Emotional, generous, compassionate, sensitive to criticism, over-thinker, worrier, non-confrontational, easily overwhelmed. If these tend to characterize who you are, welcome to the HSP club. Highly-Sensitive Person. But don't freak out. Just because 'sensitive' gets a bad wrap, doesn't mean it's all that bad.
In today's society, if you're sensitive, you're soft. And if you're soft, that's deemed as a negative characteristic. But why? If the opposite of soft is hard, and hard means cold, emotionally unavailable, or self-absorbed -- why would someone want to be hard?
Not me. In fact, it's taken me decades to embrace my sensitivity. I'm a notorious people-pleaser that could win a Grammy for not knowing how to say no or set a boundary. I over-think every situation instead of letting it be exactly what is is. People drain my battery, and I let them. Because that's easier than confronting them, right? It's less uncomfortable.
Although learning how to set boundaries is a critical life skill that I think everyone needs to learn (I'm still a work in progress, but therapy has helped) and over-thinking can be taxing on your mental health, I'm here to debunk that being sensitive is actually pretty underrated. Here's four reminders on why sensitivity is actually your greatest super power:
Being sensitive means you feels things more deeply. Because of this you're able to empathize with others at a great magnitude. When something bad happens to someone close to you, you feel it with them. You're a stronger support system to that person because your heart hurts with them. You're able to share part of that pain with them, likely making them feel more supported, loved and cared for.
Being sensitive means you over-analyze situations more than the average joe. Someone looks at you wrong and you immediately think they heard you talking about them in the bathroom -- even if you never even talked about them in the bathroom. While some may define this as paranoia, picking up on people's emotions means you're aware. And being aware means you notice when someone is sad, upset or not themselves. You're notice when they need someone to ask if they're okay, ultimately making them feel more supported, loved and cared for.
Being sensitive means you probably over-think, but thinking too much isn't always a bad thing. If you care about something, you think about it a lot. If someone you love is struggling, you think about how you can help them. You actually think about it so much, that your brain hurts from going in circles. You can't help it. But non-sensitive people don't always do that, because they can help it. They have the power to flip the switch on and off. They'll think about something when it's convenient for them. When someone struggling knows you are truly thinking about them and ways to help them, they feel more supported, loved and cared for.
Desire to inspire change
Being sensitive means you are moved by things that don't personally or directly affect you. You feel the gut-wrenching pain of a tragic mass shooting, even if you were fortunate enough to not be directly impacted. You feel the unimaginable pain when someone loses a loved one to f*cking cancer, even if you never knew them. You feel the isolating agony of government officials attempting to make decisions about the female body, even if you aren't a female. In short, you are affected by things that don't affect you, which makes you want to do something about it. The desire to find a way to prevent these happenstances makes those groups directly affected feel more supported, loved and cared for.
The list certainly does not stop at four. It goes on and on. May you take your sensitivity and use it to do good in this chaotic world.