Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A thin skin makes for a bigger heart

In case you're new to this space or just don't know me very well, I'm cluing you in on one of my most distinguishing characteristics today.

I'm a sensitive soul.

I'd probably even categorize myself as a highly sensitive person.

As reflected in the top portion of this fun graphic I saw floating around on the interwebs, this trait is often perceived negatively. I completely understand that stigma. It's hard to know how to deal with someone who reacts emotionally before thinking things through mentally. Sometimes, people just walk away from those who are sensitive. I get it. It'd be hard to maintain honesty and good communication if you feel like you have to be very careful about what you say. Friendships can get strained.

This actually happened to me the other night. Some friends offered to me what they considered helpful advice on a situation. I immediately felt as though they were telling me what I was doing wrong or that I was stupid. That wasn't their intention at all, but it was my perception. My immediate reaction was to shut down. To pull away. But they didn't let me. They made me talk through what bothered me about the conversation. It wasn't a comfortable process. In fact, it was very hard.  Probably for all of us. But I think it revealed some things that will help us all be better communicators in the future.

I'm blessed to have people like this in my life. Friends who will weather my emotional storms and talk me through them instead of pushing me away and letting me push them away.

I've definitely lost a few friends because of my sensitivity. I've damaged some relationships as well. And that hurts. A lot. I understand it, but I don't like it.

I've made progress with my feelings over the years, but there are still times I fail. I need to remember that while I process things with my emotions, they aren't always the best barometer of others' intentions. I need to remember to step back when something is said and take a few moments to evaluate the situation. I need to ask myself a few questions before I reaction on instinct. Is this person someone who has supported me in the past? Are their words constructive or destructive? Do they seem genuinely helpful?

While I work on this, I think it's also OK to own my sensitivity. I don't want to get rid of it. It's an inherent part of me, and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.

Being a sensitive person does not have to be negative. Being sensitive means I'm more attuned to people's feelings. It makes me more empathetic. I listen more and without judgment. I perceive things that aren't being said. I treat people with kindness and care.

My sensitive nature helps me excel in customer service situations, which I encounter in all three of my jobs. It also makes me a valuable member of a team or committee. More importantly, it makes me a better friend and a better person.

So, yes, I'm sensitive. And I wouldn't change it if I could.

Do you have a trait like this? One that is perceived as a flaw but can be spun into an asset?

4 comments:

  1. I like that this blog validates your blog title.

    I understand this. I'm fairly sensitive. I tend to overthink many, many things and I'm certain I'm the only one bothered by it. However, I know this has been a positive for me, just as with you, in my job when dealing with clients.

    Thanks for being vulnerable.

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  2. I tried to comment on this yesterday but Bloglovin wouldn't let me. Boo. Anyway, I love this blog. I love that your friends are so awesome and they stick with you and that you work stuff out. That is a sign of real friendship.
    My step-daughter tells me all the time I am too sensitive. Coming from a 12 year old that is reality. I use to hate it, now I just accept that creative people tend to be a little more high strung and passionate. (That's what they say at work. I am passionate.)

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  3. I tried to comment on this yesterday but Bloglovin wouldn't let me. Boo. Anyway, I love this blog. I love that your friends are so awesome and they stick with you and that you work stuff out. That is a sign of real friendship.
    My step-daughter tells me all the time I am too sensitive. Coming from a 12 year old that is reality. I use to hate it, now I just accept that creative people tend to be a little more high strung and passionate. (That's what they say at work. I am passionate.)

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  4. This post did not go in the direction I thought it was going to based on the title, and I'm glad for that.

    Chris's daughter, who is about to turn 9, is incredibly thin-skinned. To the point that it is often very frustrating to even have a conversation with her for fear that she will be offended by some completely innocent and benign statement. But I think you make some good points in this post. I mean, the kid is super sweet (most of the time) and has a really good heart and I feel like I need to try to be more mindful of that as I try to help her learn to not be so easily offended. That doesn't mean she has to become callous or jaded. I actually read this post a couple of days ago and hadn't gotten the chance to actually comment on it yet, but it was in my mind the other night when I tried to tell Chris (who gets VERY frustrated with her) that there needs to be a careful balance between helping her learn to toughen up a little bit and teaching her that feeling things is wrong. We DEFINITELY don't want to go in that direction.

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