"You’re too sensitive."
It’s a statement many have heard in their lives. Depending on the context, it’s meant as an insult or offered as well-meaning feedback. Regardless of the intention, you may always be left with the same feelings: Toughen up. Be stronger. Bury your emotions. Be different than who you are.
“Toughen up. Be stronger. Bury your emotions. Be different than who you are.”
“Why do you care so much about what other people think?” I remember asking one of my cousins one day after they got out of school. They were upset about a petty rumor started by their ex-friend, “I just wanted to be liked, I guess.” I met them with a confused gaze and a look of pity. I didn’t know how to explain. It wasn’t popularity they were after; it was belonging. They wanted to feel accepted for who they were.
I can’t escape my sensitive nature; this is how I’m made. I need to cry (it be an inner cry 😆) and express myself to process life and experiences. And I’m tired of all the tropes telling me I’m “too much” and “a lot to handle.” I have realized a lot of people around me are not enough.
Perhaps I don’t need to get ahold of myself, grow thinner skin, or channel my feelings into creative projects. My feelings aren’t something to be fixed or released. They are as much a part of me as my limbs. Maybe, just maybe, my sensitive spirit is a sign of strength and power. I am an empathic and emotionally aware person. My superpower is my sensitivity.
“I am an empathic and emotionally aware person. My superpower is my sensitivity.”
I’m not alone in my wondering. A quick Google search shows the magnitude of sensitive people operating in the world, asking the internet questions like, “Am I too sensitive?”; “Why am I so emotional?”; and, the most heartbreaking, “How do I stop being a sensitive person?”
Sensitivity is an innate characteristic, not a learned or malleable trait. We can’t change our sensitive nature, nor should we have to or want to. Learning to love ourselves as we are may take some rewriting of old scripts, but it’s worth it. We can embrace and even celebrate the sensitive spirits inside us. And then we can pass the freedom on to others who’ve for too long believed they are “too sensitive.”
Because sensitive people are just another breed of people, the more often I remind myself of this, the less I believe there was ever such a thing as being “too sensitive.”
Self-Care Tips For Sensitive People
1. Inhale your feelings; exhale truths. Sometimes, we feel shame when our feelings are hurt, or someone deems us “too sensitive.” And it can be easier to avoid this hurt by pretending it’s not there.
But feeling our hurt can be helpful, and embracing the harder feelings doesn’t mean we have to stay there.
Acknowledging that we feel discouraged or let down or embarrassed is the inhale that then leads to an exhale—an exhale that says, It really hurt to receive that message. Their words got to me. I will choose to keep going anyway. I will learn from this situation and carry on.
May we inhale how we are genuinely feeling, then exhale objective truths (“I am hurt, but I will be okay”) to move forward.
2. Communicate with loved ones. Sometimes our loved ones need gentle reminders about the way we experience the world. I often have to remind myself that others don’t see or experience life the same way I do. Communication is critical to keep our loved ones in the loop with the
many emotions we may be experiencing.
3. Respect their boundaries. But, as often as I need to process my emotions and talk through feelings, my loved ones can’t be my sounding board—we can communicate without offloading. It’s essential that we respect the boundaries of others, just as we’d ask others to respect our boundaries too. This isn’t to say our loved ones don’t want to listen (many times they do!), but we may get in the habit of asking before sharing our feelings or processing emotions aloud.
It takes a lot of emotional bandwidth to listen to and be a safe space for someone else, and it means a lot to others when you respect these boundaries and ask before divulging your feelings.
4. Remember that not everyone is a sensitive person. Just as the world needs us, the world needs people who process their emotions through their brains and bodies. It’s not fun being told you’re “too sensitive;” neither is it fun to hear “you’re insensitive.” Everyone processes experiences and relationships differently. May we be kind to others and use words to bridge communication gaps.
5. While nurturing self-trust, seek out objective truths. Sometimes our emotions don’t tell us the whole story—and it’s okay to ask questions about our feelings and seek objective truths. Our feelings are valid, but they can sometimes limit our understanding as well—both things can be accurate at the same time.
Journaling and therapy (if that’s an option for you) are helpful for gently challenging our emotions and considering alternative angles or perspectives. Ultimately, widening our lens will only help us to move through the world as more balanced individuals.
AND IF YOU LOVE A SENSITIVE PERSON:
Remember, words hold power. As the old saying goes, sticks and stones break bones. But—for sensitive people—words can hurt too. My advice is to be gentle, direct, and transparent in y
our communication. Please don’t dismiss their feelings, even when they seem incomprehensible. The truth is, most sensitive people enjoy experiencing the world through an emotional lens; it makes us feel alive and gives experiences a more profound sense of meaning. We want to feel accepted and normal in the process.
How are you learning to love yourself as a sensitive person? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below. 💛