It’s Not a Big Deal, You’re Just Too Sensitive

Being “too sensitive” doesn’t have to be an insult.

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

Think about your definition of a highly sensitive person. Do you imagine a highly sensitive person as someone who is empathetic, someone willing to listen, someone kind and thoughtful? Or, do you picture a highly sensitive person as someone whose feelings get hurt easily and frequently, someone who cries a lot, and takes everything too personal?

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I’ve heard I was “too sensitive” many times.

It was a label I was always ashamed to have. I cried easily, took things too personally, and constantly allowed the problems of others to become my own. I allowed my sensitivity to define me negatively because I believed it was something I needed to change. I was too young to understand my sensitivity was going to be something I would need to work on, yes. But it wasn’t anything bad, and it wasn’t a part of myself I needed to hate.

I didn’t know being overly sensitive would always be a part of me, and I had years ahead of me before I learned how my sensitivity would affect how I handled stress and trauma.

In the past, when a bad thing happened to someone I cared about, I took the weight of their problems as my own. I became entangled in negative emotions as I tried to fix their issues. I adopted the stress of others as my own and experience secondary trauma, like when I tried to save my friend from a toxic relationship.

Overly sensitive people tend to cry easily.

I certainly do. I cry from sadness or joy. Little things make me cry. Commercials make me cry. If you recall the scene from Dumb and Dumber where Harry and Lloyd sit in bed and cry hysterically at a sad scene on TV, and it turns out to be nothing but a Pacific Bell commercial. That’s me. I’m Harry and Lloyd. It isn’t something to feel embarrassed about; it means I feel a lot.

There is nothing wrong with highly sensitive people.

They just feel things deeply and quickly. They can be easily overstimulated from their surroundings (like large crowds, bright lights, and loud sounds) and they are more emotionally reactive than others. They can be especially harsh on themselves when they make mistakes and they might have a hard time processing any negative emotions. But they are not weak.

When I was 11 years old, I was sitting in the living room with my mother while she brushed my hair. We were discussing hairstyles, and I told her I wanted to try a new haircut. She told me I needed to choose carefully because I had a big forehead.

I cried instantly. “I have a big forehead? I never noticed!”

I was so upset to find out my forehead wasn’t normal. It was the end of the world as I knew it. My mother couldn’t believe I was crying. Her words were, “You’re too sensitive. It’s not that serious.” Looking back, it wasn’t the nicest comment, but the dismissal of my feelings was the worst part.

She told me I was too sensitive and just like that, my feelings were being dismissed. But at that moment, I didn’t feel like I was being too sensitive. I was just processing what I felt. Why was it such a bad thing to feel?

HSPs are always being told to stop being so sensitive because “it isn’t a big deal”.

And every time I hear that I think to myself: Well, it is a big deal. For me. Why is not okay for me to feel what I feel right now? I will come down from this “high” of emotions. Let me accept that sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But let me make these realizations on my own. Do not make me feel childish for crying at this moment.

I know it’s okay to cry if I feel like crying. It doesn’t make me weak.

The next time someone tells you, “You’re too sensitive”, look at your emotional process.

Ask yourself, what made me feel like this? Did my actions or words lead to the best possible outcome? Is it possible I am exaggerating? (Nobody is perfect!) As a highly sensitive person, it is always wise to reflect on how you manage your thoughts so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Remember, there is nothing wrong with being sensitive.

I believe being too sensitive means you care a lot, and that means some things take a toll on you more than others.

When I realized sensitivity is a reflection of the heart, I saw a change in how I responded to stressful situations. I learned I can still be caring. I can still be empathetic. I can still love deeply and strongly, and be there for others without going overboard. I know to rid myself of relationships that are harmful but I can still be supportive of someone in need without completely destabilizing myself.

The most important part for HSP’s is that we understand the root of our emotions and stop beating ourselves up over our feelings, and stop allowing others to put us down for doing something that is only human, feeling.

© Jessica Lovejoy 2019. All Rights Reserved.