Are you a sensitive person?
Some people are just more sensitive. It’s simply the way they are.
The other day, my wife and I visited a close friend who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. After we left, Diane sat on a bench, sobbing. She was shaken by the reality of his condition. I was also upset, but it doesn’t register the same way with me.
I have one daughter who is a family nurse practitioner at an inner city health clinic, who has a really thick skin. Very little shakes her up. Her sister, like her mother, is a very emotional, sensitive person. It doesn’t take much to upset her apple cart.
Whether you are very sensitive, have a thick skin like a Rhino, or are somewhere in between, it’s just the way you’re wired. It’s not a good or a bad thing. And, for better or for worse, there isn’t much you can do about it.
Individuals, at either end of this continuum can struggle. Very sensitive people are often told to “toughen up” or to “get a thicker skin.” They wish it were so easy. The last time I checked, Amazon didn’t have “thick skins” for sale. Their less sensitive friends and relatives can be very critical. It just makes our delicate friends feel worse. Very sensitive individuals would be happy to be less reactive. It’s very hard to be so thin skinned.
Tougher folks can be challenged too. Sometimes their lack of overt reactions can make them look hardhearted to others. Their friends wonder if they feel anything. But that doesn’t mean that they are unfeeling. They just experience and show their emotions differently. Sometimes, they can find themselves overwhelmed with emotions which can be very upsetting to them. It’s just unfamiliar to them. They can feel out of control, which can be very distressing.
Tips for sensitive individuals….
Be thoughtful about what you read, watch, or view. Don’t read the newspaper or watch the 11 pm news before you go to bed. Avoid violent or upsetting movies. Limit your exposure to upsetting stimuli. Don’t get over stimulated. Don’t bring sensitive children to disturbing movies.
Accept yourself. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive! Don’t be ashamed of your strong reactions. There is definitely a place for very feeling people in our world—an essential place too. It’s important to accept yourself for who you are without judging yourself.
Don’t let your emotions control your decision-making. Very emotional individuals benefit from thinking things through, after they have let their emotions flow, before making a decision. Give yourself time to consider alternatives from a little more distance. Think with your head, not your heart.
Don’t be embarrassed by your tears. My wife and daughter tear up at the drop of a hat. But they aren’t embarrassed by it. They realize that it’s a necessary release for them. They always feel better afterwards.
Don’t bottle up your emotions. Some sensitive individuals try hold in or hide their feelings. It’s not a good idea. They will just sit and fester if you don’t find a way of expressing them.
Self-care is especially important. Very sensitive individuals need to make sure that they got adequate sleep, eat healthy foods, limit caffeine, get regular exercise, and take time to relax. This is necessary for everyone. But it is essential for sensitive kids and adults.
Be thoughtful about your environment. Surround yourself with beauty, peace, and calm. Give yourself time to decompress and be alone.
If you are sensitive, how do you keep your peace?