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being sensitive is a superpower - surviving my past

Sensitivity Is A Strength, Not A Weakness.

by Matt Pappas

As a person who has spent his entire life being sensitive, both towards myself and others, I can certainly relate to this guest blog post by regular guest blogger, Rose.

I was often ridiculed as a child, for being too sensitive, for caring too much, for caring at all. Now that I’m adult, I have embraced that sensitivity is a strength, and there’s no shame in having that quality. In fact if you ask me, the world can use a bit more sensitivity these days. 

For a good portion of my life I thought that being sensitive was a weakness. That’s because I felt, what seemed like more than most other people, there was something wrong with me, and so for a long time I attempted to change this characteristic of myself. I would attempt to feel nothing at all through drugs, alcohol, food, or anything else I could find, or I would just flat-out pretend that I had no feelings whatsoever. For a period of time this method of dealing with my sensitivity worked, but as the story goes with addiction, eventually the drugs and my made-up coping mechanisms stopped working and all of my emotions came flooding back in, like a swirling torrent of pain, leaving me with a choice: deal with them and learn to harness my sensitivity or allow it and my addiction and my resentments to destroy me.

I chose the latter and I found that I was not alone in my being sensitive. In fact I found a whole community of people who were just like me. Who felt very deeply and seemed to be affected by things that “normal” people would not care about. I met people who understood that sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life I would become increasingly overwhelmed and they showed me that there was nothing wrong me and that being sensitive was nothing to be ashamed of.

Rosanne Lockinger - guest blogger on Surviving My PastIt is interesting because during the course of my sobriety I have been shown time and time again that those things that I once deemed to be a weakness of mine turned out to be a strength. I once heard that this is the irony and beauty of life. It takes the things that we deem unworthy or unsavory and uses them to benefit others in our lives and in turn strengthen and enrich our own lives. While I cannot say that this is the case for certain, it appears to be the way that my own self-declared “weaknesses” are used today—as a means to help others.

For instance my ability to be sensitive allows me to truly be there for other people. To really feel what they are feeling and empathize with them. I am able to be present with my friends when they are going through a painful experience and understand the feelings they are having. I don’t just talk with them and think, ‘That really sucks’, but I am able to get in there and really relate. Sometimes this can be a bit much, especially if I am very close to a person, because I genuinely feel their pain, but in the long run I believe it allows them to not feel as alone and allows me to be of more help than if I wasn’t so sensitive.

I know that my ability to be in touch with my emotions allows me to be a better mother.  It allows me to interpret my children’s emotions and help them learn how to express and feel them when they are struggling to understand what is going on inside them.  It allows me to be receptive and intuitively know their needs.  I am by no means saying that I am a perfect parent but what I have learned is the calmer and more centered I remain the better I am able to help my children.  I also have seen the beauty in helping my children learn how to identify and express what they are feeling in a healthy manner.  It has been healing for me as I in a sense reparent myself in this whole process.

My sensitivity also allows me write and create. I once heard in a meeting someone mockingly say about alcoholics, ‘Artists are sensitive, Alcoholics are touchy’ and while I can be touchy from time to time, as I think we all can be, I believe that my sensitivity is a gift that aids me in my writing.

I am able to sit down in front of the computer and access emotions and thoughts that maybe not everyone is able to put into words. The thing is though if you asked me to talkbeing sensitive is a strength - surviving my past - quotes about this I would be hard pressed to put this into words and speak them. Not that this makes me better than people who are not so sensitive, but it does allow me to see things that others may not. I am able to look inside of myself, feel my emotions and allow the thoughts that are guiding them to come to the surface, so that I can put them down on the page and hopefully help another person.

It is not always easy and there are sometimes when I do not want to be so sensitive, when I wish that I was able to better shut off my feelings and just go through life with a little thicker skin, but I know that is not the plan for me. That I wasn’t created to have thick skin and to be able to be ‘hard’, but rather I was meant to be transparent so that I could share my innermost thoughts and feelings with anyone who was willing to listen. I am not able to hide my emotions and you will see them play across my face and know what I feel.  This can be difficult when I really do need to guard my feelings when dealing with individuals who I may not particularly like or care for.

There are drawbacks to being sensitive though and there are some times when I feel paralyzed by my own emotions. When I am so angry or sad that I find it difficult to work through these things. Or when I become overwhelmed by the people around me, who are leaning on me for support. I try my best to really be there for my friends, but there are times when I feel drained by having to be there for others because I actually take on their emotions and can feel them. Writing that out I’m not sure if that’s sensitivity or co-dependency, but regardless it is something that I struggle with and something that I believe to be linked to my sensitivity.

The thing about being sensitive is that there are some drawbacks, but the benefits I have found far outweigh these things. At this point in my life, it is not a characteristic of mine that I want to get rid of, but rather one that I want to nurture, so that I can help others and allow my sensitivity to lead me to new creative endeavors and discoveries. I want to express my emotions and share them with others so that anyone who knows how I feel, or has thought the way I have thought will know that they are not alone and know that there is nothing wrong with them.

So to all of my sensitive brethren out there: Keep on feeling!

-Rose

If you would like to be a guest blogger and share your story, just contact me anytime and let’s do it!

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

Additional Resource – Why Am I So Sensitive? 

 

Feature image and Picture of Rose provided by Rose Lockinger. Social Media images created using Canva, pictures courtesy of Pixabay.

 

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2 comments

L Wool March 24, 2017 - 12:58 pm

Thanks for sharing! This is me….. sensitive and able to feel what another is feeling much of the time! It is, for sure, draining for me! Articles such as this one have been so enlightening to finally begin to understand myself and my sensitive nature. Only now, I am able to understand that it really is not such a bad thing to feel so deeply, as I have been told so many times over the years, “You’re just so sensitive!” The key is for me to keep my own feelings in check so that I don’t get completely overwhelmed and to allow myself to back away from someone without beating myself up emotionally. The other element is, as I back away from someone, I need to be strong enough to let the criticism roll off my back that may come from them. i.e……..Self care is so important!

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Don Shetterly September 11, 2018 - 12:24 pm

For a long time, I despised being sensitive. It was used to put me down, ridicule me and bully me by a narcissist. It took me a long time to embrace that side of me that picks up far more than I even understand. Dr. Canali showed me that sensitivity in him was okay and helped me to realize it was okay in me. Little boys are not often allowed to be sensitive and that’s such a shame. The more I embrace it, the more I have come to understand who I am and I love this side of myself.

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