Today I read an article based on someone being called, “Too sensitive”, naturally every part of me wanted to respond “Aaaargh!!!” to the resolute victimness of it, as amongst other things, the statement, “You are too sensitive” is as much a wording structure issue as it is a judgemental issue.
I was reminded of a recent event where I (unusually ;-)) had some objections, and was told that, out of 30+ people, I was THE ONLY ONE who had complained.
Now, many moons ago, if a person of status had said this to me, I would have quietly thought, ‘OMG! There’s something wrong with me!’
30+ people against 1….!!!
And backed down, feeling my opinion was 'lesser'.
But actually, over the years, I have got to know myself quite well, and whilst I can be too sensitive (sometimes) too opinionated (other times), I can also perceive really well when something is unfair and am a great fighter of the ‘underdog’. So, rather than accept this statement in the way it was designed, I chose to accept this divide and conquer statement as a compliment,
‘In a poll of 31, you think I am unique, Awww, thank you’.
Because actually as much as I value being part of a tribe, I also rather value difference; I like difference, I enjoy difference.
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone does, but in certain contexts if I am labelled different, thank you. -It has taken a while to embrace being called, THE Black Sheep, but I actually, I rather like black sheep.
Being called, ‘Too’ anything can be hurtful or painful, especially when we are emotionally intelligent or empathic and just want to be part of a group or a unit. But then, it is about considering the context.
As a Hypnotherapist, part of the practice, (alongside the counselling skills) is to be aware of words and how we use them; perhaps we use metaphors to describe how we feel, or perhaps we rely on one of our senses more than the other; with training and experience I look for, listen to and sense all of these things when I am face to face with a client. I am acutely aware of word structures and how we use them to persuade ourselves to do, or not do something.
So imagine my surprise when in this article said loads about being ‘Too sensitive’ but gave little explanation of why the sentence structure alone can cause distress.
- The expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.
-‘Perceived’, even in the definition of criticism there is a singular opinion.....And there lies the rub, if we hear a stand alone statement such as,
‘YOU ARE TOO SENSITIVE’
Behind that statement is the sentiment of a huge 'US' against just a little you.
(‘Divide and conquer’)
The use of ‘Too’ can suggest that there are opinion polls, a mass of people and great swathes of experience to judge and asses us, evidence to all conclude that you are TOO sensitive or OVER reacting.
(‘Over…’ again, another example that suggests that there is a preset/defined ‘norm’ and you are not complying to it). These are isolating statements that imply,
YOU are the only one that is different.
And perhaps these statements are true, but ONLY according to the one person saying it…. What they perceive.
So what if we look at the fact that everyone is different?
Some of us have blue eyes, some brown -we are all different. Imagine saying to someone, “Your eyes are too brown/blue.” Of course we wouldn’t... Because we are aware that people are physically genetically different, and there’s little we/they can do about it, even the statement feels uncomfortable because we are not used to saying or hearing it.
What if we too, are all emotionally different? intellectually different? etc etc… Then, rather than thinking that one way is right or wrong, we use what we have got to the best of our capabilities, and make the best out of who we really are?
If we are a black sheep, be the fluffiest, butt-kicking black sheep there is.
So how about we look at any judgemental sentence and change it to,
“You are too sensitive (for me).” “You are over sensitive (and I can’t understand)"
...Then walk away knowing that the person who said the statement, just can’t keep up with us?
Footnote: Absolutely, we may be wrong, but that’s OK isn’t it? We are all allowed to get things wrong now and again, surely?