Do you seem to worry about what you're saying and doing all the time, and be too eager to please? Do you always seem to have something or someone on your mind? Is making a decision a nightmare, because you are so desperate to make sure that you get it right and don't upset anyone? If someone or something upsets you, do you find that you can't get your mind off this, constantly going over it in your mind, over and over. Do you often feel hurt or offended at a chance remark or by a friend's behaviour towards you?
Do you identify with several or more of these?
You feel you have a 'thin skin'.
You're easily hurt.
Tend to over-react.
Scared to offend other people.
Too eager to please.
Don't like to be the centre of attention.
Often feel guilty.
Care too much what other people think.
Can't take or give criticism.
Scared to say 'no' in case you offend someone.
Can't get things people have said out of your head.
Feel someone who disagrees with you must dislike you.
Worry all the time that you're saying, or have said the wrong thing.
Can be too emotional.
Did you identify with lots of these descriptions? So yes, you are a sensitive person. And until today you've probably seen this as all downhill, all problematic, with nothing good to be said about it. All this affects you at work, at home, in relationships, socially.
But rest assured, you are not alone. Although the world seems full of confident people, who cope with the situations you find difficult almost without effort, there are many, many people who share your experiences in life. It's just not something people tend to talk about. But there will be many others around you who feel the way you do.
And you can learn to deal with these situations more effectively, so that you can feel better, and be more relaxed, less moody, and happy with who you are. But better than that, you can make your sensitivity work for you and not against you. Because there is a positive side to being sensitive.
Yes, there is a positive side which you can harness, and use to empower yourself to move forward, stronger and more in charge of your life. There are many positive and valuable characteristics to being a sensitive person. These just tend to be overlooked in today's busy, frantic world. Want to know more?
You may be surprised to hear this, but it's okay to be sensitive. Yes, it is okay to be sensitive. You may lead a different life from others, but being sensitive is a gift not a character flaw as you may have thought. So maybe you shouldn't change anything about yourself.
Because with being sensitive comes a whole other package of characteristics which you may have and be happy to have. And you can't have one without the other. It just doesn't work that way. You may not have been aware of it, but you probably have some, or all, of the following list of positive characteristics. Don't be modest, really think about each of these. Which would you say apply to you? Be honest with yourself.
A good friend.
Enthusiastic about things.
Interested in people.
A deep thinker.
Always have time for other people.
Very good at seeing other people's point of view.
Aware of subtleties.
Can visualise different scenarios.
Aware of consequences.
It's all about accepting yourself for who you are, accepting the complete package, not just bits of it. You may often wish you could lose your sensitivity, but if you lose that, you lose everything else which goes with it. Do you really want to do that? It's fairly easy to see how being sensitive is a pre-requisite for being a caring and intuitive person, and all the other characteristics that we've listed too.
You may even have been quite aware of this positive side of you, but have been discounting its importance because you're always focussing entirely on what you see as the more negative, sensitive side. You may feel that being sensitive is what defines you entirely as a person. But is that logical?
Do you judge a garden by one flower in it? Do you choose a house by the shape of its kitchen window? Do you throw out all of the fruit in a bowl if one apple is mouldy? Do you scrap a car with a flat tyre? Does your impression of a whole room depend on one picture on one wall?
You see, it all depends on how you look at the world and what you focus on. These other sides of you are probably what people like about you, and you can't have one side without the other. It's maybe why your partner loves you. These characteristics may be a source of inspiration and admiration to other people. Think about it. They may be the sides of you, which you like too!
To finish, here are some ideas on what you can do to cope better with being sensitive:
Remember all the positive sides to being sensitive – make these work for you every day. Forgive yourself for being sensitive –it's not your fault. Remember you have the right to exert control in a situation. Value yourself just as much as other people. Know what you need or want. Use your voice to express yourself better - speak confidently : slow, steady, low-pitched and warm. Relax your nervous system, mind and body every day. Avoid negative thinking – switch to a more positive image. Avoid jumping to conclusions – think things through objectively before you react. Grow to like and respect yourself. Remember you are a unique and special person. Grow a positive and unshakeable sense of identity and self-esteem.
I invite you to read my book Make Your Sensitivity Work For You published by Sheldon Press, available good book shop or from Amazon £7.99.
By Alice Muir Chartered Psychologist and Life Coach
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