[M.M.X.I.V. 215] Sensitivity

One of my friends has a great quote on her Facebook page with a quote which really rang true to me, so I’d like to explore the quote.  It is from an anonymous “D.J.” and is given in the picture below (if you can’t see it: “It is both a blessing / And a curse / To feel everything / So very deeply.”)

Empathy quote

This quote can be taken several different ways, I would assume.  For me, this quote brings EMPATHY and SENSITIVITY to the forefront of my mind.  This post may end up going a little off the wall, so hopefully it is not horrendously disorganized.

I start with empathy.  I have mentioned empathy in several other posts, such as the end of my radio shows (in fact, I stumbled across this quote the day after “Sunny Side Up” ended!), a response to a fellow Aspie’s article, and have probably mentioned it implicitly in other cases.  Part of my condition is that I tend to feel the pain, both emotional and physical, of people that are around me.  I’m not sure that I have ever felt it so deeply so as to interfere with my normal methods of living, but certainly if I feel someone’s difficulties, I cannot react to them well, stunning me on the spot.

One example: When I was at UNL, one of the members of my Breakfast Bunch was at our table eating, and at one point, started breaking down because of a poor grade on a test.  I’ve never really known how to show sympathy, but my empathy basically paralyzed me from trying to respond to it.  I can definitely recall a time when I got emotional after getting a poor grade on a paper, so the pain of that experience came back, but I was unable to aid the coping there.

I also tend to cringe when listening to others’ stories of injuries, after what I have gone through and what I imagine.  My imagination and My Shell both tend to come in, and this can both be a blessing if I want to tune something out, but at the same time, it penetrates and I feel it deeply.  This may explain why I have difficulty being around people that are physically ill, or considering needles.

I am not a germophobe, but I do find that if someone else is showing signs of (acute) physical illness, particularly if it could be contagious, I have to watch myself to avoid getting grossed out, as I could definitely turn that into my own sensitivity, as I will explain in a few paragraphs.  Similarly, I cannot watch other people get a shot, IV, or other thing involving needles, because I can feel their pain.  There was one time that I was watching the TV show Chuck, and one of the characters was injected with poison.  Soon thereafter, I had to turn off the TV and lay down in my bed, because I suffered a vagal reaction.  (Come to think of it, this part of the post is basically an addendum to that post…)

I wonder if an imbalance of empathy and sympathy is often problematic.  For me, I am very high on the empathy column, and possibly deficient in the sympathy column.  Not that I do not feel bad for people who are down, but that I am unsure about how to respond appropriately.

After doing a quick Google search on the quote, it seems that it can be used for talking about emotional people that have gone through trauma such as a breakup, loss of a loved one, or similar situation.  This may be explained by the photo showing a person alone on a beach, and a few other of the pictures that I saw with this quote included a person hiding her face in a dark corner.

Let me shift to sensitivity, and in particular sensitivity to my own body.  Pain and noticing one’s body’s functions is important, in order to be aware of what is going on.  My empathy also applies to my sensitivity, I would say.

My hyper-sensitivity causes me to occasionally develop stomachaches that are nothing more than me blowing normal processes out of proportion.  If I notice my digestive processes, I may interpret it as a stomachache, even if I have eaten blase food.  This often happens if I am concerned about something unrelated to my body, and I cannot always pinpoint the cause.  When it happens, it is almost always at night as I am trying to wind down.  Sometimes, these mentally-exacerbated stomachaches make it hard for me to fall asleep, though once I manage, I sleep soundly.

My deep feeling of my body’s processes means that I am always aware of what is going on, which is a blessing that I can tell this, but also a curse as it causes a lot of Type I errors (false alarms to irregularities).

It is interesting though, about the “deeply” part of the quote.  In some sense, I do not feel very deeply on the surface in any sense of the word.  With the sensitivity, I have a very high pain tolerance for issues like cuts and even injuries that require stitches if they are only on the surface.  And I don’t always react to external showing of emotion, unless I can tell that there is internal emotion being shown as well.  But, as aforementioned, the deep feelings I feel quite strongly, yet I never know how to react!

We all have parts of us which are both blessings and curses.  Definitely for me, empathy and sensitivity is that double-edged sword.


Today is the two-hundred and fifteenth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes thirty weeks and five days.

Today is the twentieth day of the Character Building Trial.  That makes two weeks and six days.


3 thoughts on “[M.M.X.I.V. 215] Sensitivity

  1. An outstanding post, Noah. You have expressed empathy and sensitivity so beautifully -and you have also revealed something not everyone has. I call it the Bullshit Detector, and it is the part of you which does not respond to an external emotion unless you sense an internal one as well. I am the same. Anyone can cry crocodile tears, or make hurt noises; anyone who is reasonably clever can express surface words of sympathy – but true empathy is, I think, far rarer and worth its weight in gold.
    Both my son and I get the stomach aches you describe – and, by the sounds of it, for very similar reasons.
    Such deep levels of sensitivity and empathy are often associated with the astrological water signs – cancer, scorpio and pisces. My son is a water sign!
    Off to share this as I think it brilliant!


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