Today, I want to talk about the benefits of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
I just finished reading The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive by W. Thomas Boyce, MD, and it left me badly in need of a dose of positive.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a super important book that I highly recommend for my fellow HSPs and my fellow parents of HSPs. If you want to know the science behind our trials and triumphs, this book will give it to you.
But geeez, it left me feeling kind of doomed, with SO many reminders of all the ways things can go wrong when highly sensitive children grow up in an environment that is less than ideal.
So many that it became easy through parts of it to forget that us orchids have hope. That even if we didn’t get all the nurturing we needed as children, we can still turn things around and achieve wellness.
And that being an HSP actually comes with some benefits.
Now wait, what were those again? Cause let’s be honest.
Sometimes A lot of times, being an HSP sucks. Overstimulation… Being high maintenance… Feeling everybody else’s feelings… Amidst dealing with all that, it can get exceedingly hard to remember the positives.
So to combat this suckage-induced amnesia, I want to create a permanent reminder for myself and for all of you. I’m going to write us a list. One that you and me can refer to regularly for a dose of positive as needed. 🙂
Here are 10 awesome benefits of being a highly sensitive person.
10 Benefits Of Being A Highly Sensitive Person
1. We Experience Positive Feelings Intensely
When we feel bad, we feel BAD. When we feel sad, we feel SAD. But you already know where I’m going with this, right?
When we feel excited, we feel EXCITED.
When we see beauty, we see BEAUTY.
When we feel joy, we feel JOY.
2. We Notice Subtleties That Others Might Miss
Because we are sensitive to all kinds of stimulation from our environment, we tend to notice subtleties.
3. We Are The Canaries In The Coal Mine
The noticing of the subtle benefits us as well as others.
When there is something harmful in our environment – chemical smells, unhealthy food, excessive stressors – we are the first to notice. We are the first to suffer symptoms.
Because we notice quickly, we can address these calamities quickly.
And when we address them quickly, we protect not only ourselves, but others who are exposed to the same hazards even if they have not yet suffered the consequences to the same degree we have.
4. We Set An Example For Self Care
All people need rest and self care. But because our stress response systems are more reactive, we need to be more diligent about it. When we don’t get the proper rest and self care, we break down faster than others.
However, as we learn to take care of ourselves, we are in a great position to set an example to both other HSPs as well as non-HSPs.
When we give ourselves permission to meet our own needs, we also give this permission to those around us.
5. We Think Things Through
The reason we notice subtleties is that our brains process all incoming stimuli more carefully. We do this both consciously and unconsciously.
In the conscious realm, we simply like to think things through. And guess what? Although some people will get all bent out of shape about “overthinking”, carefully thinking things through is only a bad thing if it happens to the point of paralysis.
We can give ourselves gentle deadlines to avoid going overboard and then let ourselves take our time. Carefully thinking things through elevates the quality of our decisions, and therefore, the quality of our own lives as well as the lives of those around us.
6. We Are Able To Focus For Long Periods Of Time
And you know what else? Not everyone is capable of “taking their time”.
We can be the people who do the research.
Who write the books.
Who figure out the formulas.
Who develop the theories.
7. We Tend To Be Highly Intuitive
Now, let’s turn to the unconscious side. One consequence of picking up the subtle + processing it deeply is that we tend to be highly intuitive.
Our brains pick up various pieces of information and then put them together into insights and conclusions without us even trying.
We “just know” without being able to explain how exactly we got there.
This in turn gives us tremendous potential in terms of new idea generation and creative contribution.
If I had to pick ONE benefit that I treasure the most, this would probably be it!
8. We See The Consequences
Because we think things through and because we have intuitive insights, we can get really good at predicting outcomes. We can think about an action and easily outline the likely consequences of that action. This makes us good at planning and managing projects.
9. We Have High Levels Of Empathy
Ok, let’s be honest. Feeling other people’s feelings all the time can be exhausting.
But when we learn to manage our empathy so that it no longer sucks every last drop of energy out of our bodies, we can use it as a gift.
Because it IS a gift. I mean, can you imagine what this world would be like without empathy? Would you want to be a person with low or no empathy?
Thanks to empathy, we have the ability to connect with other people. We have the ability to make people in our lives feel heard and understood on a deep level.
10. Our Struggles Help Us Understand Other People’s Struggles
Our ability to connect with people with empathy and compassion is further enhanced by the fact that many of us have struggled.
Yes, we can grow up to be orchids, but those of us who weren’t nurtured by skilled gardeners often weather the storms of mental and physical health challenges. And that sucks. I have no intention of sugarcoating it. And I don’t want to give the impression that we should just “think positive” and stuff down our grief over our hardships.
But these personal struggles, I think, do make it easier for us to understand and want to help other people who are struggling.
And I do believe that to be a gift.