“Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.” –Brigitte Nicole
Being sensitive. What does that mean to you? What connotation does sensitivity have in your world?
A quick google search brings up, “easily offended or upset.” The example it gives is “I suppose I shouldn’t be so sensitive”. And if you’re anything like me, this perception of sensitivity is the one that screams the loudest in your life.
Our society has turned being sensitive into something negative. Being sensitive is equated with weakness. Growing up, no one ever complimented me on my sensitivity, but people absolutely loved to point it out in frustration, annoyance, anger, or maybe even disappointment. Those voices were so loud, I even found myself joining in. There was a war on sensitivity, and it was being waged inside of me. I thought there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t understand why I got upset so easily, sometimes at the tiniest of things. Logically, it didn’t make sense. Logically, I knew it wasn’t a big deal. And yet, it felt big.
I would get so frustrated with myself for being this way – for letting things get to me, for crying at nothing, for not just being happy. Some days I thought I was broken. The voice that said, “I shouldn’t be this way” was growing so loud, coming at me from all directions. It was winning the war. Nobody ever told me that being sensitive was a gift, that it was something I could embrace.
The day I discovered the term the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), coined by Elaine Aron, to refer to people who are quite literally hard-wired differently from the majority of the population, I saw a light. Suddenly, I understood. The logical part of me that couldn’t understand why I became upset the way I did, suddenly had an explanation. Suddenly, there was a voice that said it’s okay to be sensitive, there is nothing wrong with you.
Unfortunately, I still had to face the onslaught of beliefs within me and around me that said being sensitive was a bad thing. But at least there was a voice playing for the other team now. I read all I could about what it meant to be an HSP and how to thrive in a sea of people that weren’t. Except it seemed like most information out there only highlighted the downsides. It felt like I should have a label on my forehead that said “Fragile – Handle with Care.” Those lists just gave the gremlins more power – more reasons to not like being sensitive, more reasons to be ashamed of it. I didn’t want to take everything personally, I didn’t want to feel sad so easily, I didn’t want people to feel like they were walking on eggshells around me, I didn’t want to have to hide alone in my room exhausted from being around people. I didn’t want to be sensitive.
Except that it’s who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. And no amount of fighting it or wishing it were different could change that. I’m not going to wake up one day and suddenly not feel. And it’s time I step into that truth. I cannot change who I am. But better yet, I don’t want to want to change who I am. I want to love that part of me, as much as I love the rest of the world.
To everyone out there who feels just a little bit “too sensitive”, I think it’s time we reclaim what sensitivity means. It’s time the world saw sensitivity, not as a weakness or something to reject, but rather something to love. Our sensitivity is a gift. It makes us stronger and it makes us who we are. So here are five things that I love about being sensitive, five gifts that I wouldn’t have if I were less sensitive:
Loving Your Sensitivity: 5 Reasons It’s A Gift
1. I appreciate the little things that much more
Being sensitive means that I appreciate and feel tremendous joy at all the little things in life. Things like sunshine, hugs, just sitting and being with someone, are enough to light up my day. Just like it’s easier to make me cry, it’s also easier to make me smile. And laugh. And just be.
2. It fuels my passion for helping others
Being sensitive means that I’m empathetic – I feel, quite strongly, what other people feel. This drives my desire to help others and try to make the world a better, freer place. I am compassionate and don’t like seeing (or rather feeling) other people suffer. It means that I’m always looking out for ways to make life just a little bit easier for everyone out there.
3. I notice the little details
Being sensitive means that I see the things that other people often overlook. I have a keen attention to detail. This means that I can absorb a lot of information at once and pick out the key details. I can see little details that are out of place and I’m always thinking of how something might affect something else.
4. I love fiercely and care deeply
Being sensitive means that I fiercely love the people in my life. The same way sensitivity can make negative emotions more powerful, it also makes the good ones that much stronger too. I’m always looking out for the people I love. Seeing them happy makes me happy too.
5. I find power and meaning in feelings
Being sensitive means that feelings hold a lot of weight for me. Feelings create meaning in this world, they give life substance. Feeling and emotion is what makes something matter. If we felt nothing, life would be boring, empty even. Being sensitive means that I feel the fullness that emotions bring to life. I let my heart guide me to what is important – it’s the lighthouse guiding me home.