I Am Sensitive But I Am Not Weak!


A while back, I read a post by a lovely fellow blogger, Mackenzie Glanville. Speaking about her daughter, she said,

“it saddens me when she apologises simply for being emotional”

That little sentence stopped me in my tracks. I realised that, deep down, I have always longed to hear those words; to be told that it’s okay to be emotional.

Sensitive child walking holding umbrella

Ashamed of being sensitive

I have always been desperately ashamed of my sensitive heart and strong emotions.

They have stopped me watching the films my friends and family enjoy. They have had me sobbing at international news stories. Those intense emotions have kept me awake until the early hours, grieving over a stranger’s tragic story.

I hate them.

I want to shake off the sad stories like everyone else does; to acknowledge that “it was a shame”, but then move on with my life…

Instead, my brain replays the stories over and over in a loop, like a glitch that keeps resetting itself. And as I relieve each moment in graphic detail, the emotions become more and more intense. I worry about the repercussions of the story – how will his family cope? did she have any children? Someone will have to sort through their possessions at home and it will make them so upset.

Taking on everyone else’s emotions like this can be overwhelming.

That’s when the shame kicks in – I am labelled “too sensitive”, either out of pity or frustration.

Sensitive child looking at field of yellow flowers

People get frustrated

Yes I’ve faced a lot of frustration – people who just can’t understand why I’m still dwelling on some fictional narrative or an obscure storyline from the newspaper. They seem annoyed that I am upset by it. They don’t know how to handle me. They don’t understand.

In all honesty, I don’t know how to handle me when I’m like that either!

So I apologise… a lot.

I fight to push all the emotions deep down where I won’t be judged for them. I do everything I can to avoid “film night”, and I always “happen” to be out of the room when the news comes on.

You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m weak. That is the conclusion that most people come to. They think that I am not resilient enough. They tell me I need to “toughen up”.

For some reason, being upset by other people’s tragedies is a sign of failure – I am unable to cut off their pain from my own. The label “too sensitive” implies that I am overly upset by things – I can’t control myself. I need to get a grip. I am weak.

But the truth is, I am strong.

Sensitive big sister and little sister holding hands

Being sensitive is part of me

I don’t know why I feel things more strongly than other people, but I do. And guess what? It’s just one part of me.

I also have a fiercely determined side that has built up a viable business from scratch. There is the quietly competent side of me that manages a home and all the household finances. And don’t forget the Lucy that has calmly and bravely accepted her role as a Mama to a child with complex medical needs.

These are the characteristics of a robust, strong-minded woman!

Being sensitive is not the same as being weak. Being prone to strong emotions is not a sign that I am unable to cope. In many cultures, emotional outbursts are common practise and even encouraged. Sometimes allowing our emotions to surface helps us to process them more quickly.

We all have parts of us that we’d prefer to change, but those things should not define us.

Maybe it’s time for me to stop being ashamed of who I am.

And let’s start by not apologising for it anymore…

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Hot Pink Wellingtons

Lucy At Home

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17 Comments

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  1. 1
    Heather Keet

    I loved this post Lucy!! I do think people routinely confuse sensitive or emotional for weak but there is a HUGE difference. And that cuts both ways – people who are not viewed as sensitive are seen as tough enough to “take it.” I once commented how my feet were killing me and a friend told me I don’t have a chronic illness like some people so I should feel lucky. Except I do have a chronic degenerative disease, muscular dystrophy. For some reason though, people blow me off because I don’t scream from a platform that I am in AGONY on the inside every day as my muscles literally DIE thanks to a disease that has no cure and laughably feeble treatments.

