I’ve been recently accused of being too sensitive at least twice. Yes, ACCUSED. It’s never meant as a compliment.
The first time, it was my former flatmate, the most obnoxious and hypocritical guy that I’ve ever met. He said that by treating me like a doormat, he was doing me a favor, because the world is evil and I need to toughen up. Have you ever heard anything more absurd than that? No matter how much I try, I can’t find any logic in his argument.
The second time, it was my supervisor at work, a perfectionist who blames others for his mistakes to preserve his social image and who shows his superiority by criticising everything, while pretending to be concerned about one’s growth. He thinks he knows better what I should feel when criticised for no reason, in spite of the fact that I generally get 99% of the job right.
I can’t help that, each time I am told that I am being too sensitive, it feels like a slap in my face. It’s the most hurtful camouflaged insult I can imagine: “Your feelings don’t matter, and you shouldn’t bother others with them. You are irrational, crazy, and unworthy of my respect.”
Am I too sensitive, really?
I am the person who can’t stop sobbing and weeping when, in a movie, someone gets emotionally or physically abused, hurt, or abandoned. Yes, I care about people, even if they’re fictional characters. Is that a bad thing?
I take unconstructive criticism personally because, unlike feedback, it is intended to be personal. If they cared about me and my growth, they would have packed it in a way that actually helps me improve. Being and emotional badass allows me to easily tell one from another.
I am respectful of other humans and their needs and demand the same treatment in return. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t have to agree on everything to be friends.
I do my best to effectively communicate my feelings, even if they’re unpleasant, because I believe that this is what good communication is about. Hiding’s one’s feelings leads to passive-aggressive behaviors which can destroy any relationship.
I cry in front of people when overwhelmed by emotions, and don’t apologize for it. Many people aren’t comfortable with my authenticity and honesty, but being emotional is a part of being me.
I easily forgive and forget if you had pure intentions because after all, we are all humans and we all make mistakes. Resentment is not only useless but also damages one’s health.
Given all this, I don’t think I am too sensitive. As an INFP, I am just sensitive. And I refuse to toughen up.
Being sensitive is nothing to be ashamed of, and don’t let anyone tell you what you should feel. Just as you can’t be too pretty, or too intelligent, you can’t be too sensitive. According to Elaine Aron, the psychologist who coined the term Highly Sensitive Person, feeling deeply is a form of superpower, not a weakness, so don’t let anyone tell you that you are flawed. Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You deeply resonated within me. About 20 to 30 per cent of human population perceive the world and process the stimuli in a similar way to mine. We consciously notice subtle details that “normal” people tend to overlook: slight changes in voice and tone, the choice of words, one’s facial expression… We know when there is no offence intended.
The reason why hurtful comments aren’t like water off a duck’s back is that I genuinely care about others and am fully aware whenever it is used against me. Let’s face it: accusing someone of being too sensitive and telling them to “grow up” is a nasty manipulation technique called gaslighting, which, in short, is aimed at destroying one’s ability to trust one’s own judgment. It IS disrespectful, and thus feeling hurt is a normal reaction to undeserved hostility.