A three-part series on how to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person. This is Part 1.
Everyone has heard the phrase “emotional intelligence,” but what about sensitivity intelligence? At any given moment, 1 in 5 people in the room is experiencing the moment with greater emotional intensity than the other four, and this person is often labeled “too sensitive” or “dramatic.” But what if we could look at this emotional intensity as a gift, rather than a flaw? Well, we can! This emotional intensity is called The Highly Sensitive Personality Trait, and it affects up to 20% of the population.
HSPs process stimuli more deeply and are more aware of subtleties in both their external and internal environment than non-HSPs. They are often more reactive to both positive and negative stimuli, and more empathetic towards other people’s emotions and energies. This deep awareness is automatic and comes with their trait. However, many HSPs have come to view this awareness as a weakness rather than a strength because they view themselves as different from non-HSPs.
Being labeled “too sensitive” can be detrimental to your mental health, causing you to want to change yourself and be like the majority. The truth is that a large chunk of HSPs have come to equate this as a fatal flaw in their inherent makeup. This is a sad conclusion because the trait has so many benefits and advantages, but because it’s often misunderstood, many of those advantages never get a chance to come to the surface.
In this three-part series, we’re digging deeper into what it means to be an HSP, what misunderstandings of the trait we’re caught up in and how we can become more at peace with ourselves. This is Part 1.
Do you feel like you’re too sensitive? Have you ever felt like you pick up on subtleties that others don’t? Well, that’s because you are an HSP, and you have an innate ability to see more. Being an HSP means you have a high awareness of subtleties in your environment as well as your internal thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and memories. You can notice things that non-HSPs cannot because your brain is wired to pick up subtleties. Research has shown that the HSP brain is more reactive to subtle stimuli than non-HSPs, therefore making HSPs more aware and attentive to subtle stimuli.
You may think that being an HSP is a bad thing because you pick up on all the subtleties that people around you miss. But why not look at it the other way around? HSPs have the ability to pick up on subtleties that others miss. You have a unique gift that can lead to opportunities that others may miss.
The well-adjusted HSPs of the world tend to think so. They embrace their sensitivity and use it to intentionally live in ways that give their life more meaning. Whereas, non-adjusted HSPs can perceive their heightened awareness as a problem because they do not have an understanding that awareness is automatic and a part of their inherent trait. They may perceive the subtleties they pick up on as their own habit rather than their innate ability.
It’s important to realize that you don’t cause your own awareness. Your high awareness is automatic and comes with your trait. Therefore, trying to fight your sensitivity with a goal to get it to go away is not possible. The first misunderstanding is that you cause your awareness, but in reality, it’s your brain that makes you see those subtleties.
It’s time that HSPs stop taking this so personally, and try to drop the anger. Eight ways to start embracing your sensitivity include:
1. Accept that you are an HSP, and that makes you have a depth of awareness of subtleties that 80-85% of the people around you don’t have.
2. Accept that you don’t create your awareness. It is an inherent part of your trait.
3. Trust your awareness. You don’t need non-HSPs to give you permission to experience your awareness.
4. Don’t force your sensitivity on others and make it anyone else’s problem.
5. Try not to be so bitter at non-HSPs because they are the majority.
6. Realize that you are still a minority, and the temptation to think something is wrong with you can indeed be strong.
7. Recognize that a temperamental difference between people doesn’t make one side better than the other.
8. Realize that your awareness is a gift only when you start treating it as one. Don’t be ashamed of what makes you unique.
In conclusion, being a Highly Sensitive Person is a gift, not a curse. Embrace your sensitivity and use it to intentionally live in ways that give your life more meaning. HSPs should feel ecstatic about their trait, and not view their heightened awareness as a weakness. We are a minority in this world, but it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with us. We should accept and trust our innate ability to see more, and treat it as a gift that sets us apart from others. So, let’s embrace the beauty of our sensitivity and thrive in our traits rather than trying to change.