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What should I do if a loved one judges or rejects my high sensitivity?

Have you spoken openly about your sensitivity to a family member, friend, or even your new partner, but they brushed aside what you shared with them? You told them all you know on the subject and they rejected it without appeal? You expressed your needs, but they minimized your feelings, thinking that they came straight out of your fanciful imagination? They even made you understand that all this was just another trick up your sleeve to excuse your moods? Or they just don't even want to hear about it saying it's more cheap psychology to justify your dramatic sides?

highly sensitive young woman rejected

What should I do if someone judges or rejects my high sensitivity?

If you are in one of these situations, and despite all your efforts, you have hit a wall: it's up to you to set your limits! Respecting your emotions is non-negotiable. A caring and positive environment is essential to the development of everyone, highly sensitive or not. Affection, communication, openness of mind and heart, listening, respect on both sides are the essential ingredients for balanced and healthy relationships. If these ingredients are not there and it generates sadness, disappointment and frustrations, then start to re-examine the links that attach you to this or these people, and at the same time, try to understand altogether what is at stake here. It is up to you to decide whether or not you accept the resulting conclusions you will come up with. You have the power and the right to put some distance, even an end, to a relationship that is hurting you. You have the right to protect yourself and favor people who do accept you, participate in your well-being, lift you up, support you, respect you and love you as you are.


Now, I am aware that there are certain situations where the possibility of severing ties with those who deny and reject your sensitivity does not exist, such as a member of your family for example. So to understand their attitude and protect you, let's look together at the reasons why those around you might not accept your high sensitivity. We will then see how to approach them and how to respond tactfully if you are the target of hurtful comments.


How can I get help from my loved ones when they don't accept my hypersensitivity?

This is a question I have often been asked and faced many times. Getting sarcasm or receiving suspicious looks, completed with a smirking frown and sigh, is never very engaging to pursue a discussion.

Whether it's your partner, your friends or a family member, it's frustrating and hurtful not to be taken seriously and to be completely rejected because no one accepts what you tell them.

But before anything else, don't feel guilty for feeling upset, disappointed, maybe even angry. In any situation or conversation that ends in rejection, anyone would feel off balance and take it as a setback. All the more so when this attitude comes from a loved one in whom we trust and expect their support and understanding.

Above all, do not draw the conclusion that their lack of openness is a lack of love or disinterest in your well-being.

Perhaps start by asking them why they refute the notion of hypersensitivity. Why exactly don't they accept it? Once you get a response, it will give you a lead on how to broach the subject and move forward. Behind a rejection always hides the main motive or motives. Discover them! Don't forget that you are endowed with high empathy and an extraordinary sense of listening and that, as a result, your hypersensitivity gives you all the assets to unravel the hidden reasons of your interlocutor. Use them!


Now let's try to see what are perhaps the reasons for their behavior :


I would start with the most relevant: a lack of knowledge.

Nothing is easier than to judge something of which we know nothing or whose meaning we do not understand. Providing the reluctant people around you with the definition of hypersensitivity is a starting point. Don't overwhelm them with too many details or statistics right away. Give them concrete examples that relate to you, perhaps even situations that they have witnessed. This will allow you to gauge whether they are open to information and seem interested. You can even invite them to watch a short video together, listen to a podcast or read an article about HSP. There are so many valid resources on all digital platforms, choose wisely, you are spoiled for choice. Another great option is to watch the documentary “Sensitive - The Untold Story", this is an excellent documentary based on the research of Dr. Elaine Aron, author/psychologist and pioneer in the study of the hypersensitivity trait. If you have not seen it yet, I recommend it because it is very well done and gives useful information on our particularity and it is a great way to get familiarized for non-HSPs.



The second point to consider when encountering a wall in the face of hypersensitivity is fear

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It may not have crossed your mind, but fear is often at the root of any rejection… fear of not knowing how to react, fear of consequences, fear of not measuring up, fear of judgment and stigma, fear of difference, fear of the unknown!


One of the biggest myths of highly sensitive people is that they are weak.

To take the example of a hypersensitive man, our society expects the male sex in particular to be "tough" and to control their emotions. For those around a hypersensitive man, it can be difficult to accept the more emotional and less aggressive side of an ultrasensitive man. And yet, if you look more closely at the situations they deal with, day after day, it takes incredible strength and courage to face an aggressive world where violence is a source of distraction (movies, sport); not to mention an environment bombarded with stimuli such as loud noise or olfactory pollution in overcrowded cities… Don’t forget that for HSP, any environmental stimuli or emotional turmoil can become a struggle.

So of course, our loved ones may be worried about our evolution and adaptation in a world that can upset our daily lives at every corner. Perhaps they feel helpless, not knowing how to help us or deal with our moments of anxiety and overstimulation.

discovery-call

Guilt can also be an element that makes them deny hypersensitivity altogether.


Sometimes guilt can lead to adopting the practice of burying one’s head in the sand. "What I don't know, what I don't want to see or hear can't reach me or hurt me!"

