I think it is safe to say that most everyone here in this community is quite sensitive.

Photo by : AVphotography262

The problem that we encounter is this:

Too often, we take our sensitivity to be a bad thing, or blame ourselves for being sensitive.

I am here to tell you to stop doing that. WE need to respect it. Not complain about it as a victim, but really to respect it for the power our sensitivity has.

Mad about NOT Being Accepted as a Sensitive?

You see, the other day I was quite angry.

I was angry that I have grown up under a social and cultural standard that says it is better to be hard and tough, and not soft and sensitive in order to be considered strong as a person.

I cannot stand for that any more.

I often get this feeling that I’d fight to the death to stand up for us sensitive-types. Like I want to kick someone’s ass that would make fun of someone who is sensitive, or come down on them.

Not very sensitive, I know. But that is the level of passion I have for the power we have to make the world a better place, when we use our sensitivity well.

A Sensitive Kid

I remember an experience I had when I was in junior high school. I had made a stuffed animal duck in class. Now I didn’t do a very good job of sewing this duck together. Quite honestly, it was pretty ugly. But it was mine and I was proud that I had made it. I loved it.

I took this duck to my next class, still quite proud that this duck was made by my own hands. There was a kid that sat behind me that didn’t really like me. When he saw the duck he started making fun of it and how ugly it was.

Being the sensitive kid I was, I started crying immediately. Of course the kid started making fun of me for crying, and the teacher came over to see what was going on.

You could see the look on her face wasn’t one of caring, but was more of disdain or even a little bit of disgust. Of course everything quieted down and the teacher began class.

For weeks and months to come, other kids made fun of me as a crybaby. Nothing out of the ordinary there that is just what kids do they are often mean for various reasons usually having to do with the home situation, some kind of emotional or physical abusive, etc.

Of course my reaction wasn’t the most mature reaction. I was just a kid after all, but it’s interesting to note how the teacher had a reaction that my being sensitive wasn’t okay. I didn’t understand this at the time, but it was the emotion on her face that showed it.

I Know Who to Blame, Now

So who is to blame here?

The teacher?

The mean kid?


Actually, I am not big into blaming because it doesn’t do much good, but if there was one thing to blame it would be our conditioning that sensitivity isn’t championed.

And even when it comes out in an immature reaction like mine, we are trained to shut down and repress it in ourselves and others instead of cultivating and nurturing it up into a healthier, more integrated form of sensitivity.

I firmly believe there is strength and power in sensitivity, it is truly an asset.

Something to be honored and cultivated.

Something to be protected.

Something we need more of in the world.

Tough for Men and Women, Alike

I know it applies to both men and women, both have told me how they feel like they need to be tough.

But I think this applies even more so to guys, and needing to be macho or “alpha.” I hate it.

While it’s true that both men and women are taught to stuff it down and to be tough, I think things are changing for the better in regards to sensitivity.

I call this a burden because it’s not just about realizing the importance of sensitivity in owning it.

It is about taking it even further, by standing up for the fact that the world needs us to tune into our sensitivity, and speaking out about it. Because our deep care drives that sensitivity.

I do my best, every day to be an example of strong and sensitive guy who has people skills and who champions care and compassion and sensitivity for others out there in the world. I have my slip ups, but I always try to do the right thing, to care about people with compassion, and make a difference in the world.

This is not an easy task by any means. It also means that those people are hard, brash and abrasive but we have to be sensitive to them as well.

Over the years I learned how to be tough, to create a shell around that sensitivity within. Now I am learning to stand strong in it. Do I still get tough with someone if they have crossed my boundaries?

Sure, I can do that if need be as a last resort, but I also try to listen with sensitivity and bring it into the picture to understand where they are coming from, that they might attack me, probably from a place of fear or neediness.

Shyness and sensitivity so often go hand in hand. Learn to cultivate them from the shadow sides into fully integrated strength, and your confidence will soar, like never before.

An Invitation

The Dissolve Social Anxiety program is here to help you cultivate your sensitivity in a strong way with learning to overcome your shyness and social anxiety.

    2 replies to "The Burden of Being Shy and Sensitive"

    • Michael

      “A Sensitive Kid”…

      I have a vivid memory form childhood that has never left me. When I think of it, I re-live it with such detail that I cry almost as much as I did when it happened. (I’m trying to hold back the tears even as I type this.)
      I was eight or nine years old, in 4th grade, and it was the happiest I had ever been, or ever would be, in school. I loved my teacher and had many friends among my classmates. The class was doing an art project where we would learn how to make a paper rose for Mother’s Day. I was really getting into this because there was nothing I wanted more than to present my mom with a hand made rose for Mother’s Day.
      Well, our teacher took us through the steps, and all of us would very carefully cut and paste our red and green construction paper, and the result would be a very impressive rose. For everyone except me, that is. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my rose to look anything like any of those made by my classmates. My teacher saw that I was having trouble with this and gave some personal help, but time for art was running out and we all had to put our finished flowers in the tables to let the paste dry.
      At the end of the day, we all got our coats and hats and boots on, (this is northern Wisconsin BTW) and lined up to be marched out of the classroom picking up our paper roses as we left. A I walked down the long hallway to the doors, I examined my flower and felt like a failure. I thought, my mom would not even want a flower that looked like this, so as I was going through the door to leave the building, I tossed my ugly flower into a trash can near the door.
      My teacher saw me do this and immediately shouted after me to stop. She came over and knelt down in front of me and asked why I threw my rose in the trash. I couldn’t contain my emotions any longer and burst into tears, sobbing that “my flower isn’t good enough”. Can you imagine an 8 year old thinking that his mother would reject something made with such care and love? Well I could, and it tore me up inside.
      My teacher took my hand and we went back to the classroom and she helped me, step-by-step, make a flower that looked much better than the one I created on my own. I guess you can see why I loved her so much. My memory is not very clear about what my mom’s reaction was when I gave her the flower. I’m sure she was pleased, but I only have a clear memory of the hurt, anguish and shame that I felt at that time.

      Sorry if I went on a bit long, I wouldn’t be hurt if you decided not to post this.

      Thanks again for all you do,


      • David Hamilton

        Michael – I welcome long comments, not a problem at all! In fact I encourage sharing not only to help yourself, but it will help others too.

        What I am struck by here is not only your sensitivity, but the kindness of your teacher and how sensitive she was to you. I was semi-surprised reading this that anguish is the main take away and nothing about how loving the teacher was along with it. I know you mentioned how much you loved her, but it feels like the piece about admiration for her is there, but that you cannot fully express it because the shame is so powerful and overriding.

        I’m coming from a place of curiosity here (not judgment) and wonder if there is something else beneath that shame, and where this voice of shame comes from prior to this event. It sounds like a voice of self-judgment and comparison that was there even before this flower incident happened…a voice that you must have picked up somewhere else.

        It just leaves me very curious about it all! Thanks for this great share.

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