All my life, I've been labeled as "sensitive" or "over-sensitive." While it is a fact, (and I often refer to myself as sensitive), this label has its drawbacks. Rather than go on an emotional rant and be told (yet again), that I am just "being sensitive", I thought it would be more fun to write out a list of what NOT to do or say around sensitive people-plus, a little more!
And no, nothing "brought this on" (hmmm, I should add that to the list.) I have been wanting to write this out for a while. But I have held back, thinking that some people might read into it and be offended. I have news for those people: Don't be so sensitive! Ha!
Here we go!
1. When a sensitive person pours out their heart to you, do NOT say, "You're just being sensitive/emotional." Even if you secretly think they are. Once in a while, the sensitive people have something to complain about! (Usually about insensitive people.)
2. When you DO feel that the sensitive person has a justifiable reason for feeling offended, do NOT say, "No, you're right. You're not being too sensitive this time." (Would YOU like to be told if you have the right to feel offended or not??)
3. When a person who you label to be sensitive seems to be grumpy/upset "yet again", do not just assume that they are being "sensitive." Think of the last thing you said. Could it be that YOU were being insensitive??
4. Going off of #3, sensitive people tend to be afraid to speak up for fear they will be told they are being "too sensitive." Then they are told they shouldn't hold things in. Does this make sense?? One or the other, people!
5. Sensitive people are often avoided because of their sensitivity, but sought out to be the shoulder to cry on. Now, you know this is true. I go to my Mom when I'm hurting, not because she's my mom, but because I know she is a sensitive person and will hear me out. I tend to avoid others who just want to advise. When you have a hurting heart, the last thing you want is lecture. You go to the Sensitive Person because they "get it."
6. Sensitive people tend to be deep thinkers. This is not a terrible thing, people! We think deeply, we feel deeply. It all goes together.
7. Sensitive people need more time to "get over it". This isn't really attractive about sensitive people, and it's annoyance to others who aren't sensitive. They have a hard time understanding "what the big deal is." Like stated in #6, sensitive people think deeply. There is probably more to the hurt than what you may know, therefore, the sensitive person also feels more hurt. It's not that they want to "punish you" for the hurt others caused, but just that they need more time to recover from it. And usually, they do.
8. Sensitive people forgive easily. People may scoff at this because of the extra time sensitive people need to get over a misunderstanding or hurt and assume that the sensitive person is just brooding or "hanging on" to the hurt. But in fact, once the sensitive person has recovered, they bounce back rather easily and are eager to forgive. They usually appreciate the friendships that they have and rather "forgive and forget" than let those relationships go.
9. St.Therese was a sensitive person! She is my "go-to" saint for sensitivity. And although she describes her over-sensitivity as a fault, I think she would agree that it was also a gift. Look at the beautiful prayers that she wrote, the beautiful poems.
10. Going off of #7, sensitivity is a gift. Though at times it is also a burden, God calls us to love, and loving others make us more sensitive. We learn to feel others pain more than our own. This is a painful gift, but a gift nonetheless. I've learned to be grateful to God for this gift of many thorns!
11. Don't tell a sensitive person they are "sensitive" unless you make it sound like a good thing. After being coaxed to explain a problem to someone, my crying daughter finally opened up and told it all. This was pretty hard for her. The person then said, "Oh. You're very sensitive, aren't you?" And that was it. Enough said?
12. Do not try "fix" or "toughen up" the sensitive person. First of all, it doesn't work and second, the sensitive person will only try to avoid you or may even end up resenting you. Life is full of "life lessons" and will toughen that person up on its own. Instead, be the person the sensitive person can trust. Do what the sensitive person does for you. Just listen.
I am a sensitive person but I also have five children who have inherited my sensitivity, so I live on the other side of the spectrum as well. I well know how hard it can be to "tip toe" around the sensitive person. I have a rule of thumb that I go off of though: Don't tiptoe. The sensitive person is a lot tougher than you think.
I have one more tip.
13. Give the sensitive person some credit. I've learned to bite my tongue, hold back retorts, keep hurt feelings to myself (when I know that it is a case of over-sensitivity) and make excuses for the people who thoughtlessly speak without thinking. Ironically, my sensitivity that makes me look weak in front of others, has made me stronger.