Stay connected

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.


You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…

Join us on Facebook

Do Sensitive People Need Extra Kind and Positive Relationships?

sweet couple

Over the last few weeks I’ve been paying attention to how I feel. I’ve noticed where and with whom I’m at ease, fully myself and content.

As much as I miss the companionship of my man, I’ve noticed an upbeat change in me since we broke up. I think it’s the ability to fully be myself again. I’m playing pretty music on the radio in the kitchen. I’m investing in spirituality again. I’m talking emotions and writing with my friends again. It’s OK to be soft and sweet. It’s OK to focus on the process versus the output. It’s OK to relax and spout positive observations.

That’s so nice!

What I figured out after weeks of self and relationship analysis, is that because I am really sensitive to emotional nuances, I need to be around really nice people to be my best self. I mean really really nice. The kind of people who notice when you don’t have a hymnal at church and get you one, even if they are not sitting near you. The kind of people who check in with you to make sure you’re doing OK after a hard day. The kind of people who leave notes for you to find later. The kind of people who smile when they talk. The kind that see the beauty in an Oak tree, a poem or a child’s curiosity. The kind who point what you did right. The kind of people who are grateful for what they have. The kind who can talk music, books, movies, etc, focusing on what they love, not what they hate. The kind of people who see good in other people and point it out.

I’ve been told I can’t live in a sunshine and rainbow world. I know there is a lot of bad out there. It’s difficult NOT to see and experience it. I simply choose NOT to focus on it. I choose to focus on the amazing, kind, compassionate, positive and beautiful things that occur every day. It feels better. It takes less energy and I know others who do it too. I don’t think they are idiots living in La La Land. They are the people who give me the courage to push myself out of my comfort zone. They are the people who inspire me to be a better person.

The light and the dark, but mostly light

For me, it’s harder to be negative and espouse the dark side of things. It snuffs out light and energy I could use to smile and support others. It chokes my creativity by keeping me small and bitter. When I’m with someone who is quicker to criticize than praise, I shrink. I’m highly sensitive to criticism.

I’m not saying I go around spreading sunshine all the time. I have my moody cranky days. When I’m tired or overwhelmed, tears, criticism and swear words are right there waiting to escape my weakened control. What I’m saying is, I have done a lot of work to figure out how to mitigate that state of being. Sleep and warm, compassionate environments make me a better human.

Secure relationships with sweet sensitive people make you a better person

girls swingingI met with my intuitive writing group recently. I’ve mentioned them many times. I love those friends. My writing sister, Jennifer, said the other night, “I’ve never had a bad writing night.” Me neither. We never do. I always walk out of writing group feeling lighter and happier. Always. We cry, laugh, support, share and empathize there. It is always harmonious. No conflict. No impatience. It’s a safe space to unfold your weary spirit. Within the walls of that safe space I have formed secure relationships with longtime friends.

The foundation of friendship, support and security I have from my writing group has gotten me through some of my roughest times, including divorce and death in my family. The kind friendships formed there helped me be braver with my career goals and romantic endeavors. I learn from and get love from my friends. You better believe I work to give them the same in return. Goodness sparks goodness.

I’ve noticed I feel the same way walking out of the Unitarian Universalist church I started attending. I believe religion is a very personal subject. I am by no means pedaling dogma, just sharing the good feeling I discovered in a new place. I have went to three services at the church, all of them by myself. Each visit I was welcomed whole-heartedly. Several people approached me at each service. They kindly and gently talked to me with warm smiles and respectful inquiry. I had a sense of being surrounded by my people. They were curious and engaging without being invasive or gossipy. They were highly inclusive with me and with everyone. They were big fans of humanity in all its shapes and colors.

I’m positive I need you to not be negative about others

Which is another thing I’ve learned. Not only do I require niceness for myself, I require it for others as well. I feel negativity toward others as conflict. Even biting words expressed through clenched teeth about other drivers on the highway, get to me. Complaints, swearing or simmering impatience about other people pile up in my nervous system and cause me to feel anxious and fatigued. It’s not just my mind that reacts to negativity, it’s my whole body. I withdraw into myself. I stop talking, smiling and reaching out.

No matter how good I am at putting myself in someone else’s shoes and seeing from their perspective; no matter

Sir Richard Branson smiling sweetly and enthusiastically

Sir Richard Branson smiling sweetly and enthusiastically

how much my heart aches for someone; consistent confrontation, disagreement, complaining and negativity, will push me away. My instinct to thrive is too strong. I will gravitate toward the harmonious, kind, sweet, positive and sensitive types for nourishment.

How does your body react to negativity? Are you living with someone who doesn’t feel really nice? How do you deal with simmering conflict and cynicism? 


