I had an interesting conversation with my Dad the other night about potentially buying a car. When he cut me off and spoke in a harsher, slightly raised voice arguing back with me, I got a shock and my eyes started to water. I was embarrassed that he thought I was being so unreasonable. I value my Dad’s opinion of me a lot. He has always been the sensible one.
My brain went into over-drive, fighting with itself to listen to the frustrated person talking to it and berating me for my childish response in an adult conversation. As soon as I spoke, the tears came out of my eyes with the words from my mouth. I was crying, 24 years old, crying in front of my dad, talking about a car. Sure, he raised his voice unfairly, but tears? Stacey, really? My Dad laughed at me, which didn’t help and got up to half hug me awkwardly. ” I’m not upset, I don’t know what’s happening ” – I finished my point, got up and repeated. ”I’m not upset!”
After closing the sitting room door, I went upstairs to the bathroom and cried for another 10 minutes out of frustration at myself. When I’m angry, I cry. When I’m embarrassed, I cry. When I’m frustrated, I cry. Cry, cry, cry. Why can’t I deal with conflict?! Why can’t I just stop fudging crying!
The thing is, I just can’t. It’s who I am. The only thing that made that situation worse was my inner dialogue telling myself how embarrassed I should be for responding that way, maybe if I had have remained calm and accepted my sensitivity to other’s tone, I would have been able to just accept my teary-eyed self and continued to let my brain focus on the fairness of the conversation being had and effectively stand up for myself. So the thing is, I need not to learn how to not be so sensitive, but how to accept and embrace the sensitivity.
As you can see from my short little story, I haven’t yet mastered this, so the following is a guide for me just as much as you. Let me know if any of these tips actually helped and maybe we can work on it together and help each other.
- Laugh about it
Humour is so helpful in tense situations in general. Often relationship specialists will advise you to incorporate humour more into your relationships as a way easing the blow to your partner if you have some issues with them. You can watch School of Thought’s amazing video on this. You can use this same idea with your brain. There are two parts of you in this situation. The sensitive one whose instinct is to cry and the stubborn frustrated one that curses the other for showing the weakness. Well instead of Mx. Stubborn lashing out at already Mx. Sensitive, why not approach them with humour? Maybe Mx. Sensitive might be a little more receptive then and Mx. Stubborn could be more likely to accept their softer side as endearing.
A way to do this could be by telling the story of your ridiculous and embarrassing reaction and let yourself and others laugh about it. You’ll be surprised how much humour can actually heal a damaged ego.
2. Find Others Like You
Talk to your friends or family, you’re definitely not the only person who responds in far from ideal ways in different situations. Knowing that it’s not just you will really help to soften your inner voice, because you won’t feel like it’s just you. Another benefit of talking to people in your life about your sensitivity, is having more people to tell your funny stories to.
3. Make a List
Oh there is always a reason for a list. If you weren’t the type of person who cried easily, you probably wouldn’t be the type of person who considered the feelings of others as much as you do. That is one of your greatest qualities, you can sense the emotions in the room, you know how to listen to understand, you enjoy helping people. This is just an example of how being a sensitive person makes you the best version of yourself. Consider how being sensitive benefits your character and the people around you. Write this down. Then, when you find yourself in a loop of negative self-talk about your over-sensitivity, you can look back on this list and remember you can’t be perfect and these few moments of embarrassment just might be worth this list of benefits.
4. Be Aware of Defensive and Abrasive People
You don’t match well with these people, you just don’t. Sure, everyone gets defensive sometimes, or gets snappy in moments of extreme stress. However, if there is a person in your life who you would actually use these words to describe, ask yourself how this person makes you feel when your around them. Usually, harsh people see sensitivity as weakness, because they themselves are so uncomfortable with their own emotions. Limit the time you spend with these people if you can, because eventually you start to see it through their, insecure eyes.
5. Get to Know Your Emotions
One of the best things you could ever do for yourself is to become more self-aware. What makes you tick, what makes you feel better, why does it make you feel better, what overwhelms you, what signs are there of you being overwhelmed? The list goes on. Really sit with yourself of this one, it could take a while. You could try some journalling, come back to it every few weeks. This will result in a build up of trust between yourself and your emotions. Through questioning, experience, you will get to know your triggers, how to feel better, how long it usually lasts. This way when you are feeling especially delicate, you can stop with the negative self-talk and just accept the way you’re feeling and do what you know makes you feel better.
The world needs delicate flowers like you, thank you for being you!