why my sensitivity is a flaw and a strength


A quality I have picked up on, and a fault that I have, is my sensitivity to the reactions of others.

In social situations, I easily pick up on everything, if I sense a change in a person's facial expressions or tone of voice I am quick to internalize it. "Did I say something weird? Do they think I am annoying?" "Am I bothering them?"

Though, I do have the mindfulness to know not everything is directed towards me, and from my own experience, facial expressions do not always match what a person is feeling on the inside. They may just be thinking of something else, but aren't saying so because they are trying to be attentive. 

Picking up on social clues can be a gift at times. I am aware of subtleties that others miss. I reflect deeply on what I observe. These can be referred to as "healing" qualities, so I feel good about that.

The majority of the time, I forget to think of this as a "superpower." I find it damaging to my self esteem and I assume the negative from these subtleties. Only, towards me. 

"How long have you been doing this for?"

As long as I can remember. I was very sensitive to the emotions, reactions of others. As a 4 year old I remember being hard on myself, always assuming I did something wrong. 

"Growing up did your parents praise you enough? Did you hear "good job, Haley?" "Do you believe your parents are proud of you?"

Yes, and I know they are.

Did something happen in your early years where you felt overly embarrassed, humiliated, after making a mistake? Something that might have contributed to this?

No..I don't think so.

With a psychological perspective, there is a reason for everything. People may expect these things are self-taught from an initial experience. Maybe it was, but there is also the chance that this quality of mine is inborn. And that- isn't considered to be "normal." It's not that it is abnormal, only it is hard for some to understand.

An article on FactHacker states:

You are not alone, but you are in the minority. There is a specific gene related to sensitivity carried by 15 to 20 percent of people. Also referred to as “empaths,” highly sensitive people often carry a big load of emotions and it can be tough for them. Really tough. If this is you, it does not mean you are a mess. It just means you are highly sensitive.


"That's interesting." my campus counselor said, after trying to find connections.

It was weird talking about these things because they have always been a part of my life, but It's not something I talk about. I think for moment I felt uncomfortable, it made me feel different. I know enough sensitive folk to tell me I'm not alone, but in today's world it's hard to find people who think that way. Many just don't talk about it, or normalize it, and that makes sensitivity feel like a weakness. 

Now sharing the fun *sarcasm* piece of my past Monday:

After opening up about this self esteem fault, and intuitive sensitivity, I found myself absorbed in anxiety. Of course, it didn't hit me until after I left counseling. (my life)
My roommate walked in to find me having a breakdown that had been going on for almost an hour. Chest pounding, body shaking, and just waiting for the feeling to subside. 

It wasn't that the appointment went badly. I don't think my body (I) liked being that vulnerable. I don't think I liked to admit how I can get overwhelmed easily, and often worry what others think of me. 

I spoke of it using a lot of humor and sarcasm and made light of it, and I realize now how much of that was me coping. I suppose I left, and my body went, "ok, so can we throw the walls down..now?"

I can be proud that I still pulled myself up to go to class that day.

I can be hopeful that the breakdown taught me something that I should pay attention to. Something that means a lot to me. 

I don't want to feel weird or awkward and misunderstood. 

but if I want others to accept those pieces of me, I need to accept them too.