The Princess and the Pea – with Socks On

Do you remember the story of the Princess and the Pea? It is the one where the princess can feel a pea under her mattress. More and more mattresses are piled on top of it but she can still feel the pea. Most of us do not have royal status but it is interesting to ponder on our own human sensitivity and how we often override what we feel.

For example, how often do we put up with uncomfortable clothing because it is fashionable, looks good or is a particular colour? This can apply to any outfit ­– dresses, trousers, coats, even underwear, shoes and socks. 

Our sensitivity can extend to how we wear all our clothing, for example, if we are wearing socks with a lumpy toe seam or elastic that was too tight around the leg we can feel it, it feels uncomfortable. But so often we override that feeling and ‘put up with it’ rather than take care to adjust the clothing or search out a sock with no toe seam or a design that’s a good fit.

We can convince ourselves that these little things don’t matter but could it be, that in this belief we are also ignoring other parts of life that don’t feel right? For example, where we choose to not say something when we’ve been spoken to and it doesn’t feel right, or where we’ve put up with discomfort rather than ‘make a fuss’. Instead we could take a moment to honour these feelings and make an alteration, knowing that as women one of our most powerful qualities is this sensitivity and natural tenderness.  

In learning to see ourselves as tender and precious, as someone to be cared for deeply, as we would a small new-born baby, we can begin to see where we are hard in the ways we live our lives. Often we have hardened in order to survive and cope with life’s knocks and bruises, not just physical but emotional and verbal as well. It is possible that in doing so, we have suppressed our natural tender ways.

Re-developing our Tender Way

Tenderness can be re-developed by observing the small things in our day-to-day lives. Examples could be feeling the way we dress: do we drag our clothes on quickly or put them on lovingly and tenderly?  When we walk, is it hard like a man, or gentle feeling our feet with every step? When we pick something up, do we grab it, or are we focused on how our fingers can gently make contact before lifting it? When we speak, is there an edge and a drive to our voice or a gentle expression of who we truly are? Everything we do can be done gently and with tenderness.

Can Sensitivity and Tenderness be a Powerful Support?

Contrary to what most of us have been brought up to believe, sensitivity is not a weakness, it is one of our greatest strengths.

If we were to accept that, as we become more tender and our sensitivity increases, we can feel much more of what is going on. Would we not then notice our bodies telling us what feels good and what feels not so great? By paying attention to what our bodies are saying and honouring what we truly feel, we can make more self-loving choices in life – these are truly powerful choices in support of our own wellbeing.

Making these simple self-loving choices – whether that be with what to wear, what to do or how to be with ourselves, will create a nurturing way of living for ourselves, and perhaps inspire a more tender way of living for all. Now that’s true power.

by Carmel Reid, Somerset UK

634 thoughts on “The Princess and the Pea – with Socks On

  1. In our society we are conditioned to handle discomforts, to over-ride our feelings and to push through the ‘pain’…but what does this really teach us? It teaches us not to listen to the body which is our greatest teacher, the one that puts self and all others at equal value and never will it disregard or disrespect self or another. What a loving teacher we are so often ignoring!

  2. The simplicity and power of what you are sharing cannot be denied and inspires me further with the awareness to be more tender and self loving: “Making these simple self-loving choices – whether that be with what to wear, what to do or how to be with ourselves, will create a nurturing way of living for ourselves, and perhaps inspire a more tender way of living for all. Now that’s true power.”

  3. “Contrary to what most of us have been brought up to believe, sensitivity is not a weakness, it is one of our greatest strengths.” – Awesome article Carmel and it highlights that we are worth making those little adjustments and it is never about seeing it as a ‘fuss’.

  4. I’ve recently been looking at how much abuse I’ve learnt to put up with and how this was a normal way of life in my past. I can still see that pattern to tolerate or put up with things, so it is great to see this in myself because the abuse in my life, from myself or others, absolutely doesn’t fit. Realising it doesn’t have to be there is like coming out of a horrible fog.

  5. ‘make a fuss’. It is interesting that we shy away from ‘making a fuss’ in expectation that it may cause a reaction in another but, if we don’t speak up what feels true for us, then gradually our truth can become silenced.

  6. Dis-honouring what we feel and being dismissive of our sensitivities can cause a lot of issues in relationships, because we hold back from what we are really feeling. I know I used to do this a lot and although I hated the discomfort it seemed better than feeling other peoples reactions.

    1. It’s a fitting word ‘discomfort’ for what follows when we dismiss our sensitivity.

    1. I agree, Leigh, a very slight shift in posture can change a whole negative train of thought into a more positive one as we reconnect, feel our bodies, and live in the present moment.

  7. I have noticed that when we override our sensitivity, the body will often give us a blow, catching ourselves on a doorway or stubbing a toe. This makes us slow down and we have an opportunity to connect back to how truly sensitive we do feel. It is not a punishment, it is a chance to re-connect.

    1. Spot on Gill – we will often see the bump or bruise or stop as a punishment rather than the slowing down of a drive that is serving no one.

