Stop Telling Me I’m Too Sensitive
I'm not too anything.
Yes, I cry when my favourite character dies, at Children in Need clips and even when my dad buys smooth peanut butter rather than crunchy. But I’m sick of being told I’m ‘too’ sensitive. I’m not too anything, I’m just me. Emotions aren’t a weakness and crying doesn’t make me delicate or flawed.
I am extremely sensitive. When people are sad, I physically feel their pain. When I’m happy, stressed or passionate, I feel those emotions in full speed. My entire life has been shaped by that sensitivity and for all those years, I’ve been told that it’s a bad thing.
Everyone feels and reacts differently. I tend to process situations and act with my heart first, and then my brain, and we have to respect those differences.
Being highly sensitive is actually a personality trait. In fact, Dr Elaine Aron coined the term ‘highly sensitive person’ (HSP) whereby people have an “increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli” (Boterberg and Warreym 2015).
When my partner makes a joke that I don’t approve of, he accuses me of being too sensitive. When my dad challenges my opinion and I become offensive, he accuses me of being too sensitive. Whether intentional or not, I believe this behaviour can be gaslighting. Because usually, people respond with ‘you’re too sensitive’ when you’ve called them out on their behaviour, set a boundary or communicating how something has affected you.
This response dismisses your feelings and can also make you feel guilty for addressing and communicating your emotion. But isn’t communication the key to all healthy relationships? Women are especially labelled as oversensitive and often it’s used as an insult against us. Why? It really grinds my gears.
After the gaslighting, we’re faced with a dilemma. We begin to question whether we’re being dramatic or if our feelings are actually valid. They are.
If you need to cry to process your emotions, if you need to cry to release your emotions or if you need to cry because you’re feeling someone else’s joy or pain - so be it. You’re not ‘too much’, you are perfect just the way you are. There is nothing to fix and you don’t need to toughen up. Perhaps our sensitive spirits are signs of strength and beauty. Perhaps it is actually our superpower.
Studies have also shown that sensitive people make better leaders, friends and colleagues, so own it unashamedly!
So the next time you're faced with a ‘you’re too sensitive’ comment, try to explain why it is harmful to you and set boundaries. But remember that other people don’t see the world the way you do, so although it can be frustrating, be conscious.
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