Growing up, my dad would exhort me time and again not to be so sensitive. I now rather suspect that he was pretty sensitive himself and wished I could toughen up a bit so as to avoid the hurt he knew was to inevitably come my way, if I continued to feel so deeply.
The only way I can describe living life as a sensitive soul (and a great many of you will no doubt relate to this, as it is suggested that as many as 15 to 20 percent of the population are HSP's), is that it feels like all feelings are worn externally and they are permanently raw. Horror, Thriller, or overly sad films are an absolute no. If siren's blast past I must put my fingers in my ears. And even in my most contented moments I struggle not think about mistreated donkey's, the countless number of displaced persons in refugee camps, the child that got shouted at very publicly in Asda this morning or The Big Issue I didn't buy today from someone in need, and the list goes on.
HSP's have an uncanny ability to pick up on things that go unnoticed by others - a look or glance, a feeling in a room - it's like having a sixth sense and it's not always a helpful skill. Oftentimes, ignorance must surely be bliss.
Of course, many feel that labels are unhelpful. Some may even feel that the term HSP is nonsense and merely an excuse for being an inept wet lettuce or a dreamer who can't face the harsh realities of life.
I personally feel that it serves us well the more we know and understand ourselves. For example, knowing I'm a HSP helps me realise that I need a fair amount of solitary and quiet time if I'm to keep my mood buoyant.
At the same time I really appreciate the attitude that the Navajo Indians cultivate. Instead of saying, 'I am depressed.' they say, 'My spirit is accompanied by sorrow.' I like this. It means we are not made up of one sole trait, like depression, hyper sensitivity or anxiety. Our souls are accompanied by many things, none of which define us implicitly.
So rather than feel we must toughen up, accept that your soul may be a sensitive one and welcome the qualities that will surely accompany that.
Are you a HSP? Take the test: http://www.painterskeys.com/clickbacks/sensitivity-test.asp