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To Anyone Who's Been Told They're Too Sensitive

17/01/2017 11:29

I am an emotional person. I feel things a lot. Sometimes it feels almost too much. My sensitivity is a character trait that has attempted to define me at many points in my life and I have no doubt that a lot of people reading this can relate to that experience. But the real problem with this lies in the fact that the word "attempted" holds an instantly negative connotation. It makes sensitivity seem as if it is something to be feared and avoided at all costs, when in fact it holds a corresponding sense of positivity and usefulness that people tend to forget. It appears almost unnatural to point this out, considering we have all grown so accustomed to the perception of hypersensitivity as an unattractive quality. But I want us to actually ask ourselves why, and to whom does this benefit?

As far back as I can remember I have always been a sensitive person, I cry easily and small things have an impact on my thoughts and feelings towards the world. At various stages of my personal life this has caused me difficulty in a number of different situations, because simply put: some people don't feel as much as I do. And that is life - we are all different and we all work in different ways. As hard as it sometimes is when someone doesn't comprehend your upset, it is unfair to expect each and every one of us to behave in the same way. But at these difficult stages I have been made to feel as if my emotional capacity was too great, too strong and too sensitive for what is deemed normal in this world. And when I say made to feel, I do not mean purely by the individuals involved, but by society as a whole - a construct that has translated to the world that sensitivity equates to weakness and being tough, to strength. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. We all possess a different capacity for certain emotions; it is what makes us monogamous beings able to form bonds and communities. It is inherent within our natural instinct to be sensitive to the needs of others - but some people are slightly more in tune with this than their neighbours.

In an increasingly competitive world, each and everyone one of us strives to be the best at what we do. The assumption that accompanies this is that to reach the top you have to be robust and show no weakness. Society deems an emotional person as not being at their best at that point in time: if our emotions take over there is the belief that we won't think logically anymore and therefore our ability to lead the race is hindered in some way. That is something we are unlikely to change, but I don't feel as if sensitivity is ever given the credit it truly deserves.

For the sake of the above argument, let's think about the advantages of this characteristic from a business perspective. Being sensitive to others emotions is an invaluable trait in an individual. Emotional intelligence is something that makes one person stand head and shoulders above the rest. It is something that simply cannot be bought or taught, it just is. And it makes an individual fundamentally better at whatever they have chosen to do in life. Without emotional intelligence we would not have doctors making scientific breakthroughs because of their moral judgement, or journalists breaking the stories that matter because someone has trusted them to tell their tale in the right way. Sometimes the most emotionally open people are drawn to help others open up. Many become Counsellors, Psychiatrists or Samaritans. The importance of their ability to judge when to listen and when to speak is something that comes with having a greater emotional capacity and cannot be underestimated. Those suffering from mental health problems are encouraged and praised for opening up, but when did being sensitive, as a mentally well individual, become such a taboo?

I have spent so long beating myself for being sensitive. When I was younger I used to tell myself that I wish I didn't feel quite so much. It still frustrates me at times, but I've slowly come to accept it as a part of me and a part to be celebrated rather than loathed. I want those of us who are more sensitive to question why society has flooded that word with pessimistic undertones and to not let it sink us down with it. I'm fed up of trying to pretend I don't care about something, of trying not to open up and get "too deep" in a conversation, purely for the sake of societies' expectations. There is certainly a lot of truth in the idea that everything is better in moderation, but I speak for all the sensitive souls out there when I say that I am proud of my ability to be empathetic, compassionate and caring - and that I will not apologise for.

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