Benefits of Being Highly Sensitive
There are many challenges for an HSP. They could include noise, chaos, inhumane and/or violent behavior, our own and others’ feelings, strong smells and many others. Thankfully, there are many BENEFITS of being Highly Sensitive!
Let’s look at some of the good things.
1. We notice the little things
According to Elaine Aron, researcher extraordinaire of HSPness, one of the characteristics of High Sensitivity is ‘sensing the subtle.’ We tend to notice all kinds of things others don’t. While this can become overwhelming, especially if we don’t establish good boundaries and keep our nervous systems in balance, I for one would never trade this amazing characteristic.
We tend to be aware of, well, almost everything around us. If you’re HSP, you’ve probably heard, many times, “Just ignore it.” Ya, that’s a tough one for us. But you’ve probably also heard, “Wow, I didn’t even see (hear, notice) that!.” Sure, sometimes I’d rather NOT notice something, but often I feel grateful for seeing or hearing something others didn’t. I recall one spring noticing something on a hiking trail, and just had to backstep and check it out. It was two perfect little ladybugs mating on a perfectly formed green leaf, just off the trail. It just made me smile and i knew how easy it would have been to miss that.
I also enjoy my own type of pareidolia, or seeing things that aren’t actually there, or aren’t as we see them. I’m often ‘seeing’ animals while in the outdoors, and sometimes even in the neighborhood or my yard or while driving. I’ll ‘see’ a bear ahead on the trail, or a deer head in the trees, an otter lying on the riverbank or a hummingbird in the yard on a winter day. Sometimes these are so clear I’m surprised when it becomes obvious that they’re just a rock formation or tree burl, a dirt mound or dead leaf swirling in a tree branch. Sometimes it takes a bit for me to show or explain what I’m seeing to others, then once they see it too, they are amazed that I saw it to begin with (and of course then they can’t un-see it 🙂 ) This isn’t an HSP-only trait, but I think I find more of these because I’m so aware of my surroundings, always taking in everything.
2. We’re compassionate
Highly sensitives tend to have a high level of compassion. Again, this can lead to overwhelm, but it can also help to create a real sense of community and deepen our connections. Do you find that people tend to tell you things that they probably wouldn’t tell others? They probably sense or know that you will understand or at least be compassionate about what they’re saying. It’s definitely important to have good boundaries for this one, as feeling deeply about others’ situations can become overwhelming if we allow the energy in. If we are clear with ourselves and maintain those healthy boundaries, we can choose (this is important) to be compassionate and supportive without owning others’ situations or feelings, or feeling responsible for them.
When we’re compassionate, people tend to be comfortable around us, let us into their circle and allow for deeper connection, which we crave. Being compassionate can also increase our ability to forgive, which is helpful in relationships. Being able to see the other viewpoint is key to good communication, and compassion helps with this as well.
The world needs more compassion, more compassionate people. It’s good for HSPs to step up and share our compassion and call out others when it’s absent.
3. We make good friends
Highly Sensitive People tend to have fewer friends than non-HSPs, but those friendships tend to be deeper and long-lasting. We generally don’t resonate with superficial banter and fly-by-night connections. When I was younger I thought there was something very wrong with me because I wasn’t friends with everyone in my school and didn’t want to join big group activities. I’m still the same way, but now I don’t think I’m weird or wrong. I like deep conversations and intimate connections and would much rather maintain contact with a handful of good, close friends, than have tons of friends I know little about and spend little time sharing with.
Some people are uncomfortable getting too close or discussing deeper issues, but those we do connect with are generally drawn to us because we are very present during our interactions, we listen and process the conversation and have thoughtful responses, and are compassionate and understanding and treat people well. We know what it feels like, deeply, to not be respected or valued, so we respect and value others, especially our friends.
One thing we do need to be aware of is having conversations while a lot is going on around us, because it can be very challenging to focus on the person we’re talking with. We want to be 100% there, but we can become very distracted and not be able to tune in completely. In those cases it’s helpful to just stop the conversation, say something like, “I need to stop you for a minute…I want to listen, but there’s so much going on around us I’m having trouble focusing just on you. Can we find a quieter place to talk?” If we aren’t direct about this, it can appear that we’re not paying attention, that we don’t care, which is the opposite of true.
