I used to think I was too sensitive. It is certainly true that things seem to bother me more than other people. I “read” people and situations very well, a blessing and a curse. For the longest time, I thought it was mostly the curse. After all, I’m the one whose feelings are hurt, right? I’m the one taking things to heart, right?
Lately, I’m coming to appreciate my sensitivity albeit I still wish the volume was turned down a little. It dawned on me today that there are people in my life who would no longer be in my life were I not sensitive to their needs.
Why is that, do you suppose?
And why is it some of us seemed doomed to experience more disillusionment than others?
Is there something innately wrong with us?
I don’t think so.
I’ve often thought how my life might be different without my sensitivities. Yes, I wouldn’t get hurt as often but I also wouldn’t have loved as much, cared as much, invested as much. Which is worse? Too care too much or to care too little?
I think not caring is certainly easier and less tumultuous. People who seem not to care so much are losing out anyway. They say, “I don’t care about anyone else” attitude as a shield against hurt. I have to be honest; I’ve tried that myself.
It didn’t work.
Maybe authentic living is all about
Caring enough to be hurt.
I really wish I were different at times. Life would be easier. I wouldn’t feel so vulnerable. My husband says it’s my greatest strength-the caring part. But he also says that it keeps me from enjoying my own life at times.
I’m trying to think why this post and why today? I think it might be because of a few blogs I’ve just read. It seems that there are many “sensitives” out there.
You think deeper than most.
You evaluate your relationships more than most.
You want to feel an intimate connection with the people in your life and when you don’t, you feel hurt, confused, and slightly off-kilter. You want to know the people in your life that you care so deeply about, care deeply about you as well.
But maybe you’ve waited for others to always come to you. I can tell you that always being the initiator gets really old, really quick.
We also need to be aware when we’re too sensitive. We sensitive types have to be careful we don’t expect too much. That can get old, too.
What I’m addressing in this post is not the occasional behaviors in a relationship that we find bothersome but the consistent behaviors that are causing us confusion and hurt
A few years ago, I took some time to define what I want from my own relationships. It kept me from getting caught up in shallow relationships that are only one-sided. I had read something several years ago that became my mantra.
It goes something like this: “When you’re at the beginning of a relationship and there are some behaviors in your friend that really bother you, you have one of two choices. Talk to them about it or decide to live with it. Because one thing is for sure, this is how the relationship is going to go.”
I believe that and I’ve found it to be one hundred percent true.
If we are in the stages of a new relationship and we are doing all the initiation, it’s not going to change.
If our new friend never wants to engage in meaningful conversation, it’s not going to change.
That does not mean we give up on these people. After all, there are all kinds of relationships and they meet all kinds of different needs. But for the ones that we would like to see deepen, we need to define the parameters.
Do we want to stay in a relationship where we’re carrying most of the load? Is it worth it to us? It might well be. There might be enough other good aspects of the relationship that more than compensate for the fact that it doesn’t fit within our definition. We can’t possibly be intimately close to more than a very few people at a time anyway.. And it takes a long time before a relationship becomes mature enough that we feel comfortable sharing our deepest concerns with each other.
I think each of us has to decide when a crossroad has been reached, when the hurts outweigh the hugs, when the balance of reciprocity never tilts to their side.
We can decide to re-invent the relationship and start all over putting different parameters in place. If it’s a relationship worth saving, it’s worth giving it a try. I’ve been in relationships that I’ve let dissolve. The reciprocity wasn’t there from the beginning and I decided I didn’t want a relationship like that because we didn’t have that much in common anyway..
I’ve had others where I’ve been willing to change some of my own expectations because we’ve had a long and mostly good history. They haven’t knowingly hurt me, they simply haven’t defined friendship the way I have.
The issue then becomes how do we stay true to our nature while at the same time giving a relationship a little “breathing” room. And I think we can do that even in a friendship we’ve had for a long time.
We can start over. We continue to give because that is our nature but we give just a tiny bit less. We hold back a tiny bit more. We initiate a tiny bit less.
And we make sure that when we do give we give freely but from a heart that has its eyes wide open. I believe God expects generosity and grace from us in these situations.
We back away a little in the hope they will come forward a little.
If they don’t, we learn to overlook it and not let it consume us. We let the relationship, like water, find its own level. This isn’t easy. It goes against our very nature. But for our own sake, it needs to happen.
Life is all about relationships.
The best ones are open and honest, with shared responsibility. But even those that are not ideal might be worth keeping. You are the only one that can decide that. Take your time. Give it much thought and if you pray, give it much prayer. No one should give up on any relationship unless they’re one hundred percent sure it needs to end.
I’ve been there. I addressed this issue of reciprocity with a friend. They responded well and made a real effort knowing what I said was true. Sometimes they fall back into their old ways. When they do, I simply don’t call as much, initiate as much, etc. They get the hint and we’re right back on track.
One thing is for sure:
Don’t keep going in circles.
If you let their behavior keep you tied up in knots, it’s become your problem, not theirs.
Make a decision.
Take as much time as you need but intentionally get to a place where you define what a healthy relationship means to you, how much you are willing to accommodate and how much you expect to be accommodated.
It’s not easy letting someone slip out of your life. It hurts. We’re afraid we’ll be left all alone if we do. But you know what? There are lots of people in this world that would love a friend. The universe will provide them if you make room for them.
I can remember a few years back, I did exactly that. It wasn’t a confrontation or a big deal. I just quit making the phone calls and taking the initiative. I was hoping she would get the hint. She never did. I enjoyed the time spent with her but I always felt I was imposing on her because she never initiated in any way or ever called just to “chat”. No one likes to feel that way.
Friendships are important.
True friendships are rare.
Take care of the ones you have. Be honest with your friends about any behaviors that hurt your feelings and just as importantly be aware of your own behaviors that might hurt them.
God bless and have a great day.
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