I am a Cancer and with that comes a big heart, tons of creative energy and massive amounts of ongoing sensitivity. I have sobbed over a friend not texting me back. I have been upset by a roommate eating the last of the mayonnaise. I have gotten jealous of people hanging out with their own dogs. My emotions are intense and although there are benefits to that (I am an artist and an activist and being in touch with my feelings only helps in those departments) sometimes I do wish that I could be more chill about, well, everything. I wouldn’t ever want to change who I am at the core, but I’d like to alter how I process my emotions, how I handle confrontation, and how I respond to not having mayonnaise available. The goal: I want to respond pretty okay to it.
So, a little while ago I gave myself some damn real advice for how to deal with my own sensitivity. I check back in with this list regularly and it has aided me immensely over the last few months. I am currently on a self-discovery journey and need it most at present. I’m hoping to be able to get to a point where I can feel an emotion but not necessarily act on it unless I think it’s very necessary, which is harder said than done.
If you’re sensitive too and feel every feel, read on, friend. Maybe you can learn a bit about yourself too and take something positive away from it.
Remind yourself often that you’re a sensitive flower
Sometimes my emotions begin to spiral out of control and I forget for a hot second who I am, what my history is and where my patterns lie. Just as with any other mental health issue, it’s good to call attention to your sensitive nature when you’re having a sensitivity attack and assuming that whatever you’re feeling is 100 per cent rational and normal and correct. It allows you to step away from your sad, muddled mind and look at the situation more logically.
Before taking action, objectively analyze your feelings
Speaking of looking at things logically, before you call up that friend to yell at them for injuring your soul, do some self-analysis. Really dig deep into what’s happening and ask a lot of questions. Is what you’re feeling super valid or are you maybe overreacting? Do you have proof of this person being mad at you or are you imagining it? Did they likely mean to hurt your feelings or was it unintentional? Why is this upsetting you so much? Have you felt this way before? If your annoyance was an animal what animal would it be?
You might end up discovering that your reaction has more to do with you than them. OR you might discover that yes indeed you need to speak with them, ˜cause what they did very much sucked and isn’t okay. Point is, don’t jump to conclusions or conflict. Think things through. And most importantly, choose your battles wisely. Focus on the major stuff and let go of the rest. It’s likely not worth it.
If you do take action, be open to compromise
I am a very stubborn individual (which again as an artist and activist is useful), however, when it comes to having serious talks with pals and family members and lovers, I often forget to attempt to see the situation from their perspective. I place all of the blame on them and eliminate the possibility that I could be a contributor to this issue at all. Even if my contribution is freaking out at every single minor mistake they make. No problem in a long-term relationship can be solved without a bit of give and take. If you’re a sensitive person, the compromise you will might have to make is being less sensitive while requesting that they be more sensitive.
Also, have that conversation when you’re not in a rage
I’m still shocked by how differently I feel before a nap and after a nap. Or before I’ve eaten and after I’ve eaten. Or before an hour of yoga or after an hour of yoga. Or before a chat with a friend who isn’t connected to my rage and after that chat. The difference is night and day. I get heated quickly and if I proceeded to start a fight every time I was pissed off, I would be fighting non-stop with everyone. Usually, my pissed off-ness passes with time. Sometimes it morphs into genuine upset or sometimes it transforms into silly annoyance or sometimes it evaporates entirely. Fighting when you’re at peak emotion is not going to help anyone. Breathe. Relax. Then go forward with expressing your pain to this person, if you still feel that it’s a required move.
Don’t shut your valid feelings down entirely though
Occasionally I swing so far to the other side of non-sensitivity in hopes of combating my sensitivity that I start letting everything slide and open myself up to being treated like shit. I have allowed folks to be highly cruel to me because I assumed I was simply being melodramatic, when really they were simply being a selfish asshole. Allow yourself to feel. We’re not trying to shut down the possibility of feeling anything. We’re trying to not feel so much, so often and so deeply that it overcomes us entirely and we can no longer function as a person in this world.
Determine your emotional triggers and remind yourself of those too
We all have triggers and patterns and baggage. I feel particularly slighted when a romantic partner cancels plans and doesn’t offer to reschedule and shows little interest in seeing me. Especially if they keep saying that they like me a whole bunch. I have abandonment issues and low self-esteem and determine my worth based on what others think of me far too often. I know this about myself, and it allows me to recognize when I am projecting these feelings onto someone new who had to cancel for a legit reason. Again, really process those emotions. Deconstruct yourself like a therapist would. Even write down your triggers and refer to the list when you’re hella upset.
Meditate, exercise and talk it out with your cool therapist
Speaking of therapists, get one! They’re so great for so many reasons. One of them being that they’re good at identifying triggers and patterns and baggage, especially if you see them regularly and for a long period of time. It’s amazing that they can notice these little relevant behaviours which you didn’t think were a factor. Also, a solid way to calm your mind is meditating and deep breathing. This will get you beyond the rage part of your journey and into the logical upset or evaporated feels. Exercise is also good for boosting mood and burning distress.
Consider what else could possibly be contributing to your sensitivity
I was recently diagnosed with ADD and began taking medication for it. A side effect of having attention deficit disorder is anxiety, low self-esteem and sensitivity. I have noticed a decrease in my overreactions since I’ve been on the meds. There might be something else going on with you as well that you don’t know about. Talk to your family doctor about it so they can help and you can explore your options.
Go easy on yourself, pal
If you are a sensitive flower, it’s hard not to get mad at yourself for being a sensitive flower. But, if you do get mad, you’re doubling down on your sensitivity. Your sensitive to others being mad at you or hurting you or mocking you and you’re also sensitive about feeling this way towards yourself. You’re going to get sad or angry or frustrated and that’s okay and healthy and human. Accept, acknowledge it, and move on.
Also, go easy on your pals, pal
This is something I’m working on a lot this year. I hold people to such an impossible standard. No one will ever be who I want them to be entirely, because individuals are flawed. I am trying to forgive my loved ones but still hold them accountable. I want to allow my friends and family and partners to make mistakes while not repeatedly discarding my requests and needs. I’d like to be more open to compromise without allowing my kindness to be taken advantage of. More than anything, I want to remember that humans aren’t perfect and change takes time.