In our current culture, sensitivity—the ability to sense or feel things—and emotionality—observable responses to emotions that arise from sensitivity—are underestimated, often even maligned, human traits. Frequently judged as weaknesses, these qualities are, in fact, just the opposite. Sensitive people are highly perceptive, tuned in not only to what is going on around them but inside themselves as well. And when coupled with self-assurance, this can give voice to the healthy outward expression of emotions.
But in order to be sensitive, we must allow ourselves to open up to our environment and to other people, which can make us feel vulnerable. What if I get hurt?, we ask ourselves. This fear, which taps into our primitive instinct for survival, can be so overwhelming that we would rather stay closed. The result is that we are robbed of the opportunity to confront this misdirected fear and grow.
Without vulnerability there is no intimacy. In fact, lack of vulnerability blocks connection. Refusing to reveal yourself to others may feel like you are protecting yourself, but you’re not. Instead, you’re building walls that prevent you from experiencing honest human connection, walls that make you a prisoner of your own self.
Allowing yourself to remain open, or receptive, is powerful. Ironically, it is in closing yourself off from others that lose your power. Making yourself into a one-person island may give you a (false) sense of security, believing no one can hurt you, but really, it’s just a lonely place.
Furthermore, despite our best efforts at avoidance—attempts to protect ourselves from psychological damage—as conscious, sentient beings, we all have an innate desire and need for human interaction. This means that in our struggle to prevent being harmed by others, we are indeed harming ourselves.
The healthy way to live is to stay open, to the possibility of connecting with others as well as experiencing your own truth. Isn’t life is too short to lie to yourself? If you’re ready to claim the power of your own sensitivity, here are some suggestions about how to do this.
Become BFFs with your avoidance. Does someone in your family avoid vulnerability? What makes you turtle-up? Do you view others as needy?
Identify your own personal needs. (Yes, you have them.)
Reframe your perception of needs. Your needs and the needs of others are valid wants and desires to lead a healthy life, not weaknesses.
Keep an eye out for sneaky avoidances, like always assuming the role of caretaker and never allowing yourself to be taken care of.
Share your hurts with safe people: friends and family you can trust, professionals. Ask them for help when you need it.