Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Q&A: When your sensitivity undermines your work

Another long since overdue post in the category of Questions and Answers!

Some time ago, a PhD student sent me the following question:

Good afternoon. I'm PhD student. Thanks for the nice articles in this blog. Would like to share with you Eva. I'm very sensitive person. Whenever people use harsh words to me, It makes me feel very sad and upset most of the time. During this time, i'm not able to focus in my studies which affects my studies so much. What i should do?

Here are a few tips I can give you:

1. Understand your sensitivity

First and foremost: there is nothing wrong with being sensitive. You can gain a lot of benefit from knowing yourself though. Figure out if you are very sensitive for words, or if you would classify as a highly sensitive person (I am, and understanding that I am has been tremendously beneficial). Here's a test you can take to see if you are a highly sensitive person. Here's a book that I recommend you read:



By all means, try to deeply understand the nature of your sensitivity, and understand all the benefits and beauty of it. Don't ever let anybody tell you that you are "weak" because you are sensitive.

2. Meditate and let go

If you feel particularly shaken by an event, if somebody has mistreated you, then don't force yourself to delve back into your work. Look for a quiet place, try a short relaxation exercise, and try to let the dark cloud float out of the sky. If you need to lock yourself down in the bathroom for 15 minutes to recover - do it. It's not because society thinks that is wrong, that it really is wrong. Regroup your soldiers and prepare for your next step.

3. Get out for a walk

Another option would be to go out and enjoy some fresh air, sun and nature. If you are close to a forest or park, spending 15 minutes in a quiet place while walking might be just what you need - even more so if you are a sensitive person.

4. Do something you enjoy

Another trick to lift the dark mood that has settled upon you, is to go and do something you enjoy. As a sensitive person, you might like to listen to some beautiful music, go visit a museum, talk to a friend, or anything that makes you feel good. Realize that as bad as you feel when you experience something negative, you also feel deeply touched and happy when you have a positive experience. Try to swing the pendulum back into the positive spectrum.

5. Let others know your limits

People should not mistreat you and use harsh words on you - whether you are sensitive to their behavior or not. If people mistreat you a number of times, you should tell them that they have crossed the line. No swearing, no aggressive biting back at them - but just be clear and concise that you do not appreciate their behavior and would them rather not to repeat treating you like that in the future.

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