About the Author:


  1. Nakero February 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Oh my god this is so me. I’ve tried to explain this to my boyfriend, who has, unfortunately, a very negative default setting. One thing I especially can not understand is his complaining about things he can’t do anything about. Like the weather, or something being expensive, or the bus being late… And even if he’s complaining about things he can change, it’s like his focus is on complaining and not on fixing the thing that is broken/ not working/ not the way he likes. And it drains me. No matter how much I want to support him, help him and make him feel okay, I can’t do it. I can’t, because my mind is filling with buzz, his negativity is so overwhelming, it wipes away every other thing from my mind. It’s a brain-freeze of one sort. I can’t focus, I just feel irritated in a similar way I feel, when I’m deep in my thoughts, concentrating on something, and then someone interrupts me.

    And when I see his lips curl in a special way, or hear that tone in his voice, it’s enough for me and I go to defensive mode before he’s even starting his negative outburst. Then I just get away from him, and most of the time let him curse and cry, after that he will calm down and then he can listen to my advice about how to fix the thing. But oh, it’s so exhausting when this happens. He gets over it quick, but I need more recharge time obviously. I’ve tried to explain this, but I don’t think he still really understand how much my energy he sucks away at those times…

    • Brenda Knowles February 14, 2017 at 10:15 am - Reply

      I can feel the exhaustion and stress in your words. That kind of knee-jerk negativity kills your spirit. Your boyfriend’s brain has been wired to go to the negative right away. It probably gives him a little jolt of satisfaction (or good neurochemicals like dopamine or norepinephrine) when he expresses his angst, making it rewarding to keep doing it. If he could work on putting some other habit in place that produces the same good release feeling, that would make you both much more at ease. Maybe he could hug you or smile instead of complaining? I’ve been in your shoes. It is hard to be around. There is a book called “Non-Violent Communication”. He might glean some good from it. Take care of yourself by doing something positive that gives you comfort, like taking a walk or talking to a positive minded friend. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Kristen October 26, 2016 at 9:20 am - Reply

    So many of your posts are so spot on for me. Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one who is so affected by negative words and emotions. I absolutely shrink down when I am around negativity, even if it its not directed to me. My defense mechanism is to shut down and not acknowledge it in the hopes it will go away (i.e. the person will just stop the negative comments if they are not encouraged by a response) but then that just puts up a barrier between me and that person which makes me feel worse since I crave deep connection. I simply have to step away from it and deeply focus on something positive (or even just engrossing like a book, movie or a creative project) to cleanse myself of the negativity I have absorbed.
    My husband has a default negativity that is hard to live with. I don’t think he realizes how much of what he says is negative even if he thinks it’s a joke or just a stray comment. If he says anything harsh to our kids, it’s even harder for me because I switch into defensive mama-bear which creates more conflict and drains my energy. Its simply easier to breathe when that dark cloud is not around.

    • Brenda Knowles November 2, 2016 at 11:32 am - Reply

      Oh Kristen, I’ve lived with dark clouds hovering in my environment. I could not stay quiet when my kids were affected. I hope you find a way to connect with your husband and work out a win/win situation where he gets to be himself but with less negativity. We all need positive connections. They literally affect your brain processes. I know conflict is highly stimulating and draining. It sounds like you are (like me) very sensitive to it. If you could talk to your husband with a stated end goal of making your relationship stronger, you could possibly find some relief. Sending you peace and strength. I’ve been there.

  3. Stephanie May 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Dear Brenda

    I always resonate with what you write, and it is soooo lovely for someone to express it so honestly and well, and for others of us to be able to relate and have some clarity through your words on what we feel too. The timing is always right as well, your articles seem to come and be about what I am considering at the same time. I also resonate highly with the other comment leavers, and that adds to the whole connective, easing experience. I have also done a ‘people cleanse’ recently, and feel much better for it. It is a powerful act of self love. And I am noticing much more about how I feel around different people, and accepting that it is OK to want to be around some and not others, and making that happen. I too yearn for those lovely people who are warm and kind, and when I make the space, they come. Thank you for writing and sharing this, I love it!

    • Brenda Knowles May 23, 2016 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Stephanie. I am so happy when my writing resonates and makes people feel known. ‘People cleansing’ is so hard to do but our sensitive nervous systems and intuition speak loudly sometimes and need to be heeded. I hope you blossom and find much joy and peace in a kind safe haven.

