I’ve become more aware recently of the child sensitivities within, which are common to us all. It’s easy to see these sensitivities within children — I’ve certainly seen them in my pre-school-aged son, and within the students I work with. But we don’t see the dynamics of sensitivity within ourselves, or perhaps we’re aware we’re oversensitive.
It was when my son fell and injured his arm suddenly that I was reminded of his sensitivity — and of mine. Not only was his sensitivity piqued more than normal, as an experienced father (I’ve been doing it now for quarter of a century!) I still felt all at sea, even if I had the composure to do what needed doing in getting him to hospital. Immediately, I was in a mode of wanting to protect him, and that instinctive drive was, if anything, an overreaction. Call it love in fear for the worst. The more sensitive he is, the more sensitive I am. And that corresponds with the sensitivities-of-response I share with my daughters when they’re vulnerable.
This interaction with our sensitivities sparked the following thought:
There is a continuum of sensitivity based on vulnerability-and-self-protection in the world. The sensitive person who is uncomfortably vulnerable, because they haven’t yet harnessed the protective behaviours they need to offset their vulnerabilities, is especially vulnerable to bullies, who overcapitalise on inappropriate self-protection. Then there’s the response of the person who is well on their way within the journey of integrating appropriate self-protection with their vulnerability. The mature person’s response is a balance between appropriate self-protection with their vulnerability.
Sensitive people become targets of bullies because bullies are uncomfortable with the vulnerability shared. Bullies exist within a bubble of inappropriate self-protection; a façade of veneer-thin strength (really, a house of cards). So, they have less emotional health than a sensitive person with a lack of self-protection through inappropriate levels of self-disclosure. A bully has neither vulnerability nor appropriate self-protection to draw on.
Sensitive people can grow through mastery of appropriate protection, which is knowing when and how to be appropriately vulnerable.
We’re all sensitive. For some it’s obvious, for others a lack of sensitivity is a façade, and for others, again, it’s a journey to appropriately self-protect.
God desires we would all relate appropriately with that which He’s made us sensitive. It’s a journey, however, in becoming appropriately self-aware and socially-aware so we employ appropriate self-protection.
We can think of the true sensitivities within us all as the child growing up and being allowed to be the child again. Adulthood should bear all the advantages of childhood without having to bear with the disadvantages.