Sensitive people are often projected upon because sensitivity as a trait is often shoved under the carpet, and lurks deep in the Shadow for many people. Associated with dark emotions and weakness, vulnerability and volatility, it’s something that the average person does not devote time and attention to, let alone accept and honor.
You can observe it in the way people dismiss it, become awkward – or the most telling, start becoming contemptuous or derisive.
Sensitivity is triggering for so many because its shadow aspects arise from being associated to the Feminine. From being seen as emotional and soft, and thus yet another ‘feminine’ weakness, as something non-linear and irrational in this logical, patriarchal world, this trait of ours exists in a paradigm that still simply devalues and rejects its very existence. (Although this can, and IS changing.)
Recently, I have become a lot more comfortable with my sensitivity. It’s very interesting to see how people now respond to me, and also to observe my new responses to their responses. (This is probably the most HSP sentence ever written.)
“You’re sensitive! You won’t be able to handle it.” And this comes from well-meaning friends who are simply aware of the writing I do here on this site. I also watch them try to protect me from things they consider difficult or upsetting. To be clear, I know them well enough to know that they have nothing but good intentions. On a deeper level though, I found it interesting to observe what they believe being sensitive means.
Inability to deal with difficult events or emotions. Needing to be protected. Needing to be handled.
And these are not at all uncommon beliefs. So when faced with such comments, it’s yet another opportunity to practice being strongly rooted in who you are and what you know about yourself.
Sensitive people are in fact STRONGER than they really believe, precisely because we are able to process emotions on a deep level. When we open ourselves up to emotion, we go deeper than anyone else is able to – and then we come back. This builds resilience and allows us to develop compassion. When we have looked our demons in the eye, the dark is less likely to scare us. It doesn’t mean our demons go away all at once – but we become old hands at sparring with them, we are less likely to be caught unawares, to be ambushed and dragged under. Sometimes we lose these battles, but it is through them that we get to know our vulnerabilities, our humanity, our minds. And this is an invaluable source of strength, because you end up with the bigger prize: self knowledge. No one will ever get to tell you who you are!
I also believe it’s important to not buy into these comments as HSPs/Empaths. Be aware of the projections people have upon sensitivity, and consciously ask yourself if you believe that they are truly reflective of you. Our minds are so powerful. We create what what we believe. Do you believe you need to be protected? Do you believe being sensitive makes you weak, makes you fragile? Beware of the scripts others have written for you from their own rejection of their shadow.
Remember that you do not have to accept what someone says about you. (Boundaries!) If you feel upset about it, it’s a sign that it has triggered something that you are self-conscious about within yourself. When people used to make such comments to me, I used to OBSESS about it. I now see these feelings as an invitation to go deeper into self-love. If it stings me or my ego, I give myself a set period of time to think about it and look at where I might need to take a look at where I’m still buying into old tales of unworthiness. After an allotted time – no moping or falling into a rabbit hole! – I move on. Or sometimes I simply brush it off right away.
While it’s valuable and important for there to be true mirrors in your life to reflect to you a facet of yourself you’re blind to, it’s equally important in these situations to understand that society can distort and refract the light that’s being thrown back onto you. Perhaps there’s a kernel of truth. Perhaps it’s a blind spot you need to be made aware of. But it could just as well simply be a projection.
For example, after hearing my friend’s remark, it made me wonder if I had been projecting that persona of needing to be protected in the past. (Prior to that meeting, I had not seen her for a couple of years.) Or had I simply been acting according to how others were expecting me to behave? (Ungrounded empaths can be chameleons.) Or was it simply just something she represses in herself? Maybe it used to be all of the above. But I now know myself enough to simply register it, smile, and… write this article.
On this journey, only getting to know yourself deeper will help you to discern the difference.
(That said, if a comment or remark is still genuinely triggering for you, it is probably because there’s some residual wounding that needs to be looked at. And that is a whole separate discussion for another time.)
Love, love, love. xo