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Published on May 20, 2020

Why Am I So Sensitive And Is It Bad?

Why Am I So Sensitive And Is It Bad?

Are you always offended by everything? Take things too personally? Do you find yourself thinking people are laughing about you in public places?

Is every altercation extremely stressful?

Do you pick up other people’s emotions? Do you find yourself fine, and then suddenly you are upset because someone else is?

If any of these are you, you are sensitive, and that is okay. It’s good, even! Here’s why.

What Does It Mean to Be Sensitive?

Being sensitive has too often been used as an insult to belittle people as sensitivity was perceived as weak in a masculine-centric society. This led to sensitive people agonizing over their insecurities.

To be sensitive means you are more empathetic and pick up on emotions more. You feel things on a much deeper level, and as a result, it can feel incredibly overwhelming.

Why Am I Sensitive?

There are many arguments as to why some people are more sensitive than others. For one, there is a contested theory that people have something called a Sensory Processing Sensitivity[1], but there is no solid diagnosis for why some people are more sensitive than others. If you find yourself to be a sensitive person, instead of trying to work out why you are like this, you should focus on what you can do with it.

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Is Being Sensitive a Bad Thing?

While it can be more difficult to live with as you have to manage your sensitivity, it is, without a doubt, a blessing in disguise. Think of it as a superpower; you can empathize with people more, which is highly valuable in today’s society. While you will feel overwhelmed more easily, you have to ability to love and feel at a deeper level, and you will have a high EQ.[2]. It is a superpower, but you have to learn how to use your power for growth and not self-destruction.

More sensitive people have the ability to experience sensory detail. You can appreciate the subtle shades of texture in clothing, foods when cooking, the sounds of music, fragrances, the different colors of nature, or even traffic or people talking.

Sensitive people can also determine nuances in meaning, making them more emotionally intelligent. They are more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors, or other artists. They are also much more creative, and, as mentioned, they have greater empathy.[3]

How to Handle Sensitivity

Being sensitive is a blessing, but it can also be a terrible burden if left uncared for. Sensitive people tend to not take care of themselves properly and get overwhelmed and burnt out faster. These are the most important things you need to change in your life in order to handle being a more sensitive person and be happy.

1. Take Responsibility

Start by taking responsibility for your mental health. You are sensitive, and you can’t change that. You can only manage it, and the first step in doing that is by accepting who you are. Then, take responsibility for your actions moving forward. Take responsibility for your self-care, keeping on top of your mental health, overwhelm, and most importantly, your feelings.

If you are feeling strong emotions, learn to let it be. Sit with it, and understand that it will pass. Like waves in the ocean, they always calm if you give them attention.

If you are mimicking someone else’s emotions that aren’t yours, it is your responsibility to deal with it appropriately and not lash out.

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If someone has caused a strong emotional response, you are responsible for your feelings. That person was a catalyst, but the feelings that arise are yours. You control how you react and how you move forward. Don’t let someone hold you emotionally hostage.

2. Identify Drains and Energizers

You will find some people drain you and leave you feeling exhausted, and some people will make you feel bright and happy. You need to identify who these people are so you can deal with it. If you identify a drainer, avoid them or prepare yourself by creating a mental shield (more on that in a moment).

With drainers, you need to set boundaries with them or they will leave you an exhausted husk. This is a kindness; you are helping them and helping yourself. Limit your interactions and time with them and don’t falter. You will find people who drain you are drawn to you because they love your sensitivity. They are often called energy vampires, and staying away from them is the best you can do.

Alternatively, you have to keep an eye out for what makes you feel recharged and safe. Find what lifts you up and surround yourself with it.

3. Create a Good Self-Care Routine

Taking care of yourself is priority number one. Sensitive people also tend to be very selfless, so you need to establish a good routine so you can rest and recover.

