Healthy Versus Unhealthy Sensitivity (Updated!)

I really love being sensitive. It means I am alive. It means I am in touch with not just my own feelings but also yours. I am more likely to understand other people in this place. It makes it easy to hold space for others. It is definitely a step up from the shut down person I used to be. And in a stoic insensitive world, that sensitive people are getting some air time and understanding at all these days is an improvement. We still have a ways to go. However, all good things can be taken to extremes. We have now what is called HSP (the highly sensitive person). Regardless of how highly sensitive we can become, it is still a step in the right direction because how are we going to be able to ever express our feelings in a freeze-dried state? We have to eventually open all the way up. Highly sensitive people are blazing the trail welcoming formerly repressed people to also dare to feel the world. Having said that, while it is healthy to be sensitive, hypersensitivity (HSP) is  a classic textbook symptom of PTSD where we, in extreme ways, unconsciously confuse the present with the past. Granted, we must learn to love and accept that part of ourselves that is highly sensitive all the while, with a realistic understanding, that it is our old hurts that drive this sensitivity and that our commitment to healing will restore us to a place where our sensitivity is more grounded and balanced.

Once upon a time, back in 2012, I used to use this browser application that blocked YouTube comments from my view as sometimes I used to see comments on YouTube that made me traumatized. Not looking at them wasn’t enough as I’d fear I would accidentally see a comment. So, I needed to take extreme measures. After all the healing work I have done over these years since then, I am proud to see I am at a place where youtube comments no longer affect me in adverse ways. I’ve a ways to go, however, as just recently, I threw away a letter from a person I used to be in a relationship with as I feared there might be some rejecting language in it. I knew I would not be able to hear her response. I had gone through enough nightmares and emotional flashbacks and heartbreak during that period, that I could not take any more words that would make it all worse. It annoys me when people don’t read what I write to them, so I am aware of my hypocrisy. In any event, I still cannot handle the truth sometimes and dodge it as if it were a bullet. This is NOT the type of sensitive person I strive to be. It gets in the way of me living a peaceful, grounded, balanced life. I want to be sensitive, but it’s not sensitivity anymore if I am imprisoning myself and others with it.

There is healthy and unhealthy sensitivity. Healthy sensitivity is fully responsible for its world while unhealthy sensitivity thinks it’s world (outside of childhood trauma) is *always* someone else’s fault — to an extreme level. That is another underappreciated difference. Great to balance out the importance of holding people responsible for their actions and also taking responsibility for our own triggers.

I think we need to take the highly sensitive person more seriously all the while being accountable? Eventually, perhaps, we’ll all find out trauma is at the root of almost everything and we’ll start to shout, cry, kick and grieve instead of getting wound up in the web of demanding everyone else change instead? Because isn’t that our act-out? To get everyone to change their personalities so we don’t have to return to our childhood and confront our abusers?

The Barry Manilow song of the day:

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