11 Powerful Ways to Protect Your Sensitivity
If you identify as sensitive, whether you’re introverted, extroverted or somewhere in between, your sensitivity is your foundation. Or perhaps it’s your softly sculpted flowery edge. Either way, you carry it with you, and it either guides or derails you.
Sensitivity is so beautiful, yet so fragile and misunderstood. We spend so much of our lives resenting it, fighting it, trying to smother it down, instead of nourishing it. And the more we resent and dismiss it, the more it sabotages us.
Sensitivity is a soft trait, with a powerful backlash if it’s not honored.
I’ve always been very sensitive. I pick up on other people’s feelings, emotions, and energies very quickly. I absorb them. I feel them internally. And so my reactions to people can be strong. Strong but patient, sometimes too patient, sometimes not patient enough.
There are so many ways I didn’t honor my sensitivity throughout my life. Ways I’ve been learning to correct. I thought I’d share some lessons here, for your own sensitive self…
1. Flex Your Sensitive Fierceness.
The funny thing about sensitive people is that they are some of the strongest people out there. They’re the ones you want around if you’re in a bind, if disaster strikes, if all hell breaks lose, if tragedy hits you. Sensitivity is often labeled as a weakness but in reality it cultivates a strength most people don’t ever experience. We’re used to feeling more so we can often simply handle more, when push comes to shove.
Being stuck in our own heads sometimes gets in the way making us feel weak, but put us in a situation that gets us out of our head, and quite frankly, we’re unstoppable.
Take a person who outwardly appears “tough” and put them in a sticky situation and you may find them running selfishly for the hills, trembling the entire way, leaving everyone behind. It’s the sensitive soul who’ll be there to pick up all the pieces with focus and determination.
All the years we’ve spent feeling, absorbing, and internalizing, builds up a thick foundation of bravery and strength, despite a sometimes soft exterior.
Honor that foundation, tap into it, explore the ways it works in your favor.
2. Know and Respect Your Perceived “Limitations.”
There are many areas where you’ll feel limited as a sensitive person. Certain energies won’t jive with you. Some situations will overwhelm you. Don’t beat yourself up over them, respect them, create space around them. Give yourself the room you need to breathe, to flourish.
Here are some things that overwhelm me that I make conscious efforts to fix, avoid or reduce my time with: an overflowing inbox, too much time on facebook (lately I prefer Instagram, feels more intimate), too many open windows on my computer, people who consistently put others down (even if they’re joking), people who only talk about themselves, letting my snail mail stack up for a month (did this for years! now I check it as it comes in), too much clutter in my home (I am constantly de-cluttering lately), too many social outings in one week, etc.
I used to ignore the effect these things had on me. I just tried to deal with them because otherwise it must mean I’m weak, I’m “too sensitive”, I’m being selfish, etc. But no, I’m stronger and happier now that my inbox consistently has less than 35 emails in it and now that I no longer hang around people who love insulting others.
My limitations teach me things, so I respect them, and it makes life feel better everyday and far less overwhelming.
3. Treasure Your Radical Intuition.
Your sensitivity likely makes you extremely intuitive – radically so, I’d say. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in dismissing our sensitivity that we shove our intuition aside in the process. Don’t, it’s an amazing thing to be so in tuned with the world around you.
People who follow their intuition the most, without letting themselves get in their own way, seem to achieve endlessly. Your intuition is your guide, it’s your compass, it’s incredibly accurate, but it will go haywire if you surround it with negative self-deprecating mental magnets (trust me, I know!).
When you feel your intuition pointing you in a certain direction, stop and listen. Pay attention and honor it. As your mental magnets start attacking, stop yourself and focus only on the intuition, let it guide you.
4. Take Care of Your Health.
If you’re sensitive, it’s likely not just mental, it’s physical as well. I’ve been meeting endless sensitive women lately and they have all experienced health issues throughout their life of some sort or another. Taking care of your health helps to take care of your mind.
I’m not perfect and pregnancy has definitely affected my healthy eating habits way more than I’d like to admit – sugar and carbs call to me like never before in my life! And I can see the affect they have on me, on my mood and my energy level – or is that just the pregnancy, hard to tell! Either way, I’m eager to get back to the old me!
