Abstract: Human sensitivity has been well documented in the field of psychology, mental health, and wellness. It is time to expand our understanding of sensitivity with the multiple intelligence of sensory awareness including the four distinct gifts. This article identifies the advantages of each of the four gifts: intuition, empathy, vision, and expression.
Twenty percent (20%) of the world population has a genetically inherited trait of high sensitivity. That means one out of every five people is sensitive. Even if you aren’t highly sensitive, you certainly know someone who is. Often, only one person in a family is sensitive. Sometimes whole families are. This ancestral gift makes these special individuals very important to our society. Their enhanced sensory intelligence enables them to perceive advantages and detect threats more readily than the rest of us.
Neurodiversity Psychologists call this trait sensory processing sensitivity (SPS). SPS gives sensitive people a significant edge in detecting truth from falsehoods. It helps them harmonize themselves with their environment. Their creativity becomes highly inventive. In a world facing difficult challenges like climate change, over population, and economic insecurity, we need sensitives to excel and guide us. We need their gifts of intuition, empathy, vision and expression now more than ever before.
Using heightened perception sensitives feel everything more intensely, including the emotions of others. They have less of a filter than most people when discerning environmental stimuli, such as the nuances of sight, sound, color, taste, and smell. They see the rich interconnectedness of life, perceive hidden subtleties, and use deep mental processing to manage the vast influx of sensory data they perceive. By evolutionary design, highly sensitive people have delicate nervous systems. When under stress they tend to become incredibly fragile, often feeling as though they are having a “breakdown.” Routinely, sensitives experience themselves as being “maxed out” from intense sensations, leading to sensory overwhelm. When this happens, their emotions run dangerously high. It is essential for sensitives to develop skills to calm their central nervous systems, so that they may regroup and accurately discern between emotions and sensory input. When they learn to use concentration and relaxation their depth processing can expand further and accurately discern or “see”, “feel”, and “hear” more of reality. When sensitives recognize this pattern, they can take steps to restore their sensory system and balance their health. By soothing their senses and the subsequent emotional reactivity that comes with sensation, they will easily adapt to any environment - finding peace and balance more often.
The Gifts of Sensitivity
The intuition of Sensitive Intuitive people helps them perceive clues, intuit, and detect important information that would otherwise be ignored. Sensitive Intuitive types are usually exceptionally bright, inspirational, and when they take leadership roles they accelerate important societal trends. Sensitive Intuitives are also natural-born influencers, excel at planning (by seeing interconnections), exquisite pattern finders, and therefore excel in business.
Sensitive Empaths have great compassion for others due to their ability to read emotions. When this trait intensifies, they even feel others’ feelings in their own bodies and process them through their subjective experience, as if they were their own. In response, they have a caring and responsible nature that motivates them to help others and humanity. They are natural-born healers, negotiators, and therapists.
The Sensitive Visionary perceives the world holographically, from different angles. Their gift for spatial awareness enables them to design, envision, and imagine what might be possible. They are natural-born architects and designers. In combination with their emotional acuity and compassion, they perceive solutions that make the most of the environment in which people live and function.
Sensitive Expressive types use their gifts for creative expression to embody the beauty they perceive and communicate it with a high-degree of artistry. Whether dancers, actors, singers, writers, or painters, they create compelling works of art that guide us into deeper understanding of ourselves as human beings. They help us find shared meaning about our collective experiences. They bring us all together through their imagination, inspiration, and creativity.
Identifying Sensitivity Triggers
The unique problem people with high sensitivity suffer from is confusion of sensations and emotions. Sensations are not emotions. Observation of your unique sensory processing sensitivity will help you explore the intensity of the sensations from your environment. Observation is “witnessing with detachment” the types, magnitude, and variability of the feelings, noises, and interactions that trigger your sensitivity. Prevention of painful out-of-control feelings starts with observation and identification of these triggers. Self-assessment may be difficult at first. But when you take the necessary time and attention to evaluate your most sensitive moments, you will understand what sensations create feelings of vulnerability, sadness, and anxiety. Think of the sensitive experience as a triune. A sensory triune is three actions that flow into one overall feeling. Feeling overwhelmed leads to more sensitive reactions, which then impacts emotions. Since sensitive people have difficulty filtering things out, our work begins with identifying how much of the sensory triune operates in daily life.
About the Author:
Courtney Marchesani is a mentor and health coach who specializes in highly sensitive people. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Montana. Courtney is a certified integrative nutrition health coach, herbalist, and a highly sensitive person herself.