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Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Overcoming Sensitivity

Exposure to a stressful or traumatic situation doesn’t determine your mental wellbeing as much as how you interpret the situation. For it is your own idiosyncratic response to the situation that determines your mental state.

The Hyper or Highly Sensitive Person

Almost 20% of people have hypersensitive nervous systems that process things differently to others. They feel and think more deeply, are often intensely compassionate and might become over-stimulated and stressed much more easily, than others. They are more vulnerable to chronic muscle tension and fatigue.

The highly sensitive person might feel solated, misunderstood or different to others. In the past, they may have been labelled, “highly strung.” Now they might be referred to as, ‘weak, emotional, or even broken.’

Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs were highly sensitive people who used their work to hide a sensory processing sensitivity.

To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the characteristic of a compassionate human being – one that nurtures a caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your feelings, smiles and tears shine a light in this world. Why you mull over slights that ought to be forgotten. Why subtleties are magnified for you and yet lost on others.

There is zero shame in expressing your authentic feelings.

Marc and Angel

Self-help Strategies to Deal with Sensitivity

Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com
  • Recognize your strengths and acknowledge what you HAVE achieved
  • Seek out kindred spirits.
  • Acknowledge the negative, but aim to focus towards the positive and search for those hidden positives in every situation, no matter how small.
  • Avoid negative environments as they will make you suffer more.
  • Treat yourself and others with compassion.
  • Change your thinking on perceived hidden flaws. Accept yourself and others by reframing your past misconceptions in terms of intuition, conscientiousness and vision.
  • Mindfulness and meditation techniques may help to decrease the intensity of your reactions to the content of your thoughts.
  • Challenge yourself to react to a stressful situation in a different way. Not everything counts.

63 thoughts on “Overcoming Sensitivity”

  1. Interesting read Amanda about Highly sensitive persons.
    Beautifully you explained.
    Hypersensitivity has both positive and negative aspects.
    Most of them develop hypertension.
    Most of the times these people are misunderstood.
    The problem adds up while dealing with stress.
    Your tips truly helps the HSP.
    One way to overcome this problem is to develop thick skin.at the same time shedding ego and ignoring the negative feelings…..easier said than done.

    Mental state is determined by the intensity of resistance we give, in the form of our reactions to our day to day happenings.

    “Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
    Dan Millman
    Thank you

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Excellent comment, PtP. Essentially you are talking about changing the way you drive your brain.
      The adage, “Go with the flow,” has widespread value as it preaches non-resistance.
      Reading Dan Millman’s words, I am reminded of childbirth and the midwives that said, “the more you resist the contractions of labour, the more suffering you will have. Embracing your pain will aid your body in labour. Of course, like the words: “develop thick skin, at the same time shedding ego and ignoring the negative feelings,” it’s sometimes easier said than done.
      However, everything starts with an intention.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. The childbirth analogy is a really good one! I’m reminded of a line in Marianne Moore’s poem What are Years: ” He sees deep and is glad, who accedes to mortality
        and in his imprisonment rises upon himself as the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
        free and unable to be, in its surrendering finds its continuing.”

        Liked by 1 person

            1. The poems that we learnt by rote in school do stick with you. I remember one that was about Miranda and an Inn. Not sure who wrote it, but the verse is almost like a melody in one’s memory.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a highly sensitive daughter. And she has tried most of these ideas. In the end she said, mum if you have to do this daily it becomes an effort just to wake up. Why can’t I be more like you and see positives in everything.

    Somewhere in all of this is hormone deficiency that needs medication. If it wasn’t for my child, I would never have believed that these excellent ideas can’t work. But now my heart is crying

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Calm atmosphere, routine in place, enough sleep . But yes, she is on medication and knows when to seek counselling. Fact is, the post will only help for “able-minded” persons, so to speak.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know what you mean, Appeltjie. It may also assist others to understand the complexities of the characteristics. Understanding, awareness and knowledge can lead to acceprance in the wider community. Your daughter sounds like she has found some good coping strategies.

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  3. I’ll put my hand up to becoming increasingly hypersensitive, especially over the last year and typically in relation to things I have little or no control over. Your post is full of wonderful advice, Amanda.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh I am so glad you found it useful and helpful, Albert. I appreciate the comment. That was my goal and also for hypersensitive folk or those developing more hypersensitivities to accept and work with themselves, rather than fight and swim upstream.
      It is separate to anxiety but is often lumped into that basket. Can you identify any specific triggers?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you .. the key is recognising and working to alleviate the problem. Yes, there are a few very specific triggers – pretty much outside my control to remove so it’s a matter of working with and around them. Total confidence that I will get there 🙂

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  4. Well said. Bad things will knock us down, it is what we do next that matters the most. I have a relative that suffers from paranoia and anxiety, among other things. We talk often about how there are enough real things to worry about in life, than to make ones up or blow them out of proportion. So, we walk through her daily fears, highlighting why this one is irrelevant or that one is not that big a deal. It shows how powerful our thoughts can be. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your relative is so fortunate to have you to talk things through. Coffee with a friend has shown to be the best kind of therapeutic intervention. Testing out her thoughts and offering a different perspective is so valuable in counteracting anxiety and depressive thoughts. Nipping them in the bud before the painful thought loops initiate can make a hell of a difference to someone.

