Three Cheers for Being Highly Sensitive!
A lot of the time when we talk about what it’s like to be a sensitive person, we wind up focusing on the challenges.
In a lot of ways, that makes sense. Because the list of things that can feel especially heavy, or stressful, or overwhelming for us is a long one.
I’m definitely guilty of focusing on that list, partly because it feels like an important way to acknowledge and honor the complexities of our experiences. It’s why I spend time and energy writing about things like what to do when our relationships feel out of balance, how to diffuse overwhelming fear, and how to know when it's safe to push our boundaries.
And not surprisingly, these same ideas show up all the time in my personal conversations, too.
This week I had the chance to catch up with a few of my favorite people, all of whom (not surprisingly) are deeply conscientious, big-hearted, and full of wisdom. And as per usual, there was a common thread woven throughout each of those conversations: what it’s like to be a person who feels lots of feelings, and how it shows up in all the corners of our lives. We got into the nitty gritty of our shared experiences, frustrations, and paradoxes in life and love and work, given that we share that deep sense of feeling and awareness.
I always find these conversations deeply comforting, and I leave them feeling particularly seen, understood, and connected – even if most of what we talked about were shared struggles. But one of my favorite things to come out of these catch-up chats this week was a nudge from a friend who reminded me that sometimes, we need to focus on the pluses of our sensitivity, too.
And I think she’s right.
There are things we already know about what it means to be sensitive: we know there’s value in being naturally empathetic and compassionate. We know that our friends and family appreciate that about us. We’re deeply aware of how naturally we’re able to connect, give, and help. And all of that is really beautiful.
But too often, I see our sense of value and worthiness getting tangled up and conflated with our ability to be of service to someone else. We see a strong link between our natural gifts of generosity and compassion, and how we can use those gifts to be of value to the people we feel invested in – but when we start interpreting those gifts as a responsibility, and tying our self-worth to how well we deliver… that’s where we can get into trouble.
There’s a certain magic to being a sensitive person, beyond our ability to add value to other people’s lives with our natural empathy and compassion. And it’s about time we paused to acknowledge and celebrate them.
My hope is that the list below will remind you of many of the reasons it’s truly great to be sensitive. Because while that part of your identity can feel like a burden or an exhausting responsibility sometimes, it’s also important to remember the advantages, gifts, and bits of magic that are part of the sensitive experience, too.
10 Ways Your Sensitivity is a Gift to be Celebrated, Beyond Just Your Ability to Be Helpful
You often naturally appreciate nuances and tiny details more than the average person, which can contribute to your overall sense of presence and gratitude.
You have extra capacity to form deep, fulfilling friendships and relationships that will fill your tank and enrich your life for years to come.
The intensity of your experiences adds to the depth and richness of your creativity.
You’re especially wired for connection, and even small, pleasant interactions with strangers can significantly boost your mood.
You ooze natural warmth, and even just by being, you can put others at ease.
You get to share and feel double the joy (with double the depth!) as the people around you experience happiness of their own.
You’re excellent at noticing and observing what others might just gloss over, meaning you’ll always be extra in-tune with your environment and surroundings (and likely to appreciate them).
You naturally have the tools to build a strong, rewarding relationship with yourself.
The fact that you experience so many feelings so deeply adds to your wholeness, and your ability to savor the experiences that really feed your soul.
With the depth of your empathy and the openness of your heart, your understanding of the world will only keep expanding and growing richer, as long as you let it.
What other gifts or advantages have you noticed and/or appreciated in yourself, as a sensitive person?
If nothing else, I encourage you to take comfort in knowing and remembering that while being highly sensitive can feel challenging and overwhelming, you are not broken and you don’t need fixing. And know that you have value and magic to offer the world that extends far, far beyond your ability to be of service
By just being yourself, you are a gift.