As an HSP, no doubt you’ve heard the words “Don’t be so sensitive,” many times. It seems to be a mantra that certain people like to throw out to us. Most of the time, these are people who don’t care who they wound (energy vampires, narcissists, and jerks). But sometimes they are an exasperated response from people who do not understand highly sensitive people and who think that they are being “helpful” to this person whose sensitivity they do not understand.
Regardless who the words come from, these words and others can wound. They are especially destructive to us so it is something we need to be aware of and to thwart as much as we can.
Words Wound More Than We Ever Thought
You probably remember the childhood response to the neighborhood bully, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The earliest recorded instance of this was in 1862, but it is believed that it was a well-established saying before then. So, this sentiment has had a long period of time to sink into our vernacular, as well as our hearts.
Fast forward a century and a half. Science has now discovered that this belief isn’t true. Emotionally charged words really do hurt. A study out of Germany found that words describing pain, such as “excruciating” or “grueling” triggered a sense of pain before that pain was felt. The finding suggests that the words themselves could activate the corresponding sensation.
The entire human race is hardwired to feel pain from words alone. Now, add sensitivity on top of those words. An HSP, getting the message from an early age that their sensitivity is a bad thing, will take that message to heart. Each reenforced occurrence of that message compounds its meaning to us. Making the message a very difficult one to clear from our psyche.
It is possible to overcome that misbelief. Here are some tips to put it aside and keep it in perspective.
Remember Dr. Aron’s Message
You are not doing anything wrong by being yourself. Dr. Aron’s research and life’s work has brought this message to the forefront. We are different. Not superior, but definitely not inferior. We simply are made differently, so we respond differently. It is gift. Not something to be chastised for.
Consider the Whys
I touched on this earlier. Some people think they are in some way being “helpful” to point out to us that we are sensitive. These are the naïve folks who have no understanding of who we are and those traits that make us different. The worst scenario is those who intend to wound us with their words. As a sensitive, you probably feel some of their pain and shame that drives their actions. And, of course, you can empathize with them. When you reflect on this viewpoint, your compassion takes over.
Refuse to Ruminate
You increase the negativity when you ponder hurtful words. Reliving and rehearsing painful word scenes over and over only opens a deeper wound. You can conquer this with your strength. Refuse to give in to the temptation to ruminate.
Words are hurtful. They are especially hurtful to an HSP. We are prone to feeling extreme hurt as part of our personality. But if we become aware of and practice the above, we can lessen the impact of hurtful words.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson