I met Tanya a few years ago on an immersion I was assisting in Sweden and was just in awe of how open and honest she was about herself, her compassion and the way she viewed the world, like a magical pixie. Later on I read some of her writing and was even more inspired by her. I really resonated with this article, and much of what she is written. Thank YOU Tanya for all you offer.
Do you feel like you process situations more intensely than the average person?
According to the late Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), a highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity. The term ‘highly sensitive person’ was coined by Elaine N. Aron PhD in 1996. And, according to Aron, these individuals represent about a fifth of the population — to which, she concludes, such people process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due tobiological difference in their nervous systems. (Much more to be explored in her book The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You.)
Throughout my life, I’ve often found myself feeling confused, even guilty for feeling too intently, too intimately, too sensitively. Because of my over-feeling attributes, I’ve often resorted to behaviors that diluted my innate, sensitive superpower…I’d cowar, become shy, inhibited and/or extremely introverted — and I’d feel bad about who I was. I didn’t understand how to use this characteristic of my being so instead I’d also stress out for feeling overwhelmed by stuff that seemed easily manageable by other people…why couldn’t I just be more easy going?!
What was wrong with me? Well, nothing.
I’ve also always been hyper sensitive to vibrational energy, speed, heights, sounds, mass units of anything, smells and touch. I can’t count how many times going to concerts, workshops, gatherings, etc, has made me feel…insane. I’d still participate, but the vibrational energy would make me feel overly caffeinated, wired — and mostly freaked out, although I wasn’t afraid. Instead of trying to relax and embrace my emotional and physical states in these environments, I’d often just sit contorted in constriction and not relax until I was home.
For these reasons, I’ve always considered myself a shy extrovert. I’ve always found it easy to connect with people, but often when the connection would open to allow our experience to go deeper, it would feel like a blast to my core. I’d feel it in every molecule of myself and I’d typically withdraw so as to not make the other person or persons feel uncomfortable. This would often trigger a blush or a disconnect of eye contact. Many have told me that they found this behavior endearing, but not me. I thought I’d blush because I was insecure or weird even though I didn’t feel insecure (or necessarily weird — in negative way).
I realized much later that I just felt most things very intimately.
And violence is a no-go for me. I simply cannot unnecessarily expose myself to it in any of its forms — movies, television, newspapers, factory farms, war — you name it. When I am visualizing or listening to it, I can feel it penetrating every aspect of my being — and it has never, ever felt right or healthy.
It wasn’t until recent years that have I stopped negatively questioning my power, my presence and my energy for being so sensitive, and in that process I have discovered some of the awesomeness of being a highly sensitive person. I am still in this discovery process.
Here is a list of some of the awesomeness I have found thus far:
#1 Intuitive — highly sensitive people tend to be aware of what is happening below the surface, in between the lines and without an articulated reasoning.
#2 An ability to read the vibe — when entering a room, a conversation, a situation or when coming into contact with another person or group of people. Perhaps you can feel what type of mood or conversation was taking place just before you arrived, even if the people who were there are no longer present.
#3 Picking up on the subtle — perhaps you’re able to respond to someone’s needs or questions before they even ask. Perhaps you can even tell when someone is lying to you o hiding something.
#4 Empathy for what others are feeling — and this goes beyond just the cordial sentiments, but getting as close to being able to walk a mile in a person’s shoes without ever putting their boots on.
#5 Experiencing the extraordinary — perhaps you’re able to experience, feel and see what is beyond the ordinary…a sound, a sense, a color not yet coined — dare I say magic?
#6 Mental telepathy — this one is interesting and I’m still working this out, but it seems that highly sensitive people may have the ability to sense when someone is going to call them, send them a text message, stop over for a visit, or can even pick up on personal messages offered from others while engaging in other conversations.
#7 Storytelling — because of your highly sensitive nature, perhaps you are able to elegantly and graciously use descriptive words to narrate and create the most divine of stories — played, written, painted or through movement.
#8 Going solo with confidence — you’re able to be alone without feeling lonely. Sometimes your own company is all you need and want and that’s okay and sometimes even preferred.
#9 Above average mindfulness — you’re able to move to the other side of the sidewalk so someone can pass. You’re more than willing to make room for a group of people coming onto the bus or you find yourself making eye contact with a by-passer…all in the name of making it easier for everyone — them and you. Often this trait is default and isn’t something you need to ‘activate’.
#10 Easy to cry — showing our emotions in the form of crying can come easier for us sensitive souls, but it’s also a healthy release of constrictive emotions and thought-patterns — a cleansing of our windows to the soul and our lenses out into the world.
#11 Work excellent in a team setting — due to our ability to pick-up on how people are feeling, we’re able to respond to the team’s needs to help them work in the most optimal way.
#12 Hard working — you tend to be a deep thinker and perhaps a little bit of a perfectionist. Highly sensitive people tend to put everything and a little more into tasks at hands especially projects that others will witness and be involved in.
#13 Easily moved by artistic expression — and if there’s anything that keeps the world’s artists inspired and creativity in full rebellion is having those who are moved by it — and show it.
Recognizing myself as a highly sensitive person as helped me to see it in others. These others, by and large, have been the most profound teachers, artists, healers, dreamers and souls I have ever come across.