Dealing with Extremely Sensitive People

Please, don’t say “sensitive” it like it’s a bad thing.

I have always been extremely sensitive. My feelings get hurt easily. I take things personally. I cry at commercials. Hell, I cry at everything. I am the target audience for This Is Us. Those bastards have my number on speed dial.

I know a lot of other extremely sensitive people. Why? Because they are my jam. Sensitives are good people. We may be solely responsible for owning all the Joni Mitchell records in the world.

We’re not fragile. We’re not hokey. We’re not out of touch. We’re not enablers. We just have all the feels. All of them.

A good number of my friends are creatives. Writers and musicians. Such a feeling group. If you ask most people why they write — be it essays, novels, songs or poems — they’ll tell you because all the feelings need to go somewhere. If my friends are not creatives, they enjoy the company of those who are for a myriad of reasons I’ll get into in a moment.

Still, sensitives get a bad rap. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to stop being so sensitive, I could buy all kinds of self help books so that I can spend even more time thinking about my feelings.

I subscribe to the belief that telling people to stop being themselves is bad form. It’s not okay to tell someone that sensitivity is a personality flaw just because you are different or don’t “get it.”

On behalf of my fellow sensitives — you be you, we’ll be us.

Being sensitive is like being talkative. I think people are born with a certain daily allotment of words. Some people get far more words than others. The super chatty folks have to use all of their words. I am convinced they might literally combust if they don’t. On the other hand, your friend that likes to sit quietly and observe during a conversation? They’re strategically using the few words they have been allotted.

Sensitivity works the same way. Some people were born with more feelings than others. Some people appear as though their feelings have been surgically removed. No one is better than anyone else in this regard. The number of feelings you have is not commensurate with your value and self worth.

Sensitives are, generally, a warm and fuzzy group. We hate to feel misunderstood. You understanding us means a lot. I want to help make that happen. You have to let me. If you don’t, it will hurt one of my 2,974 feelings.

Here’s what you need to know about the overly sensitive:

We get overwhelmed easily. By this, I mean we get overly stimulated fast. If you want to see me come totally unhinged, take me to Costco on a Saturday afternoon. There is no amount of tasty warm spinach artichoke dip samples that can make that okay. It’s too much.

We’re really nice people! I don’t know a lot of sensitive people that are just mean. Why? Because we are hyper aware of how people can be affected by words and actions.

You can destroy us with your words. You don’t need to make us feel like crap. We got that covered. We are really good at beating ourselves up. This is because we’re people-pleasers. It’s super easy to make us feel really guilty. You want to ruin us? Tell us we’ve disappointed you. It’s our Kryptonite.

When we feel destroyed, we can fix it. Those of us that are overly sensitive don’t just sit there feeling things. I don’t even know what that would look like. Yes, sometimes we do wallow. Sometimes we’re just sad and need to cry. But, we’re actually a pretty resilient group. We’ve learned to self heal. We just need some time to figure out the feelings so we can work through them.

We don’t just feel our feelings, we feel yours too. You don’t have enough feelings? That’s okay. We’ll feel them for you. We are empaths. We want you to be happy. It gives us immense joy. On the flipside, if you hurt or are angry, it gets right in our bones. We will absorb your feelings. We’re like emotional blobs.

We don’t want you to be responsible for our feelings. What we want is for you to be accountable for your actions. Blaming us for being upset at something you have done or said is absolving yourself of accountability. One cannot just move around this world acting like an asshole and then telling people their reaction to it is not acceptable. The world simply does not work that way.

Don’t invalidate our feelings. It’s not your job. It’s no one’s job. There are right and wrong actions. What someone feels is their own and determined by so many internal factors. Whether it’s sadness, anger, loneliness, disappointment… the feeling is not wrong. Telling someone what they’re feeling is wrong does nothing more than override whatever it is they are feeling with one thing — shame. Shame is the devil’s playground.

I totally get it. This is some hippie dippy crap, right? Maybe. We don’t expect you to hold hands and start singing Kumbaya. No one wants to do that, not even the extremely sensitive people. And we’re not asking you to feel more. Don’t ask us to feel less. It’s not what we do. But, you can totally ask to borrow our Joni Mitchell records. We got you covered.