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How to overcome your sensitivities

December 22, 2017

I am so sensitive. 

 

If I'm being honest (and I plan to always be) I consider this to be my most limiting quality, as it tacks itself onto other qualities, such as lack of confidence and self-esteem issues. 

 

I'm not downplaying how sensitive I am. If you're in my life, you know that this is an issue of mine. I can't listen to Aaliyah's "Miss You" without crying. I think in the past 6 months I've cried on a 5-day, per-week basis. That one chick on Reddit who bawled over the possibility of gay swans isn't too far off from me. 

 

While the negatives surely outweigh the positives, I remain firm in the belief that there's a lot of good that comes from a heightened awareness in emotion. As with everything, there's a light at the end of the tunnel and always room for growth and development. However, when evaluating whether heightened sensitivity or a fixed grasp on your feelings is more beneficial in the long run, I'll always choose the latter. 

 

There's a term for people who feel they are overtly sensitive, and it's straightforward as fuck: Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP.

 

A top indicator that you might be highly sensitive is the pendulum of emotions that flood you throughout your day. When you're happy, you're ecstatic. When you're sad, you're downright depressed. There's rarely an in between, and if there is, you most are most likely unaware of it due to the watering down of your usual emotions.

 

There's both good and bad associated with sensitive traits. Learning to master them is a gift in and of itself, and using them as an advantage throughout your day can definitely help you in the long run. But, if you let your emotions run your life, you'll find it to be much more difficult to go about your everyday with ease.

 

You can feel other people's emotions as well as you do your own

 

The positive: Any highly sensitive person can relate, emotions flow through you the way oxygen does. You are able to pinpoint certain feelings lingering about the room. You can literally sense things others can't, even if no indication was made to lead you into that judgement.

 

The negative: You over-feel. Sometimes, you misconstrue emotions. Being in a room full of people can feel overwhelming rather than energizing. Different emotions affect you, changing your mood depending on those around you.

 

You have a higher sense of empathy, sometimes even getting into people's heads without trying

 

The positive: Mind-reading powers! Sometimes, you just know what people are thinking.

 

The negative: Mind-reading powers! Sometimes, you just know what people are thinking. 

 

You're able to process things on a more fundamental level

 

The positive: Being able to break down intricacies is an art. If you're sensitive, you see things through a kaleidoscope rather than a whole picture. Within every layer, there's another layer underneath it. This is a great tool to have when need be, for work, for relationships, for existential occurrences, but can definitely backfire if over-used.

 

The negative: Sometimes a spade is just a damn spade. There isn't a deeper meaning or connection to everything out there. If you're trying to find the deeper meaning in everything, you're going to end up exhausting and disappointing yourself in an endless search for answers that don't exist. Not every layer needs to be peeled. 

 

We recognize subtitles easier than most

 

The positive: Sensitive people have brains that process sensory inputs and outputs differently than those who have less active senses. Things that the average person might not catch in a room, in a conversation, or on television are more recognizable to sensitive people.

 

The negative: This can become devastating to keep up with. For example, if you're sensitive to sound, little noises around the room can drive you crazy with their ringing. Often, sensitive people are labeled introverts because they don't like being in public for situations relating to this.

 

Elena Herdieckerhoff is a sensitivity coach for empathetic entrepreneurs. In her 2016 Ted Talk, Elena discusses her own journey, discovering she was an HSP. She mentions the book that changed her life, Dr. Elaine Aron's, "The Highly Sensitive Person," which helped Elena finally understand her fierce feelings.

 

HSPs are like everyone else except that they experience the world in a more vivid way. If you think that all HSPs are alike, that is not true; no two HSPs are the same. 

 

In her book, Aron discovers that 15-20% of the population experiences these emotions, 30% are extroverts, and perhaps the most surprising statistic of all, 50% are men. 

 

Every HSP has their own unique sensitive fingerprint alongside other identity markers like gender, ethnicity, and cultural and personal background. 

 

Now that we know it's not just us going through this and that a good chunk of the world is overly sensitive, how do we begin to overcome this?

 

The truth is, we don't.

 

The gifts of sensitivity slowly crept up on me. I've come to learn to love that I deeply and easily connect with others and also that I have a strong intuition that guides me like an infallible GPS.

 

As Elena shares with us, elevated senses are a gift, and should be practiced and processed that way, so that they may serve as a guide for our everyday activities.

 

Recognizing that you're a sensitive person is the first step to acceptance. No two people are the same, and no two sensitivities are the same. For some, sensitivities manifest physically; for others, emotionally. 

 

The next step is to accept that this is an innate part of your being, and will never "go away," no matter how many times your friends tell you you're being "too sensitive." There's no turning off your feelings from outer stimuli, there's only refining the steps that help you process them.

 

Identifying your stimuli and taking note of what makes you feel good, bad, or neutral is a key component to working with your emotions, rather than against them. If you have susceptible emotions, take the time to walk through them and figure out what your triggers are. Physical stimulants are just as important to understand as emotional and spiritual ones, and figuring out how to work with these provocations will make your everyday life easier.

 

Don't be so hard on yourself. You're not "making it up," you're not "weak" and you're not "immature" for feeling what you feel, but it's still up to you to learn how to overpower your natural reactions so that you find the key to living your healthiest, most beneficial life. While you should never be ashamed of your sensitivities, you should, just as any trait or characteristic, own them as apart of you. 

 

In the end, though I really wish I could be an emotional brick, I accept my emotional sensitives as a sort of sixth sense. I admit, though I wrote up this article, I have not been taking the necessary steps I should be so that I may live within a sensitive-conscious life, but I've too often attempted to run away from my emotions, or give them less credit than they deserved. My inner GPS will not be turned off, and going forward, I will work with my emotional capabilities in order to see which path they're going to lead me on.  

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