Being a sensitive person can oftentimes feel like a mixed bag filled with blessings yet also curses. On the one hand, our nervous system is highly wired to detect the smallest nuances in life and also to freak out over them. It’s quite a conundrum, and one that I have been struggling with since I was a tiny human being. When I was growing up, there was no “Highly Sensitive Person Guide To The World” on the internet. In fact, there was no internet. I hadn’t even heard of the term “Highly Sensitive Person” until I stumbled upon Elaine Aron’s self-test online. It explained so many things. Why I jump every time a car honks leaving me feeling like one of those trembling greyhound dogs. Why I simply cannot abide loud eaters and feel spectacularly uncomfortable in open-plan office environments. Whilst being a sensitive person can feel like being encumbered with a set list of unusual nuances, we are also great people to have in your lives for these 13 reasons:
1. When they feel, they really feel
Being so highly attuned with their nervous systems means that sensitive folks feel emotions in a very real and complex way. It is almost as if they are tuned into a different radio frequency than the rest of humanity. When their emotions are triggered, they cannot simply ignore them. Much like a passing storm, they need to work through any upsetting feelings before they can even begin to appreciate any silver linings.
2. They shed many tears
It’s important to know that in loving a sensitive person, you will learn to love their tears. They can cry at the drop of a hat at seemingly the silliest things. Witnessing random acts of meanness can set them off, but so can a litter of cute puppies. Those infomercials raising money for starving children in Africa typically get them every time, and they probably shouldn’t be in the room when those Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercials start playing.
3. They are in touch with their emotional mind
Emotions are generally sensitive people’s closest companions. They feel, think, and act on an emotional level and therefore can be wonderfully considerate. They can also be moody as hell. Whilst the majority of people experience the ever-shifting sands of emotion, sensitive people tend to shift these sands at lightning speed. One minute they can be laughing at something you said and the next minute the laughter is gone, to be replaced by a frostier vibe. It’s important not to take any of this personally and just let them get on with it.
4. They can pick up the subtlest vibes
Being so highly attuned with their emotions means that they can intuit the emotions of others pretty perceptively. If they walk into a room and the vibe is off, they will feel it in an instant. This can be overwhelming for some people, since it’s hard to distinguish between their own moods and what they are empathizing from someone else. Yes, thats right. Sensitive people can literally take on someone else’s mood without even realizing it.
5. They are incredibly empathetic
There’s a reason why sensitive people often make wonderful teachers: they tend to have huge reserves of empathy for others. Its just harder for them to walk past an upsetting situation playing out on the street without coming away with some residual emotion. It’s important to know that they simply cannot just turn off their feelings. They are natural empathizers and can sometimes transmute the pain of others.
6. They can come undone when witnessing extreme behavior
One of the singularly most upsetting things for a sensitive person is violence towards others. That’s why you probably won’t see them lining up for the latest slasher movie on a Friday night. (They’ll be the ones getting ready for a good cry at the latest Nicholas Sparks movie.) Violence and extreme behavior Freaks. Them. Out. Whilst others might enjoy watching a serial killer torture his victim on the big screen, those sensitive people will already be cowering in the restroom.
7. They need more downtime than most
All this empathizing and deep feelings mean that a sensitive person’s need for downtime is non-negotiable. Because they operate an overactive nervous system, they need time to decompress and spend time with themselves. Once they have recharged their emotional batteries, they will be ready to face the world again. But it’s paramount to respect their need to just be.
8. They dont deal well with criticism
Be careful when you feel the need to critique your sensitive friend, family member, or lover. Being so in tune with themselves means that they are usually their own worst enemies, so anything negative you have to say will likely already have been realized by themselves. This doesnt mean you have to live in a world of unicorns and lollipops when you hang out with them, but use some tact. A good way to approach criticism with them is to spread it on both sides with love; a critical sandwich, if you will. It will be far easier for them to swallow.
9. They may forgive, but they dont forget
If you serve them a hateful sandwich instead, be warned. They might eventually forgive you, but they will never forget what you did. They are almost elephantean in their ability to recount all of the wrongs harbored against them, and it can be incredibly hard for them to shake it off and move on. There will be no firework show of fury, since they feel their emotions deeply and quietly.
10. Their are connected with their creativity
Their unique mode of perception allows them to develop a strong appreciation for nature, music, art, and literature. This can lead them into successful careers as artists, where they can give themselves permission to express their unique view of the world through a creative outlet.
11. They enjoy connecting with the natural world
The solitude that nature affords us means that sensitive people are drawn to surrounding themselves with the natural world. Their sensitive nervous systems can easily become saturated by the bombardment of sights, sounds, smells, and speed of modern life. An afternoon spent hiking or even reading in the park provides a sensitive person that precious time to reboot and recharge so that they feel ready to face the world again.
12. They engage with their senses
Whilst some of us are more connected with one dominant sense, sensitive people tend to engage all of their senses. Not only do they feel emotion on a deep level, but they can also be highly attuned to strong tastes, noises, visuals, sounds, and touch.
13. They make for wonderfully caring friends
One of the hallmark characteristics of highly sensitive people is the ability to feel more deeply than their less-sensitive peers. This can make them fabulous people to know. Their deep level of concern for others leads to a sense of empathy and concern for their friends’ well being. They may also have more concern about how another person may be reacting in the face of a negative event, meaning they will likely be one of the first people to reach out in times of adversity.
Whilst sensitive people are too often perceived by others as being weak or lacking backbone, it’s important to remember that to feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness. Loving a sensitive person might be complicated, but it’s also important to remember that they hold some truly wonderful characteristics that will make having them in your life a truly unique experience.
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