Girls are typically labeled as overly emotional or sensitive, and over the years, it’s become an accepted stereotype. However, when boys are called emotional or sensitive, it becomes a cross to bear. It’s an implicit insult that crawls into the depths of one’s heart and destroys the beauty of love and compassion. And when the insults gather in number, it becomes easy to shut off the emotions completely for self-preservation. When we do this, we begin to block the flow of energy in our bodies and hold on to the negativity others are throwing at us. It’s like the adage about swallowing poison in hopes your enemy dies. We only hurt ourselves. Have you ever been called “too sensitive” or a “wuss” for crying? How silly this seems being made fun of for simply feeling. Being sensitive means you feel things more deeply than most, and while some find this a curse, the reality is that it’s a gift. When we are able to feel things so deeply, it means we are present. It means we care about ourselves, we care about others, and we care about the world around us. However, these deep feels can cause problems with our mental health. But the positive side of this coin is that there are ways to combat the sadness that can stem from bullying and intense emotional responses.
Sympathy versus Empathy
Before we can talk about coping mechanisms, we need to understand what we are dealing with. There are a few ways to feel. We experience the most common on a daily basis. An event or interaction occurs which causes an emotional response. This happens through a bodily reaction, resulting in joy, anger, sadness, etc., but there are other ways in which we take in emotion. The first is sympathy. Sympathy is when we feel bad for someone else. They relay an experience, and we pity them. For example, if someone tells us their grandmother passed away, we feel sympathy or sorrow for their distress. Then there is empathy. Empathy is the same concept in which you feel bad for another person, but when you are empathetic, you feel the story of death and feel those feelings with the other person. You aren’t looking at the feelings from the outside. You are feeling the same feelings as the other person. Empathy could be the result of two things:
- If the person lost their grandmother, and you have suffered the same fate, you understand what that other person is feeling. You empathize because you know and feel what they are feeling. You’ve been there.
- You are a person of heightened sensitivity, so when you hear about the loss, you can emotionally understand by calling on your feelings. It’s even said that empathetic people pick up the energy around them, causing them to feel sad or anxious when they have no experiential triggers or catalysts. Think about those ASPCA commercials where they have sad music playing and show beaten dogs and wounded animals. Have you ever teared up during one of those commercials? If so, that’s a clear sign of empathy.
Why Being Sensitive is Important
The world is not necessarily a nurturing place, hence the high rate of drug abuse and alcoholism mixing with overdoses and the opioid crisis. It’s clear people want to turn away from what they are feeling, but what if the reason everyone feels anxious stems from underlying problems they need to deal with? Imagine if everyone took a second to acknowledge their feelings then the feelings of others. Imagine if we all had empathy? What a difference we would see and feel. On the flip side, this empath life can become quite draining. It’s important to know how to protect your energy. First, you need to assess your junk and process your heart. When you have a tough interaction or a bad day, it means you need to take some alone time to regroup. Take a warm shower, write it out in your journal, or practice a beloved hobby. Separate out your junk from everyone else’s. Release it and move on. If you are still feeling low, you may have taken on someone else’s energy. Did a friend ask you to listen to their problems today? Was someone at home in a bad mood? Was a teacher rude in class? These emotions are not yours. They are someone else’s problem. Take some time to sit quietly in meditation, focus on slowing your breath, and ask your higher power to release these feelings from you. Connect to the universe in whatever way you feel comfortable and focus on positive mantras that bring you back to yourself. At the end of the day, not everyone you meet will be polite and inviting. You can’t control their behaviors, but you can choose how you react to them. Let them call you sensitive. Let them call you a baby. Because at the end of the day, their words reflect them and their negative self-talk—not you.
If feeling your feelings is too much to bear, you’re not alone. Reach out to Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today at (662) 478-9463 and learn how to feel without using a substance to lessen or mask the pain. At Stonewater, we cater to your individual emotional needs. We use scientifically proven methods to teach you coping skills that will reveal your highest self and put you back in touch with your higher power. Call today to feel the relief and beauty of being you.