Why Highly Sensitivity Is A Talent With Many Abilities. First of all, I would like to talk about sensitivity. The term is used for both psychological and physical sensitivity. Physical sensitivity – or irritability – realizes a basic property of life, through the nervous system. It enables the living being to adjust to its environment, to ward off danger, and to strive towards usefulness. Simply explained: The nervous system receives information about the environment and the organism, processes it, and initiates appropriate life-supporting reactions. Of course, all people have sensitivity.
The only difference is the degree of general sensitivity. Highly sensitive people have a strong sensitivity due to the constitution of their nervous system. The phenomenon that a minority of the population has above-average sensitivity has always existed – and has apparently proven itself in evolution. But until the end of the last millennium, there was no special name for it.
The external image shapes the self-image.
Typical phrases that very sensitive people have heard over and over again from an early age are: “What you always have,” “You’re oversensitive,” “You’re so difficult,” “You make it complicated,” and “Don’t be so difficult. And then the well-intentioned advice: “Just don’t listen!”, “Just grow a thicker skin!”, “Don’t take everything so much to heart!”. For their fellow human beings, it is not at all comprehensible how one can be so extremely sensitive to sounds, smells, optical perceptions, touches, and emotional impressions. The lack of understanding that highly sensitive people encounter and the difference that they themselves notice in comparison to others has often led them to assume that there is something wrong with them. They feel somehow wrong and as an outsider, are full of self-doubt and struggle with their nature.
Why Highly Sensitivity Is A Talent With Many Abilities
About 20 percent of all people not only perceive more stimuli than others but also do so much more intensively. Such a distinctive talent to notice everything in a more differentiated and stronger way is called high sensitivity.
Those who are highly sensitive can sense very precisely how others are feeling. Sometimes it is enough for a highly sensitive person just to enter a room to be “struck” by the charged atmosphere that prevails between the people there.
- often has the feeling to hear what others do not say or always reads between the lines.
- notices imbalances in the team at an early stage, which unfortunately are often dismissed as nonsense by the other team colleagues.
- is strongly affected by other people’s moods.
- notices quickly and effortlessly when the verbal statement does not match the non-verbal signals.
- detects many external stimuli – for example, in the office: the sound of the printer, a colleague’s phone call, someone walking past the office, construction work going on outside in the street, a colleague coming into the office with a request, the whirring of the air conditioner, a colleague’s after-shave scent, the uncomfortable work chair, etc…
- balances out tensions and ensures a good working relationship.
- is a good listener.
- can effortlessly put himself in other people’s shoes and thus possesses a high level of empathy.
- builds up other people in case of problems.
- shows consideration for others. Sometimes so strongly that own needs and demands can be put back, even sacrificed.
Being highly sensitive is therefore often of great advantage. But, as you as a highly sensitive person know only too well, this gift also has its dark sides.
High sensitivity – and its shadow
It is precisely these shadow sides that make you suffer as a highly sensitive person. Because you feel more vulnerable.
- often feel misunderstood and alone.
- are often overwhelmed by all the stimuli, almost as if you “lose” yourself.
- feel drained after long, especially emotional or inconclusive meetings.
- find Christmas parties and company outings with all the many colleagues stressful and prefer to avoid them.
- react with restlessness or stress to noise or high volume.
- need a lot of rest and time for themselves.
- withdraw, again and again, coupled with the risk of neglecting or even losing social contacts.
- More and more your talent seems to be less a blessing than a curse. Only too understandable. However, the curse can also become a blessing again. The following tips with exercises show you how to use your high sensitivity positively for yourself without succumbing too much to the shadow side.
Highly sensitive: 3 tips on how to deal positively with your gift.
Learn to control your perception in a targeted and skillful way. Learn to better protect yourself mentally and energetically. In this way, embrace your great inner wealth that your high sensitivity brings you.
Tip 1: Learn to align perception
Perception is the central point for you as a highly sensitive person. Because your antennae perceive the finest vibrations and stimuli. Unfortunately, this talent can also become your greatest weakness if you allow all the stimuli to flow in unfiltered, as has been the case up to now. Therefore, you learn to direct your attention in a targeted manner. With the following exercise, you will succeed better and better every day. Because you learn to consciously decide which stimuli you want to take in or not, when and with what intensity.
Exercise: Conscious perception
What do you perceive at the moment?
List all stimuli and impressions. Be it external stimuli, such as the construction noise or the colleague’s phone call. Be it stimuli that you perceive on or within you, for example how you sit on the chair. Also, note on a scale of 1 to 10 how strongly which stimulus is perceived by you. Do you recognize a pattern of perception?
What do you not perceive?
Open your senses consciously. You will notice that there are many things that you have “missed”. Maybe the breeze. Maybe the sound that comes from typing. You are thus already aligning your perception. Congratulations! Because you can now use this gift for yourself in a more targeted way.
Where do you want to direct your perception?
Think about which stimuli you want to let approach you less (strongly) in the future. In the future, consciously block out stimuli that come from outside of you in order to no longer “lose” yourself in the outside world.
Tip 2: Learn mental boundaries
To be mindful of your boundaries means being and staying centered. Your focus is crucial in this process. As a highly sensitive person, you focus too quickly on the outside – for example, on a colleague who sighs in frustration and immediately draws your attention to himself. In such moments it is called: Focus back on yourself.
Exercise: Mental demarcation
In the future, ask yourself the following three questions in such situations:
- Are these actually my feelings?
- Are these actually my thoughts?
- Are these actually my physical sensations?
Your answers will give you many “aha” effects. You will playfully discover that many of the things you feel think or physically sense are “only” stimuli that come from outside – for example, from your colleague. And then you may do one thing: lean back, “send back” all these stimuli, and reflect on yourself again.
Tip 3: Be aware of your own limits
As a highly sensitive person, you know the roller coaster of your reactions. Seemingly from one moment to the next, you change radically. For example, instead of continuing to listen with understanding, lift the other person up, and give him or her all your willingness to help, you respond irritably and refuse to provide support.
Such a change in your reactions is a protective reaction – and nothing else. You realize belatedly that you yourself have overstepped your boundaries or that others have violated your boundaries. At such a moment you are at the edge of your strength and feel only one thing: anger in your belly that you can no longer ignore. That is why you then react so radically different. Learn to take better care of yourself by paying more attention to your boundaries.
Exercise: Learning to set boundaries
Reflect on the following questions again and again throughout the day:
Clarifying boundaries: what is your task now?
Temporal delimitation: What is your turn now?
Spatial delimitation: What is to be done here in this place now?
Professional demarcation: What are you now responsible for in this team or in this collaboration?
Social demarcation: What are you now responsible for in social interaction?
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