  8. Thank you Carmel, reading this again today I noted your point about putting up with discomfort. I did this recently by allowing a phone call to go much longer than intended when I actually needed to rest, it had a huge impact on my wellbeing and showed me how I still have an ideal of putting others first, and putting having a good time ahead of my body’s signals. The sensitivity you speak of is such a great ally, once upon a time I was overriding myself constantly, because I have become more attentive to my body and how I feel and honouring of my sensitivity now when I override my needs it really stands out and feels terrible. This means I can take action to care for myself in new ways.

    1. We may have been brought up to think that resting is being lazy and it’s hard to overcome that and truly let our body rest when it needs to. The quality of our sleep isn’t always great and we can wake up tired which is not a good way to start the day.

    2. A few days ago I read a comment on a blog by a woman that had recently met two new mothers, they each described their newborns as lazy for sleeping a lot. A baby’s body has an enormous job to grow and mature and rest is essential, and we too as adults have bodies that have enormous jobs to complete everyday and resting when needed is very supportive.

  9. A great reminder that our sensitivity and tenderness is a great strength and support and allows us to deepen our awareness to read and discern, confirming the truth and wisdom of what we have felt from our body. When we override or ignore these qualities we harm ourselves and communicate to our body that we are not love and value ourselves as far less.

  10. I am becoming more and more aware of the energetic imprint I leave behind when I do any household chores in frustration or resentment, the floors people walk upon, how we move about the house, all are affected by our mood and affects everyone in the household, perhaps in the street outside too.

  11. Something to pay attention to is how people speak to us, in close relationships we often express emotions without considering the harm they may be doing. Frustration that someone is not listening, resentment that a family member is not helping with household chores, moaning at work about a colleague or the boss, all these things are laced with an energy that is harming both for ourselves and for the person listening. I especially notice now those jaunty voices on TV ads, they positively grate, some voice-overs or music on social media hurt my body.

  12. Tenderness is indeed power. I have just returned home from an operation, and as I am more still and tender with my body, I can see how this has ripple effects on the whole family – supporting them to settle in their bodies also.

    1. it is interesting to observe the effect our stillness has on other people. Sometimes we underestimate the power of the energy we are emanating, the ripples that affect everyone around us.

      1. I became very aware of this at a funeral. The emotions in the room felt very heavy and sad. Nothing new there. I could feel myself getting swept up into this and started to do The Gentle Breath Meditation and instantly the room and myself felt clearer.

  13. Allowing space to adjust what does not feel right as soon as we become aware of it, builds a foundation from which our sensitivity to what does not honour us can increase.

  14. It astonishes me how many young people in Australia go out in the early morning when it’s cold, wearing nothing but shorts and skimpy tee shirt – I assume they don’t want to risk losing jumpers as it warms up during the day, but for me I’m happy to take layers, and strip off as I feel to. I don’t like being cold and will always take care to make sure my body is well wrapped up.

    1. I agree Carmel – I too was surprised to see how people in Australia appear to be immune to the cold, but I think this must come from a generalised shutting down of feeling the body. I know this is something I have never been able to do and still today struggle to keep warm when most are walking around with half or a quarter of the clothes that I have on. This does not mean that I don’t choose to feel some things, but when it comes to the cold, my body is very sensitive! 😉

  15. Sensitivity is not a weakness, it is one of our strengths, ‘In learning to see ourselves as tender and precious, as someone to be cared for deeply, as we would a small new-born baby, we can begin to see where we are hard in the ways we live our lives.’

  16. Overriding what we feel has a cumulative effect, even in the smallest ways like socks that leave a mark on our skin, doing this often will learn our body that what it ‘says’ to us is not important. And this gets more and more extreme as it is in many parts of our life.

  17. Sensitivity is never a weakness, it is one of our greatest strengths. When we do not embrace this we go into a form of protection which closes our heart and leads to many of our illnesses and diseases as it is not natural for our body to be held in this way.

  18. Every little ‘pea’ matters. The more I have taken care of the smallest detail the more aware I have become of just how sensitive and delicate I / we are and how honouring this enriches our lives.

  19. Lovely article Carmel. Just yesterday three women from different age groups were discussing sensitivity and as you say..”Contrary to what most of us have been brought up to believe, sensitivity is not a weakness, it is one of our greatest strengths.” It was interesting to observe how the elder woman when suggested she was sensitive was quick to defend herself as she associated sensitivity with weakness. We discussed how sensitivity allows us to feel, see and read more of life around us and respond more fully to ourselves each other and life. That it is indeed a strength.

  20. ‘Everything we do can be done gently and with tenderness.’ Thank you Carmel for this beautiful reminder. Living in such a way that honours the very sensitive and tender persons we are makes a difference and can inspire others very much.

