If you have ever been told, “you are too sensitive,” or “you need a thicker skin,” chances are you are a highly sensitive person. Those of us who are highly sensitive have heard these comments all our lives. It is very difficult to get a person who is not highly sensitive to understand what it is like to have our kind of experiences. It would be like asking an elephant what it is like to be a butterfly. That elephant could spend its long life studying butterflies, maybe even try to get in touch with his inner butterfly self. An elephant cannot stop ever being an elephant and a highly sensitive person (hsp) cannot stop being highly sensitive. Some people may view this innate ability as a weakness, because there is no therapy, exercise, or pill to fix it. There are some of us hs individuals who do not wish to “fix it” anyway. One reason being is that the non-highly sensitive person can benefit from our compassion. Compassion is just one of many wonderful traits the hsp possesses. Other benefits are creativity, intuition, right brain intellect, and strong multi-tasking abilities among so many others. A person not being able to understand the hsp doesn’t mean that they cannot learn how to treat us with kindness and love. The example set out by Jesus is proof. In my opinion Jesus was a hsp and he encouraged and inspired great love and compassion from others.
Hsp make excellent healers, counselors, advisors, and leaders in part to our intuition and ability to read people. We pick up on the emotions of others very, very easily. Hsp have strong artistic, musical, and writing abilities. We have an appreciation for art, animals, and children. We can read people by their tone of voice, body language. We also feel deep, profound sense of justice and fairness, hence the reason why we make great leaders and authority figures. We have a keen attention to detail and fastidiousness. We have a strong connection to nature and the spiritual world. Many people who have psychic abilities are hs. We revel in peace, quiet, and calm and have the ability to get into deep meditation. Our relationships are usually deep, meaningful, and can last a very long time, because we are loyal people. When we fall in love we usually fall fast and hard.
There is a flip side to being hs. We are easy to hurt and can become quite isolated and cynical. We are slow to heal from trauma and it is crucial for the hsp to be taught to appreciate and how to work with our sensitive natures. Since the publication of Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person over 10 years ago, acceptance of the hsp has been gaining in the psychological community and in our culture. There are now educators, therapists, psychologists, and life coaches who specialize in working with hsp. More and more books are being written to help people who are highly sensitive. If you have a hs child, you owe it to them to educate yourself about this, especially the younger they are. It may even take a hsp to point out that a child is hs to a non-highly sensitive parent. It is also important for the hs child to appreciate their unique traits and learn how to keep themselves from being overwhelmed. Children often do well with yoga and meditation. It is important to not label them as overly sensitive. There is no such thing as being overly sensitive. There is such a thing as a sensitive person being overwhelmed with too much stimuli, and unable to handle it.
I remember as a child the noise and chaos of my 1st grade classroom. One particular day the high-pitched voices, overly bright lights, the heat of the classroom, the noise coming from a record player in the background became all too much. I needed a moment to put my head down in all this stimulation. So that’s what I did. I covered my arms over my head to block out the excessive stimuli. I see now that what I was trying to do was center myself, only of course being 6 years old, I did not have the vocabulary to explain my needs. My teacher Mrs. Johnson was worried I may be ill. She brought in another teacher to see about me. I couldn’t explain myself to them. But having these 2 large adults stand over me made me feel there was something wrong with me. None of the other children needed a break from the chaos like I did. I felt alone. It was the first time in my life I felt defected. Fortunately with Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person these situations do not have to happen. I believe it should be a required read for every teacher.
It’s taken many years for me to realize that being a highly sensitive person really, truly is a gift. By no means is it a defect. I was just surrounded by people who didn’t understand it. I love having insight into problems that others do not seem to have. I love having a perspective that others do not. I love hearing from people, “oh, I didn’t think of it that way.” Many, many times in my life I’ve been told I have a strong and unique insight. So despite the hurtful and confusing moments of my early years, I would not change being a hsp. I choose to see the pros over the cons. I’ve stopped apologizing for being sensitive. I’ve honed in on my gifts and am aware of how it benefits me and others.
The world needs all sorts of people. We need the straight talking, tell it like it is sort. We need their tenacity and strength. People who don’t need to contemplate and deliberate, they get in and get the job done. Those are wonderful qualities. The world needs the sensitive types as well. We need insightful people who just seem to “know” things. People who bring forth great compassion and understanding. The world is complex and so are the people who are in it. Isn’t it extraordinary?