Listening to your daily experiences, some are likely asking questions such as: Am I hypersensitive myself? or “Am I somehow responsible for all of this, is it something genetic?”

In fact, many people (and often parents or a sibling) have discovered that they themselves were highly sensitive upon hearing the testimony of their hypersensitive loved one. For some, this will be a wonderful revelation that will validate what they have always felt. For others, it will be more difficult to admit it and will even resist the idea of having high sensitivity.

It is therefore essential to educate those around us that hypersensitivity is not a disease but an innate trait that does not require any treatment or diagnosis. We must also emphasize the wonderful traits and incredible benefits of hypersensitivity.

Even though high sensitivity is an inherited trait, that doesn't mean it has to come directly from a parent. It could also be inherited from a close relative in the family tree. Regardless of who is highly sensitive or not, it's important to also understand that how you were raised has nothing to do with being hypersensitive. Even if the environment affects HSP, it is not the environment that causes your trait. It can, however, influence adaptation and resilience.


Take this short quiz (below) if you want to know if you are a highly sensitive person.

test : are you highly sensitive

How do I respond to hurtful comments?

Being confronted by someone who will give you sound “advice” on how to avoid “putting yourself in such a state” is not easy to deal with without feeling attacked or mocked. I often got carried away when I had to listen to this famous unsolicited “advice”. I'm sure we've all been in that situation and handled it pretty badly. Unfortunately we can't control what others tell us, but you can choose how we react. If you think the comment merits a response, you should respond firmly, but tactfully.


I've listed below the most common comments we've heard time and time again, and some solutions on how to answer that will hopefully put an end to future negative comments. Try them, adapt them to the circumstances and personalize them! On the other hand, if you feel too emotional to respond appropriately at the time, try another approach later when you are calmer, and take the opportunity to discuss their comments and how you felt.


You have to toughen up.

“I understand that your comment is well-intended, but feeling things deeply is not a weakness in my eyes. In fact I think it is one of my greatest strengths.”


You are so dramatic.

“I assure you that I am not looking to gain attention, actually the intention is quite the opposite. I am easily overwhelmed and feel things very strongly, so sometimes I react stronger than most. “


You’ll grow out of it.

“People don’t outgrow innate traits like high sensitivity, but I work everyday on the best ways to manage my reactions, and with your support I could handle them even better.”


It is just attention seeking behavior.

“It has nothing to do with attention seeking, believe me. I am very aware of when, why and what can be sensory related and overwhelming for me, as I also know when it is completely something else.”


You make things more difficult than they need to be.

“For you, it might not be a big deal and I get it. From my point of view, this “situation” can’t be oversimplified. I think that we should be thinking it through more thoroughly.”

Then you explain why.


I know how you feel.

Well, I wish you would but actually you don't know. And I am not bragging around but I feel things so intensely compared to others that it is just impossible to compare levels of feelings.

Would you say that someone who has an innate condition or has a disability? Would you say that to someone who just lost a pet and you never had one? Of course not!


You think too much.

It might surprise you and it will make you laugh but I agree with that one. I know that I think too much and believe sometimes I would love to have an on/off button, but I don’t and can't turn off my brain just like that.


That smell is not that strong, I can’t barely smell it.

I am sure you do, but imagine having your senses tenfold stronger than yours. Believe me, it isn’t always easy nor pleasant, but look at the bright side, I will always be the first to call the firefighters in case of a fire.



Accept that you cannot make any decisions for others

Unfortunately, you may have to deal with a loved one who is completely closed to the idea of hypersensitivity. Sure, it's heartbreaking and frustrating, but it's a possibility you need to consider. So what if you tried everything to make them understand and recognize your personality trait? What to do when you see their lack of compassion, narrow-mindedness and stubbornness? Nothing. Quite simply. Now the ball is in their court, you have no control over their choice or their way of thinking. Your decision to close the topic may be hard to accept, but the only choice for you to move forward. Brooding over your disappointment would only make your pain last longer. If and when that person changes their mind, they will let you know. In the meantime, focus on those who support and understand you.



How to deal with the refusal of not being understood and accepted?

Now that you know the reasons why your loved one does not accept the idea of hypersensitivity, how to maintain a loving or cordial relationship with this person, and how to respond without animosity to their possible hurtful comments?


It is important and necessary that you surround yourself with supportive people who have your back. You could also join the different digital communities where you can chat with other hypersensitive people. Share your story, ask questions and maybe you'll get advice from those facing the same challenges as you, or in the worst case, you'll find unconditional support.



Before closing this topic, I want to remind you that your sensitivity should be celebrated and not seen as a burden. When you're feeling a little confused, remember all the amazing benefits that come with being a highly sensitive person.



 

You want to share your story, your struggles and the battles you won, and be part of our circle of sensitive and intuitive people. Come with us and let's chat with other highly sensitive people! Join the Highly Sensitive Empaths community:


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More articles for and about highly sensitive people here.


What is your biggest struggle?

  • Feeling emotionally drained

  • Moving on and letting go

  • Criticism and conflict

  • Being under pressure


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