Embrace your sensitivity is my message today. Throughout my entire life, I have been overly sensitive. It was not until my early adult life that I was self-aware enough to address it, and really not until the last decade that I have learned to actually embrace it and use it as a resource. I wanted to share elements of that journey today.
“Sensitive people care when the world doesn’t because we understand waiting to be rescued and no one shows up. We have rescued ourselves, so many times that we have become self-taught in the art of compassion for those forgotten.” — Shannon L. Alder.
I used to take things very personally. I tell many of my students and clients that I spent the best part of a decade with a flashcard in my wallet upon which I had written the words “fact or opinion?” That is, whenever I took things too personally, or got overly sensitive about something, I would ask myself whether my own thoughts and reactions were based upon facts or were opinions being projected in a way that was upsetting me.
In later life, as my profile was raised, I came to recognise that more and more people in my classes and online considered me to be impervious in my role as teacher, speaker and businessman. People lose track of the real human behind those roles, the real human with a wife, children, regular life and former issues relating to lack of self-esteem, existential crises and so on. Many of my roles in my work and my life, it was presupposed and sometimes projected onto me, that I had to be strong and impervious in many respects.
There are similar trends in our society; we have traditionally seemed to prefer the image of a strong dominant man who takes care of his family, works hard, shows no emotions and is mainly career oriented. It may be changing to a certain extent but in many areas of life, it is still not considered normal for men to show emotions such as fear, vulnerability and sadness. It has been, however, normal to act as if nothing bothers you.
This stereotype makes it very hard for sensitive men to come out and admit that they are sensitive and to show their emotions.
They often feel like they are playing a role, that they are keeping up appearances and are “forced” to take on a role or persona, just so that their friends or colleagues won’t think that they are weird or that there is something wrong with them. I know there is much media coverage of “snowflake” culture and being too sensitive these days, and I’m not suggesting we necessarily go so far as to lose ourselves in sensitivity…..
But there is absolutely nothing wrong with a sensitive man that reacts deeply to stimuli or exhibits emotional sensitivity, in fact, I want to encourage and embrace that.
What is wrong here, is our society that occasionally shames those who don’t act tough or aggressive or who don’t suppress their emotions. Especially, since a huge portion of the population is not comfortable with these types of behaviour or is simply just not cut out for them.
“You value vulnerability over anything else.” — Marisa Donnelly.
What if You are a Highly Sensitive Person?
Hyper-sensitivity is an innate trait found in mammals, including humans. 20% of the population is highly sensitive, and in today’s digital and competitive age, there are more who do not know it. Learning that you have the highly sensitive trait opens a door to freedom because within the realisation, these people figure out why they have always felt ‘different’ and they can finally work with that to optimise their lives and purpose. That pretty much describes my own journey.
You might be a Highly Sensitive Person if you experience the following:
– Other people’s moods and feelings easily affect you.
– You are super conscientious and/or meticulous with perfectionist tendencies.
– You are uncomfortable and/or easily startled by loud noises or bright lights.
– You find yourself needing frequent alone time to recover from over-stimulating or busy situations.
– You experience anxiety or stress when you have many things to do in a short period of time.
– You (perhaps mistakenly) take things very personally.
– You ruminate greatly.
Research conducted by Stony Brook University in 2014 has shown that these reactions are actually due to a slightly different chemistry in the brains of HSPs – notably, increased blood flow in the areas that process emotion, awareness, and empathy.
You might often dislike or criticise yourself for being so ‘overly’ sensitive, for having such a thin skin, for taking ‘everything’ so much to heart, for needing time on your own after activities ‘out there’ in a world that so easily overwhelmed you.
Fortunately, you can turn this to your strength. Knowing about your special personality trait of high sensitivity is the first step. You need to thoroughly understand to what extent this difference in ‘sensory processing’ needs to be addressed by changes in lifestyle and attitude. Learning how to respect your boundaries as well as taking excellent care of your body and mind was the second step.
“Sensitive souls don’t have it easy in this cruel world. They feel like their souls are getting trampled on in so many ways. That’s why you see their eyes light up when they can caress a face or an animal, or breathe in the scent of a flower.” — Sereno Sky.
So How Can You Know Your Own Strengths Better?
It’s a very valuable exercise to ask your friends, family and colleagues to name your top 2 strengths and to describe how they add value in their view. They may see different strengths depending on the context of your relationship. When they explain the strengths they see, make sure you keep an open mind to their perspective and give yourself credit for the strengths they see.
