How to hone your sensitivities and see them as a gift
What does being highly sensitive mean?
A highly sensitive person has a deeper sensitivity to, and is more deeply affected by, physical, emotional or social stimuli. They can perceive subtle shifts in energy or have a heightened sensitivity to textures, sounds or brightness. It’s a characteristic around 15-20% of the population have.
The baseline is that they take in so much more “raw data” from their environment that they often think and ruminate a lot, in order to process all of that. It also means they’re easily overstimulated and need to retreat back more than others.
I found this paragraph in Psychology Today, which encapsulates my personal experience as a highly sensitive person very well:
“Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) may struggle to adapt to new circumstances, may demonstrate seemingly inappropriate emotional responses in social situations, and may easily become uncomfortable in response to light, sound, or certain physical sensations. On the other hand, HSPs often report that they form deep bonds with others, have exciting dreams and internal monologues, and find great enjoyment in art, music, and human connection.”
What high sensitivity is NOT
Don’t mistake (high)sensitivity for
… being weak
… being “so emotional”
… being fragile
… being insecure
Yes, many highly sensitive people may feel insecure, because they have been shamed for their sensitivity (“don’t be so sensitive”, “you need to toughen up”). Or even worse, been denied their experience, their perception (“no, those tights aren’t scratchy”, “no, it’s not loud here”). This latter part is gaslighting, intentional or not. And from my own experience, in the end we start to gaslight ourselves, telling us that our perception isn’t to be trusted because no one around us seems to have the same experience.
And I want to make clear that the opposite of (highly) sensitive isn’t INsensitive, but averagely sensitive. It’s a trait some people have, not a qualifier.
It simply means that highly sensitive people experience the world in a different way.
Our brains often take in and process every detail around us without being able to filter out most of the background noise, so we’re more easily overstimulated and might need more calm and rest.
It also means that we have much more data available to us and can pick up on cues and see connections other people might miss. And we usually have a very strong intuition and emotional fluency, which allows us to support other people.
So sensitivity is actually a superPOWER, not a weakness!
And next time you find yourself thinking “Oh, why are they being so sensitive?!?” when someone has a strong reaction to what you’ve said, consider that it’s not actually due to their sensitivity, but to a wound that has been triggered by your words. And this can happen to anybody, highly sensitive or averagely sensitive! (And it’s of course their task to heal, but don’t make it worse by thinking lesser of them …)
So if you are highly sensitive or you know someone who is, please share this message with them:
Your highly sensitive perception is your superpower!
5 Tips on how to hone your sensitivities and see them as a gift
If you often find yourself doubting your abilities or second guessing every decision you make, believing you need to “toughen up” and ignore what you can feel in your gut is right for you, I have a few tips for you to realise that your own perception and gut instinct are actually your superpowers. And you can hone them with these practices:
1. Learn to trust your inner knowing. Start with small decisions “Would I like to eat A or B?”, gaining confidence in what feels right for you and moving on to consult your gut instinct for bigger decisions.
2. Learn to use the little cues of your perception as clues on how to navigate life. Your system takes in a lot of data which helps you identify what your next best (baby) step is. Does is feel light and expansive? Follow it. Does it feel heavy and contracting? Leave it.
3. Use tools for emotional release and trauma healing, like EFT/tapping, shaking or even trauma therapy to release old and harmful beliefs around your sensitivity.
4. Get in touch with other HSP, surround yourself with people who have had similar experiences, so you feel understood and validated.
5. Start educating other people, especially in your immediate surroundings, about what it means to be/live as HSP. Learn to communicate your needs in a respectful yet firm way.
And if you’d like to really trust your inner knowing more than the opinions of others, so you can follow your heart and live a deeply fulfilling life, I offer a safe space for you to uncover the magic of your gifts with the gentle yet powerful approach of Soul-based Coaching. Deep healing and change is possible, often within one session, because we let your inner wisdom lead us to the solutions that work uniquely and perfetcly for you.
You can find out more here or meet me for a coffee to explore how I can support you in unlocking your magic!