For many years, I hid my sensitivity because I thought it was shameful and embarrassing. I thought that letting people see my deep thoughts and feelings would invite criticism and rejection.
When I started learning that sensitivity was a trait that I shared with a fifth of the population, not a character flaw unique to me, it blew my mind. I started rethinking all the ways I had judged myself in the past, and I started looking at my experience in terms of how my nervous system was reacting to my environment.
Breaking free of that shame and judgement made room for me to start looking at my gifts. I had never considered that my sensitivity could actually be part of what makes me shine.
I’ve had SO many people say to me, “I can only see the downsides of this trait. What in the world are the benefits?”
So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite strengths of Highly Sensitive People:
1. We’re deep
We are the deep divers. We think deeply, feel deeply, and notice things that others miss! It’s not uncommon for us to delve into topics that interest us, as we’re often unsatisfied with surface information. And when something touches us, positively or negatively, we feel strongly about it. This allows us to care about causes and pursue things that bring us joy.
2. We’re resilient
It’s not easy being highly sensitive in this world, and many of us have experienced hardship because of it. Continuing to show up for ourselves and our lives takes grit and resilience. Not only is our sensitivity not a weakness, it has required us to develop great strength.
3. We’re kind
Because of our high degree of empathy (a built-in part of being HSP), we try to avoid acting in ways that are hurtful to others. We can see people’s hearts, and honoring their feelings by treating them with kindness both comes naturally and is often a priority for us.
4. We’re perceptive
Many HSPs have heard things like, “how did you pick up on that? I didn’t even notice it.” HSPs notice subtlety and nuance; we perceive the little things that others miss. That ability, along with our intuition, allows us to see below the surface and make connections in really amazing ways.
5. We’re introspective
Not only do we notice things going on in the world around us, we also turn that curiosity inwards. We ask questions about ourselves, explore how we came to conclusions, and consider why we feel the way we do. This introspection often benefits both us and those around us.
6. We’re intuitive
One definition of intuition is “unconscious processing”. Because we’re so perceptive and we process so much, our unconscious has amazing insight we wouldn’t get through conscious thought alone. Our intuition can be a powerful compass when we learn to listen to and fine-tune it.
7. We’re passionate
While it’s easy to feel bad about all the emotion we “have to” deal with, I love the reframe that we’re passionate people! Most of the great thinkers and artists of the world were/are passionate. When we care deeply, we can use that energy to direct our action, create art (of any type), and express ourselves powerfully.
8. We’re creative
A definition of creativity that I love is the ability to make new and unique connections. Our deep thinking and strong feelings can combine to create original thoughts, expression, and ideas. Again, MANY creatives are HSPs. And for those who don’t identify as a creative or artist, I would bet that you think in unique and interesting ways.
9. We’re meaning-makers
HSPs love -and need- to make meaning. Again, because of our depth, we’re not satisfied with surface answers and often ask, “WHY?” We want to know why things happen, why situations are the way they are, and what we can learn from them. Our need to make meaning, personally, and globally, has the added benefit of helping others make meaning of their worlds too.
10. We have high emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence involves the ability to be aware of and regulate our own emotions as well as to having awareness of others’ inner experiences as we navigate relationships. HSPs tend to be masters at this, often having insight into why we act the way we do as well as understanding others’ motivations.
Seeing our strengths isn’t a matter of stroking our egos. When we understand what we bring to the table, we can stop hiding ourselves and let these gifts shine. The world and our relationships will be better for it.
Tell me: do you resonate with these? Have you seen yourself differently since learning about the highly sensitive trait?