High Sensitivity as Strength
Much has been written on high sensitivity in recent years. People who have this ability are generally more sensitive to stimuli, emotions, moods, etcetera. ‘High sensitivity’ is a somewhat emotionally charged term for many people. While one may see high sensitivity as (a quality of) strength, another will perceive it as a hindrance. However, we believe that it is in fact not that extraordinary to be (high) sensitive. (Lees in het Nederlands)
The term ‘high sensitivity’ can be explained in many ways and in general people tend to differ in their views. Some see their ‘once discovered’ high sensitivity as strength, and a confirmation of who they really are. It gives them the confidence and courage to listen to their heart and to (continue to) follow their own path.
Others perceive their high sensitivity as a hindrance or as an excuse to avoid certain things in life. If you find it difficult to take full responsibility for your life and happiness, then it may perhaps work to your advantage to discover that you are highly sensitive. Just tick off many of the characteristics on the high sensitivity list (found everywhere on internet) and you are thankful for your new label. Now you have a diagnosis that proves that those around will have to take your high sensitivity into consideration. After all, you can’t help it if you’re highly sensitive.
If you use it as an excuse,
then you choose the role of victim
People who perceive their high sensitivity as strength are not those that constantly say they are (or just happen to be) highly sensitive. If you have the tendency to refer to your high sensitivity; if you use it as an excuse; or as ‘proof’ that those around you need to take your needs into consideration, then you choose the role of victim. In actual fact, you ask those around you to guard your boundaries, and when this happens you no longer take responsibility for yourself and your personal space. Instead of being highly sensitive, you may be highly alert (also read our article ‘Highly Sensitive or Highly Alert?’ at allesinbalans.nu).
Natural state of being
We believe that high sensitivity is not really extraordinary. In fact, we all have the potential, one perhaps more than the other, but in fact it is really our natural state of being. However, in the protected and overly organized world we live in today, the skill to use our sensitivity as a compass has fallen into disuse.
It has become a survival mechanism to numb the senses as much as possible in the present hustle and bustle of life. No longer do we smell and sense the ‘danger’ of those who stand or sit too close to us on a crowded tram. Your own ‘safe’ space is almost always reduced to a minimum and as a result, you create a false sense of security by at least being able to listen to your own music on headphones.
A characteristic that was really quite normal has now slipped so far into the background that it has become difficult to reach, or has even become inaccessible for many people.
It is fortunate that there are still people who are born with this natural sensitivity or who (almost literally) ‘dis-cover’ it during the course of their lives. These are the people we call ‘highly sensitive’.
Your high sensitivity as strength
It is vital that you learn how to deal with your own emotions if you are highly sensitive. If you allow yourself to be guided by your emotions, you will soon feel as though you are a victim of the situation and from that moment on your high sensitivity becomes more a hindrance than an advantage. It is at this point that high alertness comes into play. Anyone who is highly sensitive will also have to manage their high alertness the moment they are confronted with or subjected to stress, emotions or imbalance.
However, it is possible to settle the score with high alertness. You can learn to accept high alertness and then ensure that it no longer takes hold. Then you will still be able to perceive someone’s emotions, behaviours and utterances but you will soon realise that these have nothing to do with you. Before you let someone’s emotions unintentionally connect with one of your own painful subjects, you will be able to intervene and prevent yourself from being carried away by your emotions. You may even be able to laugh about it with compassion for yourself. You don’t repeat the same mistake and become a victim of your (high) sensitivity.
The fact remains though that you have noticed the signs. Now you can choose to use your high sensitivity to your advantage. Instead of thinking that the scowl was directed at you, you may now ask yourself if in fact something might be bothering the other person. Why not just ask them how they are? Maybe they could use a little support.
Only when you choose to allow your heart to be the compass in your life, will you be able to use your high sensitivity to its full advantage; that is, if you follow your own personal mission in life as much as possible.
Intuition is high sensitivity, guided by pure knowledge, straight from your heart.
Emotions colour the information
received through your intuition
The more you fulfil your personal mission in life and make choices from your heart, the more you will be able to experience your high sensitivity as strength. Intuition is high sensitivity, guided by pure knowledge, straight from the heart. You ‘feel’ things, sometimes long in advance, and that is a valuable gift, both in your personal and professional life, provided there are no emotions involved. When emotions are present, you return to a state of high alert. Emotions colour the information received through your intuition leading to an immediate devaluation of information.
This is also the risk people face when they view their high sensitivity as a (predictive) gift and then want to use it to help others. It is a difficult task to convey what you feel in a truly pure way, without colouring the input with your own emotions, norms and values. If you receive a serious warning about a threatening situation during a consultation with a clairvoyant, you could then ask yourself if that information is pure. This is because pure information is always neutral and free of all emotion but it is clear that this borderline is very fine.
High sensitivity out of balance
If you have not yet found a way to implement your high sensitivity to your advantage, you may be giving those around you confusing vibes. Sometimes you are very irritated and at other times you can be empathetic. People can’t seem to figure you out. Your loved ones, as well as your colleagues, are not really sure what to expect and therefore you may perhaps be giving them an uneasy feeling. That is probably the exact opposite of what you want to do which is to use your (high) sensitivity to make others feel at ease.
The trick then is for you to take the lead. Consciously learning to implement your high sensitivity means allowing yourself to make your own choices instead of letting others make them for you.
No limits – a deliberate or unintentional choice?
