When did the world become so sensitive and unsympathetic at the same time? Don't get me wrong, I am probably one of the most sensitive people you could ever meet. I cry for everything, including those sappy commercials where family comes home and manages to put the coffee pot on (without waking a soul) and as they are just taking that first sip, they are greeted by someone who was carried in by the aroma. Then instantly, they share a smile and yes, I know you're singing it, "the best part of waking up….", go ahead finish it. Not the coffee..., the jingle.
Being hypersensitive is not such a bad thing. Hypersensitivity or being a "highly sensitive person" (HSP) is not a disorder. According to psychologist and psychotherapist Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., people like me can not only "read" the mood of a room quickly, but we can pick up on cues that others can not in order to weigh in on decisions we make. The author of The Highly Sensitive Person says "It's good in some situations and not in others". I remember being told that I was overly sensitive when I was growing up. I wore my heart on my sleeve and my emotions on my face, I still do.
The world seems to have lost something though. While there are many others like me, not all know how to channel that sensitivity, instead they find offense and react defensively to people and situations around them. On the flip side, we now have a new generation that feels brutal honesty is best with little or no regard as to how those on the receiving end will accept or feel about their “honesty". I realize I'm generalizing. This is not the case for all, but this seems to be the ones we hear about more frequently. There has been a shift in sentiment with a higher regard for self these days. On the opposite extreme, there are those that see everything as an indication of being slighted in some way. In fact, these days you're fortunate enough to be able to get through traffic without receiving a barrage of insults or expletives, getting flipped off, or run off the road. Worst-case scenario, as per headlines lately, a slighted driver retaliates with a high-speed chase or attaching themselves to the hood of a car banging and screaming only to end with guns, bats, or fists to demonstrate the futility of road rage.
Whatever end of the spectrum one might be, there seems to be a need to dole out more effective communication skills. A new line must be drawn allowing every color, race, gender, and religion of people to speak freely, honestly, without fear of retaliation while still having words guided by some strain of sensitivity. It has been lost in translation somehow that the spoken word may not always be received or heard in the same way by everyone who hears it. Voices DO need to be heard in order to continue progress when it comes to #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, #bluelivesmatter, and every other hashtag you can think of. In the end, we all have a voice but we all have feelings too. At least, I should hope we do. When we begin to lose empathy in our society, destruction is inevitable.
We learn to communicate from birth and keep learning as we grow. Our culture, upbringing, and education guide us through what's acceptable. While there should never be a need to "hold your tongue", learning and teaching common sense and sensitivity in communication ultimately begins at the beginning. My theory for most things is that most issues can lead back to the family unit. However, that's a much wider undertaking and dynamic to understand. I guess the best advice to give is what my mother always told me, “ think before you speak", and “if you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all". I think I would include, “if your words don't add value to others or the world around you, keep them to yourself!"