By: Leah Hovey
I’ve always been told that I was a sensitive child. I’ve always been deeply impacted by everyone around me and connected with how they were feeling. Through the years, I realized my sensitivity would not go away and even to this day, I have to carefully monitor how emotionally invested I get with certain people as well as constantly remind myself not to take on other peoples problems. Knowing this, I always hated my overly sensitive nature and tried very hard to close myself off from the world, from other people and put on a tough, 'I don’t feel anything' attitude. Many people can relate to this idea of putting up a wall as a way to avoid deep feelings.
I considered my over sensitivity to be a weakness, something to be ashamed of. Knowing that I was easily influenced by those around me I thought this meant it would be easier to hurt me, to take advantage of me or to use my strong emotions against me. It was not until the death of someone very close to me and the diagnosis of a Major Depressive Disorder as well as an Anxiety Disorder; that I realized that being sensitive is a gift.
The individual who left this world was not just kind. He was the most selfless, gentle, sweetest, genuine and emotionally sensitive person I have ever met. There was nobody and will be nobody like him. When he died, it impacted me severely because in a world filled with hate, cruelty, and bitterness; he was nothing short of sweet. The reason he was this way was due to his emotional sensitivity. He was so in tune with everyone's feelings allowing him to empathize, understand and provide the right comfort. I realized that everything I admired about him was in me. I just had to open up enough to access my emotional intelligence.
The term was first brought into public discourse by Daniel Goleman, who wrote the critically acclaimed book "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ." This book dived into the theory of emotional intelligence and how exactly this can be beneficial to an individual. Having a strong emotional intelligence means an individual can recognize their own emotions, others emotions and use this understanding to guide one's behavior as well as use this to positively impact their situations around them (Goleman, 1996). This as well means having a level of emotional sensitivity to help a person truly understand the emotions themselves or others are going through. Sensitivity is not a bad thing, it is an asset. Having a high sensitivity to emotions contributes to emotional intelligence which can reduce stress. High emotional intelligence within individuals shows that said individual is more proficient in moderating conflict, more understanding, promotes relationships as well as fostering stability, continuity, and harmony (Serrat, 2017). Having these skills can improve one's life, the relationships they have and the outcome of the conflicts they may come across.
So in the end, I have come to terms with my emotional sensitivity. I have learned to embrace how easily and deeply I feel everything. Even though my emotions can at times get the best of me (my depression is a great example of how hard it can get) I still take pride in my emotions and in my sensitivity. For all those reading, it is not shameful to feel your emotions. Do not only feel them but use them to strengthen you.
“Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.” ― Katherine Henson
Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence. Why It Can Matter More than IQ. Learning, 24(6), 49-50.
Serrat, O. (2017). Understanding and developing emotional intelligence. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 329-339). Springer, Singapore.