Sensitivity: My SAL

So I’ve become aware of something about myself that I believe can be generalized to most people.  Perhaps this goes without saying, but there are some topics, actions, and specific entities to which I am more sensitive than others.  This list of ‘Sensitive Areas,’ which I’ll talk about further down in more detail, is specific to me; however, I believe that most people could compose a list of their own, filled with topics that could be described as ‘hot button’ or ‘dear to the heart.’  While the contents of everyone’s ‘Sensitive Areas List’ (I’ll shorten to SAL from here forward) would vary greatly, the one thing they all have in common is that they’re areas that we as individuals relate to on a personal or emotional level.  In my case, my SAL is composed of things that I care very much about, topics that I’ve researched extensively, or subjects that are related to my core values.

The reason I wanted to talk about this is that knowing the details of someone’s SAL is integral to really knowing a person.  And as you are getting to know a new person, discovering their SAL can be quite an interesting journey.  I don’t mean to imply that every person is rife with ‘danger zones’ that you need to watch out for, but I do think that as you develop a more intimate relationship, it’s important to take the SAL into account when dealing with that individual.  I think this will make more sense once I start discussing my own SAL.

When I started to think about the topics that would make up my SAL, I immediately recognized that there are certain things that would belong in a ‘hyper-sensitive’ subcategory, while others would only fit into a ‘moderately sensitive’ subcategory.  If I am hyper-sensitive to something, that means the issue is integral to how I define myself as a person, and I am likely to take negative comments or actions personally.  If I am only moderately sensitive, this means that I am likely to take special notice of that subject and can have an objective conversation about my knowledge and/or beliefs.

I’ll be curious to know if the way I categorize my personal SAL surprises anyone.  This list may not be inclusive, and as I grow as a person, it is subject to change, but here’s the start.

SAL: Hyper-Sensitive
– Wastefulness/Recycling
– Intrinsic value of the environment
– Tolerance/freedom of all religions or lack thereof

SAL: Sensitive
– GLTB equal rights
– Women’s rights (especially related to health)
– WalMart (Side note: it’s been over 7 years since I’ve set foot inside one)

SAL: Moderately Sensitive
– Proper grammar
– Makeup and superficial beauty (I’ve blogged about this before…)
– Healthy nutritional principles (admittedly, I’m a newly-converted novice)

I could go into some of these topics in more detail, but I don’t think now is the right time.  Suffice it to say that there are specific reasons that each of these items made it onto my list.  For those of you who know me well, the list is probably not that surprising.  But it’s not something anyone can learn about me overnight.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s not something everyone NEEDS to know about me.  I find it difficult to talk about some of these topics rationally, because they are so important to me.  And getting into an argument with a new friend about a topic listed above is a good way to damage the newly formed friendship foundation.

The friends that know me well probably know to tread carefully around some of these topics where I am concerned.  I have a few friends who jokingly refer to WalMart only in euphemisms,  much like Voldemort was introduced to Harry Potter as ‘You Know Who’ by Hagrid.  I have even more friends who make an extra effort to recycle when we are together, which I really appreciate.  That actually brings me to my main point…

Knowing the areas that a person may be sensitive about is not only a key to avoiding arguments and potential hurt feelings, it is also a way to get closer to that individual.  I just mentioned how it warms my heart when someone shows me how they recycle.  I find great comfort knowing that my friends know some of the things I care deeply about, and that they care enough about me to support me in my areas of focus.

I would even go so far as to say that I find it easier to be close with some of my friends who share many of my SAL beliefs.  I have just as many friends with completely different focus, or opposite views on my SAL topics.  That being said, the only way that these friends with opposite beliefs can remain close is if we have a mutual respect for one another’s SALs.  It’s not always easy, but the best things in life never are.  I do appreciate my friends who have vastly different perspectives on life because they have a lot to teach me, and I hope that they appreciate me as well.

So, I would recommend that you take some time to think about the things that are important to your close friends and loved ones, and maybe make an extra effort to let them know you support them.  For new friends, this is part of the friendship journey that can have some ups and downs; but while a SAL-related argument can damage a friendship, a SAL-kindness can form bonds more closely.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.  For now.

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