If you’re a sensitive person, you’ve probably been taught that you’re too thin-skinned, emotional, or empathetic for your own good. And it’s a bad thing.
More often than not, I was bothered by things much more than my siblings were and so naturally I was weird!
And it’s taken me many years to stop feeling there was something wrong with me that needed fixing.
Mind you, I’d never heard of the idea that some of us fall under the umbrella of being highly sensitive people or HSP’s.
This is a term coined by the clinical psychologist Elaine Aron in 1991 to describe a personality trait that, according to Aron, is present in 15% to 30% of the U.S population.
If you’ve found yourself more sensitive than others, I doubt you shouted it from the rooftops. Who wants to proclaim that they are weaker than the rest of society. Because that was how extra sensitivity was perceived. As a weakness.
But no longer.
How times change
Today while highly sensitive people may experience challenges in a world that doesn’t cater to their needs, this heightened awareness is recognized as having significant advantages both in personal and professional settings.
Just in case you’re not sure about your level of sensitivity, here’s some of the things that are true of me and have been since I was a kid – I’ve only selected a few that might be more universal, since I wouldn’t want to bore you to tears!
- Other people’s moods affect me.. sometimes to the point of overwhelm.
- Loud noises on a regular basis make me edgy.
- Having quiet time on my own is essential to my well-being.
- I startle easily. (Ask my husband!)
- Feeling over-extended or overwhelmed makes me anxious. I had to learn to manage my time better.
- As a child, I was incredibly shy.
- I have a strong sense of fairness and justice.
- I don’t have the stomach for violent scenes in movies or on televsion.
If some of these things apply to you, it’s likely you are more sensitive than most.
But if you’d like to be sure check out this quiz, from Elaine Aron for a greater understanding of where you fall on the sensitivity scale. Sensitive people aren’t necessarily sensitive to the same things, of course. We’re all unique individuals.
And if you feel you are highly sensitive, fear not. These days it’s proving to be a good thing.
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, self-management, working with others, and communication – all of which are often exemplified by highly sensitive people – are becoming more in demand.
6 assets of highly sensitive people
Empathy: Highly sensitive people can sense and understand what others are feeling, making them great in personal relationships and as business leaders.
Creativity: A highly sensitive mind notices more detail, makes more connections, and feels emotion vividly, making it almost perfectly wired for creative activities.
Diplomacy: Another excellent asset of sensitive people in personal or professional situations. Being skilled at considering the viewpoints of others and communicating diplomatically is becoming increasingly sought after in the business world. And we know how important diplomacy can be in our personal relationships.
Harmony: With a heightened awareness of environmental conditions, it’s easier to prioritize giving people the space to be independent and create working and personal conditions where everyone can thrive. This approach fosters a positive and productive work and home space.
Integrity: Since they tend to score higher on ratings of justice and ethics, it means they value treating others with respect and fairness. Always a good thing in personal and professional relationships. In the workplace, they are valued for being trustworthy and following through on commitments. Doing what is right and just is natural to them.
Perception: A sensitive mind can be a great advantage in business and relationships allowing people to see things others may miss. It’s the unique ability of a mind that unconsciously looks at problems from different angles. It’s brainstorming with an extra advantage.
Viewing sensitivity as a weakness has been easy in a world that often places more value on toughness and resilience over most other traits.
But today, we are discovering it is a remarkable strength. So if you are on the high sensitivity scale, don’t allow anyone to label you as anything other than extraordinary.
Recognizing and celebrating your unique talents is important, even if they may be seen as unconventional by many. But before expecting others to appreciate and value your uncommon abilities, it’s essential to first embrace them yourself.
As you fully embrace your sensitivity in all areas of life, you will find it can lead to deeper connections with colleagues, clients, and loved ones. In addition, you can personally experience more success and fulfillment.
And who knows, eventually, you might be proud to be considered highly sensitive. I know it’s put my life and how I operate in this world into a much clearer perspective and that feels good.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t manage our feelings, we most definitely should. Yes, as sensitive people we may feel things more deeply or are more aware of our environment than most, but we are still capable of seeking the silver linings in our life.
For those who need some scientific verification on this phenomenon, check here and here and you can find much more on the internet should you be interested. Science is beginning to believe that those who are highly sensitive have a brain that is wired slightly differently from most. And aren’t yet sure if it’s due to genetics or not.
Whatever the cause. It’s turning out to be a good thing.
Encourage one another.