I am overly-sensitive.
Let’s start with that fact, that truth about who I am as a person.
I used to be overly sensitive about being overly sensitive.
That’s another fact, a nuance you need to understand. For those of you who identify with being on the more sensitive side, you probably will be nodding your head in agreement. For the rest of you, this collection of words is an insight into the world of those of us who live in this world with that overly-sensitive gene.
I spent a great deal of my life thinking that being overly-sensitive was a negative thing. I’d try and try to change it, try to smash it down, but you can’t hide emotion. My brain gets the logic of the situation, but my heart? Oh, my heart, it gives away how I really feel much quicker than my brain can stop it.
I don’t think anyone realized how hard it can be on someone who feels deeply to be told “don’t feel so much” or “it’s not that big a deal” or “are you crying about that?” because for us, this is just the way we are made. What’s funny about when I’m told, “don’t be so sensitive” is that I actually get it. I know I’m responding that way and any of you that also are like me, well, I know you get it. The more we try to hide it the more it trickles out.
Have you ever told your kids (or a friend), “don’t be afraid – there’s nothing to fear.” And yet they are still afraid. You can try to reason and rationalize with them while there is nothing to fear, but for them, the fear is legitimate, real. It’s kind of the same with us take it personally people. Intellectually we understand that it – whatever situation we are responding to – might not be a big deal for everyone else. We get that we are taking it personally. We try to do it differently.
But why? That’s what I started to ask myself in the last several years. Why am I attempting to fix a part of my own personality? The more I dug, the more I realized, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being overly-sensitive. Our culture, our fast-paced world might not always mesh with it, but just because it doesn’t fit perfectly doesn’t mean it’s a bad label, a bad part of our identity.
What if it is also a super power? What if this is the space where I am also exceptionally strong?
Listen closely – it is an awesome trait to have in life. You might not hear that often, but it’s time to speak some truth. For me, I am empathetic and I can find the nuances in emotion. I can see past the logic and feel the heart, the pulse of a group. And oftentimes, when hope is lost, it allows me to identify a piece of good, of joy, in the normal.
So here is what to remember about being overly-sensitive:
1. We get overwhelmed easily. Again, not by choice, but honestly, chaos makes our brains spin and our hearts go crazy. It doesn’t last, but it is hard in the moment. Just because we are experiencing overwhelm doesn’t meant that we need to leave the situation, need to stop, or need things to change. It is just an emotion. The best thing to do is to not try to fix the overwhelm, but come alongside and love in the midst.
2. Don’t hide who you really are. For so long I tried to hide my tears or dismiss my feelings. But those feelings, that part of me? That matters. So maybe I hate, like abhor, horror films. I’m not judging anyone else. It’s just that my mind cannot handle that stuff. And maybe I cry at sappy shows. Someone has to. After all, it seems like the greeting card industry needs us highly sensitive people. If you are overly-sensitive, well, that’s a fantastic thing. Love that part of you, and if someone comments about it, decide today that their words don’t have to be negative anymore. Remember you are the only one who can decide what sticks to your heart as truth.
3. Finally, there is NOTHING wrong with being sensitive. Nothing. Don’t try to fix you. Those who love you love you for you. And while sometimes it can be hard, the flip side is crazy, awesome, vivacious feeling for life.
Here’s the truth I discovered in my own journey – the opposite of being overly sensitive was not caring. I tried that for many years. Living under the mantra of “I’m fine” and “it’s not big deal” and shoving down emotions. But living without caring means living numb. Living numb means that you lose the joy in life. Losing the joy in life means that you get stuck. So one day, I came to a place where I had to decide, “live feeling?” or “live numb?” because I realized there was no in-between.
I chose feeling. And yeah I may cry at Hallmark movies or shy away from the newest horror release, but the feeling, the emotion, the ability to be in a space with others and share my heart? It’s worth every single tear, every smile, every “overly-sensitive” label out there.
My name is Rachel, and I’m overly-sensitive.
And I’m proud of it.
Hello my friends. Thanks for being here, for supporting Finding Joy. If you want to know how to get unstuck in your life or how to deal with you overly-sensitive soul I’d love for you to grab my new book The Brave Art of Motherhood.
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