Highly sensitive people are a small percentage of the population, so it’s easy to be regarded as “different.” And being regarded as different can easily lead to feelings of self-doubt.
For those of us who are highly sensitive, it’s tempting to undervalue our sensitivity by throwing ourselves into our work (or choosing the wrong work) only to burn out much sooner than if we paid attention to our internal guidance system.
The best way to start honoring the Self and benefiting from it is by celebrating who we are as sensitives. That’s why I wanted to share this article—full of empowering benefits of being a highly sensitive person!
Want to find out if you are a highly sensitive person? Check out the article: Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? How to See it as a Gift and take the Quiz.
The mind of a highly sensitive person works differently. Nobody has all of these traits, but if you are a sensitive person you are:
1) Aware of the Subtle: You are aware of subtleties in environment—the moods of others, the friendships and enmities of people in the room, the freshness or staleness of the air, or the personality of the person who arranged the nearby flowers (some of these examples here and below come from Elaine N. Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.) Your sensitivity means you are taking in a lot more information than most people around you!
2) Detail –Oriented: “You sort things into finer distinctions like machines that sort fruit by size.” “ You are better at noticing errors and avoiding making errors” (Elaine N. Aron). This is a skill you bring to your work, and it often means creating highly detailed and beautiful art.
3) Highly Conscientious: You are always striving to do what is right and do your best. This is an excellent trait that will help you excel in any career, and it’s a benefit to the people around you.
4) A Meditator: You are able to concentrate deeply, which means that you find meditation easier than most (although admittedly it can be uncomfortable at first for anyone). In order to concentrate, however, you do need to be in a space free of distractions. Your version of meditation/concentration may be a state of flow–the kind that happens when you feel swept away by doing something you love like sculpting, acting, or writing.
5) Ready for an Emergency: You are more easily aroused from sleep, which can be an important life-saving skill! You are most likely to be the first to notice if there is an emergency. This was true of psychologist and writer Elaine N. Aron who shares in her book how she was the first person to wake up in her household upon “sensing the first flicker of firelight on the ceiling during a house fire.” Being ready for an emergency also means that you are good at tasks requiring vigilance, accuracy, speed, and the detection of minor differences.
6) Are a Visionary: Highly sensitive people tend to be visionaries which also encompasess artists, inventors, and other creative people. You are more likely to be right-brain dominant, which means your thinking is less linear and more creative in a synthesizing way.
7) An Empath: You are affected by the moods and emotions of people around you. This can be overwhelming and at times unwelcomed, but it also means that you have a greater capacity to empathize with the feelings of others and make connections with people. This is especially helpful if you are a therapist, healer, or an artist who wants to convey depth of emotion. You can learn more about emotional empathy here (towards the end of the article) and take this quiz to see if you are one!
8) A Linguist/Communicator: You are better at learning languages than most people, and are able to learn without being aware you’ve learned (which is a very natural way to learn a language). Being able to speak more than one language means that you can reach more people using other highly sensitive traits (like empathy) in communication.
9) A Stage Performer: You have a knack for fine motor movements and are good at holding still—both very helpful skills if you are a stage performer, whether it’s as an actor or dancer. Many highly sensitive people are also introverts who feel uncomfortable on stage in front of large groups of people. But highly sensitive introverts who love performing don’t care!
10) More Sensual: Being highly sensitive means that you experience all of your senses more vividly whether it’s touch, scent, or a beautiful view. You have a more sensual experience of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
11) Intuitive: You are more intuitive than most, which means you pick up and work through information in a semiconscious or unconscious way. You “just know” without realizing how and are more likely to have had powerful synchronicity experiences.
Here is a quote about the intuitive powers of the sensitive from Marie-Louise Von Franz who worked closely with Carl Jung:
“The introverted intuitive type has the same capacity as the extroverted intuitive for smelling out the future…But his intuition is turned within, and therefore he is primarily the type of the religious prophet, of the seer. On a primitive level, he is the shaman who knows what the gods and ghosts and the ancestral spirits are planning, and who conveys the messages to the tribe…He knows about the slow processes which go on in the collective unconscious.” <3
12) A Royal Advisor: Highly sensitive people traditionally serve as royal advisors (as opposed to warrior-kings who more aggressive and impulsive). They are the writers, historians, philosophers, judges, artists, researchers, theologians, therapists, and teachers. They create sacred space. They are ritual leaders creating experiences which can only take place within a ritual, sacred, or transitional space.
“The ritual leader marks off and protects the space, prepares others to enter it, guides them while there, and helps them return to society with the right meaning for the experience” (Elaine N. Aron).
Think shamans performing initiation ceremonies, the leader of a spiritual retreat or workshop, a coach or psychotherapist creating a safe, healing and empowering space, or a yoga instructor leading a class. This is the ancient and modern work of the sensitive Royal Advisor.
So there you have it—being highly sensitive is not something to be ashamed of.
Consider this quote from Victor Frankl (also likely highly sensitive) who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning about his experience in a Nazi concentration camp:
“Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner lives was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. Only in this way can one explain the apparent paradox that some prisoners of a less hardy make-up often seemed to survive camp life better than did those of a more robust nature.”
Action Step: If you are a highly sensitive person, what is a specific sensitivity trait you can honor more in yourself and share with others?
Leave a comment below and share! Acknowledging your gifts and what you will do with them is a great first step in taking action.
As for me, I favor being intuitive, living a more sensual life, and having a greater degree of empathy to share with others. It can be difficult to always follow the voice of intuition (when it doesn’t seem rational), but I’m happy when I do. This is something I continue to remind myself.
If you don’t consider yourself a highly sensitive person, do you know anyone who is that would benefit from this article? Please share!