The World of Highly Sensitive People

The World of Highly Sensitive People
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

A sensitive person has her own language: the language of feelings. It is a very intimate perceptive language, in which the heart is always on edge and feeling vulnerable. Nevertheless, something that sensitive people understand very well is that vulnerability can be an exceptional gift. It is like a mental muscle full of strengths, but also dangers. To minimize the risks, there is a powerful tool at their disposal: emotional intelligence.

A sensitive person is always there, hidden and even blending into the human landscape. At the same time, we all know that it isn’t easy to live in a world that requires us to all be the same, to react in the same way, to see reality through the same window… As if we all had the same prescription and spoke the same emotional language.

When one is attentive to everything, she becomes sensitive. Being sensitive is having an internal perception of beauty, it is having the meaning of beauty.”

-Jiddu Krishnamurti-

The day-to-day of a highly sensitive person tends to take the form of a hedgehog’s back or the prickly stem of a rose. Everything hurts a little more and, at the same time, is more exciting. This can be strange to someone who is unfamiliar with this type of sensitivity. This kind of disrespectful and unaware person who wouldn’t think twice about saying something like “you just take everything too seriously. You need to be tougher, lighten up a bit”. 

But how? According to certain texts, like that of Dr. Ted Zeff in his book Survival Guide for the Highly Sensitive Person,  highly sensitive people have a hypersensitive nervous system. They also have some areas of the brain that function at a higher intensity. Specifically, the insula and other regions of the brain related with empathy and emotional reactivity.

It isn’t possible to “be tougher” when you have a brain that tunes in with the world through another frequency. No one can become something that they are not, nor can we turn the volume down on our own emotions when they become overwhelming. We can’t control our emotions when our soul speaks to us, and reality suddenly reveals incredible hues that only we can see.

highly sensitive people figures

The sensitive person and the high volume of their surroundings

Many of us probably have that classic friend that we affectionately call “look but don’t touch“. His fine-tuned sense of smell or touch calls our attention. There are certain fabrics that he can’t use because they are uncomfortable, itchy, or they give him allergic reactions.

Sometimes, a simple pinch or a louder-than-normal sound causes him intense pain. Highly sensitive people are the ones who go to parties and gatherings but end up hiding in a corner, wishing they were home.

According to Judith Orloff, psychiatrist, and author of Emotional Freedom, the threshold of sensory perception is different for highly sensitive people. In fact, all stimulus is multiplied by 50. This doesn’t mean, however, that everything is painful. This delicate perceptive and emotional threshold has the ability to tune in to the beauty of life in a very intense way. The majority of us completely miss this kind of beauty.

So, to say that high sensibility is a gift is not a mistake. However, it is true that sensitive people must be able to manage and adequately filter the stimuli that they receive.  When they are able to successfully use a protective shield in their environment to take care of their self-esteem and emotional integrity, they can reach an exceptional level of sensitive maturity.

Highly sensitive people are the ones who notice the uniqueness of the details, who find fulfillment in silence and moments of precious solitude. In these quiet moments, any activity (especially artistic activity) becomes thrilling. Like a synesthetic explosion of sensations, pleasures, and subtle emotions that is difficult to explain to those who don’t belong to the 20% of the population who are highly sensitive people (HSP).

highly sensitive people hand

The highly sensitive man and his world of silence

Alex stayed to have a coffee with his sister after work. He tells her that he has spent all day with a knot in his stomach and he feels deeply exhausted. His boss made some observations about his work as chief of sales, small criticisms that Alex didn’t take very well. In fact, they have affected him so much that his coworkers made fun of him all day about it. What’s worse, he knows that at the office they already call him “the drama queen“.

“Don’t disregard anyone’s sensitivity. Each person’s sensitivity is their genuis.”

Charles Baudelaire

This simple example gives shape to a reality that many HSP men are living. In reality, high sensitivity is not exclusive to women. Half of the highly sensitive population is male, and they are the ones who feel the most pressure from a society that still doesn’t accept the sensitive man. Our culture rejects the idea of a man who lives with barely contained emotions, who find criticism painful, who easily cries, who prefers solitary sports and who has intense empathy for those around him.

highly sensitive people man

In spite of the fact that high sensitivity is a well-known subject at this point, there are many people who are still hiding in the shadows. They look on, silently, not drawing attention to themselves and keeping their distance to avoid getting hurt. We know that each one survives in their own way in a world full of sharp edges. However, respect and the principle of “live and let live” should be important in all our lives so that we can all achieve true personal fulfillment.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.