I recently co-hosted a gathering for my community (subscribers, clients, course participants) about the new book, Sensitive (2023). I’ll tell you what happened and explain a little about what is high sensitivity (which is so often misunderstood).
I highly recommend this affirming and informative book that celebrates the gifts of being a highly sensitivity person (HSP). Even after knowing a lot about the sensitivity trait, I gained a lot from the book. It’s great for beginners too.
It’s written by Jenn Granneman and Andre Sólo, two dedicated and beautiful writers who co-founded the popular website, Sensitive Refuge.
When my fellow HSP coach, Robbie Leigh, and I offered a free event to discuss the book, we seem to have struck a chord. 42 people signed up, and most of them made it. Plus there was a lot of positive engagement and feedback. Imagine the power of being in a facilitated room of people who really get you. So much HSP love and affirmation, all around.
People came away with one or two specific intentions for honoring their sensitivity, and I could feel the confidence-boosting energy in the room as they took in more about their natural gifts. There was a resounding interest in more connecting like this. We need each other.
What is Sensitivity, really?
The term “sensitive” or “highly sensitive” can be so confusing and used in various ways, often to put someone down. Most people think it means emotionally reactive, anxious, “needy,” or something “woo woo.” None of which is the definition!
High sensitivity is a research-based trait (visible in brain scans) about having a tendency to be more acutely stimulated by or aware of sensory input — sounds, smells, brightness, touch, motion, all the details, and other people’s energy too. It comes with the gift of reading situations deeply, and empathizing easily, because you just get it quickly.
To understand what is a highly sensitive person, or HSP, check out this research-based quick and free HSP assessment (from Elaine Aron, PhD) to know if you have this trait or not. Most people don’t know for sure. Just reading the questions is educational.
Sensitivity is a superpower. Not a flaw.
“Sensitive people may once have been our weather predictors, spiritual advisers, and trackers.” ~from the book, Sensitive
Sensitive people have so many gifts to offer, such as a deep level of empathy and high sensory intelligence. These and other gifts are defined and outlined well in the book.
The authors also acknowledge and describe some of the challenging sides of having these sensitive bodies and brains. Like the potential drain of being so empathetic. They gave excellent concrete suggestions for reducing the challenges and building on the strengths. Every gift has a downside but it doesn’t make it a flaw.
The potential hard parts and how to reduce it.
High sensitivity also comes with the potential of getting overstimulated more easily, and can lead to hiding away. But then the beauty of your sensitive gifts is lost. There’s a better way.
I used to think it was a curse to hide this about myself, and I just didn’t get what was happening. It felt like random anxiety, and lots of “issues.” Now I know how to avoid trouble and to use my high sensory gifts in positive ways. It’s not an “issue” or a “flaw,” it’s a trait and it’s a gift.
Up to 30% of people have the high sensitivity trait… and yet many don’t know it (and often they just think they’re broken). And/or many have hid it in order to fit in. This is something you’re around in one way or another whether you know it or not. It’s also been found in many animal species in a similar percentage. Maybe your pet too!
Sensitivity is not always easy on our bodies and hearts, but there are ways to make it easier. Well-being tips for HSPs.
Your sensitivity is useful information (not an excuse).
My hope is that more people can understand and celebrate this trait as a gift. I think the book Sensitive and all the media attention it’s getting will help. 😎
One thing sensitivity is NOT is an excuse to demand that others meet your needs or see things your way. I call that “demanding.”
There are better ways to get our needs met, such as to:
- Look for workplaces and careers that fit who you are as a sensitive soul.
- Hang out with people who don’t put you down for being your true self, or ideally people who love who you are!
- Offer your perspective as one of many valuable perspectives. All voices matter.
When people ask you what you mean about being highly sensitive, the Sensitive authors suggest saying something like this, and it makes a great summary too:
Nearly one in three people are born a little more sensitive, both emotionally and physically. This is because our brains are wired to process information very deeply. Basically, we think about things longer, we feel things stronger, and we make connections that other people miss. Although it’s often misunderstood, it’s a healthy trait.”
- Introversion or High Sensitivity?
Labels don’t have to limit but knowing these can help you learn how to best lean into your strengths and how to lessen the challenges.
- And do read the book! > Sensitive
- Rethinking Your Career? 4 Things HSPs Should Consider, by Val Nelson, on Sensitive Refuge.