Changing how you talk to yourself about your sensitivity

Once you know who you really are, you can change your inner story about yourself. That’s what happened when I discovered that I am a highly sensitive person (HSP). I went from putting myself down for being different and easily overwhelmed, to being more understanding, patient, and accepting.

One of my friends is a pastry chef. She is kind, talented and gentle. This morning she told me about how she puts herself down for not being more like her own mother – a successful entrepreneur and gregarious community leader. She has spent her whole life criticizing herself for what she sees as a flaw in her character.

High sensitivity is not a flaw. It’s a genetic difference that makes us no better and no worse than others. One out of five people are highly sensitive. Research shows that our brains are wired differently to capture a lot more sensory information than regular folk. We deeply analyze everything. We are way more sensitive to our environment, and to the people around us. We are aware of subtleties, and can be more easily over stimulated. Also, our empathy for others is also off the charts.

This all makes it a trickier to navigate through life.

We exist because we are needed. We are the healers, the teachers, the writers, the musicians, the peace-makers, the gardeners, the nature-lovers, and the artists. We are those who in time before advised the king not wage war. Who would we be without the sensitive individuals who create connection and meaning in this world?

Before I found out I was an HSP, my self-talk used to go like this:
• I don’t fit in like others do.
• I feel lost in a group.
• I feel stressed out when too many people are around me.
• What’s wrong with me?
• Why is everything so complicated with me?
• I am overwhelmed by life.

Now my self-talk is more along these lines:
• I am a highly sensitive person and that’s ok.
• There are many other people like me. I am not alone.
• Sure there are challenges in being an HSP, but there are also a lot of advantages.
• I am going to give myself the time I need to be alone, and find my center again.
• This world needs more beauty and sensitivity. And I am making an important contribution.
• I am lucky to be me.
• I am feeling overwhelmed right now. I am going to take some time to calm down.

Here’s an interesting Ted Talk on The Gentle Power of Being a Highly Sensitive Person.