Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our Insensitive/Too Sensitive World

People seem to be offended very easily these days, usually about something that doesn't even make sense or matter.
But on the other hand, people are sometimes too insensitive to others.

On the way home from a road trip, we stopped at a McDonald's to have one of those dollar sundaes. We sat next to a wall where I could "people watch."  Nearby, we watched a young woman in some kind of uniform that resembled scrubs talking intently across the table to a young boy--maybe ten years old. He wore khaki pants, belt, and a polo shirt that appeared to be a school uniform. The child kept his head down, as though he didn't want to look at the woman. She talked, he sat still and listened, but never looked up.

After a few minutes, she stood and walked toward the door, leaving the child in the booth. I thought the woman appeared a little angry, but not really--just intense. Then the boy slid out of the booth, stood up, but still looked down. From his pocket, he removed a gadget that looked like a short metal rod.
Then he pulled on it, extending it out to about three feet long. It had a white tip.
Then he looked up, and we saw his sightless eyes. The woman stood by the door, and talked him toward her, very quietly. He used the cane to guide himself, making sure nothing was in his path.

We were a little stunned.
Two young men stood hear the counter, obviously workmen on some crew, waiting for their orders. They watched just as we did. One sort of snickered, but the other one looked at his friend and solemnly shook his head.

One sensitive young man; one insensitive.

And then there're the overly-sensitive among us.
In fact, we take great pains in our present society not to offend anyone or any group. Well, this becomes incredibly cumbersome, in my opinion.

As I analyze the "too sensitive" syndrome, I realize the real problem is misunderstanding of others. If there's something in particular that we don't like or makes us uncomfortable, then we'd like to have that changed to suit our own agenda.
We take it personally.

When our children were in school, they would have some sort of problem that they wanted to relate to me in detail. I listened as any good mom would do, but then asked what he/she intended to do about it. The answer usually was, "Mom! Can't you do something?" Each of them wanted me to change someone or some situation so they'd feel happy again, no longer uncomfortable, and no longer sensitive to a predicament. 
The best thing we taught our children was to learn to cope in their environment. We cannot change everything--but we can learn to cope and move along.
The little blind boy was learning to cope with his environment.
The insensitive young man was learning that his friend didn't like his attitude.
And the sensitive young man looked, inwardly sympathized, but moved on.

"Live and let live; you cannot control others."

What does all my rambling mean?
~*~We don't like to be criticized.
~*~We don't like to be wrong.
~*~We don't like to be on the losing side.
~*~We don't like a bad review.
~*~We don't like to appear uninformed.
~*~We don't like to be reprimanded.
~*~We don't like anyone telling us what to do.
~*~We don't like to get out of our comfort zone.
~*~We don't like rejections.
~*~We don't like changes.

I'm still learning about the coping vs. the active changing. I face this often with my writing, my publishers, my editors, my...whatever. Do I cope and let them run the show? Am I being too sensitive to push for a change? 
Am I too aggressive trying to make things go my way?

I wonder if I try hard enough sometimes to understand the other side.
I admit...I'm not very good at it.
Shouldn't the other side try, too?
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


  1. Really great insights, Celia! IMO (for what it's worth) too many people today have no life other than finding something to be offended about and raising a stink about it--which brings them attention, of course. I guess if they need the attention that badly, I should feel compassion for them...but it's tough sometimes!

  2. Whenever I find myself rushing to judgment, I tell myself: you don't know the whole story. There are times when a picture tells the story, but there are just as many times as it doesn't. I loved your story about the blind child.

    And yet, I can be the most insensitive person I know, because I blunder blindly ahead because I'm rushing around. My friends and family understand this about me. But as for the rest of the world, I can't say.

    Good, insightful post.

  3. I don't think any of the things you have listed constitute being over-sensitive, or if they do, it means 99% of us are over-sensitive!
    To me, being over-sensitive involves imagining offence/criticism in a statement that wasn't intended to be offensive or critical.
    At the same time, being sensitive can mean phrasing one's own statements in such a way that they don't appear offensive or critical i.e. a basic awareness of other people's feelings.
    I'm critiquing a friend's work at present, and although I can see some major problems with it, I'm being careful to be kind too, as well as constructive. I hope, therefore, that I'm being sensitive to her feelings!

  4. Judy--I think I dislike extremely sensitive people most of all. Most of us develop a skin thick enough that we don't go around in a pout.
    But I know one too many who must always have the spotlight and must have all the attention to fell happy. And if they don't, then it's a cold shoulder, etc.
    Between you and me, I'm tired of being sensitive to the Muslims, etc. for the sake of not offending them in any way. I really hate that.
    Okay, maybe I should have compassion, and I do some who deserve it..but I do tire of these groups we must "be sensitive to their beliefs." That's a little off topic, here, so I'll just stop.
    Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. Maggie--I think you're a very sensitive person toward others and their feelings. You never go out of your way to make anyone feel badly. I wish I could do half as much.
    Also, like you, I do sort of hide my head in the sand, and try to cope with my own feelings. I can't please everyone.

  6. Oh,Paula, I think most of us most of the time are a little over-sensitive. We wear our hearts on our sleeve, don't we?
    Like you, I abhor those who over-imagine some slight or harshness which was never there. Believe me, I know some right here in town. I call it "walking on eggs" when I'm around then, thinking I will surely do something wrong and they'll hate me.
    Okay. I see that right now I'm being a little over-sensitive!
    Thanks, my sweet friend. I love your comments.

  7. I enjoyed this post and all the commennts as well. And I, too, have some friends who are so sensitive that I must weight every word before sayint it aloud when with them. I think most authors have to learn not to be sensitive whenit comes to our work. We can learn a lot from the Criticism we get from editors and even sometimes from readers if we listen to what they are saying.

  8. Linda--yes, it's those people--some relatives--that you must tiptoe around for fear of saying something "insensitive." I just hate it.
    As to our work, I've not suffered much criticism, except one or two instances. Usually, I love the good thoughts readers say.
    Thanks for know I look for your comments.

  9. Celia, sometimes our hypersensitivity is just plain being self-centered. Everyone is looking at ME, talking about ME, and judging ME.

    If we would look beyond ourselves, focus more on other things ("...things which are lovely, things which are pure, things of good report.." the "ME" problem would dissipate.

    Hey I'm preaching to myself, as well. LOL.