I have heard several of my mom-friends say from time to time – “It is a harsh world out there, our kids need to be toughened up to face it”. Being the mother of a highly sensitive child, this statement has had me questioning my parenting style more than once. The larger question, of course, is whether we need to toughen or soften anyone at all. Why not just accept that the Universe is multi-hued, with everyone having their own unique colours?
The pride in being tough has been a part of our culture, especially if the person in question is a male. While assertiveness and standing up for oneself is important, the way we guide young ones into becoming so-called strong adults seems to have created a proliferation of little bullies and anxious adults, who exhibit aggressive responses to trivial issues.
Sensitive people by nature are reflective and not given to impulsive behaviour. This is frequently misread as shyness, lack of confidence or timidity. Gentleness and sensitivity is perceived as a weakling trait in a society that has become emotionally barren. Often labelled as ‘problem kids’, sensitive children are forced to act strong and are made fun of for being ‘cry-babies.’ This constant pressure to be someone else develops in to low self-esteem, many times leading to neurotic behaviour as an adult.
“The real warriors in this world are the ones that see the details of another’s soul. They see the transparency behind walls people put up. They stand on the battlefield of life and expose their heart’s transparency, so others can finish the day with hope. They are the sensitive souls that understand that before they could be a light they first had to feel the burn.” — Shannon L. Alder
Being sensitive is a gift.
Approximately 20 percent of the population are born as highly sensitive people, who perceive pleasure and pain stimulations very deeply. They are quick to sense subtle changes, they deliberate intensely and also get distressed and overwhelmed far more easily compared to others. Having said that, they are known to have greater levels of creativity and intuition and habitually display wisdom beyond their years.
Little children usually have big emotions and it is even more powerful in a highly sensitive child. They tend to over-think and are dreadfully susceptible to criticism. Clueless families often tease them in what they believe to be harmless fun or even an encouragement to be tough, and that can boomerang in to fits of temper. Supportive families help them set boundaries and are understanding and patient with their big emotions. They see their kids blossom into wonderful adults who are full of love and compassion.
In a world teeming with aggression, sensitivity, compassion and empathy are crucial in striking a balance. High emotional intelligence paired with strong intuition and great listening skills make sensitive people good support systems for anyone in emotional distress. They are easy to connect with and always lend a hand.
Someone wisely expressed that for a highly sensitive person, a drizzle feels like a monsoon. A highly sensitive person’s perception of everything is acute. The lilting sounds of a lullaby, soft sand beneath their feet, the delicate aroma of a meal or the alluring beauty of an ocean are all enhanced. They are blessed souls that are truly alive and experience the subtle beauty of life more intensely than the rest. Sensitivity is a strength. Let us celebrate that super power!