He is so insensitive”! A wife might say referring to her husband who failed to remember her birthday or ignores an important request. In most cases, those deemed insensitive are judged as lacking empathy or manifesting an “I don’t’ care” attitude. It’s a very hurtful experience and many people take it personally when such insensitivity is directed towards them.
How does insensitivity develop and are we fair in our judgement of such people? What if they were to spin a different perspective by arguing that “others were just too sensitive?
When sensitivity is balanced, someone can be vulnerable enough to concern themselves with emotional and relational matters and simultaneously accept the mishaps and offenses of others without feeling the need to judge or condemn them. In actuality, being too sensitive is just as much a problem as not being sensitive enough.
Sensitivity requires intelligence on the emotional level primarily because it requires us to care. It requires intelligence on a mental level because it requires us to be thoughtful and finally it requires intelligence on a behavioral level because it requires us to act.
The term sensitive is defined as “quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences”.
In relationships, it is the ability to pay attention to the emotional needs of others, as well as be responsive to spoken and unspoken cues. When people are sensitive to our needs, we feel attended to and cared for. However, when people are too sensitive, it causes others to walk on eggshells often feeling like they have to overcompensate and overwork to meet that person’s emotional needs. On the other hand, when people are not sensitive enough, they become highly offensive because they fail to acknowledge the emotional needs of others leaving them feeling neglected and uncared for.
Sensitivity is like a muscle that must be exercised. No person is born with the ability to be perfectly sensitive to the needs of others. As mentioned before, we either overdo it or underdo it. There are many variables that impact the degree to which we are sensitive. It’s not a trait that we can pretend to have because it requires authentic emotional intelligence to be able to read other people’s needs
Learning to be sensitive is a learned behavior which requires practice, consciousness and attention. Below are some suggestion to help you build balanced sensitivity;
- Develop Empathy by asking yourself questions like “How would I feel if that happened to me?”
- Concern yourself with the question ” Am I too sensitive or not sensitive enough?
- Stop judging people based simply on their behaviors
- Take time to listen to people, and pay attention to nonverbal cues
- Don’t assume that everyone thinks the way you think.
- Try to find out what needs people have and what is important to them by asking questions
Our level of sensitivity can be affected by a number of issues including
- How parental figures modeled sensitivity. Did they show concern for their own feelings as well as others?
- Early childhood experiences such as trauma, poverty, sickness also play a role. Were other needs more pressing because of difficult life situations? E.g. was more energy directed at meeting basic needs because of poverty and thus emotional needs became less significant.
- A broken heart can cause people to harden their hearts in fear of experiencing such pain again. Because the heart does not discriminate, when we shut off our heart to painful feelings, we shut if off to all feelings. This makes it difficult to feel in subsequent relationships and others pay the price. Our sensitivity radar is like a garden that needs to be constantly attended to. We need to feed it the right nutrients. The only way the heart can continue to be sensitive and care for others is if it constantly processes and resolves emotional pain.
Many people are resentful or angry because they are in relationships with people who are either too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Anger Management can be a useful tool in helping to resolve some of the issues that emerge. If you believe Anger Management can benefit you or someone you love, contact Anger Management Resources Inc. @ firstname.lastname@example.org