Is every altercation extremely stressful?
Do you pick up other people’s emotions? Do you find yourself fine, and then suddenly you are upset because someone else is?
If any of these are you, you are sensitive, and that is okay. It’s good, even! Here’s why.
What Does It Mean to Be Sensitive?
Being sensitive has too often been used as an insult to belittle people as sensitivity was perceived as weak in a masculine-centric society. This led to sensitive people agonizing over their insecurities.
To be sensitive means you are more empathetic and pick up on emotions more. You feel things on a much deeper level, and as a result, it can feel incredibly overwhelming.
Why Am I Sensitive?
There are many arguments as to why some people are more sensitive than others. For one, there is a contested theory that people have something called a Sensory Processing Sensitivity((Quartz: Science may explain why some people have deeply sensitive personalities)), but there is no solid diagnosis for why some people are more sensitive than others. If you find yourself to be a sensitive person, instead of trying to work out why you are like this, you should focus on what you can do with it.
Is Being Sensitive a Bad Thing?
While it can be more difficult to live with as you have to manage your sensitivity, it is, without a doubt, a blessing in disguise. Think of it as a superpower; you can empathize with people more, which is highly valuable in today’s society. While you will feel overwhelmed more easily, you have to ability to love and feel at a deeper level, and you will have a high EQ.((Today: 9 Signs You’re A Highly Sensitive Person)). It is a superpower, but you have to learn how to use your power for growth and not self-destruction.
More sensitive people have the ability to experience sensory detail. You can appreciate the subtle shades of texture in clothing, foods when cooking, the sounds of music, fragrances, the different colors of nature, or even traffic or people talking.
Sensitive people can also determine nuances in meaning, making them more emotionally intelligent. They are more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors, or other artists. They are also much more creative, and, as mentioned, they have greater empathy.((PsychCentral: What Makes a Highly Sensitive Person?))
How to Handle Sensitivity
Being sensitive is a blessing, but it can also be a terrible burden if left uncared for. Sensitive people tend to not take care of themselves properly and get overwhelmed and burnt out faster. These are the most important things you need to change in your life in order to handle being a more sensitive person and be happy.
1. Take Responsibility
Start by taking responsibility for your mental health. You are sensitive, and you can’t change that. You can only manage it, and the first step in doing that is by accepting who you are. Then, take responsibility for your actions moving forward. Take responsibility for your self-care, keeping on top of your mental health, overwhelm, and most importantly, your feelings.
If you are feeling strong emotions, learn to let it be. Sit with it, and understand that it will pass. Like waves in the ocean, they always calm if you give them attention.
If you are mimicking someone else’s emotions that aren’t yours, it is your responsibility to deal with it appropriately and not lash out.
If someone has caused a strong emotional response, you are responsible for your feelings. That person was a catalyst, but the feelings that arise are yours. You control how you react and how you move forward. Don’t let someone hold you emotionally hostage.
2. Identify Drains and Energizers
You will find some people drain you and leave you feeling exhausted, and some people will make you feel bright and happy. You need to identify who these people are so you can deal with it. If you identify a drainer, avoid them or prepare yourself by creating a mental shield (more on that in a moment).
With drainers, you need to set boundaries with them or they will leave you an exhausted husk. This is a kindness; you are helping them and helping yourself. Limit your interactions and time with them and don’t falter. You will find people who drain you are drawn to you because they love your sensitivity. They are often called energy vampires, and staying away from them is the best you can do.
Alternatively, you have to keep an eye out for what makes you feel recharged and safe. Find what lifts you up and surround yourself with it.
3. Create a Good Self-Care Routine
Taking care of yourself is priority number one. Sensitive people also tend to be very selfless, so you need to establish a good routine so you can rest and recover.
Things you should include in your routine:
- Eating well
- Getting out into nature
- Scheduling “you time” to do things you love
- Creating a safe and welcoming environment to retreat to
- Repeating positive affirmations
It is critical that you take care of yourself as, like introverts, you need to recharge. If you don’t, you will feel mentally and emotionally drained all the time, which will cause mental health issues.