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      1. Many thanks. My relative was given this article on “Stinking thinking.” It is a good piece on helping recognize such and encouraging the person to alter what they are doing at that moment to change the thought pattern. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  5. My son and I are both hypersensitive. He has really struggled with it. Life experiences he had living as an adult in Africa and China have been especially difficult for him. The reframing of the past is something I started to see him doing lately. I think just being aware of how you are can really help, you can plan to meet your needs better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Xingfu Mama. Awareness and stepping back to examine yourself from a distance can reveal many things you cannot see when you are stuck within those painful thought loops inside one’s head. Loops that are triggered by the things one is sensitive about. If our immune and nervous system has been overstretched by negative life experiences, it makes it harder to ‘snap’ back. Mentally reframing the past as a necessary step in the journey of life to get you to where you are, can indeed be helpful. I hope both you and your son are able to overcome those negative experiences. It takes patience and persistence, especially for the hypersensitive person. Thanks so much for your input. It is much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not really but thank you.. appreciate concern.. I have been flabbergasted lately at the venom of people because you have a different opinion, dare you say it out loud.. Head back in the sand an ostrich life is a lot easier.. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Add avoiding negative people to that list, although it’s easier said than done. I like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of person, but that’s difficult to maintain if I spend too much time with people who have a glass half empty mentality. I try to limit interaction with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Avoid negative situations and people – yes indeed, Carol. Optimists have a much easier time when it comes to coping with the effects of sensitivities. Interesting that you feel the drag of spending time with negative swinging folks. Something for the pessimists to note. Too much winging makes pessimists into victims and scares off more upbeat people. Ironicially which is who pessimists need, in their life.

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  7. Yes, life is approximately 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we deal with it. I think most of us go through moments of being hyper-sensitive, and at times, indulging ourselves with over thinking some situations. And then at the other end of the spectrum you get people like Trump, who have no sensitivity at all, and who don’t give any problem even a first thought! Definitely he is not guilty of over thinking anything at all. In fact, I even wonder if he’s guilty of thinking at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trump’s egocentric thought processes seem so single-minded as to make him act impulsively like a recalcitrant pre-teen bully, or even a toddler-like, at times, Chris. He doesn’t appear to have matured at all, which is rather strange for someone who has never wanted for anything. That might be the issue. Spoilt child syndrome?
      I like your view that we can all be hypersensitive at times. Framing life as 90% how we deal with life indicates the extent that negative thought processes may have on our overall mental state, particularly if we cannot balance our interpretation of events and interactions.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks for the great advice. I have always been highly extroverted and practical but my fiancée is more introverted and sensitive. She helps me to be more in tune with myself and to be more empathetic. We make a good team!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful that you have found a way to complement each other. It is a challenge when each partner is so differen but if you can work through any issues you will find those skills help you with empathy for others in the community.

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  9. When it comes to hyper-sensitivity, I’m 100% guilty. That was a persistent anchor on my confidence and self-esteem for most of my life. It seems not until I reached my 30s did I begin to stop taking everything so seriously. Even for years afterwards it was a struggle to remain jaded.

    Yet, to some extent, I believe such acute reactivity often protected me from the surrounding environment and to steer away from people with dubious intentions. It also made me sympathetic to other people’s emotions and therefore, inspired me to be a better writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hypersensitivity can be a double edged sword and this can be used to advantage us in certain ways, like protection as you enunciated, Alejandro. It definitely makes one more an empathic individual. Like many things in life, it is about finding balance and keeping extremes in moderation. I also noted that you mention your thirities. I guess that life stage is a time when thoughts change, as the youthful time has passed and many people have thoughts of family, building something that might last, taking control of their direction. An interesting phenomenon that our biological clock seems to trigger around this time, don’t you think?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Good advice. I am highly sensitive and can become overwhelmed when I’m around anyone who is wired to be frantic, chaotic, loud. I no longer consider myself weird or weak for being who I am, so that’s a positive. I like: “Not everything counts.” So true.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ally, I can identify. I used to be intimated by people who were chaotic and loud. I didn’t like confrontation and still don’t; yet I don’t shy away from it anymore. People who are high-strung now just irritate the crap out of me.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I am so glad to hear that you now recognize your own sensory preferences rather than interpret them as weaknesses, Ally. Every one of us is completely unique and made up of so many subtle differences and variations. The irony is that often it is society that expects everyone to conform to certain, and sometimes quite narrow, standards. How crazy is that? Especially when we are such complex beings with myriads of different physiological nuances.
      “Not everything counts,” is my new mantra! It is a good reminder that places everything in perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Interesting information and I can relate to what you write. More recently, at the risk of sounding cliched, I find practicing gratitude has helped. Also the STOP technique – Stop, Take a step back, Observe and Proceed mindfully – I think it’s a mindfulness strategy. I’ve found it really helpful.

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  12. Practising gratitude is a great way of re-shaping our perspective on our day. It helps us to focus more towards positive things in our life. For many of us, we take for granted the peace and freedom, clean and available water, ample food and clothing as well as a roof over our heads. With those needs met, we often spend time thinking and worrying about more academic matters, like our appearance, relationships and career. Getting back to basics and being grateful for those gives our monkey mind a break.
    I like your techique of STOP – it would ineed help in distancing oneself from those painful thought loops. Thank you for adding to the discussion in such a pro-active way. How long have you been using hte STOP mindfulness strategy?

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