Pre-pregnancy, healthy eating and exercising was simply my way of life. There was no dieting, no starving, no resisting, just simply flourishing with healthy food. I’d get some weird remarks from people about my diet and I’m often made fun of at group gatherings, but it’s okay! I know what I need to thrive so there’s no apologizing. Instead I celebrate it and try my best to live by example. Now if only I could get my pregnant self to get more on board.
Learn how food and exercise affect you. Prioritizing your health helps you thrive in every other area of your life.
5. Accept that It’s Okay to Want to Please Others.
Sensitive people often put the needs of others before themselves. We want to please, bring joy, satisfy. I used to view this as a weakness, a flaw. But I realize now that this trait in and of itself isn’t the flaw, it’s when we take it too far that it becomes detrimental to our well-being.
But in and of itself, there’s a joy in pleasing others. It makes us hard workers, thorough, detail oriented, conscientious, caring, easy to be around, helpful, and more.
If we disconnect from that too strongly, we lose something that brings a deep joy and sense of accomplishment. The trick is to combine our need to please with completely honoring ourselves and what we want out of life. It’s not pleasing just to please. It’s pleasing with purpose, with intention, with self-awareness and self-love. It’s about finding a please-others-please-self balance.
6. Practice Putting Yourself First.
While it’s okay to find the joy in pleasing others, if you revolve your whole life around it you’ll be living according to other people’s agendas, and your priorities will get lost in the shuffle.
Practice putting yourself first. State your opinion. Put your foot down when you need to. Choose the restaurant you want to go to. Tell people “no” so you don’t overextend yourself.
You should always be your first priority. You’ll take care of others more effectively if your needs are being met.
7. Pay Attention to Your Environment.
A chaotic environment for a sensitive person is like living a waking nightmare. That chaos could be in the physical aspects of your environment or the mental/emotional energies of those around you.
To me, this may be the most important way you can protect yourself. If you’re surrounded by ugly energy for extended periods of time (nasty coworkers, constantly grumpy family members, messy cluttered homes), it’s gonna be detrimental on your energy, happiness, sense of peace and overall well-being. Fix it. It’s imperative. It’s vital. You will absorb that energy more than most.
Sometimes I think about the reasons I consider myself so happily married. And one of the main reasons (out of many, darling <3) is the unbelievable peacefulness of my husband’s personality, and of the home we’ve created together. It’s not our ideal home, it’s too small, but it’s calm and peaceful, always. My husband may be an aggressive attorney at work, and he can certainly keep me debating and on my toes, but our relationship and home are always peaceful. Even our bickering feels peaceful.
That’s not something I will ever take for granted and it’s no accident. I needed that so I followed my intuition to a man who could give me that.
Create peaceful environments for yourself and limit the time you spend in harsh environments.
8. Be Selective with the People You Let Into Your Mental Space.
Similar to #7 above, it’s so important to be careful with who you let into your life. I used to not discriminate, at least not enough. I have an extremely high tolerance for annoying and selfish personalities. I spent years just keeping my mouth shut and subjecting myself to any personality that came my way and wanted to be in my space.
It’s taken a lot of self-honoring practices to learn that I can choose who I let in my life. And I find that the more that I choose, the more my life fills with wonderful, positive, happy, encouraging, nourishing, just plain lovely people.
You only have a limited amount of space in your life. Make sure you leave that space open for those who truly lift you up. Fill up your cup with negative energies and there’s simply no room left for others to jump in.
9. Treasure the Lessons Your Past Has Taught You.
Sensitive people often spend so much time caught up in the ways their sensitivity has held them back in the past. Understand that your past wasn’t always in your control. You were subject to the opinions, agendas, and preconceived notions of those around you. People weren’t taught to nourish sensitivity, they were taught to “toughen up”, “grow a backbone”, “be like everyone else”, “fit in”, etc.
A lot of those lessons were simply just WRONG. And so we spent much of our lives fighting against our very natures. The very thing we should have been nourishing, we were condemning. And so we swam upstream and learned to resent the tide.