Have you been told you’re too sensitive? Unfortunately, it’s rather common in our society for highly sensitive people to be teased or criticized, even by loved ones. Our friends and family typically mean no harm. At times they may think they’re “just having fun” or maybe even showing affection.
As highly sensitive people, we may be able recognize the spirit of this way of relating. And so we get used to laughing it off and “letting it go”. But do we really let it go?
Over time, the hurtful words we hear settle deeply into the psyche.
We learn there’s something inherently wrong with us. The outside world tells us we’re weak and flawed. We’re too serious. We ought to be able to talk about certain issues without getting emotional.
Have you heard these words and statements?
I felt that way about myself for a long time. I wished I weren’t so sensitive. I felt so misunderstood and alone in my experience. Thinking of myself this way, made me feel anxious. I struggled to see the strength in being sensitive.
In recent years, I’ve begun to change my perspective on being highly sensitive.
And then something happened recently that blew my mind.
My dad (who has historically called me sensitive) told me that he sees the positive traits my mom possessed in me. The first and only trait he mentioned in that conversation was my sensitivity.
In a separate conversation, my partner also told me that one of qualities he finds most attractive in me is indeed that I’m sensitive.
The thing about being a highly sensitive person is that it’s only a problem if we internalize our sensitivity as something negative. When we can tap into our sensitivity as a strength, or even superpower, then we truly begin to shift the paradigm.
Superpowers of Highly Sensitive People
- We’re deeply empathetic. Highly sensitive people frequently possess a strong ability to feel what loved ones and even strangers are experiencing. When we tune into these emotions, we truly feel them. This gives us a unique sense of open-minded compassion. I’ve had times when I was angry with someone, but still felt compassion toward that person knowing her pain. Of course, this superpower can also be a curse. Self-care is vital for highly sensitive empaths to avoid holding the suffering of others.
- We’re considerate. We find ourselves extra conscious of our body language and respect the personal space of others because we know how it feels to be both shunned and invaded. We’re conscientious about the volume of our media and voices because we’ve been the quiet neighbor in a noisy building. Not everyone is sensitive to the same things, but we prefer not to infringe on the freedom of others to enjoy peaceful space.
- We’re flexible thinkers. My partner once told me that if I were to have a gravestone, it would be etched with “part of me feels like…” While this phrase sometimes pertains to decision-making, it also comes out when I’m discerning between right and wrong. Even with matters that are black and white to many people, highly sensitive people are able to think less dualistically and see where others are coming from before judging.
- We’re acutely aware. We are extraordinarily perceptive and intuitive when it comes to people and our surroundings. Sensitive people can often spot red flags in people and situations leading us to sniff out phonies or scam artists more quickly. I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life that make some people balk. But for me, I find I have a special knack for sensing the character of those around me.
- We’re creative. Highly sensitive people are often very imaginative and adventurous in their thinking. We tend to prefer thinking outside the box rather than linear thought process, which can lead to innovative problem-solving or vivid works of art. As a social worker, thinking creatively was imperative to helping my clients and changing systems.
- We’re sincere listeners. We tend to engage with others in a genuine manner that allows others to feel our support. Friends and family of highly sensitive people can typically feel our unique ability to hold space for their pain and struggle without getting overwhelmed or imposing our opinions. As an introvert, I sometimes disappoint my friends by not attending every party, but they know I’ll sit down with them for hours to lend a loving ear.
- We embrace life experiences. Our nature is to connect to joy and sorrow equally and to experience the depth of human emotion. Highly sensitive people find meaning in life’s obstacles and use this to tap into our resilience. My journey of living with anxiety has taught me to integrate past pain into a resilient sense of self and thereby work with anxiety rather than resist it.
- We love deeply. Highly sensitive people love a lot. We really do. We feel love in our bodies. We love with our eyes. We love with our touch and we love with our souls. No one feels love in the heart center like sensitives do.
What are you greatest superpowers as a highly sensitive person?