At the times when we feel like we are experiencing hurt or sadness, and people around us don’t seem to understand the depth of our feelings, we can begin to question our own responses. Am I too sensitive? Am I over –reacting? Should I just “suck it up” and get on with it?
So what is “too sensitive?”
Every body and soul is born sensitive. That is, until we learn how to stop feeling the feelings. We become de-sensitised.
As tiny babies we are conditioned to stop crying when we are hungry or uncomfortable, “Shhh” we get told as soon as a sound leaves our mouths. We get rocked and fed, changed and rocked again, all in an effort to stop us from expressing any sound at all! “Good” babies are usually seen as the quiet ones, passive, compliant and easy to take anywhere and they won’t make a fuss.
Now we have controlled crying a system of letting a baby cry until they go to sleep. A crying expert Dieter Wolke from Zurich University says, “Crying is the baby’s way of alerting a parent that all is not well. Until they are over a certain age, they do not cry for attention, they are doing it for a reason. The ability to cry for attention may come after about 6months old.”
Imagine being a tiny baby and crying to get some need met by a parent, whether that is hunger, nappy changing, comforting or love. Imagine pleading with your loudest voice and yet nobody comes. The baby does not learn anything positive for itself at that stage, what it does learn is, ‘asking for what I want is pointless’, ‘my wants and needs are not met by people that I have chosen as parents’, and ‘I am helpless’ and I have no means of communicating with the world to create a good level of survival’.
The parents innocently think that the baby is learning to go to sleep when it is put to bed, in fact, it has learnt to give up!
As we grow up, we observe that the adults around us just don’t seem to be emotional beings. They have a seemingly inner strength and ability to not burst into floods of tears when things that are painful happen. Some adults however have turned off the switch to all of their feelings and don’t acknowledge that they have any emotion. It does, after all, take courage to be vulnerable and allow yourself to be seen as a feeling human being. I am not suggesting that an adult walks around crying or angry constantly, however the ability to be happy, mad, sad and glad when the circumstances are appropriate gives rise to a balanced and emotionally buoyant person.
After having held down and suppressed all kinds of feelings and emotions, we can become desensitised to the upsets of life until one day, like a volcano it all surges out in a spurt of illness, rage, “nervous breakdown” and very strong emotions. Finally we get some attention! Some people have the opposite response, they suppress everything and turn their feelings inward, that leads to depression, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Are you seeing any connections here?
When we see ourselves reacting to situations and having strong feelings and responses to certain deeds and actions, we can find ourselves asking “Is it just me that feels this way?” We mostly ask that question when we do not observe others having any visible responses, similar to our own, to the behaviour that has caused us to react.
This brings us back to ask the original question, “Am I too sensitive?” Compared to whom? Are you too sensitive compared to those who have been taught to deny their feelings and therefore ‘just suck it up’?
It depends on who is telling you that you are being too sensitive. Is it those who are hurting you with jokes and jibes at your expense? Is it those who are not in touch with their own feelings? Is it those who have little or no emotional vocabulary and when you ask them how they feel, they simply shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know?”
I have heard it said, that you can’t have the wrong feelings. Maybe your intuition and feeling body wants to keep you away from those who are indifferent to your needs and feelings. Your sensitivity is a useful attribute. Perhaps your sensitivity can keep you safe until a later time, when you have done enough spiritual journeying to truly not care about what others do and say around you.
At a time of healing and personal growth a person can often become extremely vulnerable to the energies that are around them. I mentioned to one of my clients recently that re-sensitisation is “like having severe sunburn, even a hug can feel painful.” This is normal, and it is useful to recognise your new tenderness as a ‘re-sensitisation’. Re-sensitising needs to occur when we are reconnecting with our hearts and feelings again. During this time of healing, we can feel like we want to cry and laugh out loud with freedom, support and acknowledgement. We actually need, whilst we are re-discovering ourselves again, to keep ourselves safe from situations that are harsh, not from a place of fear and paranoia, but as a way of protecting your newborn life. This re-connection with the original and vital emotional body will emerge gradually and gently, as the emotional adult develops and grows. This newness arrives as an awareness of energies and calm, not out of denial of our sensitivity but from a place of peace and acceptance that every feeling is valid.
We are responsible for the tenderness in and of our own hearts, stay sensitive, it’s a wonderful human trait…so, no, you are not TOO sensitive.