How can flowers help explain High Sensitivity?
A member of my online HSP group recently noted that when she explains high sensitivity to others she likes to use the analogy of cats and dogs…both companion animals with obvious similarities, but oh so different in many ways. I do like this comparison.
One analogy that goes a little farther and provides a great opportunity, and a visual image, for understanding the spectrum of sensitivity is that of 3 flowers: dandelion, tulip and orchid. Which do you think you are?
You might be thinking, “How can flowers help to explain high sensitivity?” Let’s take a look…
What do you think of when you picture dandelions? What words come up? Perhaps sturdy, enduring, easy to grow? They’re not very sensitive to their environment; they can grow almost anywhere and are not easily disturbed…they’ll survive a hail storm pretty easily, and you can even step on them and they will pop right back up.
There are many positive qualities of dandelions which sometimes go unnoticed or not considered: they’re prolific, they adapt well to their environment, the pollinators love them, they’re edible (a great addition to a wild greens/wildflower salad), and you can make a wish with them.
What about tulips? They certainly need more attention than dandelions. They require a decent amount of consistent water and sunshine, and we have to be diligent to avoid them becoming breakfast or lunch for our lovely deer, and we certainly can’t step on them.
On the positive side, they can handle a decent amount of wind and rain. They’re pretty enduring…they even return every year on their own. They’re bright and beautiful, and they can grow right next to one another in a small space.
Now we come to orchids. Have you ever tried to grow an orchid in your home? Were you successful? You would not likely use the terms sturdy or opportunistic to describe orchids, or enduring. If you’ve been successful with orchids you know that they require very specific amounts of water and type of ‘soil’, and are VERY reactive to their environment.
Orchids will react to wind (air flow), sun (light), moisture and temperature. You wouldn’t want to bump the pot too hard or otherwise disturb the foundation and certainly not brush against or drag something across the petals or bend the dainty stems. Orchids are very sensitive and grow best when things are just right.
What about positive characteristics? We generally love orchids for their beauty, their colors, their uniqueness. They’re quick to tell us if something isn’t quite right, they teach us patience and their thriving is our reward for our attention and loving kindness.
Such is the same for highly sensitives.
Sensitivity flows on a spectrum like many traits, but generally HSPs are most similar to orchids. Since we process things so deeply, we’re affected greatly by pretty much everything. Our feelings can be hurt easily, we can have a challenge managing change, we like things just so. The environment can be very irritating to us (noises, odors, lights, textures, even tastes)…most of us can’t plop ourselves down just anywhere and be comfortable or productive, and we can be very light sleepers (which is challenging, as we really need our sleep!)
Would you expect a dandelion to be like an orchid? Would you fault a tulip for not withstanding a violent hail storm? Likely not. So, it’s similarly unrealistic…and inappropriate, to expect an orchid to be anything other than an orchid. But, HSPs have spent most or all of our lives feeling, or even being told, that we need to change, to ‘fix’ ourselves, to learn how to not be so sensitive.
High sensitivity offers many benefits, which I’ve written about in more detail previously. We are wired this way…extra (not ‘too’) sensitive, for a reason. We’re the ones, like canaries in the coal mines, who will alert others to problems and often know the solutions. Our high level of compassion contributes to the greater good…human, animal and planetary. Most of your favorite writers, artists and musicians are probably HSP (you can listen to Alanis Morissette talk about high sensitivity). We serve an important role in the world, so why would we need to change?
If highly sensitives actually honor and embrace our sensitivities and use them for good, they will become our Super Power. This is my main focus in working with my HSP clients.
If you’re highly sensitive, you can use this analogy of flowers to help share your trait, your life experience, with others. If you’re not HSP, hopefully it gives you better insight into the world of high sensitivity so you can understand and accept those HSPs around you and help them thrive, just like an orchid treated with care.
If you’d like to chat about High Sensitivity and struggles you might be having as an HSP, you can schedule a free consultation to begin the journey of realizing all of your amazing potential!