Why “You’re Too Sensitive” is a Cop Out

I’ve been reading up a lot lately about body-shaming and how to stop caring what other people think. It’s a household conversation for my boyfriend and I and it’s something I’ve been struggling with most of my life.  As I’ve said in a lot of my posts, my reoccurring theme it seems, is to love yourself and to accept yourself for who you are – that way, other people’s perceptions (or OPP, coined by the wonderful Dr. V) don’t affect you so much.

I recently watched this video: How To Stop Caring What People Think of You | 3 Simple Steps. In it, the narrator outlines three steps to get you on your way to accepting yourself, requiring NO validation from others and to help with these issues we all seem to share. He goes on to talk about how this is an innate personal trait of all of us, and explains that some of us are more susceptible to feeling like we require more validation.  The steps are: 

Step 1: Brainwash Yourself/Build Confidence
Step 2: Tune Out Disapproving People/Stay Away
Step 3: Apply It – Be Who You Are

The main principle of this video is obviously for self-help, but a part of me felt like I was being told I’m too needy for having issues with liking to be liked, or with my body image. It IS an inherent need in all people to be liked and for ANYONE to say that those feelings are TOO SENSITIVE or TOO MUCH is NOT good therapy. For those of you who have gone to therapy or are in careers where you’ve studied the basic principles of Psychology and Sociology, you know this already. For someone to be called “too sensitive” or “too needy” for expressing themselves or sharing thoughts with a trusted individual is what we in the school system would call “bullying”.

Frankly, I’m tired of it. I’ve been socially taught over the years to be ashamed of my body, my emotions, or generally of things that make those around me ‘uncomfortable’. I’m supposed to be ashamed of wanting to be liked? Those feelings occur naturally and without will!

“Why are you letting it get to you?”
 “You should really learn to control your emotions?”
 “C’mon, Jayce, build up your Teflon!”

All of these statements were things that insinuated that I was the offender in a conversation meant to help me. I was told that the reason I am so sensitive is because I ALLOW it to affect me, pointing the finger of blame at me, where those bullies don’t get punished or reprimanded for acting rude or arrogant for being intentionally spiteful.

The concept that people should take criticisms (especially ones of someone’s physical shape) with a grain of salt can be true, to a degree – a stranger can call me a name or look at me and say "you're fat" and YES, I have the power to either allow it to fester and water the seed they’ve planted OR I can choose to write it off as “that opinion doesn’t matter”. What happens, though, when it’s someone you care about? When it’s someone who’s opinion you respect and value it’s a little bit more difficult than that. The video goes on to explain that there’s a correlation between the personalities that don’t need validation, and those who do, relative to the amount of validation they receive; “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Why is it that as a society, we shame those who need something, and praise the ones who don’t? Being an “easy target” shouldn’t be the true offender’s excuse, and it’s not moral to say that people who are “needy” should be looked down upon. If someone in your home was hungry and asked you for food, you’d give it to them – right? Not starve them… Unless you’re a selfish jerk. Same thing with this concept.

I also believe that we’ve become a country focused on not offending anyone. Which, is cumbersome yes, but it’s also relative to how many F@#$ we don’t give about being kind anymore. The sheer fact that our first reaction to hurting someone’s feelings suggests that it is the responsibility of the victim to accept the label and hurtful behavior rather than resist it. Instead of the “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” attitude, I’ve seen it become more and more now the “what can you do for me” or “hit me and I’ll hit you back” more selfish attitude. How have we resorted to 5th grade behaviors? Remember being called names in grade school? The bully always said “I was just kidding” or “they’re too sensitive”. Weren’t we taught back then that “It’s just a joke” wasn’t acceptable – so why are we still saying it now, as adults?

To me, that response shows that the bully became embarrassed or contradicted by a negative response towards their own vie for others approval of their joke. Since these bullies are not empaths or cannot hold the emotional range of what it felt like in a reverse role, they couldn’t appreciate the refusal to ignore the situation. They claim then that the victim is audacious to feel negative in response to it. THEY, then, were NOT validated either… Makes you think.

The third and final point of this video is really the only thing worthwhile for a teachable moment here. It says:

"Be as weird as you are. Be as crazy as you are, HOWEVER you are. When you’re yourself, you’re no longer straining to put on a mask… If you’re trying to be someone you’re not just to please people, you’ll begin to lose confidence in yourself…”

The whole video then becomes contradictory, as it says “There’s no use trying to… ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ or trying to fit in somewhere you clearly don’t belong”. That is the point I want you to take from my post. One of my favorite quotes about this is by Maria MacLachlan of Think Humanism. “Although it isn’t possible to know what it really feels like to be a different person or live in different circumstances and have different life experiences, it isn’t difficult for most of us to imagine what would cause us suffering and to try to avoid causing suffering to others.”

Philosopher Immanuel Kant said that a lot of what’s wrong with the Utilitarian ideas such as “do unto others” and our laws are simply because they rely on subjective morals. If some are only concerned with their own positive outcome, then maximization of the “good outcomes” for the great many become irrelevant.

Essentially, the basis of my rant on this topic was to show that if we could all simply be more accepting of people AS THEMSELVES then we wouldn’t need these videos that repeat cliché things labeled as “self-help” for those “who value the opinion of others too much”. We would all be genuinely more kind human beings, and accepting of all of our unique personality traits. What makes this world great – what makes this country great – is that we have so many unique people in it, from all areas of life with different experiences and different thought patterns than our own.

I'm PROUD of being "too sensitive"; it means I'm kind and cautious with other people's feelings and don't want to be hurtful on purpose. 

The bottom line? Don’t be a jerk.