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    Wandering Jew
    Participant

    This topic has always been a struggle for me; being hurt.

    At the heart of it, I have always been a sensitive person. However, it has a few setbacks for me. Firstly, it affects me at a deep level; if I get hurt more than once while being vulnerable, it irreparably damages my relationship, and I can’t be reached enough. If I perceive it as a pattern of being insensitive, I shut down in a deep level.

    This was confusing for me, because I  wasn’t sure if I should get over my sensitivity and work with him anyway, or move on to someone else; ignore the feeling of sensitivity.

    It also makes getting back into dating complicated, because I cannot tolerate being in an intimate relationship while being with someone who will hurt me, even if it is unwittingly and unintentionally. I can handle occasional hurt, but I can’t handle people who will hurt me because they aren’t aware enough of my delicate nature.

    It gets confusing because I am attracted to people who are smart and with it, but at the same time are not accustomed to people who are sensitive like me. I am not a super with it, person; I am more of a delicate thinker, a man of academia.

    People might be cool and awesome, but I don’t want to go into a relationship where I might be hurt over and over. I have been hurt by those who were close to me, and I perhaps that is why I am scarred to it.

    I want to be able to develop a close relationship, but I also want to be able stay unhurt; it is too hard to stay connected when the pain is there.

    Any helpful perspectives would be very welcome.

    Thanks!

     

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    alwaysworried
    Participant

    hey. i totally hear the struggle here. First, i have a question, who are you referring to here

    This was confusing for me, because I  wasn’t sure if I should get over my sensitivity and work with him anyway, or move on to someone else; ignore the feeling of sensitivity.

    I would venture to say that simply being aware of this pattern is so ahead of the game. I am also of a sensitive nature but knowing that makes it easier to deal with occasional hurt and slights that come from others not being super sensitive in every moment. It helps because i can reflect on the fact that its my sensitivity at play and not neccesarily as personal as it feels to ME.

    I don’t want to burst your bubble but people get hurt in intimate relationships and even in non intimate ones. Hurt is so part and parcel to life and relationships that i cant even view them separately.

    I recently read about the 2 main parts of brain. Our upper level brain aka the prefrontal cortex (i believe) which holds our sound logic verses the lower level brain aka the amygdala where all the feelings and reactions take place. It wasn’t coming from a psychology book so it was helpful for me to gain this insight more objectively.

    Basically, the concept was sharing that whenever were faced with something we have 2 parts of the brain responding and or reacting. The logic/upper level and the feelings, emotions/lower level. All decisions and conflicts we face are basically a reaction of trying to appease the 2 levels and when we we’re more to one side the other side fights back. There is no perfection rather we get to decide which part we will allow to dictate our behavior once we become self aware of how this concept interfaces our life.

    So for instance, your complex made me think of this because you shared that you want intimate relationships but so badly dont want to get hurt along the way. I could be wrong but i hear that the upper level logic you, knows that life without relationships and with trying to protect your fragile, gentle, caring, nature is not going to be ideal, hence you are pushed to seek connection. Once you do however, the lower level/amygdala feelings kick in and say “hold up this hurts or it will hurt and you’re crazy for venturing here AGAIN!” Right there is your chance to remind your lower level brain that you’re fully aware of what you’re doing and choosing to take these risks and get hurt and repair the hurt so you can have meaningful relationships. Your feelings part of your brain is trying to convince your logic that you  simply need to remain pain free in relationships and that’s unfair to you. This doesn’t mean run after pain by freelancing vulnerability. It does however suggest that pain is inherent in living and growing and building relationships and dont let the fear of it keep you away from seeking the person to build your life with or the people you want to be around from time to time.

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    Fern Weis
    Participant

    Dear Wandering Jew,

    I, too, have always been one of those ‘sensitive’ people, easily hurt. What I have learned is that some of this comes from feeling helpless or powerless, and staying in a victim mindset.

    As AlwaysWorried said, hurt happens. The thing is that it’s up to me what I do with things that feel hurtful. When I hide behind that label of ‘the sensitive one’, I am not giving myself the chance to choose how to respond. I am the passive victim, giving away my ability to care for myself. (As a child, my father didn’t know what to do with a child who took everything so seriously. He used to joke – although it wasn’t funny to me – that all it took was a cockeyed look and I’d be crying. Yep, that was me.)

    Unpleasantness happens – this is out of my control; however, it’s up to me to decide how long I will sit in those feelings. This is where my power is. I still get into a funk and wish other people would grow up and be more considerate, but now I get out of it a lot faster.

    Another piece of this is setting personal boundaries. It also ties into the victim mentality. If I am the victim, then I am powerless to tell people what my needs are, and have handed over all control to them. No voice. I have no voice. I’ve been working diligently at getting back my voice and my life. Sometimes that means being truthful with people about what my triggers are and what I need from them… and where my ‘line’ is.  “I go this far and no further.”  More often than not, they are receptive when I am honest and speak about myself, not about them. Many people do not recognize that what they say and do is hurtful because nobody has every told them so, or told them in a way they can hear without getting defensive.

