Feeling too sensitive?
“It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.”
― Charles Dickens,
Are you a sensitive soul?
To start things off authentically, I admit I am. Labelled ‘a sensitive child’ growing up, emotions would consume every inch of my being. Pain would shoot like an arrow directly to my heart, sometimes it still does. I grew up believing I was overly sensitive, needing to toughen up and not feel everything so intensely. I’ve changed the way I see my sensitive side and I want to actively help others to do the same.
How we see our sensitivity
We’re too much
We need to grow up
It’s not normal to feel emotions like this
Other people think we’re silly and childish
Why people may respond to sensitivity in unhelpful ways
Made to feel like we’re too much. But what if it was that others feel too little? Or are not fully aware of their emotions, too afraid to experience them? The easiest way for someone to stop feeling anything they don’t feel comfortable with is shutting down anyone else who is openly experiencing their feelings. It makes sense, if emotions are frightening we’ll do anything to stop them from seeping in and effecting us. Unfortunately for sensitive people, feeling ‘shut down’ by other people can effect our acceptance of how we experience and express emotions. If the other person can’t meet us in our emotion, we can understandably feel invalidated, immature and child like.
What we need
We’re looking for acceptance, care and understanding. The emotional reaction can be confusing and frightening. Consumed by the feelings, sometimes the rational, thinking part has been lost. We can get stuck with the feeling, or we push it away. Replacing it with the thought ‘we’re too sensitive’ and ‘shouldn’t’ have been feeling the way we did. The original feeling hasn’t gone and now we feel silly and abnormal.
How different do you think you would feel if someone was able to look beyond what they were thinking about the situation and empathise with what you were going through? Chances are you’d start feeling better really quickly. Somehow, somewhere along the line we’ve got a message that feeling emotions is wrong. Especially the ‘bad’ emotions. Being sensitive also means you’re very in touch with what’s going on inside of you. I believe that people can only meet us as deeply as they meet themselves. Meaning that sensitive people are actually much more likely to have empathy for others. If you’re able to change the relationship you have with your feelings it won’t matter so much how effected you are by other peoples lack of empathy.
Changing our relationship with sensitivity – a way forward
Get to know yourself better. What wounds are left within you unhealed? Every reaction we have to something has roots in past experiences.
Obviously I believe that seeing a counsellor who can show empathy to you is a great start. To have a relationship in which you feel validated and understood offers a way forward. It offers hope that other people will also accept and understand your feelings. It alters our experience of feeling emotions and offers a way to build resilience. There is no way to have a life without ups and downs, what makes the difference is strengthening yourself so each knock you like it used to.
Journaling can be a way of expressing thoughts and feelings leading to a greater understanding of why you feel the way you do.
Build your self-esteem through activities that make you feel good about who you are. Increase the amount of time you spend doing these things and try new things to build up your confidence.
Recognise who in your life offers you empathy and listens to you and who doesn’t. Start to create healthy boundaries for yourself, decide who gets to know about your feelings. Especially until you feel more comfortable with them.
Honour your feelings. Don’t criticise yourself, even if you’re thinking “I’m over-reacting.” Accept that you feel the way you do whilst commit yourself to understanding why you could be feeling the way you do.
Being sensitive in this sometimes harsh World is difficult to navigate. Personally I have learnt ways to better understand myself and not lose my sensitivity, which I think is a great gift once you know how to look after yourself better.
Other helpful things to read