High sensitivity is innate and occurs in about 20% of the population. We now know that the brains of highly sensitive people work differently, which not only provides an evolutionary advantage.
Here are some signs that may indicate you are highly sensitive:
- You quickly become overwhelmed by strong emotions and intense situations.
- You are sensitive to physical sensations such as sounds, smells, and lights.
- You need more time alone to recover after social events.
- You often feel overwhelmed by an excess of information.
- You have a strong intuitive ability and can notice subtle changes in your environment.
- You are sensitive to the moods of others and can easily absorb them.
- You have a rich inner world and can deeply contemplate things.
Conscious of the bigger picture
Research has shown that in the animal kingdom, there are more than 100 species where high sensitivity also exists. This heightened sensitivity is associated with evolutionary purposes: highly sensitive people and animals are not only more aware of danger but also of opportunities and resources. They are more conscious of 'the bigger picture.'
My work as a coach-supervisor-guide, coupled with my personal experience, has shown me that many Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) are seeking meaning in their lives. They are exceptionally aware of the situation on our planet and harbor a deep desire to understand and heal themselves so they can use their talents for the greater good. From a symbolic or spiritual perspective, one could say that HSPs are equipped with this extra sensitivity because they need it for their ultimate mission (often as a change maker, leader, or guide) but first, they need to learn how to handle it.
A challenge at first
High sensitivity makes people more prone to experiencing trauma in their childhood, often resulting in fear, feeling emotionally overwhelmed, and burnout (or a bore-out if everything is done to avoid confrontations). The abundance of mirror neurons in the highly sensitive brain explains the tremendous empathy and the ability to sense others. Unfortunately, the emotions of others are often absorbed, making it even more challenging to stand firm. All of this often leads HSPs to perceive their sensitivity as negative and see themselves as weak. This leads to negative self-talk and inner criticism that drains energy. They tend to withdraw from the world, which is unfortunate because highly sensitive people have a lot to offer.
HSPs are better at sensing what is going on with others and what they actually need (even if not expressed), are more capable of feeling gratitude for everyday things, are often good parents, very creative individuals, and capable of processing information deeply, leading to better decision-making. Finally, their hyper-sensitive senses contribute to a rich and diverse experience of life, and they are more in touch with the wisdom and truth of what Carl Jung called 'the collective unconscious.'
So you could call high sensitivity 'a blessing in disguise.'
And not only on a personal level because HSPs understand what the world needs to heal and have an intrinsic motivation to lead a meaningful life.
Do you recognize the above and are you also highly sensitive? Then I encourage you: don’t shy away!
Be brave and go on a 'journey' to heal yourself first and become the hero of your own story. This path of growth and transformation will lead to a better understanding of yourself and the surrounding world. The ingredients you gather during this journey will be invaluable to yourself and later to others. Learn to listen better to your body and less to your mind, embrace mindfulness and meditation, learn to set boundaries and generate constructive thoughts, create a supportive environment, let go of the ego. Learn to disidentify from the inner critic and strengthen self-compassion. Above all, learn to know yourself (including your shadow sides!) and lead yourself more efficiently and effectively. Find out what your life purpose is and go for it, with all your empathy and creativity, with all your antennae and gifts. Knowing your life purpose will certainly help gently but courageously surpass your fearful sides and unleash your highest potential.
Embrace the journey and you will grow with each experience.
The world needs you!