Sensitivity

(Source: Island Art Gallery)

The first time I heard this word being discussed was when I attended a leadership seminar in Baguio City when I was in high school. In one of the sessions, we sat on the floor forming a big circle. The group facilitator started the topic on sensitivity as applied in human relations. The other student-participants took turns in discussing their take on the subject, while I kept quiet in my place. I wasn’t just too timid to open my mouth, I also didn’t have any clear idea about the subject matter.

There was this thin and fair girl beside me who was soft-spoken but articulated well her deep understanding of sensitivity. I had listened to her intently, and although I can’t remember now what she said, I knew that she spoke of the subject accurately. I had wondered then why she had learned all about the topic of sensitivity, and I had not. I can’t remember ever learning it in school, or being discussed in our home while growing up.

The memory of that girl articulating about sensitivity stuck in my mind. But as I matured, I realized that God has planted that virtue in my heart and I was compelled to nurture it.

Sensitivity as applied to human relations is defined as “awareness of the needs and emotions of others.” This is rather a short definition but the subject of sensitivity is really deeper and wider in application and touches other moral values including biblical teachings.

Synonyms of sensitivity are:

keenness – exceptional discernment and judgment especially in practical matters; the state or quality of being able to sense slight impressions or differences

perceptiveness – discerning; observant

acuity – keenness of perception

Whereas INSENSITIVE is defined as not responsive or susceptible; lacking feeling or tact. Some of its synonyms are:

callous – feeling no emotion; feeling or showing no sympathy for others

compassionless, hard-hearted, pitiless , ruthless, unfeeling, unsympathetic, unsparing

And the antonyms of insensitive are: compassionate, humane, kindhearted, merciful, sympathetic, tenderhearted, warm – words which describe a person having and practicing sensitivity.

The practice of sensitivity is mostly demonstrated in our speaking. Indeed, it is best excercised in the way we talk and communicate. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat. 12:34). There are many verses in the Bible that teach us to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others whenever we open our mouths to speak. Here are some of them:

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous [harsh] words stir up anger. ~ Prov. 15:1

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life… ~ Prov. 15:4

… the words of the pure are pleasant words. ~ Prov. 15:26

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. ~ Prov. 16:24

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. ~ Prov. 17:27

The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. ~ Prov. 18:4

Among the many values that we teach our children while they are still young, the practice of sensitivity must be one of them for it is the precursor to other, bigger things in life, like compassion and charity.

P.S.

Please do visit the comment section below – I have made some important clarifications. Thank you.

Endnotes: All definitions, synonyms and antonyms are from www.merriam-webster.com

Related article: Kindness and Wisdom; Why I Am a UNICEF Champion for Children

This post is linked to Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Proverbs 31 Thursdays, Spiritual Sundays

5 comments on “Sensitivity

  1. Pamela says:

    I remember once as a kid saying I hated someone, and my mother saying “Do you wish that person was dead?” and I was struck with horror at the idea. She explained that’s what hating really was, and that I should never, ever hate anyone, or tell anyone that I hated them.

    I also remember one time saying something bad about another child’s mother to them. I didn’t mean anything by it, I was saying some observation, and didn’t realize it’d hurt the kid. They took offense, and my mother quietly told me “What if they had said that about your mother?” and suddenly I felt their pain and was very contrite.

    I don’t think kids are born sensitive, but I think a good parent points out the pain of others, the power of words, and teaches empathy. Indeed, when I’ve met adults who are particularly callous or harsh, I often realize they never seemed to learn that lesson as kids. And I feel pity for them, instead of anger, because that means they never had a parent who could teach them that way. This gives me patience to deal with them (though I admit, I’m not perfect at it!)

    • RinaPeru says:

      Thank you so much for sharing the lessons you learned from your mother. Yes, I do believe that as young children, we need our parents to teach us to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others and never to be unkind or callous.

      In my experience, though, I have felt the stirrings of compassion even when I was young. Like when an aunt hurt her young brother and I rushed to his side to let him feel that he’s loved. Another time, when a neighbor spoke cruelly to my younger sister and she came home crying, I went to that neighbor and told him never to do that again. I am easily affected and I just couldn’t stand to see people unfairly hurt. (But because I wasn’t rigidly trained, there were many mistakes as I grew older).

      ALTHOUGH I DIDN’T KNOW IT THEN THAT THIS WAS CALLED SENSITIVITY. WHEN I WAS IN THAT LEADERSHIP SEMINAR IN HIGH SCHOOL, I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO CONNECT THOSE FEELINGS WITH THE TOPIC BEING DISCUSSED. IT WAS ONLY WHEN I WAS MUCH OLDER THAT I REALIZED WHAT IT WAS AND WHAT I HAD IN ME.

      I believe that different people have varying degrees of sensitivity – it’s how they were created and trained.

      Rina

      • Pamela says:

        Absolutely. I also felt compassion many, many times. I do think God gives each of us a certain gifted ability to sensitivity, as individuals. And just like parents or other people can encourage us to become more sensitive, it seems like many people encourage people to become more callous.

        And, of course, just like people soften calloused hands or feet, God can take calloused hearts and turn them soft. Certainly, the closer I’ve grown to God, the more He stirs compassion within my being.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Sensitivity is so important and I’m afraid there is far too little of it in our world today. You are definitely a sensitive person and I appreciate your sharing that with us on your blog.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

  3. Lory says:

    I’m a sensitive person too. 🙂 I easily get hurt but i always do my best to conceal it to other people.
    I’m glad that i’m sensible. I can’t do anything without God.
    “DON’T DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT YOU DON’T WANT OTHERS DO UNTO YOU. ”
    Thanks for sharing po ^_^
    God bless you.

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