There are hundreds of different assessment tools that provide different views of ourselves, including our strengths. These tools give a very detailed, comprehensive and neutral view. Assessments are short cuts to understanding yourself.
The more specific you can be about what your strengths are, the more flexibility you will have in how you use them. After identifying your top strengths, ask yourself how they help you at work. Then watch for your top strengths in action so you can be even more aware of their value.
Learn To Fully Play To Your Strengths:
Which in turn empowers you to go for the big dreams you have…..
Would you like to decide easily what to focus on, shine fully, while using your innate gifts and strengths consciously and authentically? You need to play to your strengths in order to empower sensitive, bright, empathetic and multifaceted people like you to thrive:
• Discover your unique gifts and how to make the best use of them
• Uncover who you really are
• Magnify the impact you can make through your work and life
Most of us know that the path to excellence is through our strengths, not our weaknesses. Our strengths distinguish us and exemplify our potential for greatness. Developing our weaknesses alone often only leads to balanced mediocrity. So why do we persist in focusing on our weaknesses as soon as we try to develop ourselves?
Behaviours that are mostly associated with you, like actions that demonstrate empathy, sensitivity, and compassion are natural behaviours. But our societies often don’t recognise them as such. It is just as normal for a sensitive person to pause and reflect before acting than it is for an insensitive person. This is just demonstrating healthy caution instead of reckless risk-taking and there is nothing wrong with that either.
Unfortunately, in many societies, people are often encouraged to engage in overly risky behaviour (a healthy level of risk of course can be good for us and make life much more enjoyable and fulfilling) and are praised when they do so. And when they express caution or an unwillingness to take a said risk, they are often shamed or made to feel inferior and not “like a real man”.
But the Highly Sensitive Man will often see potential danger sooner than the Non- Highly Sensitive Man. He is also more aware of potential safety issues and is able to quickly see potential outcomes of certain actions.
Interestingly enough, this ability to quickly spot danger and this sense of caution are very highly regarded in the animal kingdom. For instance, Meerkats always have 1-3 men on the outlook to spot potential danger and warn the family. And a sensitive horse that intuits danger and is able to warn other horses of potential danger often becomes the leader of the herd.
This respect for the sensitive animal as a leader is probably the reason why so many animals survive when there is a natural disaster like tsunamis or hurricanes for example.
When sensitive persons try to suppress or even disown their sensitive side, they run the risk of becoming half a person. Half of who they truly are. But it is often the aggressive, overbearing, non-emotional person who needs to learn how to be compassionate and emotionally sensitive so they can become a fully functional human being. They are the ones who often need to honour their human qualities, they are the ones that often need to change and not necessarily the other way around. It takes a lot of courage to be a sensitive person in today’s world. You are fighting to uphold righteousness in our society and that takes a strong backbone and a lot of determination. It also takes a lot of courage to embrace who you truly are and a lot of strength to speak the truth about morality, virtue, justice and what you really need and want in life.
It is no wonder that the Highly Sensitive person has trouble fitting into the narrow mould of what is considered to be a stereotype. But never forget that you as a sensitive person possess so many wonderful qualities such as compassion, gentleness, conscientiousness, creativity, the ability to act as a peacemaker, the ability to be humane to animals, the tendency to love deeply, a higher sense of awareness, a deep intuitive ability and the ability to have and appreciate deep spiritual experiences. We can still defend our rights, be effectively assertive while embracing our sensitivity.
And even though many sensitive people might not fit into our competitive, overstimulating and often violent society, you do seem to share a lot of the same characteristics with great spiritual teachers like Jesus, Buddha, The Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. All these people also had problems fitting in and where sometimes even humiliated for being emphatic or compassionate. But this inability to fit in gave them the opportunity to do amazing things! So don’t give up or consider your sensitivity to be a weakness!
When you feel free to accept and express your sensitivity, you will discover the benefits of being you and your creativity – this can give you an advantage in your work and in your relationships that the non-sensitive person simply doesn’t have. You will also be able to enjoy music, art, and nature more deeply than many others. When you fully accept and embrace your sensitivity you can flourish and the family, friends, and co-workers that understand the power and peace of self-acceptance, will help and support you.
Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support to stop comparing yourself or in another particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
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Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book, it’ll help you stop running away!