If you are a highly sensitive person, you have probably been aware of this fact for most of your life. A person’s degree of conscious awareness impacts upon every other aspect of his or her experience. Acute sensitivity can open up whole worlds of perception and sensation that the majority of people never bear witness to. It therefore gifts us with greater potentials for exploring joy as well as pain – and a whole spectrum of subtle nuances in between. This steers us towards various difficulties that our friends, family members and intimate partners may never have encountered in their own lives. They may be unable to relate – or to sympathize – with the particular challenges involved.
Even labeling yourself “a highly sensitive person” can carry certain risks. Labels are limiting by nature. This particular tag might encourage you to focus upon the qualities that make you feel different from other people – particularly the qualities that make you feel not as competent or functional. However, if you are able to keep in mind your own uniqueness as an individual (rather than a statistic) then learning about some of the traits common to highly sensitive people can help you to feel less alone. It can offer comfort.
Most of the inherent difficulties involve stimulation. A highly sensitive person simply feels more (too much and too often for comfort) than the majority of his or her peers. This can manifest in numerous ways. We may be acutely conscious of – and affected by – other peoples’ moods. We may have trouble winding down and falling asleep at night due to overstimulation during the day. We may require more time to reflect upon matters before making decisions or forming opinions.
Acute sensitivity can affect our social life in profound ways, as well. Romantic pursuits are more complicated if our easily-aroused natures discourage us from frequenting such popular gathering places as bars, parties and gyms. On a deeper level, we may also struggle with issues of self-esteem. After all, the culture we live in is not a highly sensitive one; in a sense, it is addicted to strong stimulation. Therefore, the particular qualities that sensitive people possess are not those that the surrounding society values or honors. We are forced to make difficult choices moment to moment. Shall we act naturally, or pay lip service to our culture’s ideals?
If you happen to be a highly sensitive man then this problem can be further compounded by social ideas about masculinity. Our culture is biased towards viewing sensitivity as a feminine trait. A man or boy who exhibits such qualities may be labeled effeminate, inhibited, introverted and even cowardly by various people who hold to the more “traditional” view of manhood.
In return for weathering these various challenges throughout their lives, highly sensitive people often grow to be the kinds of individuals that the surrounding society – though it may often fail to honor them – sorely needs. They are often the first to diagnose various social ills and point out possible solutions. They tend to consider the future and work towards progress in the areas of peace, environmental health and the common welfare of humanity. These are qualities that help the human race to evolve, grow and overcome its shortsightedness. If society is the find new visions to guide it towards a better future, it will be its most sensitive members who will point the way.