Things you should include in your routine:

  • Eating well
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Getting out into nature
  • Scheduling “you time” to do things you love
  • Creating a safe and welcoming environment to retreat to
  • Repeating positive affirmations

It is critical that you take care of yourself as, like introverts, you need to recharge. If you don’t, you will feel mentally and emotionally drained all the time, which will cause mental health issues.

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4. Create a Shield

A great mental trick is to put up a mental shield when you are in an overwhelming situation. This involves putting up a shield in your mind and visualizing it as protecting you from someone’s energy. Being sensitive means you can feel bombarded by not only emotions but general stimulation. Finding ways to block them out so you don’t feel so overwhelmed is important.

A good way to learn how to build a mental shield is through mindfulness meditation. Others find that using headphones to block out sound stimulation is helpful, while others use sunglasses to weaken visual stimuli. Experiment and find what works for you.

5. Watch Your Thoughts

Not all your feelings are your feelings. Sometimes you absorb the energy of others and react to them. When this happens, you need to ask yourself, am I actually upset or am I just reacting? Becoming self-aware will help you focus on what you feel and what you are just mimicking. If you are just reacting to another person’s feelings, you can let it go.

You also have to keep an eye on your internal talk. If you are constantly being negative to yourself, you will struggle with being sensitive. You control your brain, so start making micro choices to think more positively. When a negative thought comes, correct it with something positive. If you don’t reign in your internal negativity, it will only heighten your insecurity and sensitivity.

6. Practice Assertiveness

Much like setting boundaries, you should practice assertiveness. As sensitive people tend to be less assertive because they don’t want to deal with a strong emotion, they are very easy to bulldoze. You have a right to your feelings and space. You shouldn’t change who you are to accommodate other people. If they don’t like your feelings, that is their responsibility.

If you are being assertive, you may get a response, like anger. You are not responsible for how that person is feeling; you are only responsible for you. If they are angry, that’s on them. As long as you are not violating someone else’s needs, you can say or do what you need to in order to take care of yourself.

7. Express Your Feelings

There are many ways you can do this. As a sensitive person, you are experienced with your emotions. However, because many people are taught that emotions are bad, most people tend to be bad at dealing with them.

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You need to feel your feelings. There are many things you can do to help alleviate the overwhelming feelings you feel all the time, such as meditation. Another popular technique in the spiritual community is a process called cleansing your chakras. This process helps you process and let go of your anger, loss, guilt, or shame.

If you aren’t ready to express your feelings to another person, a great tool to help is journaling. This is a safe space for you to express your feelings in a controlled way and can help you work through your problems by seeing them put on paper.

8. Change Your Perspective

Know that it isn’t about you. This is a powerful revelation if you choose to hear it. Humans in genearl are self-centered and tend to think the world revolves around them. This means we often overcompensate by being overly selfless because we feel shame about being biologically selfish.

Like all things, you require balance. You are selfish, and that is fine, but the lesson is that not everything is about you. Sensitive people tend to see others’ actions as a critique of who they are, but most of the time, that isn’t the case.

An important thing to do is forgive those who have wronged you. Often sensitive people are not great at letting things go. As a result, they find it difficult to move on from painful experiences. This is unhealthy as it will keep you from enjoying both the present and the future. Take the lesson, leave the pain.

9. Be Grateful for Your Gift

You have a great gift, so don’t be afraid of it. If you control it, take good care of yourself, and set some boundaries, you can utilize your gift of sensitivity for good. It is a blessing. If you think negatively, you will only have a negative life. Show gratitude for your new superpower and use it to your advantage.

Final Thoughts

Being sensitive is certainly a challenge. You have to be on guard a little more, and life is a little harder than for non-sensitive people, which does get frustrating. But it is also an incredible power, an advantage.

You are more likeable, people will be drawn to you, and you are able to empathize and help people really feel heard. You have an incredible gift. Don’t use it to torture yourself; use it to change your world.

More Tips on Dealing With Sensitivity

Featured photo credit: Ivan Aleksic via unsplash.com

Reference

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Jade Nyx

Qualified Life Coach

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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