There is a difference between sensitivity and fragility. The way society uses the word is largely incorrect when speaking about someone’s emotional responses. Sensitivity detects while fragility is the Achilles. Sensitivity lets us see what’s there, fragility has us vulnerable to breaking far sooner.
In physics, medicine, and math, sensitivity is a term used to describe the lower threshold to detect a given thing. It speaks to requiring less of something, before recognizing it.
Imagine a fire that you smell the smoke long before the fire arrives versus awakening to flames at the head of your bed. The sensitivity of detecting the smell of burning smoke from fire sooner was beneficial. In the same light, with respect to emotions and how anyone feels, the greater the sensitivity, the greater the capacity for them to detect something about the environment.
To be sensitized is to remain capable of detecting. To become desensitized makes us less capable of that. Alcohol and certain substances can do that. Distractions can do that. Sleep deprivation, too.
When we repeatedly do things that desensitize us, we can lose the capacity to feel through that sense entirely. For a varied amount of time, it can become unavailable to be felt. What happens there, is the sensitivity either blunts completely, or it becomes hypersensitized, where the person has a very low threshold for feeling. This is where sensitivity gets its wrap. Being ‘too sensitive’. It’s a strength to detect, it is powerful when you can navigate the capacity for sensitivity without being debilitated or hindered by it. When that’s the case, the capacity to detect is more fragility than a tool to strengthen.
So, what contributes to that fragility?
Emotions can be intimately intertwined with our belief and self-confidence in ourselves. When we feel safe to navigate an environment or an experience in life, and we don’t feel threatened, and instead supported, our detectors are not required to be as sensitive. When a person enters an experience where they perceive themselves to be unprepared or reenters a space where they felt challenged before, their detectors fire off with greater immensity. As they consistently reenter, provided they do not continuously succumb to defeat of the challenge, they improve, the detectors are not perceiving threat, and the capacity for adapting through what was previously a constraint progressively occurs. The sensitivity remains a strengthening tool that allows the person to detect where they are, know it, and adapt through it, without succumbing.
In all cases, we have a multitude of evolutionarily primed systems that have been vetted through our own personal life experiences always present and active within us scanning the World for where we are safe. Sensitivity towards it is a gift. Fragility towards it can be a hindrance. We can empower one another in giving permission to the systems within any of us, both genders, including emotions and physical responses to it, where an individual can more freely show themselves authentically based on how they sense their lives and the World they are in.
If they are found or find themselves to be more fragile than sensitive, it is something to acknowledge sooner, spend time working through to understand, and bringing more robustness to the same systems at work. The addressing of parts of us that were once fragile make way for greater detection, less hindrance, and thus, more strength, ultimately, senseful and anti-fragile.