Highly Sensitive Refuge

We Need Our Sensitive Strength Now More Than Ever

It’s time to claim our place as humanity’s “royal advisors.” 

In many parts of the world, as the global pandemic continues to affect lives everywhere, we are starting to move toward what some call “the new normal.” As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I can’t help but sense how the uncertainty of this situation has instilled fear and doubt in people’s minds. I saw it in the eyes of strangers every time I went out to buy groceries. I heard it in my neighbors’ voices as stress made them fight. I felt it in my gut as I tuned into the emotional landscape of friends and loved ones. 

I felt the grip of this uncertainty personally as well, and like everyone else, I’ve had to navigate and cry my way through all kinds of emotions. But something was born within me during quarantine: a kind of strength I didn’t know I possessed. 

Many of us HSPs have spent years thinking there is something wrong with us. We tend to feel at odds with a society that encourages us to be warriors: bold, loud, fast, outward-oriented, even aggressive at times. The words “you are too sensitive” still ring in our ears after a lifetime of being shamed for who we are.

HSPs Are the World’s Royal Advisors

The truth is highly sensitive people have a set of unique strengths that make us not only valuable but essential. We are the “royal advisors” of history, according to Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person. She tells us, “A strong royal advisor class insists on stopping and thinking. And it tries… to direct the wonderful, expansive energy of their society away from aggression and domination. Better to use that energy for creative inventions, exploration, and protection of the planet and the powerless.”  

But HSPs sometimes forget that we’re advisors because the world mainly favors warriors. Of course, this comes with its own problems, since a society made purely of warriors has no time to reflect, to feel deeply, to notice the subtleties of life, to slow down and quietly explore all possibilities in an attempt to do what’s best for everyone.

The balance of our society has been leaning towards the aggressive, dominant side for a long time, leaving our world unstable, full of inequality, greed and overconsumption, and a dangerous threat to ecosystems and other species. We sensitive people know this. More than knowing it, we feel it deeply in our core, but many of us think we are powerless to change it. 

Yet we can. And we must.

A Call for a New Voice

This pandemic has caused the world to stop on its tracks during a period that some refer to as “The Great Pause,” which has given many of us time to reflect, to feel deeply, to slow down, and to appreciate what is valuable and what is dispensable. We’ve been feeling the weight of personal and collective trauma, the fear and the uncertainty, the anger and the sadness. Now that pause has given way to a storm, and everything we needed to deal with has come to the surface. 

It started with the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the hands of the virus and it was amplified with the killing of George Floyd that showed, once again, that something is rotten within our society. Floyd’s death wasn’t the trigger — it was the last straw. People have had enough: enough of the injustice, the violence against the innocent, the system that favors a few and neglects many, the leaders that lead us to a dead end.

All of this turmoil has stirred up a destructive energy to do away with the things that don’t serve us, that harm us, that stifle and suffocate us, and only bring destruction. And while there’s power underlying that desire for change, we need to balance that warrior energy with advisor energy. 

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Our HSP Strengths Are What the World Needs 

As HSPs, we have a high level of empathy, access to creative solutions, a more reflection-based action, and a sense of deep connection and spirituality, and the world needs each and every one of these things right now.  

  • Empathy to heal and care for others in our family, our community, our workplace, even on a global scale with the use of technology.
  • Creativity to birth innovative businesses, artistic projects, new solutions to old problems, or even something as simple as cheering up our neighbors with a song from our balcony or an encouraging message posted on the wall, as I have seen happen in the middle of lockdown.
  • Intuition and attention to detail to sense what is needed in our lives, the lives of those around us, our communities, our countries, our whole world, and then take small actions to meet those needs and inspire others to do the same.
  • Deep thinking and a strong belief in justice to voice our ideas about the kind of world we need and how we can be kinder to each being on the planet.

We are all meant to rebuild the world in unison and if we want our new normal to be more just, more balanced, more beneficial for everyone on the planet — and for the planet itself — we have to be ready to claim our rightful place as royal advisors. And the warriors have to be ready to accept (and I believe many are already starting to) the old way wasn’t working and will never work, because we are meant to co-create together.

But how we move forward is a choice. We can stay fearful, worried we’ll fall prey to the realities of a plummeting economy, the uncertainty of having yet another global outbreak, and the inevitability of a climate crisis, and remain feeling powerless. Or we can choose to see this crisis as a catalyst to bring forth the kind of world we dream of — one step at a time, one day at a time. This option requires that we tap into that inner strength we all hold under the layers of shame, fear and social conditioning. Not the strength we associate with the warriors, but our own sensitive strength as royal advisors, because we need both. 

Many of us have been shamed for our views and values because they are often too different from the views and values of the majority. But that is precisely the reason why they are so necessary, especially now that we are dealing with multiple crises.

The world needs our sensitivity now more than ever. It needs our unique vision, our particular strength, our voice. It needs us to become the royal advisors we were born to be.

Let us lead the way.

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