“We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.” – Allan Watts – English Philosopher
The word sensitive can be loaded. It’s rarely used with a positive connotation, and is almost always is preceded by the words, “You’re being too…, or Stop being so…” SENSITIVE means—quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences. It can mean easily damaged, injured, offended, upset, or distressed by slight changes. Alternatively, it can mean having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings. Would you call yourself a sensitive person? Are others in your life sensitive people? How do you navigate those relationships?
Did you know that certain individuals are Highly Sensitive Persons? I didn’t. A Highly Sensitive Person is not the same as a shy or an introverted person. According to therapist Suzanne Marie of Creekside Therapy Center on HSP’s, “It is estimated that 15-20% of the population have sensory processing sensitivity, which is a personality trait, not a disorder or diagnosis. Essentially, some individuals have a central nervous system that is more sensitive to stimuli, whether physical, emotional, or social, and is processed more deeply.” Therapist Preston Ni says that HSP’s can have sensitivity about themselves, others, or their environment. This sensitivity, particularly to others and to situations and environments can be very beneficial to a loving community.
In Scripture, one word used to describe the positive side of sensitivity is the word tenderhearted. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to, “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” The Greek word, eusplagchnos refers to emotions that are akin to our visceral organs (inner bowels) as they exercise gut-level sympathy, empathy, and compassion. 1 Peter 3:8 echoes that, “…all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” HSP’s already have a propensity for this kind of sensitivity, that others may have to intentionally adopt and express this depth of understanding and affinity. God wants all of us to display quick and delicate appreciation for the feelings of others. In this harsh world, finding sensitive, tenderhearted people is a blessing.