One reader commented, “My definition of sensitive has always been someone who has empathy for the situation or people. Some people consider me a sensitive person, but I never felt it an insult, maybe I should reconsider?”
My thought: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The Sensitivity Continuum
One way to look at sensitivity is as a continuum, with whole, healthy, Spirit-led empathy on one end. If this is where you find yourself, praise God and stay there!
On the other end of the sensitivity continuum is broken, dis-eased, self-centered fragility. For much of my life, I found myself sliding further and further into this end. The harder I tried to “get better,” the worse I seemed to become.
For those of us who have attempted valiantly – and failed miserably – to “Just Get Over It” (whatever our particular “it” may be!), ignorance compounds the problem.
It’s bad enough that we don’t understand our own unique sensitivities; condemnation from our friends and family makes everything we’re already struggling with exponentially worse.
An Asthma Metaphor
Let’s imagine a person who is unaware that they have asthma. Let’s put them in an energetic athletic family that has never even heard of asthma. And let’s send that family on a week-long vacation in the mountains. At high elevation. In the spring. With just enough wind to kick up dust and pollen.
We can write the script for the first family hike, can’t we? Our asthma suffering friend starts wheezing while everyone else is breathing just fine. She gets called a “drama queen.”
Either way, the message, “Just try harder” comes through loud and clear. If the family has to turn around and head back to camp without reaching the summit, you can be sure that it’s made loud and clear whose fault it is.
Problems That Arise When “High Sensitivity” is Ignored or Misunderstood
- We incorrectly assume that we are faulty, defective, and/or wrong.
- Our family and friends may place blame and shame on us.
- We will not engage in self-care.
- Our family and friends won’t offer appropriate external support.
- Our lives get worse when they could be getting better.
How has ignoring or misunderstanding your sensitivity resulted in one (or more) of the problems listed?