If you have not yet owned your softness, your sensitivity, someone else will likely come in and define what they think it should mean for you. And usually, to their advantage. Often to make themselves feel stronger or better about themselves in some way.
How does it make them feel better?
They may try casting you in the role of the weaker. They will hold up a mirror to you, and reflect to you the way you feel about yourself deep inside. In this moment, they are a teacher. However, it can also be a painful experience.
Usually, these are people who may feel that they have successfully conquered their weaknesses. Erased their vulnerability. Controlled every aspect of themselves that makes them feel soft, weak – human. Became seemingly impenetrable. Invulnerable.
Because in this often harsh and cruel world, it may be easier for some to walk around in a state of numbness.
And then you come along, wearing your heart on your sleeve. Showing your eagerness to reveal your true feelings, to share your stories, to laugh and cry without restraint.
You are everything they have tried to deny for so long.
You remind them of their vulnerability. That which makes them feel small, feel soft, feel needy. Feel out of control.
They panic. Some may be inspired to reveal their own vulnerability. More often, however, they may lash out at you or react negatively.
“You are wrong for being who you are.” They may say this without words.
They want you to know that you are weak for not wearing a mask, unlike them. They are strong, right? Because they remain unmoved, they are the strongest, see?
It is easy to believe them because most of us grew up believing this about ourselves.
But you must know that they have walled off parts of themselves that used to feel, that used to cry tears of sadness and joy. The part of themselves that were not held with the care and love they deserved.
Because we were all born vulnerable. We were all born helpless. Needy. Crying out for love and attention, warmth and understanding. Nurturing and soothing.
Not all of us got it. Not all of us got enough. And so some choose to shut down.
The more sensitive among us simply do not know another way to be. We just feel. We feel. We know. We see. If we shut down our hearts, we shut down our whole lives.
The way they treat you is the way they treat the softer side of themselves. Their shadow side. The human side.
If you are being hurt by someone who has not respected their softer side, their sensitivity for too long. By someone who has forgotten. First protect your heart. Try not to blame them or yourself too much – blaming can keep you hooked into the drama. For this is a teaching moment to help you learn about yourself.
But it is your duty to move away. To draw your boundaries. Keep your distance. Let yourself heal. Learn to value yourself. You must learn to know your worth. To become more deeply attuned to your invaluable, priceless heart.
If you are already on the path of valuing yourself and loving yourself and your sensitivity. You will be continuously tested in this world that still does not value these qualities. People will come in and out of your life, some challenging the strength of your resolve to love and value yourself.
Resist the urge to fall back into the old narrative of unworthiness. You will know when you start feeling smaller and dimmer again.
Hold your heart steady, no matter how much it may hurt at first. For that hurt is nothing compared to the devastation that sacrificing your sensitive self involves.
Some ideas to help you to value your sensitivity:
- Pursue a hobby that involves your sensitivity. This could be something creative, like dance or painting, writing or photography.
- Notice how sensitivity plays into your work or school life – what are some of the things you enjoy and do well at? What do you admire in yourself? Perhaps your ability to notice or synthesize information plays a large role in it. Notice this and celebrate it.
- Explore your spirituality. Often, we have rich spiritual lives because we are more attuned to the unseen and unheard. Explore what this realm of your life holds for you.
The goal is to notice how much your trait can also add to your enjoyment of your life, and to see the richness and depth, meaning and truth you experience because of it. This helps you to build esteem, and to create a safe harbor to fall back upon in turbulent times.
How do you value your sensitivity?