Insight into behaviors of sensitive people

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For some people, their sensitivity presents as a constant challenge in living a happy life and enjoy friendships and relationships. They often get told that they “over-think” and they “read too much” between the lines. These comments often do not give any help to the sensitive person than to leave them more confused as they are always trying to find answers to questions in their mind, and such comments do not offer them answers.  In this article, we will look into possible reasons why some people are more sensitive and how things can be improved.

Sensitivity and intelligence

People who think about things in depth might come across as more sensitive than others. This is because they can notice small details and think about the impact of different things, many of which would not even cross the minds of their friends. In fact sensitive people are often great at imagination and creativity, this again is attributed to their meticulous nature. Because they can think in depth and from different angles, they may form different meanings and interpretations of a situation in their minds. This overthinking and over analysis can also get in their way of experiencing happiness and joys in a carefree attitude. Overthinking also increases anxiety and anxiety in turn can put us on the guard which means that we may become even more sensitive.

Not destined to fit in the crowd

Sensitive people are great at thinking out of the box. They feel quite strongly for things happening around them. While many in the crowd may choose to live their own lives and ignore what’s going on in the world, sensitive people feel very strongly for the things around them. They are busy in forming questions, finding answers, solutions and trying their best to improve things in whatever possible way.

 

Because of their tendency to take things seriously and analyze it in details, often they find that people around them do not feel and think the same way. Subsequently they start to feel that no one understands them. In some situations where they may have shared their thoughts, they may had to face sarcasm, comments like you read too much between the lines, labels like philosopher, someone who is not practical etc. This causes them to lose trust and hope that there might be someone who is there to understand them. Consequently they start to avoid social interactions because it often leads to disappointments.

Holding on to the things

Imagine if you have no one to share your thoughts with, no one to discuss things with, especially the questions that come to your mind, how will you feel? As we discussed that past experiences, particularly childhood experiences can influence sensitive people to share their inner thoughts with others, they often end up holding on to things for very long. It’s like there is never a closure to things in their minds. This might be because they are unable to ask for explanation from people whose behaviours they may find unreasonable, or they keep thinking and searching for answers and explanarions. This constant revision makes their memory stronger which means that they can live in a situation for longer period of time.

Defensiveness

Being constantly misunderstood and ridiculed for being oversensitive and over thinker can make someone more sensitive and even defensive. Such people then start to be on the guard because like everyone else they do not want to be hurt over and over again. While it is common for everyone to refer to their past experiences and the present situation in order to make a better decision, highly sensitive people use this ability much greater than others. Their ability to shift their thoughts between past, present and future is very strong, due to which they are often thinking way ahead of the time. They may make assumptions and interpretations which you may never meant, which means even a greater struggle for others to understand the reasons behind the highly sensitive people.

Now that we have discussed few reasons behind the highly sensitive behavior of people, let’s look into what a sensitive person needs from their communication partners, and also what sensitive people can do to make things better.

“Every concern is important to the person holding it”. Muhammad Wasif Haq

Patient, non-judgmental listening

Instead of judging, ridiculing and belittling the concerns, questions and thoughts of a sensitive person, offer a trusting non judgemental attitude where they can have the comfort of sharing what’s in their minds without having to worry about being labelled or told that they think too much.

Be very understanding and patient. Whatever bothers them, do not brush it off rather listen and talk through. Assure them that it is ok to think and feel in a certain way and that you understand where they are coming from. One very important thing is not to give any consequence to the sensitive person who has shared their thoughts with you. This means that if you avoid talking to them or start taunting at them, it is going to close the doors for them the next time share what they might be feeling.

Make the communication clearer

If you notice that the person is being more sensitive than usual, they may be going through a tough patch in their lives. If you notice someone being more anxious than usual then they may be experiencing greater level of anxiety as well. In such circumstances, a safe bet is to keep communication clear and free of sarcasm and implied meanings. Be direct and state what you want to say and often your reason or thinking behind what you are saying.

Incorporate humor and some crazy stuff

Sensitive people long for company as like most people, but in their case, persistent difficulties of not finding someone who understands them may make them sad. They want to have friendships and relationships where they can enjoy just like others too. From time to time, give them the break that they need from that never ending tought process in their minds, plan something silly and crazy to bring the element of fun, craziness and excitement in their lives. Please be aware that they may initially resent to such thoughts because it is pulling them out of their comfort zone, it is also challening their assumptions that they can never enjoy like others.

If you are a sensitive person you may find the following helpful:

A change in attitude: consider the whole context

The default response is to analyze the details, learn to also appreciate the bigger picture. If someone has said a one off thing, it might be just their sense of humor. See how they behave with you most of the times, if their behavior is mostly good, it means that they are genuine people who care for you.

Backup activities and plans

If you are upset because of someone or something, instead of over thinking and analyzing the situation, use the time to do something you like or enjoy. This will keep you from doing the self driven hunt for possible reaaons and explanations behind people’s behaviors. If people behave in negative way, it is a reflection on them, not you. Use your time to do things that you struggle to find time for.

Talk to someone

If you do not have a real life friend who understands you, use online forums to share what you feel like, obviously be careful of what you put out there in front of the world. Some people have found great valuable friends online as there is more ease of expressing what you want and are looking for on the internet than real life.

Flexibility:

Be willing to give people a chance to explain their position, be willing to listen to their story as well. Being flexible enough to understand where the other person might be coming from, their circumstances and conditions can help you develop mutual trusting relationship which will benefit both of you.

Also be flexible to not categorize people in “good” and “bad” categories in your mind. The truth is that human behaviour is very dynamic, it is hard to predict. Being flexible also means that you can move on from the events and situations that may be stuck in your mind. Also do not forget to give others benefit of doubt.

Take time to explain where you are coming from

Do not assume that the other person should known what they may have done wrong, do not assume that they should know what you want and should follow it at all costs. People can forget and even if they forget, they can make mistakes despite their best intentions.

If you think things are not working out, take time to think about the bigger picture, has this person generally beem respectful and kind towards you? If yes, then do take time to talk about what is bothering you but also how you want things to be. This gives the other person your perspective as well as the reason behind your sensitivity, which means that in the future they can better take care of things and situations.

Do not hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure. It can be often confusing to others when they are told months or perhaps years later that something they had said or done was mis-perceived in some way and they were never asked to clarify themselves.

There is much more to life

If you feel that you are struggling to come out of a situation, remind yourself that life is a series of good and bad events. The wisdom often comes from our failures and mistakes. Think what you can learn and what you are willing to change for the next time, once decided, tell yourself that you are ready to move on.

Written by Muhammad Wasif Haq (2004)
Islamabad, Pakistan
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