I often see parents at the playground ashamed when their child is the one in the corner watching the other children. As though their children are defective for not being more outgoing. Even as toddlers, children hear and feel those judgments. And that shame sticks with kids (and us) as we grow. A lot of us learn to self-soothe and sedate ourselves just to fit in the mold. We force ourselves to be more outgoing even though there was nothing wrong with us to begin with.
Some of us have more sense receptors in our nervous systems than less sensitive others and these extra sense receptors are more reactive than those others too. That means we find sounds are louder. Lights are brighter. Textures are more textural. Scents are more odorous. Flavors are more flagrant. People and their energy are more intense. So naturally, some of us are slower to warm up and prefer to observe before jumping right into the cacophony of the world around us.
Personally, I tend to be drawn in by the quiet ones. A highly sensitive person can pick up on subtle cues that others miss. They are highly empathetic and feel deeply. They tend to be highly intelligent, creative and imaginative problem solvers. That energy makes me feel calm, safe, and seen. I feel it to be a special honor to be chosen as a friend by anyone who tends to keep their circles small and rarely speaks. I find when they do speak, it’s almost always something worth listening to. They offer, keen observations, thoughtful contemplations, deep-feeling connections-- that’s what I seek for in conversation and in a friendship.
Obviously, outgoing and charismatic personality traits can be valuable too. It’s great to be able to make friends with anyone and to feel immediately at home where ever you go. It's great to be easygoing, flexible, and a team player. But not all of us were wired that way and we should be respected and celebrated too.
If you or your children want to sit back and observe, allow that. Encourage your child and yourself to try new things, but take as much time as you need. Maybe you want to stand back a bit from the crowd. Maybe you want to wear earplugs or sunglasses. Or wear gloves. Do that. Experience life on your terms, honoring your needs and your special makeup.
I'll admit being sensitive does at times make me break my own heart or act impulsively when I'm overwhelmed. But sensitivity also pulls us to love and care for all, especially those that usually get mistreated and looked past. Sensitivity allows us to dive head first into our own thoughts, into sound waves and stories. It gives us tingles as grass softly swishes through our toes. It might even make us tear up to watch the sun sparkle through the leaves or hear a baby giggle. It allows us to immerse ourselves in all of the wonders and plunders of this universe and make meaningful impacts.
The moral of the story:
Being Sensitive is Sensational!
May you and your loved ones be celebrated no matter how you sense the world around you.
If you’d like to learn more about connecting with your particular traits and how to understand your past and present thoughts and behaviors, please schedule a session with me today! I’d be honored to be of service.