“Sensitive people feel so deeply they often have to retreat from the world, in order to dig beneath the layers of pain to find their faith and courage.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
Being a highly sensitive person can be rough in a world full of agendas, processes, rules, and numbers.
Feelings and senses being intangible and invisible are often dismissed because not everyone experiences them in the same way. The intensity of those experiences vary as well depending on the individual, which makes it all the more confusing.
Living in a society all about speed and efficiency, feelings can often be perceived as a hindrance to productivity. They are not seen as what they truly are: internal signs and guidance of what needs attention in the present moment.
I came into this world a sensitive empath with a keen intuition. I would pick up energy from my environment, as well as other people, quickly and easily. Even as a fun, loving, and carefree child, I noticed tiny details no one else did and felt things toward them no one else felt. I could be laughing and screaming one minute, then at the sight of an injured struggling bee, stop in my tracks and start to panic because I didn’t want to see it in pain.
I dreaded being sensitive as an adult, especially when I worked in the corporate world. I felt so out of place and different from others who seemed to just let things roll off their backs and focused on their own goals. I would sense someone was having personal problems before anyone else knew, or that something was going terribly wrong about a project before it happened and wanted to change direction.
I felt those things were more important than the minute detail of who was bringing bagels for the next meeting. I was often looked at as being irrational, paranoid, or even difficult because there was no concrete evidence that what I was saying was true. It would take days, weeks, sometimes years later, for things to surface and I would be proven right. I often felt frustrated.
For many years, I wished I was less sensitive and that I wasn’t so easily affected by others’ words, expressions, moods, and intentions. I felt my sensitivity had caused me nothing but pain and frustration. Life would be far easier and less complicated if I weren’t so sensitive. I could just be blissfully unaware and truck along like everyone else.
The many personal praises I’d received for being kind and compassionate became meaningless because in my mind, I’d gained nothing in return. I continued to feel overlooked, unappreciated, doubting if I had any deeper value to offer the world besides my productivity.
I tried to suppress my feelings for a long time, then went on to read books, join workshops, and acquire self-improvement tools in an attempt to lessen my sensitivity. Ironically, through that journey, I learned that I had it backward. I’ve come to not only accept my sensitivity as is, but also see it as a gift and use it every day to my advantage. Now I actually want to strengthen my sensitivity and encourage my feelings to speak louder.
Five advantages to being highly sensitive:
1. You are self-aware.
You are good at putting yourself in others’ shoes and sensing their feelings. That makes you conscious of your words and actions and how they may affect others. That is a good foundation for self-growth and your overall journey to personal success.
2. You are intuitive.
Chances are you can sense what is truly happening around you before anyone else can. You pick up the abstract and invisible, and you have an ability to detect hidden information. That gives you insights into things that have not yet surfaced.
3. You have a capacity for compassion.
You are compassionate toward others because you feel more deeply and intensely than most. Compassion is one of the most underrated strengths in modern society. While it does not come across as an obvious trait for monetary success, it contributes greatly to anyone’s long-term, personal success. It is a required component for love, forgiveness, overcoming setbacks, and sustaining personal and professional relationships.
4. You have higher EQ.
You are most likely good at reading others and are better at relationships, whether personal or professional. Being sensitive to others’ feelings makes you caring and understanding, with a knack for sorting out complicated emotions.
5. You are alive.
…and your energy is moving! You are soulful and in tune with the essence of who you truly are. Your feelings are the driving force of desires, needs, and directions in life so that you don’t simply go through the motions. When you are sensitive to subtle internal signs, you are better at navigating your choices in life.
Five steps to harness your sensitivity and turn it into a strength:
1. Do not judge yourself.
It’s easy to tell yourself, “Stop being so sensitive,” or, “I have no reason to feel this way,” when you hear it often from others. It’s important to change your internal dialogue and stop shaming yourself for your feelings. They came up for a reason, and they deserve your attention.
2. Practice gratitude.
You are connected enough to receive those signs, and there are no coincidences in the grand scheme of universal alignment. Thank the universe for your senses as if you actively chose to have them in your life. The more gratitude you show toward your gift of sensitivity, the more you will embrace it and understand why it shows up for you.
3. Trust the energy or messages you pick up.
You feel what you feel for a reason (why you did is for you to find out). Regardless of how nonsensical they may seem, make a mental note and explore further when you feel called to. It could be a reaction toward someone who triggered something inside you, or it could be something that needs to be resolved so you can move forward in life. Trust that it is guiding you toward the next steps in your journey. Don’t react until you have an understanding of the message or lesson to be learned.
4. Establish an emotional (or energetic) boundary.
It is important for all highly sensitive people to establish an emotional (or energetic) boundary. You pick up what’s not yours so readily and easily it can become confusing or even overwhelming at times. Pay close attention to the way you feel or react. Is it your own or is your energy being swayed by someone else’s? Whenever your energy is affected by your environment, take a deep breath and exhale from your mouth completely and recenter yourself.
It would be helpful to take short breaks from being around others—emotionally. Develop a consistent yoga or meditation practice as a first step if you often find yourself affected by others’ energy.
Remember, there will always be people who just seem to clash with you. Expect it and let it be okay while you maintain your own emotional space by consciously choosing the energy you want around. If you feel the energy of anger, frustration, or doubt reentering your space, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and choose again.
5. Help others.
Highly sensitive empaths are likely in this world for a purpose of spreading kindness or healing others. Because you have been through so much internally, you have a soft spot for others who are going through painful experiences.
Whether you choose to do so as a career or just by being there for someone who crosses your path, you have the ability to touch someone on a deeper level and help release their hurt. Don’t let that talent go to waste!