Highly Sensitive Refuge
two dogs that a highly sensitive person has a special bond with

Highly Sensitive People Have a Special Bond With Animals

Are you the one who knows what an animal needs or tries to communicate with it when others are at a loss? Do you wonder how others can miss what is so bright-red-in-your-face-obvious to you? Then you are most likely a highly sensitive person (HSP).

Highly sensitive people are animal whisperers, and what a spiritual experience it is to connect so deeply with another life form, to see the world through different eyes, and to feel part of the web of life that surrounds us all. I believe two of the most beautiful and rewarding traits of HSPs are our compassion and our special bond with animals. Here’s why.

We Help Snails Cross the Road

Personally, I live with two rescue dogs. Because I’m an HSP, this is hardly surprising. “Regular” people may shake their heads in disbelief about our “eccentric” behavior, but we put worms back in the grass, help snails cross the road, are deeply moved by the beauty of birds and butterflies and, of course, talk to our pets as if they were fellow humans. I know I do!

Growing up, I was always aware of the moods and needs of our family pets. I would even wake up in the middle of the night if one of them wasn’t feeling well, something I could sense even in my sleep. I was surprised when I realized that not everyone could read their pets like I could. I didn’t know this ability was one of the gifts of being an HSP.

How does the HSP do this? We’re extra-sensitive to all external stimuli. This makes us excellent at perceiving and “translating” non-verbal cues, such as body language. We easily pick up the energy or “vibe” of a living being or place. Yes, being an HSP really is a superpower!

We Must Help Animals in Distress

And if we sense a living being is in distress, we want to, have to, help — because we know we can make a difference. As Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, writes, “Because we can notice the subtle signs they give, we understand them better than others, and that puts us in a unique position to help them.”

While feeling animals’ feelings, which can include distress, can be painful, Dr. Aron points out that we should see our close bond with them not as a burden, but as a source of pride and joy.

Why Our Bond With Animals Is So Rewarding

Not only is it cool to have the animal whispering superpower and a deep spiritual connection to all forms of life, our bond with animals comes with a number of additional benefits. Here are seven reasons why the close bond between HSPs and animals is so rewarding:

1. We get companionship without the B.S. (unless your companions are cattle…)

Social interactions can be exhausting for HSPs. We’re easily overstimulated and practically allergic to trivial conversations or negativity. With animals, however, we can enjoy companionship without following social conventions like small talk or white lies.

Animals are straight-forward and accept us the way we are. They understand our sensitivity and even appreciate it. Like us, they sense when people aren’t honest and can’t stand too much stimulation. They are kindred spirits.

Around animals, we can relax and just be ourselves. While people tend to drain us, animals actually help us recharge.

2. Animals are wonderful teachers.

Unconditional love, genuineness, pure joy — there is so much we can learn from animals, and HSPs are open to really listening. Animals are happy to teach those they sense are open to them. The better we learn to listen, the more we will hear. Dr. Aron writes, “If you take the time to observe and communicate, your sensitivity will be sharpened in this important domain.”

Animals accept the things they cannot change and are amazingly resilient. They don’t get caught up in “what if’s.” They do not dwell on the past or worry about the future. They teach us to live in the moment. For HSPs, who may overthink or easily become anxious, this is a valuable lesson.

3. Our bond with animals allows us to experience the world from different perspectives.

Thanks to our enhanced empathy, HSPs are easily able to see the world through the eyes of their animal friends. The more we learn about how animals see the world, the more “doors of perception” we’re opening for ourselves.

What does the world look like for a cat? A horse? A bee? By considering these sometimes radically different perspectives, we expand our minds, potentially indefinitely. By taking our animal friends’ perspective into consideration, we also practice mindfulness, which brings peace to our often frazzled souls. At the same time, this mindfulness helps us practice patience and compassionate leadership. Both qualities are big assets for our personal and professional development.

4. It opens up career opportunities.

While not all animal-related professions are suitable for HSPs (veterinarians, for instance, encounter many sad situations), our deep bond with animals opens up many career opportunities, such as being an animal behaviorist, dog trainer, or even a pet sitter. HSPs tend to excel in careers and jobs like these, because our understanding of animals and our ability to communicate with them on a deeper level can help make us one of the best in our field.

5. It can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

The health benefits of spending time in nature and being around animals are well known. Whether we hike with our dog, ride a horse, or bird watch, time spent in nature remedies the sensual overload, stress, and anxiety HSPs often experience. In addition, our kinship with animals may lead to healthier diet choices, as we may feel inspired by our furry companions to avoid animal products from factory farms or give up meat altogether.

6. We can spot animals in the wild better than others can.

Being sensitive to animals also means we notice them more than other people. I’ve recently taken up photography again, and my love for and awareness of animals has gifted me with some beautiful motifs. Others may just walk by the tiny frog in the grass or fail to notice the deep blue dragonfly on the soft pink flower, but we do! As a special bonus, many animals pick up on our love and respect for them and let us get closer than the “muggles.” Isn’t that magical?


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7. We can make a difference for animals and our planet.

HSPs can be a voice for animals and the planet. Animal experts Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Temple Grandin, for instance, may or may not be HSPs (Grandin is autistic, which helps her connect with animals), but both are truly inspiring in how they use their understanding of animals to improve their welfare. For HSPs, who are always looking for meaningful activities, our bond with and understanding of animals is an opportunity to be their ambassadors — and to make a difference.

HSPs, do you have a special bond with animals? Are you an animal lover? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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