I recently realized that I experience the world in more detail than others. That was a long forty years to figure that out. My inner world is more rich, and all of my senses are heightened. I see color in more granulation, speckling lights often catch my eye. I read the energy in rooms immediately. I get lost in a good book and the characters become my friends, violent TV shows leave me shattered for days. I listen wholly and pay attention more than others. When my mom clickity-clacks on her phone it’s as though she’s banging on my head.
What if I told you that I’m not alone in this and at least 20 percent of the population are born with a brain and nervous system that function similar to mine? Yes, it’s true, and it doesn’t just happen in humans. Science has also found it happens in other species and is a way we’ve evolved to survive.
Coined by Elaine Aron in the 1990s based on what she was seeing in her practice, a Highly Sensitive Person’s brain is built differently and even lights up differently under scans than others. She found that her clients had a very rich inner world and felt emotions more deeply, found their sense of center in nature, read people with more accuracy, and connected more with animals, as examples.
But what if you grew up in a world that didn’t respect and honor this sensitivity, where people even sort of found you weird? I, for one, tamped it down. I remember clearly sensing people’s emotions as a child and would often inquire. After many rude rebuttals by my father, I soon learned this wasn’t the acceptable way to behave. Tamping down our sensitivity can also lead to heightened anxiety, disordered eating, numbing behaviors, low self-worth, people-pleasing, and much more.
This extra-sensitivity is a gift that the world needs. It makes me a great coach, friend, daughter, dog-mom, leader, entrepreneur and even future partner, to whichever man is ready for me. But for so long I thought there was something wrong with me because the world doesn’t know how to nurture this. I’m sharing this to be a part of the change so that the kids like me feel safe with their gifts honored, so that adults like me feel held as they excavate back to themselves again.
Honoring these gifts after years of ignoring them has come with discomfort. I’ve needed my coaching tools, therapy and friends as I’ve shifted back to me. If this resonates with you, I’d love to support you as the shifts I’ve seen in my life have been worth every growing pain.
Email Nicole Beaudin at firstname.lastname@example.org.