Vignettes on Aging – Sensitivity

The word sensitivity can be viewed negatively or with positive attributes. It’s a common word that carries a lot of emotional weight.

Has anyone ever told you that you were ‘too sensitive’? Have you been told you need to toughen up in order to do better or be better? Have you ever felt like a few too many layers of your exterior have been torn off by something someone said or did and made you feel raw and exposed and vulnerable?

We’ve all felt like we were responding with too much sensitivity depending on the situation.

On the other hand, sensitivity can be delightful; a bunch of it can bring joy and reassurance and comfort to yourself or to others. Sensitivity requires feeling at a deeper level.

Susan Cain, in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking identifies highly sensitive people as disliking small talk. These individuals tend to be philosophical and/or spiritual in their approach to life. Self-descriptions of many sensitive folks include being creative or intuitive and that they experience vivid dreams with great recall of those dreams. They have strong emotions and can experience the highs of joy but also the lows including fear and sorrow.

Do you know people like this? Do you consider yourself to be a highly sensitive person?

Additionally, Susan Cain shares that, in general, people who share their sensitive sides process what goes on around themselves both physically and emotionally at a deeper level than others. Their moods can be shifted quicker and at a stronger level with less stimulus.

Often highly sensitive people are more withdrawn. That stimulus that is triggered, depending on the situation, may be too much to bear. For this, sensitive people can receive criticism. They can easily be labeled as too sensitive if they react stronger than the way someone else might respond. Any criticism can be harsh and may cause a sensitive person to retreat from the criticizer for a long time or forever.

If this highly sensitive person is you, you’ll see yourself here. If you’re more even-keel, less reactive to input from others, be aware that not everyone is like you. Be kind and sensitive to others.