It’s difficult growing up when you’re a sensitive kid. Your family constantly tells you to “toughen up” when you’re upset and your friends tell you not to be “a baby” when you have disagreements. You’re soon caught between expressing yourself and hiding your emotions. When people ask, “What’s wrong?” you’re not sure if you should answer honestly or just reply, “Nothing.”
As you mature, you discover the sensitive traits that you thought made you weak are the same ones that define you as a loving, caring, and compassionate person. You’ve also created many defense mechanisms that can’t be turned off and spend lots of time living inside your own head. For people who are secretly sensitive, the struggle is real.
1. Words Hurt You.
You memorized the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” the first time you heard it in Pre-K and still use it today. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself that because mean words will always hurt you.
2. You’re A Target.
Bullies are able to find the most vulnerable person in any group and then will verbally (or possibly even physically) jab at him or her. When people aren’t comfortable in their own skin, it makes them feel better to know that they can make others unhappy, too.
3. It’s Easier To Stand Up For Others Than Yourself.
As a sensitive person, if you see a wrongdoing or someone being taken advantage of, you can relate from past experiences and will do your best to right the wrong that’s taking place. For all of the times you didn’t have the strength to stand up for yourself, you’re somehow able to muster enough courage when you see another person suffering. It’s easier for you to speak up on behalf of others than for yourself.
4. You Don’t Handle Criticism Well.
When criticism is constructive and coming from a good place, it’s still hard to distinguish it as something other than an attack on you as a person, even though it’s not intended that way.
5. You Rely On Strength In Numbers.
You’ve learned many coping strategies as a kid and this is one of them. It’s always better to be in bigger groups than stuck in a one-on-one conversation or situation. When your friends and family are nearby, you know you’re safe and will be protected.
6. You Dread Attending Social Gatherings When You Know Certain People Will Be There.
There are people who will get to you even if you mentally prepare yourself the entire day leading up to the event. You’d rather not attend a party than get into a confrontation or risk a potential one.
7. You Misdirect Anger.
Instead of making the person who made fun of you at the party accountable, you’ll make faces while everyone else laughs. Then you’ll yell at your significant other when you arrive home and your best friend the next day for not coming to your defense.
8. You Care About What Others Think Of You.
You try to convince yourself that it’s only your opinion that matters, but deep down you value what others think. You have a desire to be liked since you have a high emotional intelligence and can sense when people don’t like you or aren’t giving you the right time of day. You’ll do anything you can to change the mind of people who don’t see you as the person you see yourself as.
9. You Replay Situations In Your Mind Over And Over After They Occur.
If you think you’ve unintentionally wronged someone or not presented yourself in the best light, you’ll replay the situation in your mind wishing that you could’ve handled it better. You’ll then mentally berate yourself for your misstep that most people probably didn’t even notice or overlooked. When you reach out to apologize to the person you think you’ve harmed, more often than not, they’ll tell you that they weren’t offended. You can’t help but feel terrible anyway.
10. You Feel Other People’s Pain And Let It Impact Your Life.
When someone, even a stranger, tells you a sad story, you can’t help but empathize and try to figure out solutions to help the person. You’ll lose sleep at night thinking about the stranger you met on the subway who was just diagnosed with cancer. The people closest to you will say, “You have to let it go” or “Worry about yourself,” but you can’t.
11. You Come Off As Combative Or Crazy.
Someone may say something at a party that on the surface seems tame, but you know the subtext. That’s when you’ll confront the person and the onlookers will think you’re in the wrong since it was just a simple statement.
12. You Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve.
You struggle hiding your emotions from others. You will try to hold back tears, but when you’re that upset, there’s no stopping them.
13. You Can’t Just ‘Get Over’ Breakups.
Some people have the ability to move on quickly after a failed relationship. You’re not one of these people. You’ll think through the entire relationship and try to learn lessons from it, while regretting all of the moments that you wished turned out for the better, but didn’t.
14. You Allow Others To Take Advantage Of You.
Since you want to help and please others, if there is someone out there who knows they can take advantage of you, they will. And you’ll allow it since you think you’re doing a good thing for someone else.
15. You Lack Killer Instinct.
You can be close to finishing a business deal that will make you and your company lots of money, but if it’s to the detriment of someone else, the victory won’t be sweet for you. Or you won’t allow yourself to complete the transaction.
16. You Don’t Do Well With Change.
You’re most comfortable when you’re doing things that are part of your daily routine. When you have to go outside of your comfort zone, you think of all of the reasons why you can’t do something. More often than not, when you actually just do the new activity, you enjoy yourself much more than you thought you would have.
17. You Live In The Past.
You’ll remember the time that your partner called you “fat” or your friend no-showed for dinner. It’s fine that you have a good memory, but you have trouble letting go of negative memories and are quick to bring up the past in current arguments, which doesn’t allow you to stay in the present.
18. You’re Frequently On The Defensive.
When people say, “Oh, relax! You’re too sensitive,” you’re quick to point out that you’re not “too sensitive.” You’re just in touch with your feelings and don’t like it when people disrespect others.