Gay men are prone to be hypersensitive. We care about our feelings and how our feelings affect ourselves and those we care about. It's only natural that we want to help others in order to lead more meaningful lives. This is how we find significance.
When we get overwhelmed with emotions by our fears of rejection or feelings of being alone, we internalize our hypersensitivity as being a disability. It's easy to think "there's something wrong with me" when everyone else seems to take light matters with a grain of salt.
I used to cry over trivial matters like getting teased by a close family member or making mistakes at school when I was a young kid. These early signs displayed by own hypersensitivity. Whenever I cried, my close family members yelled at me to stop crying and my natural response was to shut down and block my true feelings. This didn't make growing into adulthood easy.
As a young adult, I find myself swimming in a pool of dark emotions such as anger, jealousy and resentment in the most meaningless situations like conversing with other gay men on dating apps or when I do something incorrect at work. I feel so bad when I don't live up to my own expectations or the expectations of others.
As hypersensitive gay men, our natural tendency is to be people pleasers because we genuinely care what other people think, say and do -- especially as it relates to our own behavior.
At the end of the day, we want others to be happy because happiness in other people is what makes us feel complete, whole, and peaceful. When we see others react with anger, contempt or resentment, it exacerbates our own feelings of pain that come alongside our hypersensitive nature.
In cultures where hypersensitive people are not nurtured, we need to develop skills and strategies to cope with our introverted nature so that we can live with more peace, security, and balance. In developing these coping mechanisms, here are five simple ways you can begin to feel more confident, happy and secure in your own sensitive nature.
1. Acknowledge that your hypersensitivity is a gift and not a weakness.
This is when I say, "screw society and embrace your sensitive nature" because it's a quality that makes you special. It allows you to view the world from a unique perspective and behave in ways that benefit society at large. Being hypersensitive means you're a compassionate person who cares about other people. What could be more special than that?
A specific coping mechanism you can use to acknowledge your hypersensitivity is to share your honest opinions, thoughts and feelings in environments that embrace your perspective and point of view. Taking up journaling to release your feelings in a safe, non-judgmental space can be liberating and clarifying. Encourage yourself to express your feelings honestly in a journal. I recommend sharing an entry with a close friend or mentor every now and then because it'll help you connect with others on a meaningful level and you'll build a stronger relationship with those whom you're close with. Again, use your journal and close relationships as a springboard to remind yourself that it's ok and completely acceptable to be hypersensitive.
2. Give your hypersensitivity a voice.
Since most cultures reject hypersensitivity, it should be your mission to embrace your hypersensitivity by giving it a space to be what it is without judgment. When you find yourself wallowing in feelings of sorrow or low-energy, simply label and welcome the sensitivity as "my friend", "this is a blessing" or any other label you want to give it. Make sure it's a nurturing, positive label because this will continue to help reinforce the gift that is your true nature.
Remember that your sensitivities are in fact a gift and an asset. You have to trust this fact.
3. Expel negative energy when it's not serving you.
Being around negative people who "suck the energy" out of you or bring you down can be one of the most detrimental things to do as a hypersensitive gay man. Not only does it contribute toward your negative feelings in the moment, it could reinforce the fact that hypersensitivity is not accepted. Don't allow these people to sabotage all of the amazing work you've been doing from steps 1 and 2 because this will counteract your belief that hypersensitivity is good and that it deserve a voice.
When you find yourself around negative or energy draining people, you can simply do one of two things. You can make the decision not to hang around them anymore. It's okay to say no and make the choice to hang around people who do embrace your hypersensitivity. You're not rejecting others by doing this, in fact, you're helping others see the best in you because you won't be inauthentic by hanging with people who don't give you the space to be yourself.
The second coping mechanism is to release your negative energy when you have no other choice but to be around these people. Simple techniques to do this is to go away into a private space for a few moments to do some simple breathing exercises or qigong (close your eyes and shake your body) for a few minutes. These are a few simple ways to expel negative energy when you're forced to be around energy-draining people.
4. Remind yourself of your goodness.
You're a good person and you need to trust this goodness. That's what world-renown mindfulness teacher Tara Brach told me in our latest interview together about Radical Self-Acceptance for Gay Men. Regardless of your sensitivities, everything about you makes you whole and complete. It's easy to reject ourselves and our own nature because dominant societies have been known to reject gay men in the past. These ideologies and experiences inspire our own negative thinking even when most Americans and cultures say they accept gay men.
By being a mirror for others and acknowledging their goodness, you reinforce your own goodness and positive qualities. You can simply give other people compliments and acknowledge that others are doing a good job in life. Make sure that your compliments come from the heart. As a natural hypersensitive person, that shouldn't be too difficult for you.
5. Recite a power word that reinforces your strengths.
"Courage", "Brave" or "Loving." Picking a word to say to yourself is going to give you the power to return to a place of confidence, happiness, and self-love whenever you feel depleted by negative energy.
Make sure you have these simple reminders in multiple places to remind you of how powerful you are throughout the day. You can add reminders on your smartphone, write your power words on a post-it and stick it on the fridge, or have it displayed on your desktop. Read it, whisper it to yourself, and make sure you believe it wholeheartedly because it will change your life in more ways than you can imagine.
As a hypersensitive gay man myself, some days I just wanna crawl up in a ball and hide out from the world because that's what I need to get my energy back and be of service to others. When I acknowledge that my hypersensitivity is a gift and an asset, I believe I can be a valuable person in my community.
The strategies and practices outlined in this article are meant to help you believe in yourself as a hypersensitive person in a world that can easily overlook our positive qualities. Make sure you write these down and be sure to practice them with consistency and vigilance.
Max DuBowy is a best-selling author and Chief Peace Officer at Your Success Launch. Do you consider yourself to be a hypersensitive gay man and want more strategies to help you love and accept yourself unconditionally? INSTANTLY DOWNLOAD MY FREE SELF-ACCEPTANCE CHECKLIST TO QUIT BEING HARD ON YOURSELF AND DISCOVER WHAT'S KEEPING YOU FROM BEING HAPPY CONSISTENTLY.