. 
  • I am deeply moved by the arts and music. 

So do you see why we’re looking at the relationship between creativity and sensitivity?  

The second book is one I literally just stumbled across today as I was preparing for the podcast. It’s one that is current and includes the context of things like COVID. It’s called Sensitive Is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World. It’s by Anita Moorjani. 

Now I’ve only read the very beginning of the book but I am trusting that it showed up today for a reason. Maybe that reason is you. To give you a sense of what Sensitive Is the New Strong is about, here’s a short bit from the introduction: 

The tools and suggestions I offer in this book are not the type of tips you may have read before. I’m not going to tell you how to build rock solid boundaries and shield yourself from others. This book isn’t about walls, barriers and protection. If we hide behind walls to protect ourselves, we’ll never go out into the world and shine our light. 

This book is about expansion, liberation and connection with your own divinity. It’s about speaking out, honouring yourself and loving yourself. It’s about embracing all that you are, chipping away at what you’re not about, undoing, not doing. Once you learn how to honour and develop your own gifts, I encourage you to get out there. Shine your empathic light. Take on leadershipr oles and become role models. 

That touches my heart. Perhaps it touches yours too. 

And before we go, really please remember also the wise words of poet Mary Oliver who says in her poem Wild Geese,  

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. 

Love what you love this week, kind listener, and include in that loving yourself exactly as you. 

Thanks for hanging out with me today. I love being back on the podcast. I really appreciate everyone who let me know that you’re glad I’m back too. Scout is sitting here too. He’s one of the soft animals that I love. He’s sending along purrs and comfort too. I’ll see you in the next show. 

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