You Might Think You're Highly Sensitive, When Really, You're This

Photo: Anna Malgina

If you’re a highly sensitive person who tends to feel and sense more than the average person, you may be an ultra-sensitive person. When I first heard this term, I instantly knew it described me—even though I didn't fully understand what it meant.

Someone who is ultra-sensitive has extreme sensitivity to all sorts of sensory stimuli, foods, chemicals, and many other everyday, “normal” things in our environment. Our bodies are like refined antennae, picking up all kinds of subtleties that most people aren’t aware of. We’re like the canary in the coal mine, sensing danger and toxicity before anyone else.

Over the course of my career in holistic women’s health care, I’ve met hundreds of women who fall into this category who don't have the benefit of understanding their unique needs. No one taught us about ultra-sensitivity at school or at home, so learning how to live comfortably in this world can feel like a riddle with no clues.

For the ultra-sensitive person, life can feel overwhelming. You're burdened by a body that feels sick, a mind that feels assaulted by stimuli, and a spirit that struggles to feel at home in the world. This can keep you feeling stuck in relationships, your career, or life purpose.

So, how do you move forward with these physical, emotional and environmental sensitivities? These are the three keys that helped me shift into greater freedom.

1. Validate and honor your special requirements: for food, personal space, and a chemical-free environment.

Too often we conform to a mainstream agenda because we don’t want to appear different. This can lead to feeling unwell for days at a time. Don’t let others guilt or shame you into denying your bodily needs for rest and self-care. It’s okay to pass up crowded events in favor of a quiet night at home. As an ultra-sensitive person, you need a good deal of downtime to rebalance your nervous system.

You need the healing elixir of time spent in nature—unplugging from electronics, putting your bare feet on the earth, meditating under a tree, and being near bodies of water—to help you reconnect with inner peace and calm. The ultra-sensitive person is more easily thrown off by travel, so give yourself time on either side of your trip to recover. You won't be able to function at peak capacity if you overlook these vital requirements for self-care.

2. Acknowledge and respect the gift of ultra-sensitivity.

Our materialistic society has minimal interest in subtleties, but those with ultra-sensitivity were highly valued in traditional cultures. We were the wisdom keepers, the advisors of kings. It’s time to acknowledge your incredible gifts. You have an insight into life and unseen realities that most people don’t begin to understand. You are part of a special tribe of spiritually astute warriors.

Your perceptions and sensitivities can go a long way toward healing the world if you truly own them. This may involve going into professions where your sensitivities and intuition are utilized and valued. It’s important to put yourself in situations that call for empathy, creativity, wisdom, and depth. Stepping into your superpowers and using them to serve the world at large will continue to strengthen your gifts.

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3. Seek support from people who get you.

One of the biggest struggles for an ultra-sensitive person is figuring out the best place to receive support—especially in regard to your healthcare. You tend to feel everything in your body. You're hyper-aware of small changes and minor discomfort. Generally doctors don’t understand your level of sensitivity and may be dismissive of complaints that can’t be detected on lab tests.

What’s important is to know your own body better than any expert through disciplines like yoga, chi gong and meditation. For the ultra-sensitive person, chronic pain and other health conditions are often rooted in unprocessed emotion or trauma. Seeking help from somatic therapies like somatic experiencing or flower essence therapy will bring relief. It’s also vital to find practitioners who understand how deeply you feel, with a true respect for the wisdom of what your symptoms are attempting to express.

Navigating this world as an ultra-sensitive person isn’t always easy. But the more you learn to trust your body’s wisdom, the easier life becomes. The more you identify triggers that throw you off balance, the healthier you’ll be. Not everyone will understand your needs and sensitivities—and that’s okay. What’s important is self-knowledge and validation for your special gifts and requirements, which will improve every area of your life.

Want more insights on how to level up your life? Check out your June horoscope, then find out if you're meeting your emotional needs (and how you can do it better).

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