The world can feel like a dizzy, overpowering place for sensitive souls. It's easy to feel stepped on, shouted at, tossed around. Things are brighter, louder, more painful. Overstimulation is always an issue.
Sensitivity amplifies everything, and that can make a world like ours a pretty deafening place to live.
HSPs (as we're termed) are, essentially, more attuned to everything, from sensory input to other people's emotions. Research suggests that HSPs account for 15% to 20% of the population, which makes us a pretty significant chunk of humanity. Yet we've often been led to believe that sensitivity is weakness.
"Suck it up." "Grow a thicker skin." "Stop being so sensitive." Sound familiar?
But it's about time all of us stop feeling like sensitivity is a curse or a character defect. It's not. The fact is, it's a trait that's got a lot to recommend it.
So for those of us who are highly sensitive, here are 10 things to remember:
1. Artificial stimulants are likely to affect you more intensely.
That means everything from sugar to caffeine to nicotine. I've found it helps to minimize their use.
2. Drugs and alcohol may prove enticing.
Sensitivity can be excruciatingly painful, and drugs numb the feelings. After years of overdoing it with alcohol, I found ditching the booze helped me stay far truer to myself.
3. You're in good company.
Many of the world's most brilliant artists, writers, musicians, philosophers and teachers have been highly sensitive. How's that for an amazing legacy?
4. It's OK to be an introvert.
Not all highly sensitive people are introverts, but many are. The world takes its toll, and alone time helps introverts refuel. While our culture lauds extroversion, there's a lot to be said for its opposite, and there's nothing wrong with owning this aspect of your character.
5. Beware of being overwhelmed.
In a world that prizes multitasking and sensory overload, it's easy for sensitive people to become completely overwhelmed. This is avoidable, if you take care to honor your needs. Tend to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
6. Your environment matters.
Loud noises and huge crowds might be best avoided — at least in your own backyard. It's worth taking stock of where you live, work and hang out to make sure they minimize your stress levels, rather than add to them. I've found that time in nature makes everything better.
7. Media should be consumed carefully.
Gratuitousness is everywhere in pop culture. But for super-sensitive folks, violence and negativity can wreak emotional havoc. Personally, I try to avoid violent movies and TV shows as much as possible. The Internet and social media can be a danger zone, too, so it helps to tread lightly. Try to stick with what's positive and uplifting.
8. Empathy is an amazing quality.
Sure, it's painful to feel super attuned to people's suffering, but it also allows you to offer insight, form strong bonds with others and comfort those in need. Think of your empathy like a superpower, and use it for good.
9. You have the capacity for unlimited joy.
If you feel things more acutely, that applies to all emotions — good and not-so-good. That means you're capable of crazy happiness and boundless bliss. Awesome, right?
10. There's nothing wrong with you.
The chaotic cacophony of the world we live in might prove a little more difficult to manage for those of us who are super sensitive, but that doesn't make us defective. The world needs more sensitive, empathetic, compassionate folks. Frankly, we can never have enough. Because sensitive souls aren't usually the ones engendering wars, violence or exploitation. Booyah.