ARE YOU “TOO SENSITIVE?”
by Olatunde Howard, MA, LMFT
Or too serious…or too intense…or too focused…or too anything? I am. At least that’s what I’ve been told most of my life. In fact, my girlfriend in Jr. High broke up with me because she said I was “too serious,” meaning…I didn’t want to date around…I just wanted to find a person to be with and stay with her. Some people told me, directly or indirectly, that I was “too sensitive,” or needed to “lighten up,” and so on.
There were only two situations where I didn’t feel too sensitive/serious/focused/intense: with God, and with music. Not only did God never make me feel like I was too-anything, He actually seemed MORE intense than I was! And I don’t know if it’s possible for a composer or drummer or singer to be too intense/serious/focused/sensitive. Though I would spend the rest of my life intimately connected to God, I didn’t think I wanted to compose for a living. I thought I wanted to be a therapist. And as a therapist intern, I had to get personal growth counseling as a requirement in graduate school–to know how it felt to be in therapy, and to deal with my own issues before becoming a therapist. My main “issue” was whether I was too intense to even BE a therapist. Because I think and feel very deeply, I didn’t know if therapy would be “too much for me.” I brought this up with my personal growth counselor, and she said something that changed my life.
“What if you’re only ‘too intense’ for some people…or what if they’re not intense enough for you?”
I’d never considered the other person. I’d never considered that my Jr. High girlfriend probably didn’t know what she was talking about. After all, who made her the expert on sensitivity/intensity levels? Or who made ANYBODY a sensitivity/intensity expert? How intense/sensitive was I SUPPOSED to be? What is the standard or measure?
So I asked her. I asked my personal growth therapist if she thought I was too intense/serious/focused/sensitive. I wanted a straight up answer from a professional. She said no. She said I never spoke over her, negated her by my intensity, overshadowed her, or anything that was “too much” for her to interact with me. I wasn’t too-anything. In fact, she (and my wife) said that my intensity would be exactly what was needed to do good therapy. They said that my seriousness/focus/intensity/sensitivity would be exactly what many needed in therapy. They said I wasn’t too intense, or too anything.
And neither are you.
Therapy (maybe with me?) can help you to see the truth about your sensitivity or intensity or personality. It can help you to unlock your heart and soul and spirit. It can help you find your home in this world. Because I know I felt like an alien–someone who could never and would never fit into a world where sensitivity is frowned upon. I felt like there was no place for me in this world where it seemed like I felt too much, thought too much, was too much.
Therapy helped me to see that I’m not too much.
It can help you too.
Olatunde Howard, MA, LMFT
Olatunde is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. He graduated with honors from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, a COAMFTE accredited program, with a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition with honors from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Read More
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