Being Highly Sensitive

You have always known you ‘marched to the beat of a different drummer’. You are aware that you tend to ‘think outside of the box’. Yet, you never considered yourself to be sensitive. To be sensitive is to attend to what is invisible to most.

Your nervous system is affected by small amounts of input or change. With a low threshold for sensation, you are designed to have a passionate commitment to that which moves you – to things that many seem to ignore. Your intensity, heightened perceptiveness, and your sense of being at odds with the world around you – these are all signs that you are sensitive.

If you are sensitive to far more subtleties than your contemporaries, you may be highly gifted in imaginational, intellectual, emotional, sensory or physical realms. Your heightened sensitivity contributes to your unusually high capacity for creativity, intuition, innovation and complex thought.

You may often feel out of step with the world around you. You may judge your unusual experiences and types of cognition by the values of a culture that has no understanding of your modes of perception.

If you experience . . .

  • a rich dream life
  • a high degree of self-criticism
  • markedly less flexibility than others
  • precognitive episodes
  • sensitive to surroundings
  • a tendency toward introversion
  • dramatically less stamina for engagement than others
  • frequent moral indignation
  • conviction that the world should be different
. . . you may be a sensitive.

Sensitive souls often feel…

  • easily overwhelmed
  • drained of energy
  • isolated from connection
  • a lack of belonging; alienated from culture
  • a need to withdraw from life
  • disoriented
  • feelings of despair

If you have established that your experiences do not have physical or psychological causes, and therapy has not brought you greater ease in the world, you may have a highly sensitive nervous system.

If you are a highly sensitive person, it can feel like you are living without insulation – with your nerves exposed. You may feel overwhelmed by sounds, smells, the feeling of a piece of fabric or the weight of someone’s mood. Most of the population naturally screens out the sensory information that inundates the nervous system of a sensitive person.

As a sensitive, you may have grown up being labeled “too sensitive”, “reclusive” or “antisocial”. You may have come to internalize others’ perceptions of you. You may believe you pay too much attention to your own experience. The irony is that much of your discomfort derives from never truly attending to your own needs. It may be difficult for you to believe, but paying attention to your discomfort and your inner world is actually the road to health.

Qualities of the Sensitive Soul

For the sensitive person who carries expectations to be like others, to attend to what others attend to, to value what others value, life can be full of recrimination and self doubt. Freedom and ease come when you step fully into your gifts and learn how to take care of your unique interests and needs.

With a beginning vocabulary for the unique way that sensitives experience the world, your ability to care for your needs will be enhanced. Below are some qualities of the sensitive soul:

Strong preferences for, and aversion to, particular environments, clothing, sounds and people.
As a sensitive person you may have strong positive or negative reactions to your surroundings, your living environment, art, the smell of people and places, textures, the feel of earth, and the touch of others. If you are not aware of your preferences, you may come to rely on alcohol, drugs, sleep, or isolation to cope with unpleasant experiences.

A need for stillness, less motion, and less activity than others.
If this need is not met, you may feel overly stimulated, confused, and find it impossible to center or calm yourself. Highly sensitive people can appear rigid or inflexible.

A hyperstate of arousal, need for constant motion.
Some sensitives cope with the chronic state of overwhelm by always being in motion. The anxiety that comes with stillness can make slowing down quite a challenge.

A strong need to frequently recharge with alone time, to have frequent down time from stimulation, and to get adequate sleep.
Without these, you may get sick, be extremely irritable and disoriented, or have sudden mood swings. As a sensitive, you may have less stamina than others.

A need to take time to pay attention to dreams, intuition, and sensations of the body.
As a sensitive, you tend to pick up information from many realms, so it is important for you to have the time to digest what you internalize.

A calling to spiritual and creative attunement and expression.

A need for organized environments, few surprises, and control over your activities.

Whether your sensitivity is a result of birth trauma, chemical intrusion in utero or other factors, honoring your sensitivity is fundamental to authentic unfolding.

Our Work Together

Artists, healers, therapists and other gifted and creative individuals who are plagued by an absence of meaning, or who find themselves compelled to integrate their intuitive perceptions into their waking lives, find our work together a process of coming home.

Your inner discomfort compels you to step fully into awarenesses and ways of relating to the world that were previously unconscious or misunderstood. That which is not of the culture, which does not “make sense” is allowed precedence, to have its full meaning.

I work with you as a transformative bridge between your rich interior life and your conscious understanding. You are able to surrender judgments of unusual experiences that the culture can not understand. You begin to perceive and respond to that which is invisible to the dominant culture from a place of confidence and clarity.

Discovering Your Sensitive Soul

When you understand what is required to take care of your sensitive nervous system, your capacity for heightened awareness can become a highly useful tool that enhances your life and the lives of others. Until then, you may feel that you are living as a raw nerve. Only when your system is no longer forced to take in and process an excess of stimuli from your environment and the culture can your true gifts unfold.

You may feel a great sense of relief once you have identified your self as a highly sensitive person. Now you are able to comprehend a lifetime of previously disorienting experiences. At the same time, you may need support for feelings of grief at having been labeled lazy, shy, rigid or defensive.

When you gain a vocabulary for your experience of the world, you can make the most of your heightened awareness. Your sensitivity may make you a talented writer, healer, body worker or artist. You may be an excellent negotiator or have an eye for detail and design. You may be gifted with children or animals. Reconstructing your life with an enhanced sense of identity and worth can lead you in new directions.

As highly sensitive person, you will begin to understand the unique way your mind, body and senses process information, and you discover:

  • why healing work has been challenging and often injurious
  • why certain career paths are preferable and others untenable
  • what is challenging for you in intimate relationships (and why)
  • why you prefer certain climates, communities and qualities in your living environment
  • your limitations in absorbing specific types of information and enjoying certain types of events

Through this process, self-criticism yields to self-acceptance.

Phrases that may apply to you, as a sensitive: Too sensitive, self criticism, feelings of despair, Authentic Life, Sensitive to surroundings, life coach for highly sensitive people, easily overwhelmed, alienated from culture

Summarizing the Sensitive

Sensitives have a higher than average capacity for experiencing internal and external stimulus at a deep level.

Sensitives react to subtle levels of input more frequently, more intensely and for longer periods of time than most people.

These richly felt experiences can occur in the realms of: the imagination, the intellect, the spirit, the emotions, the physical body, and the energetic body.

High levels of inner awareness can compel sensitives to seek relief for felt discomfort. This often propels them to transformation.