Your sensitivity can be a world-changing strength, or it can be a burden. Here’s what makes the difference.
Have you ever felt a lightbulb go off in your mind, that “aha” moment when you realize, “Yes, that’s me!”? For me, everything changed in one such moment: when I discovered I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP), someone who’s more sensitive than others, both to my surroundings and to the emotions of others.
Sometimes, that sensitivity can feel like a burden — like when it leaves me overstimulated in a busy environment. At times I need to withdraw from everything, and everyone, to get privacy or relief; I have a tendency to cry easily, and I can feel anxious when I have too much to do in too little time.
At the same time, I’m very empathetic toward others’ situations, super curious about the world around me, and take time to think about things deeply.
In the past, I’d been told I was “too sensitive,” but didn’t think much of it — until now. Now, it all makes sense, and I’ve embraced my sensitivity; being a highly sensitive person is like having superpowers — and I’m among the just 20 percent of the population to have them.
In other words: my fellow sensitive people, we are the lucky ones!
Yes, HSP, Your Sensitivity Is Your Greatest Strength
I think HSPs are unique and exactly what the world needs. But as a highly sensitive person, things can get challenging.
Because we’re easily overstimulated, we can quickly burn out in some situations. We get overwhelmed, and then we get more stressed. And then fear (a.k.a. ego) steps in! Fear is a dark cloud that makes it difficult to see your “lightbulb-going-off” moment.
But we can break up that cloud by asking for help, slowing down to listen, and being open to receive that help. That’s exactly what I did, and now those “aha” moments come to me all the time.
If you, too, are a highly sensitive person, the first thing is to recognize that being sensitive is a positive thing. The second thing to realize is that you have the choice to embrace your HSP superpowers and turn them into great strengths — or to leave them undeveloped and wonder what could have been. Harnessed properly, the traits you were born with can turn into gifts that help both yourself and others.
So how do you make that transformation? Every HSP is different, but here are seven things that helped me find the strength in my most sensitive qualities.
7 Ways to Turn Your High Sensitivity Into the Superpower It Was Meant to Be
1. Make a commitment to yourself: “I will embrace my sensitive superpowers.”
Even though this may seem easy, it really isn’t. Just remember that anything worth having requires hard work. So make the commitment; as silly as it may seem, try saying this out loud: “I’m committed to embracing my sensitive superpowers. I know it’ll require hard work and patience. But I’m determined to succeed.”
Keep saying this every day (multiple times a day if necessary!) until it’s second nature to you. And remember, being highly sensitive is a gift.
2. For inspiration, find a role model (or eight).
Is there someone who inspires you? Do you have a favorite motivational speaker? Have you heard someone speak that made you feel like they were talking directly to you and you got really excited?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, I suggest learning all you can about them. Have they written any books? Do they have a website, Facebook page or group, or a YouTube channel?
Use these to get the scoop on who they really are and what they can teach you. If you don’t have a role model, I encourage you to follow Gabby Bernstein and Marie Forleo. These are my go-to ladies for motivation and inspiration.
And though highly sensitive people are natural leaders, your role model doesn’t necessarily have to be an HSP in order for you to learn from them.
3. Write in a journal every day — it’s your tool to untangle your deep thoughts and “over-thoughts.”
Get in the habit of writing down (not typing) your thoughts and feelings in a journal. (Since HSPs tend to be creative, you can look at this as a creative exercise.) Plus, journaling is a great way to release negative things and look at them from a different perspective.
If you get triggered by something, writing it down each time helps establish a pattern of behavior. Then you can look at ways of breaking the pattern.
Not sure what to write? Start now with three things you’re grateful for, and why. Other ideas include what you dream about, who’s upset you, what frustrates you the most, and the best thing that happened to you today.
4. Establish a meditation practice — and make it into a habit that sticks.
If you don’t meditate every day, why not try it? It’s one of the easiest ways to slow down and just be — and we HSPs do enjoy being deep in thought!
When you meditate, you give yourself an opportunity to quiet your mind. Once you get into the practice of meditating every day, things change.
Each time you meditate, you’ll get to know yourself better. You’ll also gain confidence, feel more love, find support, and receive guidance. It only takes a few minutes each day.
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5. Find like-minded people who understand what you’re going through.
Change is hard enough; there’s no need to do it alone. Find your people, that group of like-minded people who understand what you’re going through. Meeting in person is the preference, but that’s not always easy.
Meetup.com is a great way to find groups that meet on a regular basis in your area. If you’re on Facebook, use keywords to search for a group and observe a couple of them for a week or two.
One of my favorite Facebook groups is Highly Sensitive Refuge. It’s a great community with lots of encouragement and perspective about the challenges that highly sensitive people face every day. (If you aren’t a member of that group, I suggest you become one ASAP!)
6. Start a daily gratitude practice.
Gratitude for what you have has the power to make you feel joy every day and is a great self-care exercise. Without gratitude, you may find yourself lacking excitement or energy to get through the day. (Try it; you’ll see!)
When you establish a daily practice of being grateful for what you have, you’ll feel better (physically and mentally), build meaningful relationships, and feel more joy.
Practice gratitude and you’ll start to change how you think and feel — you’ll smile more, hold your head higher, feel more confident, and have an overall sense of peace. And, as HSPs, it’s important to have go-to strategies to help us when we need to calm down.
7. Ask for help (even if you think you don’t need it).
If you’re like me, one of the toughest things to do is ask for help. Wanting to do everything yourself is perfectionism. Instead of asking for help, you might say “I can get it done faster” or “It’ll take you too long to learn how to do it.”
But what’s really happening is you’re taking control and denying another person an opportunity to learn and grow — not to mention, you’ll be able to reduce your own level or stress and overwhelm.
Plus, asking for help will free up your time for more important things, like meditating and journaling. These will help you find guidance and figure out solutions.
Whether you follow all these steps, or just some of them, you’ll soon be well on your way to embracing your sensitivity superpowers — which is what it’s all about!