“You’re too sensitive.”
It’s a statement I’ve heard all my life. Depending on the context, it’s either meant as an insult or offered as well-meaning feedback. Regardless of the intention, I’m always left with the same feelings: Toughen up. Be stronger. Bury your emotions. Be different than who you are.
Of course, sometimes, my feelings do get the best of me and lead to an unhealthy headspace. There are days I don’t handle conflict and criticism well; I’ll take someone’s tone personally and create false narratives about my worth. But I have to remind myself that most people aren’t out to hurt me, especially not my loved ones. I owe it to others to interrogate my feelings and reflect on any negative emotions. When in doubt, I put my brave pants on and communicate. Almost always, people are happy to reframe their initial words so that I more clearly understand their meaning.
Remember, words hold power. As the old saying goes, sticks and stones break bones. But—for sensitive people—words can hurt too. My advice is to be gentle, direct, and transparent in your communication. Please don’t dismiss our feelings, even when they seem incomprehensible. The truth is, most sensitive people enjoy experiencing the world through an emotional lens; it makes us feel alive and gives experiences a deeper sense of meaning. We just want to feel accepted and normal in the process.