  21. I’m remembering the times that I said ‘it doesn’t matter’ in moments where I needed support. Denying or hidding what I felt to not ‘make a fuss’ was something that I learnt to do very easily in my childhood. I was not really aware about the link between this choice and the deep sadness that I felt within for not expressing my truth. I accepted several peas under my mattress till one day a wise man called Serge Benhayon invited me to to trust and honour what I really felt. This was very umcomfortable at the beggining but step by step I could let go the dishonouring choices that I made to be accepted and loved. I’m learning to love myself again and observing when I still say to myself ‘it doesn’t matter’ even in the little details like not wearing enough warm clothes in a cloudy day. Coming back to me to say ‘it matters because of you’ is being a very enriching process where I feel much younger and beauty-full than ever before.

    1. Thank you Inma for your comment, the words ‘it doesn’t matter’ are very common, quite normal, but reading them today in this context I can feel how harsh and dismissive they are, and denying of the preciousness and value we have. In this sense self-worth is a verb, something we do (our choices etc) that confirms our worth or reduces it. We are very powerful to ourselves.

  22. Royal status or not, we are all as sensitive as each other. We can feel when something is not right, and unless we numb ourselves to it we are aware of it even if we don’t do anything about it. Putting up with this is something we have learned through putting everything else first before ourselves. Turning this around is a deeply loving act.

  23. Embracing our sensitivity and tenderness is something I am choosing, ‘In learning to see ourselves as tender and precious, as someone to be cared for deeply, as we would a small new-born baby, we can begin to see where we are hard in the ways we live our lives.’

  24. Another aspect of our sensitivity is paying attention to minute things that we feel in our bodies in response to another person’s tone of voice or particular words they might use, and then honouring ourselves by expressing what we feel, communicating directly what is going on.

    1. We feel so much when we allow ourselves to feel, and the quality we are communicating in has an effect on us all. Even if at times it may not be appropriate to say something at times to acknowledge it has been felt keeps us open to all we feel.

  25. This is so true Carmel. How often do we simply put up with something that is bugging us – be it uncomfortable clothing or something in a situation that just doesn’t feel right. By doing this we ‘make do’ which is not very loving at all.

  26. Sensitivity is all too often seen as weakness or vulnerability or something we don’t have room for in our lives – but sensitivity is a huge support and leaves us open and honest rather than closed down

  27. I’ve learned to embrace my innate sensitivity once again – having rejected it earlier in life. Whilst it isn’t always easy to feel everything that is happening, I have no regrets at all as life is so much richer, more true and more loving as a consequence.

  28. We can only put so many mattresses between us and the world before we get a bit frustrated from being so reatricted. Indeed saying yes to sensitivity is saying yes to who you truly are.

  29. It is great to honour how sensitive we are because listening to it can bring so much ease to our life. I have been aware of the clothes I wear for a long time and it just makes such a difference to not wear that super tight jeans that will get looser by wearing it as the salesmen say as it is always about the present time and what supports and not about how long a pair of jeans can be worn. I have to add that oversensitivity does not work, for a while I could not find clothes at all because everything would feel too tight or uncomfortable and that was because I was too focused on it not because the clothes where all bad.

  30. Sensitivity that is reaction may or may not be helpful, sensitivity that is awareness is great, even if it takes a bit to get used to it.

  31. I notice the way I hold myself is one of the biggest ways I let myself down, so I’ve been experimenting with having an “adore time” in the evening and early morning – this time is dedicated to adoring myself, so not distracting myself with social media or my computer or whatever but taking a bath, or a walk, or using amazing smelling body cream – little things that remind me I am amazing and always worth loving.

  32. The analogy of the princess and the pea is brilliant, because 1) it shows us how sensitive we are, and 2) what we often do is when we feel a pea under our mattress is we change the mattress – rather than finding the pea and removing it and this is often how we try to solve things in life – with solutions rather than actually addressing the problem in hand.

  33. I used to put up with many minor discomforts thinking they weren’t worth bothering about, as they wouldn’t last for long. As my self worth and self lovehas grown, I no longer ‘put up’ with such things and express my needs to others if required – without any investment.

  34. Tenderness and sensitivity – something I had a lot of as a child, but was discouraged from allowing that in when I was at boarding school, as we all had to ‘toughen up’. To rediscover, and appreciate, my innate tenderness and sensitivity is a joy.

  35. I must be the Queen and the Pea – I am super sensitive to these things and love taking care of so called small things although really there is no big or small. In the past I used to do it a bit more in reaction and others at times reacted. These days I do it out of love and have noticed it more often inspires others to also be more tender.

    1. Yes, there is a big payoff in terms of the energy we have available when we look after the small things.

    2. Great point about doing things out of reaction. I used to want to feel like crushing my own sensitivity because I would feel things and react to them so much. But as I’ve developed a steadier and less reactive way of being, I appreciate the sensitivity so much more. We are all innately sensitive, and we get to choose whether we honour that sensitivity, and allow ourselves to feel that tenderness, love and openness with ourselves and others, or dismiss/deny it, to the detriment of ourselves and our relationships.

  36. This is a beautiful blog to re-read Carmel – full of reminders to take every opportunity to self nurture ourselves more deeply. Whenever going out, I always have my ‘just incase’ layers of clothing to hand, as inclement weather can happen anytime and my body is very clear about the discomfort being cold brings.

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