4. We make good employees or employers, and leaders
As I’ve mentioned, we’re very aware, notice the little things and are compassionate. These are very helpful traits in business, especially in a group setting. People usually find it easy to talk with us (unless they’re avoiding depth, then they can find us too ‘intense,’) so they know we’ll be able to handle a group discussion (we need to set our energetic boundaries for these). Others tend to value our opinion, and we’re good problem-solvers, because we see all sides of a situation. We actually tend toward ‘overthinking’ things, so it’s not likely something will be missed and we may have ideas others haven’t considered.
We’re often detail-oriented and conscientious…we work through all details of a project and want the final product to be as good as possible. While this can lead us toward perfectionism, and we need to make sure we keep our expectations reasonable, it usually means that people rely upon us and assume we’ll get the job done with positive outcomes.
We also tend to know what is needed in situations…what individual people need, what would boost morale, who’s best for various jobs or projects, etc. We also tend to recognize when it’s not a good time to approach an issue with a certain person, based upon their energy, or know how to approach people in a way that will be accepted.
5. We’re creative
HSPs tend to be high in creativity, whether that’s in artistic pursuits or not. Being able to think out of the box leads not only to great problem-solving skills, but also to innovation and invention. Many firsts are created by HSPs simply because they thought of things in different ways, by seeing things from all sides then considering a side untouched. Maybe as a child you drove your parents nuts with the, “Why?” question. For HSPs, that question isn’t an attempt to be annoying or distracting or controlling, but a reflection of the fact that we really want to know! Our curiosity leads to creativity.
How many times have you come up with an idea for a new invention, only to find after a while that someone else is producing it? Sometimes our self-doubt can lead us to quash our new ideas or just not make them known to others, but if we went with our guts and followed our inspiration we might bring amazing things to the world. A high percentage of HSPs are entrepreneurs, and our creativity is helpful for business success.
Not surprisingly, many artists are Highly Sensitive. That creativity often leads us to music, visual arts, theater, writing, film making, etc, whether for careers or just following our passion. It’s important to make time for this aspect if it’s not your job or business, so you can express yourself fully.
6. We have deep appreciation
As highly sensitives we tend to be moved deeply by art, nature, acts of kindness, the love we share with friends and family. This is one of my favorite benefits of being highly sensitive, that I also wouldn’t trade. Have you ever heard a piece of music and found yourself crying and you didn’t even know anything about it? Or reading a heart-warming story and suddenly the tears are flowing? I know an HSP who viewed the recent eclipse with his son and about 10 others. They both found themselves weeping over the beauty and magic of the moment. A friend later came up and asked what was going on…everyone else was seeing the same thing, which was pretty cool, but they were the only ones crying…what gives? Of course it was challenging to explain the intensity of the experience in a way the others, apparent non-HSPs, could understand.
Whenever I hear a particularly happy story, especially about someone overcoming a major obstacle and recognizing their own strengths, someone giving to or helping others, or the successful rescue of an abandoned or injured animal, I have to reach for the tissues. Highly sensitives just ‘get it,’ we understand just what those experiences mean to those going through it, as if it’s happening to us as well. We can put ourselves fully in a situation we’re not even part of and share in the joy vicariously. And selfless behavior is usually moving in itself.
Many HSPs have a deep connection with Nature. We often find comfort, connection, balance being with the trees and water and mountains, and everything else recedes. We can appreciate every little puzzle piece of bark on a ponderosa tree, every flitting or soaring bird, the breeze through the tree canopy, and really feel our connection to something greater, to the Earth which protects and provides for us. I would never give up my connection with Nature…it’s my greatest source of solace and inspiration.
While I only shared about 6 benefits of being highly sensitive, there are many. While we can get overwhelmed easily, focusing on the good points of sensitivities helps us to enjoy life more fully. It also helps us to shift our view of these and allow them to become our super power! The world needs more of all of these characteristics I’ve shared about today. Embrace your sensitive self, let yourself shine, and thrive!
If you’re not HSP but know someone who is, I hope this has helped you to see your friend or loved one in a new light.