Being Sensitive Is NORMAL

Are you often told that you’re too sensitive? Do you get told to “just ignore” bullies and passive-aggressive people? Do you have trouble accepting criticism unless it’s kindly presented? Do you have a LONG list of books, movies, and television shows you can’t watch, because they upset you? If so, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP), just like me.

And Penney is a highly sensitive dog. We have had to work to accept that “feature” of her.

Many HSPs already know all about this, having read The Highly Sensitive Person book (and its many friends). I wrote about it a bit last year when sensitivity was causing me some issues, in a post called You’re TOO Sensitive. So yeah, I’ve heard that before.

I’m such a sensitive flower, humble but lovable!

But, if you are among the majority of humans who don’t have the HSP trait, you may not realize this is a normal way for people to be. It’s also not necessarily a negative trait! There are many wonderful things about being highly sensitive.

Not a Sensitive Person? Read This!

Before you tell a friend or family member to get over it or change the way they experience the world and people around them, consider this information, and maybe you’ll be able to accept people like us just the way we are:

  • Around 15-20% of people are Highly Sensitive Persons. That’s a LOT of people, not just a few kooks.
  • People are born with the HSP trait; they can’t make it go away.
  • HSPs tend to have good imaginations and creativity. That’s handy!
  • They are often empathetic and can understand what’s going on with others. They can help people in groups get along better.
  • Not all HSPs are introverts. 30% are extroverts! (Reluctantly, I think that’s me.)
  • HSPs make GREAT leaders. They tend to prefer the “servant leadership” model rather than the hierarchically focused kind, and all kinds of people respond well to quiet leadership.

See, there’s a lot of good in people like me. We spend all our lives developing ways to cope with our more “tough” friends and colleagues, trying to moderate our strong reactions to violence and personal digs, being social as much as we can, etc. Maybe those of us who are not HSPs can “just ignore” the things about us that bug them! Hmm. What an idea.

Or, maybe we can all learn to accept our differences. Kindness never hurts, and bullying is never right. We also have to be able to accept criticism in order to grow and become better people. If we hurt someone’s feelings, we can apologize. And if we are easily hurt, we can explain that we understand it’s often not intentional. Meet in the middle? Why not!

Don’t worry, I like you all just the way you are. Variety is what makes us humans interesting, to me. Let me know if you found the information here to be useful!

More Information

Here are some signs you might be an HSP, from Elaine Aron’s really helpful HSP website:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

Books I Will Never Read Again

Are there any books, movies, or other media that you made it through once but just NEVER want to go through again? Last night my sister asked me about the handmaid costume she saw somewhere. I told her about The Handmaid’s Tale book, and that it had been made into a series. I read the book when I was in graduate school, and probably lost a lot of popularity as a professor by making a class full of engineering students read it and write a report.

Protesting handmaiden. Image by @straubmuller via Twenty20.

But right now, I could not stomach that book, nor could I bring myself to watch the Hulu Series. It seemed eerily possible in the 1980s, and today I could see women becoming property again, just like in the book. Shudder. I have had many nightmares brought on the The Handmaid’s Tale.

Please. Image by @jenni.heller via Twenty20.

In fact, many of the books I don’t think I could take reading again are in a similar vein. You are NOT going to see me cracking open 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 any time soon, either. I think those books have already come true, and not in a good way. Yeah, the whole dystopian novel genre isn’t good for me.

Neither are books or movies about Nazi Germany. No, thank you. A couple of movies in that genre have scarred me for life, including Julia (a beautiful film, but gave me bad dreams) and Seven Beauties (eww, ick, yuck, don’t watch it). I realize now that I watched way too many of these really sad movies during my most impressionable late teen years. I STILL have Apocalypse Now nightmares, too. I wonder if High School Boyfriend knew what a pacifist he was creating by taking me to all these violent and psychologically terrifying movies?

As I have mentioned before, I’m one of them there Highly Sensitive People, which means media violence and cruelty really get to me (as well as teasing, bullying, name-calling and putdowns). I pay attention to violence warnings on books and movies for good reason!

Oh and for goodness sake, I don’t want to ever see that damned Red Pony book again (curse you, Steinbeck, and curse you, school librarian who gave it to me to read in the THIRD GRADE). Graphic descriptions of the deaths of beloved pets, innocent wild animals, and other harmless creatures aren’t for me, either. I managed to get through that book about the dog that keeps dying over and over (The Art of Racing in the Rain), because I knew all would end well (and I didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of book club).

Oddly enough, I can watch Dr. Pimple popper and shows about surgery just fine. I just don’t like violence and loss.

What are your topics you just don’t want to read about or watch these days? (I realize for many of you it may be politics, but I’m not here to encourage bashing of anyone’s views, just wondering what turns you off.)

You’re TOO Sensitive

My gosh, have I heard that little put-down way too many times in my life. It mostly came from my father. Sometimes it came from my mother or my brother or my sister, or especially my grandmother. Whoever said it got me even more huffy. Soon I’d cry and ALSO be a crybaby.

Baby Suna? (My scary mask)

Being sensitive was a part of my nature. I couldn’t exactly become someone else just so they could insult me with great impunity and not feel bad about it.

I’m bringing that up now, because I’ve finally developed the skill of not taking other people’s insults, snipes, and passive aggressive digs to heart. So that’s good. Yep.

I guess lightning this red candle will help?

But. I’m still sensitive. This linguist can handle words better, but I’m annoyingly sensitive to the moods, affect, and unspoken signals of others. Sometimes it’s general malaise, like after an election. Other times someone in my close circle sends out signals of distress or negativity and it gets me.

Continue reading “You’re TOO Sensitive”