  4. Morena May 21, 2016 at 5:18 am - Reply

    Brenda, when I ended my relationship, I too felt myself again….I started writing again, listening to all the romantic love songs, I missed. I got to fill my spirit with music. It felt good to digest those lovely lyrics and music…I needed it..I was starving for it….as I was deprived of it while with someone…music made me feel whole again, as it is a gift from God…I need good people in my life, if not my whole nervous systems shuts down. I’ve witness the harsh effects of negativity and what it did to my mother on a psychological level….I have ended up in the hospital over toxic people… I’m just too sensitive to negativity…I need kind people in my life, that’s why I did a “people cleanse”. To many emotional vampires. I have my days too but I too, will stop smiling and laughing and I get quiet. When I’m around negative people, who are not kind to others…

    I’m not an argumentative person at all….I rarely ever raise my voice, I’m a peaceful person. I’m always kind to others 99% of the time, that 1% when I have to yell or argue, it’s very draining. I know the world is not perfect, but I just hope one day it could be and I just look for the joy, miracles and blessings in things, no matter if it’s raining down on me or not, I’m hopeful. I love how Ellen always says “be kind to one another” and it’s so true! More people need to be kind to one another, as well as themselves. Love… I want it one day but I want a peaceful love…not the kind of love that drains me. Until then I’m enjoying the peaceful single life, until that special person comes into my life and makes it worth not being single anymore.

    • Brenda Knowles May 23, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Amen to everything you said. We are both idealists and that won’t ever change. Negativity kills our spirit. I know it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be sweet and harmonious all the time, but I know there are definitely some people that are more prone to harmony than others. I also know idealists need pragmatists sometimes in order to help us not get too lost in our dreaminess. It all depends on how much kindness comes along with the realism. Take care kindred spirit. P.S. I love Ellen!

  5. Bea May 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Dear Bea,

    All that you say is beautiful. I feel in the same way. You are lucky that you are around of nice people. It´s a treasure. If you are not with the right people, your life can change from the best to the worst. We are chemistry.

    • Bea May 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Dear Brenda-sorry!!

      • Michael Buley May 20, 2016 at 4:29 pm - Reply

        Dear Bea, Brenda is one of the super nice people! She won’t mind at all! 🙂


        • Brenda Knowles May 20, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

          Thanks Michael. You’re right. I won’t mind at all.:)

      • Brenda Knowles May 20, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

        No worries at all Bea. 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles May 20, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      I am so grateful for the nice people in my life. They give me strength. Thanks for being a nice person in my life Bea. 🙂

      • Bea May 21, 2016 at 8:42 am - Reply

        Oh, thank you Brenda.
        When I read your comments I feel everything. Sometimes I have cried because you touch my deepest feelings and all in what I believe.
        I´m divorced for two years ago. I have a son. He´s four. I haven´t had another relation. I love living alone with my son. And yes, I feel alone but at the same time I feel safe. Sometimes I dream having a new partner but I don´t think someone exists with the characteristics that you mention (characteristics that I love). I´m 39 and I notice that I have no capacity to tolerate the negative things in people (it doesn´t mean I don´t want to listen the problems people. It´s about bad energy). I only want nice, honest, sensitive, conscious, intense and REAL people. Many people don´t have the same intensity and meaning for the same things. It confuses me.
        I want someone in the same level of life. I know it is difficult, but I can´t be who I´m not.

        My best regards (from Spain).

        P.D.: Sorry about my english.

        • Brenda Knowles May 23, 2016 at 9:00 am - Reply

          Bea your English is great.:) I always understand you perfectly. What I’ve learned is that if you want to find kind, conscious and sensitive people you have to go where they are. I’ve found many at spiritual services, writing events and while doing volunteer work. It makes sense they would be where thoughtful and meaningful activities take place. I send you a warm embrace, peace and strength. You are not alone in your feelings. Love your son well and take care of you too.

  6. Michael Buley May 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Brenda, this one is right on point all throughout. Yes, we need extra kind and compassionate relationships. We need those things, because we are those things to other people. Always? Yes, just about … except when with negative people, people who find fault, who bring up what they might perceive as problems in us — an extreme sensitivity to everything.

    We need lots of laughter. Laughter is its own kindness, its own form of love.

    Is it a la-la land? Why should it be? Is it better to immerse ourselves in fear and negative comments? All the while, we can see the good in people, and speak that good. That good is not an illusion; it is there. One of our most important roles is to see that good and that beauty in others. Many do not. It is a gift, its own prayer for another, to see their beauty and good.

    I love this note. Thank you.


    • Brenda Knowles May 20, 2016 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Thank you Michael. I’m learning I need more and more gentleness, kindness and positivity around me. I try to be that same kind of light to others. I know I’m not perfect. I get stressed by negativity and then don’t act as patiently as I would like. Laughter is a great healer. I need to laugh more and be around those who laugh a lot. I love seeing the good and beauty in others and showing it to them.:)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: