Turn your sensitivity into a strength
This summer I read a book called Highly Intuitive People. I realized that everything I thought was wrong with me were the result of having a very sensitive personality.
HSPs (or Highly Sensitive Persons) experience the world differently than most of people. It is not a mental illness or a disorder and it’s actually completely normal ! But they represent only 15-20% of the population so they are often misunderstood.
- If you’re not sure if you are an HSP, you can read this article here -
First I thought that being an HSP was mostly a disadvantage because…
it takes me longer to adapt to certain situations (it took me a while to start working in the Industry after my Degree)
i can’t tolerate violence or cruelty of any kind (watching a violent film makes me literally sick and I suddenly turned vegetarian about 10 years ago after watching documentaries about the meat industry)
loud noise, persistent smell or bright light can really disrupt me (hello crowded commute !)
i can feel exhausted by too many stimuli (i feel highly stressed if me house is messy)
i can’t handle physical pain and discomfort very well (being cozy is my mojo)
i can’t handle too much alcohol or caffeine very well either (at least i’m a cheap date lol)
BUT all these things happen to also have a positive side and once I started to embrace my sensitivity, I learned to turn it as a strength.
HSPs notice details other people won’t even see. For example I usually feel if a person is uncomfortable or dishonest even if this is the first time we meet. I’m very aware of body language, facial expression, voice tone and the words the other person would use. It doesn’t mean that I always stay on that first impression but I can usually feel very quickly if we would get along.
In my work it is also a strength because I really pay attention to every details. It means that each color, texture, cut matters. I enjoy working with directors and creatives who have a strong vision and don’t like approximation.
Sometimes it leads me to be a little rigid because mess really bothers me. I see it as something that disrupts my senses so it is uncomfortable. It also wastes my time because a lack of organization is less efficient. I’m working on this negative side effect but I also learned to avoid working with people who don’t know what they want/do.
HSPs are very sensitive to any kind of violence and pain so they show more empathy. From an outside point of view, I don’t think I look very empathetic. I’m not very good at dealing with other people’s feelings. However as I said before, I can read people very quickly which makes me be aware of their emotions as well. It doesn’t mean that I know how to handle them, which is one of the most common problem for an HSP.
I believe empathy is a strength because it allows you to be more present to people and understand them. In my case it helps me feel the characters and be more insightful with how they dress.
I also learned to withdraw when I’m in a very emotional situation or around negative people because it exhausts me.
HSPs are very connected to their mind. They process everything around them very deeply which means that they have a vivid inner world. Being able to reflect on the past helped me understand who I am and what I’m leaning towards in life. This leads me to have very realistic dreams and to develop my intuition when I need to make a decision.
In my work it leads me to be eager to learn new things and improve my craft. I’m able to make better decisions because I know exactly where I’m going and what I want to achieve in life. Which means that if I’m into something I never give up because that’s part of my plan and I’m 100% reliable.
The downside is overthinking. Sometimes I obsessively play a situation over and over in my head or get caught in a spiral of anxious thoughts. In this case I try to concentrate on my breath as I learned in meditation. It helps me become more aware of the present instead of the external situation. Running and sensory deprivation floating also help me dealing with overthinking.
Writing this article was not an easy exercise because I talk about my vulnerability and some of my personality traits. I think being expatriated and surrounded by HSPs helps me realize that our sensitivity is good because we are able to bring something different to the world.
I believe that the most important thing is to know yourself (obviously it takes a life to really know who you are but you can work on it). Once you know the things that bring you discomfort of overwhelm you are able to adapt your life and protect yourself from these situations (or if you can’t avoid it, you can learn to cope with them).
I hope this article was interesting. I would love to hear your experience as an HSP or as a non-HSP.