Sensitive people really do exist! They make up about 20% of the population!
That question, "Whatever is the matter with you?" can finally be answered. That trait you have, of feeling hurt so easily, and of often feeling "different" to everyone else, can finally be explained.
You may be a Highly Sensitive Person, like me.
I have felt different all my life. For a starter I have always been tall, and so felt like a big clumsy oaf in class activities. I did not enjoy sport, because I did not like being hot and sweaty, but playing at least one sport was always encouraged, and so I chose netball. I was not good at running, nor ball passing, and so due to my height, was usually placed at the end of the court, as Goal Shooter. (Not Goal Keeper, because I was no good at a defence position!) But time after time, I missed the goals. I was always humiliated when my team lost, as the other players would get the ball to me, I just could not get the scoring goals to aid a win! And not just humiliated, I felt REALLY humiliated.
I was an obedient daughter, and student. I hated the feeling of getting into trouble, or having someone get cross with me. My actions were motivated by the avoidance of disapproval, although I was not able to articulate that at the time. When I was in my (equivalent to) Year 11 at High School, I was nominated to be a prefect in the following year. I was initially astonished (having never felt noticed or popular at school) and then proud. As pro-prefect (probationary), I was expected to fill some of the roles of prefect, almost like a prefect in training.
I had huge difficulty doing this role, as I hated being the one to have to tell someone off for doing the wrong thing, and in those days, any student arriving late, or not being attired in the correct uniform on arrival at school, had to be reported and do a period of detention after school. To me it seemed so unfair to send someone to detention, for arriving 30 seconds after the bell went, or for having their hat in their bag instead of on their head, after riding their bike to school in the wind. Time after time, I let the student “off” with a warning, until I was reported and received a warning myself. In the end, I withdrew my nomination and did not stand to be elected as a prefect the following year. I didn’t want that role.
I was always thinking about how I felt about things, indeed, was always thinking about my thinking. My family would tell me not to ANALYSE things all the time. I could not switch off the thoughts however. And I would think about how others must be feelings, and how my words and actions would impact on them. I would be so careful not to hurt someone – in fact, would sacrifice my own opinion or preference, to cater to the desire of the other person. That left me indecisive and not able to have an opinion about many things. My default position was to maintain harmony. Any disagreement, conflict or confrontation would cause me huge discomfort, and I would aim to settle things down, and to have those involved speak to each other in a “normal voice”.
I was highly sensitive to things people said, or didn’t say. I could read non-verbals and body language at a very young age. I have so much empathy for other’s distress, it becomes ridiculous. I remember being in a lecture, and the guest presenter had come without his notes, and was trying to lecture from memory. He was stumbling, and at one stage had a complete mental block. I sat in the lecture theatre and cringed, and felt anxious, and wanted to hide under the chair in embarrasment for him. And it wasn’t even happening to me! But I was an adult before I learned that not everyone feels like this. In fact, others thought I was daft when I told them how I felt. This only reinforced that I was different.
One day in the Borders bookstore in Singapore, I chanced upon a table of BUY THREE PAY FOR TWO books. Of course I stopped to look. I picked up a book by Elaine Aron titled The Highly Sensitive Person. I still recall standing in Borders reading it, and becoming overwhelmed with the recognition of me. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read about me, my intensity, my differentness, my emotional pain, my debilitating adrenalin arousals when the focus was on me.
I didn’t buy 3 books that day. I bought 12. They were all called The Highly Sensitive Person!
Knowing if you are a highly sensitive person and how to manage that is one of the most important steps in rebuilding your relationship.
When you’re trying to fix your relationship but your emotions are out of control, you will always end up fighting. It’s time to get some professional help.
You can change this today.
I can help you to:
- Grow your emotional skills – emotional skills are far more important than any functional skill in achieving a high level of peace and calm within oneself.
- Know your emotional style – your emotional style effects how you react in emotional situations.
- Understand your emotional brain – learn how your brain effects your personal emotions.