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Am I too sensitive?

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Am I too sensitive? Have you ever found yourself asking this question?  Or perhaps you have been accused of being “too sensitive”?  Has a rude comment left you pondering over why someone would say that? Or are there times when you are in a crowded place and all you can think about is trying to find the best “escape route”? If you have answered “Yes” to all of these questions, then you probably are, like myself, a highly sensitive individual.  And there is nothing wrong with you. I believe it is time to start seeing your sensitivity in a more positive light.

So Why Am I so Sensitive?

Different levels of Sensitivity

Sensitive people are those who are “acutely affected by external impressions”.  So those who are highly sensitive, feel things on a more profound level compared to those who are not very sensitive.  Have a look at the following list of highly sensitive traits and see how many you can relate to:

  • Unsettled by aggression and violence
  • You have empathy for other people’s experiences
  • Often feel tired/drained after spending time with people
  • Prone to stress and anxiety
  • Value having time and space to yourself
  • Easily startled by sudden, loud noises
  • Deep thinker/philosophical 
  • Very perceptive – you often pick up on things that other people don’t
  • Particular about your clothing e.g. the fit and fabrics must be comfortable and not irritate your skin
  • Low tolerance level for pain
  • Very vivid imagination, you often daydream and have detailed fantasies.
  • Change can cause stress or take a bit of getting used to
  • You have been described as being: shy, quiet, anxious, an introvert (which is not the same as being highly sensitive)
  • Easily irritated or snappy when you are hungry
  • Easily stimulated by caffeine and alcohol
  • Hate and avoid conflict

If you have found yourself answering “Yes” to most of the above, then you probably are a highly sensitive individual.  

Does that mean I am too sensitive?

No, actually being a highly sensitive individual is something to be proud of because without highly sensitive people this world would lack so much in terms of creativity and humanity.  But as the above list shows, there are numerous pitfalls to being highly sensitive which lead you to sometimes question whether you are “too sensitive”.  Fortunately, you do not (and should not) have to change yourself in order to deal with the pitfalls of being highly sensitive.  

How to thrive as a highly sensitive person in an insensitive world

Firstly, tell yourself that there is no such thing as being “too sensitive”. Sensitivity is a great gift and people who regard it as a weakness do so because they do not possess this gift.  But in saying that, the following list details ways in which highly sensitive people can avoid feeling overwhelmed by “external impressions” on a day-to-day basis. 

How to stop feeling like you’re too sensitive

  • Avoid or distance yourself as much as possible from people who emotionally drain you and don’t feel bad about it.     
  • Don’t be afraid to set personal boundaries and establish your own personal space – doing so will show people that you are not a pushover and they will respect you for it.
  • Make time and space for yourself on a daily basis to meditate – this could be sitting in the local park for 10 minutes during your lunch break or having a soak in the bath or popping into a library/art gallery/museum.
  • Leave for work earlier so you are not pushed for time. 
  • Wear headphones/earphones when you are in a noisy/crowded place in order to block out sudden, loud sounds.
  • Do not take people’s rude/underhand/insensitive comments personally – people who behave in this manner do so with everyone else and have deep insecurities.
  • Get creative and get out there! You have this amazing gift, so why not put it to great use by taking up painting/drawing? Start writing poetry, a novel/script/journal or playing an instrument? 
  • Take up hiking to increase your exposure to Nature. If you find it hard to leave the city then a long walk in the park will also do you a world of good. 

So, I will end with the following words I came across awhile back which beautifully sums it all up:

“I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am. You take away my conscience, my ability to empathize, my intuition, my creativity, my deep appreciation for the little things, my vivid inner life, my keen awareness to others pain and my passion for it all”.

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