    So the bottom line is that people will (usually unintentionally) say and do hurtful things.  I encourage you to work with someone who can help you find your voice, the one that has been in hiding, so you can be your own friend and advocate, and better enjoy the people in your life.

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    Fern Weis
    Participant

    One more thing.  If you ever listen to or read Brene Brown, she suggests that we be generous about other people’s intentions.  She means, assume that other people are not ‘out to get us’, that they have their own reasons and history that influence how they behave and speak; that what feels offensive and hurtful to us, usually is not about us, but is about them and the pain they are carrying around.  Basically, it’s another version of empathy and not taking things personally.  Easier said than done, I know, and worth reminding  yourself about this perspective.

    Be well.

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    Chavy
    Participant

    I totally understand you as I’m also very sensitive and wish others (family members) would be more tactful. It would be nice if we all (including myself) thought before we speak, making sure our words are kind ones. But, lots of us do not always think before we talk and it can be very hurtful. As Fern Weiss and Always Worried mentioned, it’s usually not intentional (which doesn’t excuse it). The other person is in pain, may not be as self-aware and is not mindful of their comments. Another angle is that because we’re all so busy, we aren’t always aware/mindful/thinking of our choice of words. We’re so caught up in our daily schedule that it’s hard to remember that we’re talking and interacting with human beings. Nevertheless, it’s very hard not to let insensitive remarks get to us. However, it may help to keep in mind that it’s not directed to us in a malicious way as we aren’t always mindful. More often than not, people don’t even realize that their comment wasn’t kind.

    I hope this helps!

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    Chany
    Participant

    Wandering jew, totally get this and so agree with all points stated above. I want to add that most human beings have areas they are sensitive to so they can usually relate to the concept of being sensitive. They may have fewer triggers and certainly different ones which makes relationships ever more challenging but also more potentially beautiful. Keeping this in mind, may help you let go of the shame or embarrassment you may feel regarding your personality type and how you see it as standing in the way of what you want. I think it is only your perception and rules created around this sensitivity that’s holding you back, not the sensitivity itself, if that makes sense.

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    Red4
    Participant

    I grew up hearing “stop being so sensitive.” Spoiler alert: I haven’t managed it yet. I still well up at the slightest insult, reprimand, or criticism, and I often find myself responding with anger and aggression. You know what, you’re allowed to be sensitive, and a good relationship will be one where you can tell the other person how and why you are feeling a certain way. Sometimes I can be too honest or blunt but my friends reserve the rights to share when they are feeling sensitive too. Everyone has their moments (as evidenced by the frequency of slamming doors in my house after certain conversation topics), just some people demonstrate or hide it differently.

    Another idea would be to straight up admit to your sensitivity. I have found a lot of care and support after admitting to my sensitivity, and there are people who are willing to give you the time and space you need. This can backfire, but the person’s reaction to your confession can tell you a lot about them, and how to proceed with them in the future.

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    alwaysworried
    Participant

    I like this @red4. It comes a point where we need to just own who we are and stop trying to pretend our way into being liked for being something or someone else. If someone rejects us because we are THAT person so be it. It will hurt in the moment for sure, but it will hurt a lot less than a lifetime of pretending to be someone we’re not. I know this sounds (even to me as I’m writing this) that we don’t have to work on ourselves and just accept who we are in any given instance but clearly i don’t mean that. One can work to strengthen themselves and grow etc but also not disown or force a particular personality upon themselves. Open to hearing your thoughts…

     

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    Chavy
    Participant

    Such good points here! Alwaysworrried, I really like how you said that we need to own who we are. So true. However, I want to combine your point and Red4’s: I personally don’t think it’s the best thing to say upfront that we’re sensitive. Like you said, Red4, I think it can backfire. It also helps to know who our “audience” is. We can best judge if that person will react in the negative or positive. Even if that person is not open to hearing that we’re very sensitive (hopefully they will be), that’s okay too. The main thing is for us to feel good about who we are, and not feel good (solely) based on others. Much easier said than done, I know, and I’m struggling with this too! Also, I try to view insensitive comments on the other person (i know that was not clear at all). Meaning, they weren’t thinking. This doesn’t make it right, but it can make it seem less personal and less directed at us. Again, Red4, I love your take on “owning” who we are. I feel that in the long-run, owning ourselves will give us a lot of inner peace. That’s my 2 cents 😉

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    alwaysworried
    Participant

    @chavy, I love your 2 cents. Yes i agree that knowing our audience is our job and is so important. No need to go around asking for heartbreak by being vulnerable with anyone we meet. Finding the balance is crucial and how to do that? I dont really know. i know i err on the side of being less vulnerable which is not the best in many cases. But in all situations even when we are not accepted by others for who we are, if we owned ourselves enough prior to that rejection it will hurt a lot less. And, so the bottom line is the primary goal working to understand ourselves and then accepting and owning the “me” all its beauty and flaws. While of course maintaining a growth mindset whatever that is for each individual.

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