    Maybe we humans need to realize we all have the same feelings, but we all show them and process them differently! #BlogCrush

  2. 3
    Anne

    oh this is so true, well done for having your say. I too am sensitive, I let things upset me way more than they should, I lie awake at night feeling sad for people I’ve never met. But I am most certainly not weak, and neither are you. Keep being who you are x
    #blogcrush

  3. 4
    Alice | Letters to my Daughter

    Very well put. I’m also a very emotional person. I’ll cry in the car at a radio story and was the only one crying at the end of Titanic! I think it shows a greater level of empathy, and even makes us more grateful for what we’ve got. I would like to be able to control my tears a bit better when I’m angry though! #blogcrush

  4. 5
    Lisa Pomerantz

    Wonderful post, Lucy. And you need to know, those of us who are too sensitive, have real empathy! And I believe our world today needs a whole lot more of that, than we do pseudo-strong, ‘suck it up buttercup’ kind of folk! #Strongwomen #BlogCrush xoxo

  5. 6
    Lorna Ledger

    I love this post! Thank you! I think this means you are more empathetic – which makes you string, human! I cry at Gameshows when they win, I ponder things for hours, days, years! I have stopped watching the live news as I can’t handle the images! xx

  6. 7
    Adrian

    I can’t ever see how being sensitive is a weakness. The world needs more people who aren’t scared to show that they care, that they feel passionate about something, and want to help others. I think now in the world more than ever. It’s especially important to teach these skills to boys and as a man who was bullied as a child for being a sensitive boy I’ll be making sure I build their emotional resilience and empathy and refuse to let anyone tell them to bottle up their feelings. #blogcrush

  7. 8
    Jade The Parenting Jungle

    Definitely don’t be ashamed lovely, you are empathetic. There is no fault in emotion or caring, no shame. When I was little everyone used to tease me as any film, book, play, story etc I would hear I would cry as I get really involved. I have changed as I have gotten older, not by shoving these feelings aside but by understanding that’s me, people cant understand how I then have chosen to do very emotional jobs ie counsellor, cse social worker but I think these feelings are strength and send you big cuddles. Just be you and be proud xx #sharingthebloglove

  8. 9
    Jo

    A lovely post Lucy. I agree, people do see it as a weakness as really it is a strength. To have that empathy to truly understand what someone is going through is a good thing. #sharingthebloglovd

  9. 10
    Helena

    Being connected to one’s emotons should not be seen as a weakness but as a sign that you are a caring, loving individual. I hate the stiff upper lip lets hide our emotions ideology it’s so not healthy. #BlogCrush

  10. 11
    natalie

    Oh lovely I have been reading this nodding along. I have wrote a similar post in the past about being sensitive and seeing it as a weakness. My girls are also sensitive which I worry about – I want to try and teach them that it is ok to show emotion – because it actually is!! I guess we all just need to embrace who we are instead of trying to change it. #sharingthebloglove

  11. 12
    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    I’m a sensitive soul too, and the thing that has brought home the positives for me has been seeing it in my son. He’s very sensitive to things, but I can also see in him how he notices when other people are upset or down, and will do his best to help. In a way that I would never expect from a 3 year old. It makes me so proud of him, and makes me realise that being sensitive brings it’s own bunch of positives too. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  12. 13
    Laura - dear bear and beany

    I’m very sensitive and avoid certain situations because of it. But your right it’s ok to be like this. Both my daughters are the same and I’m always getting comments from their teachers that they are so caring of others, that they are the first to notice when a child is upset and looks after them. This makes me proud and I wouldn’t want them any other way, so I guess it is ok. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  13. 14
    Sarah

    This is a great post – I have to confess I’m the kind of person who never cries at films, or worries too much about stories I hear on the news. My mum cries a lot (mostly at TV programmes) and I have to admit it’s something we’ve taken the mickey out of her about before. Your post has made me realise that perhaps I need to be a bit more empathetic – thank you. #SharingTheBlogLove

  14. 15
    Laura // Little Ladies Big World

    I agree with this so much and aswell as being a bit like this myself I know that I see it in my eldest too and I do my very very best to make sure she knows that is it as ok to be emotional as it is to be self assure and confident, basically to be who she is inside and not to apologise for it. Wouldn’t that be the dream for all of us x #Sharingthebloglove

  15. 16
    KellyAnn Schiavo

    This is a lovely post! Its totally ok to cry and you should! its a good release for lots of emotions. Don’t apologise for being who you are. When I was younger I was taught head up / shoulders back and carry on so I never cried. So much so that my tear ducts dried up and I had to put artificial tear drops in my eyes every day! Now, I cry at TV adverts!! haha

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