Are you able to follow your heart, manage your own emotions, and are you brave enough to open up to your sensitivity? If you can, then your high sensitivity will be a turbo engine on your personal mission. Following the path of your heart will then only become easier. Your intuition works at full speed and ensures that you yourself create a life in which you effortlessly embrace the abundance, joy and love you deserve, without boundaries and without any limits. High sensitivity is indeed present thanks to the absence of boundaries. However, the question remains whether the absence of boundaries is a conscious choice or if it is an instinctive process that drives you, and which sometimes (or perhaps often) causes you to feel a victim.
You sometimes deliberately choose to
push back or remove boundaries
When you use your high sensitivity as strength, it means that you sometimes deliberately choose to push back or remove boundaries. Your desire to create boundaries disappears and you then realise that you feel even safer when there are no (fixed) boundaries. The absence of fixed boundaries ensures that a connection with others is possible. You choose to break down walls, so that a pure connection can be made from heart to heart. The absence of artificial barriers allows you to connect with others easily and communication becomes natural. Your intuition works at full speed.
When you decide not to set any limits or as few as possible, you use your high sensitivity as strength and that is a conscious process.
Nurturing your own space
There is in fact no need for (fixed) boundaries in the natural abundance of life. If you follow your heart, then you know what you must do, not only for yourself but also when in touch with others. You know when you have had enough because your heart helps you to care for your own space.
It is of the utmost importance that you care for your own space when you use your (high) sensitivity and your intuition simultaneously on a daily basis, for example in your profession. It isn’t always possible to be without boundaries. The mere fact that we have a body ensures that we are (literally) bounded. It is therefore important to create your own space to ensure that you are also able to raise the drawbridge when needed. Then you will be able to take time to regain your balance.
Our personal situation
As luck would have it, we are both highly sensitive, which we believe to be completely normal. We see that as a blessing because we never need to explain to each other that we don’t want to go into town because it’s busy, or when we want to sit at that one particular table in a restaurant because it feels right. We’ve grown accustomed to the fact that we both know exactly what we need to say to a particular person at a particular moment, simply because we both sense the emotions and feelings of others with ease.
In childhood, we were both often in situations that felt unsafe, and from an early age, we had an above average level of alertness. We have focused individually on our self-development (and also together for many years). As a result, we’ve grown and have moved slowly but surely closer to our heart.
Although we already knew that being sensitive to others would be a great advantage in our work, we’ve also had to learn the flip side of our ‘high sensitivity’ the hard way.
The presence of emotions
High sensitivity is our closest friend as long as we continue to communicate with others while fulfilling our personal mission in life. As soon as emotions are involved, it becomes more difficult and that’s when high alertness comes into play. For example, we experience a level of stress due to a fully booked agenda and then we tend to over-efficiently plan our day all because we fear that we ‘might not be doing it well enough’.
We then go shopping at the busiest time of the day in a crowded store and become frustrated by the number of impatient and rude people around us. The atmosphere in the store is tense and before we know it, we’re exhausted and return home tired and irritable.
Another example is an invitation to a family occasion. These are not our favourite moments but sometimes we (and especially Judith) fear we might offend others if we decline. We then accept, go to the party but come home with a hangover (and not even alcohol induced). We haven’t really made contact with anyone and feel exhausted from all the trivial chitchat.
It then takes much longer afterwards to return to our inner self again, to feel our mission and to be able to listen to our heart. These situations don’t present themselves too often anymore, thank goodness. We’ve discovered that when we take care of ourselves, and our own space, it brings out the best in us and benefits both others and ourselves.
We view our high (sensitivity) as an advantage and know that we can only (continue to) apply it in this way if we use it as much as we can in tune with our mission in life. That inevitably means that we undertake as few activities as possible that threaten our mission (see our personal list further in the text).
General tips for high sensitivity:
Are you highly sensitive (or in fact really quite normal)? Do you want to use that sensitivity to its best advantage? If so, take note of the following points:
- When you live life (as much as possible) according to your personal mission, you are able to view your high sensitivity as strength. If you want to give your mission a fair chance of success, it is important that you create your own space and that can have different consequences for each of us (also see our personal tips).
- Make it a habit to perceive everything purely as valuable information, as a gift, thanks to your high sensitivity, free from any emotions that may arise, and look to see how you can use that information in a way that is advantageous to both you and others involved.
- First learn to deal with your own emotions on a particular subject before you communicate about it (again) with others, and learn how to deal with your own high alertness.
- Don’t wait to speak up if you want to get something off your chest and do it so that it is not perceived as criticism. As a result, you will create your own space in a natural way and then your limits will also become clear for others.
- Learn to talk about yourself to others without losing responsibility for your own personal wellbeing.
Our personal list:
To be able to nurture our own ‘high sensitivity’ we:
- (Almost) never visit on birthdays.
- Avoid busy and dark places as much as possible.
- Carefully decide when and which activities we undertake.
- Arrange to meet with family and friends only when we have direct contact (e.g. during a dinner at our home).
- Follow our heart when making arrangements/appointments (when our heart says ‘no’, then it’s ‘no’).
- Live where we feel comfortable and safe.
- Work in a self-decorated area where the atmosphere feels comfortable and safe, not only for us but also for our clients.
- Ensure that we have a number of natural breaks in the working day that we call ‘mini-vacations’.
- Exercise daily in fresh air.
- Strive to get a good night’s sleep.
- Maintain a healthy diet for the body and spirit every day.
- Concentrate on our breathing as much as possible, but at least a few times per day.
- Take care of ourselves, and our own individual space.
Tools can be found in our book Leven in Balans, en Gewoon Gelukkig Zijn (Dutch), which also includes a chapter on high sensitivity.