4. Create a Shield
A great mental trick is to put up a mental shield when you are in an overwhelming situation. This involves putting up a shield in your mind and visualizing it as protecting you from someone’s energy. Being sensitive means you can feel bombarded by not only emotions but general stimulation. Finding ways to block them out so you don’t feel so overwhelmed is important.
A good way to learn how to build a mental shield is through mindfulness meditation. Others find that using headphones to block out sound stimulation is helpful, while others use sunglasses to weaken visual stimuli. Experiment and find what works for you.
5. Watch Your Thoughts
Not all your feelings are your feelings. Sometimes you absorb the energy of others and react to them. When this happens, you need to ask yourself, am I actually upset or am I just reacting? Becoming self-aware will help you focus on what you feel and what you are just mimicking. If you are just reacting to another person’s feelings, you can let it go.
You also have to keep an eye on your internal talk. If you are constantly being negative to yourself, you will struggle with being sensitive. You control your brain, so start making micro choices to think more positively. When a negative thought comes, correct it with something positive. If you don’t reign in your internal negativity, it will only heighten your insecurity and sensitivity.
6. Practice Assertiveness
Much like setting boundaries, you should practice assertiveness. As sensitive people tend to be less assertive because they don’t want to deal with a strong emotion, they are very easy to bulldoze. You have a right to your feelings and space. You shouldn’t change who you are to accommodate other people. If they don’t like your feelings, that is their responsibility.
If you are being assertive, you may get a response, like anger. You are not responsible for how that person is feeling; you are only responsible for you. If they are angry, that’s on them. As long as you are not violating someone else’s needs, you can say or do what you need to in order to take care of yourself.
7. Express Your Feelings
There are many ways you can do this. As a sensitive person, you are experienced with your emotions. However, because many people are taught that emotions are bad, most people tend to be bad at dealing with them.
You need to feel your feelings. There are many things you can do to help alleviate the overwhelming feelings you feel all the time, such as meditation. Another popular technique in the spiritual community is a process called cleansing your chakras. This process helps you process and let go of your anger, loss, guilt, or shame.
If you aren’t ready to express your feelings to another person, a great tool to help is journaling. This is a safe space for you to express your feelings in a controlled way and can help you work through your problems by seeing them put on paper.
8. Change Your Perspective
Know that it isn’t about you. This is a powerful revelation if you choose to hear it. Humans in genearl are self-centered and tend to think the world revolves around them. This means we often overcompensate by being overly selfless because we feel shame about being biologically selfish.
Like all things, you require balance. You are selfish, and that is fine, but the lesson is that not everything is about you. Sensitive people tend to see others’ actions as a critique of who they are, but most of the time, that isn’t the case.
An important thing to do is forgive those who have wronged you. Often sensitive people are not great at letting things go. As a result, they find it difficult to move on from painful experiences. This is unhealthy as it will keep you from enjoying both the present and the future. Take the lesson, leave the pain.
9. Be Grateful for Your Gift
You have a great gift, so don’t be afraid of it. If you control it, take good care of yourself, and set some boundaries, you can utilize your gift of sensitivity for good. It is a blessing. If you think negatively, you will only have a negative life. Show gratitude for your new superpower and use it to your advantage.
Being sensitive is certainly a challenge. You have to be on guard a little more, and life is a little harder than for non-sensitive people, which does get frustrating. But it is also an incredible power, an advantage.
You are more likeable, people will be drawn to you, and you are able to empathize and help people really feel heard. You have an incredible gift. Don’t use it to torture yourself; use it to change your world.
More Tips on Dealing With Sensitivity
- 10 Life Lessons For Highly Sensitive People
- How To Overcome Emotional Sensitivity
- 6 Signs You’re A Strong Person With Heightened Sensitivity