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  • Writer's pictureJanis E. McKinstry, MA

HSP, your soulful sensitivity is a super power.

woman pondering deeply
Soulful pondering brings clarity and strength to us.

"You're too sensitive!" How many times have you heard that?

How many times have you heard "you're too sensitive?" Is it the first phrase you can remember? Did you hear it as a criticism that there was something wrong with you? I did. I had a very gentle and compassionate mother and an intense authoritarian Naval officer father. Needless to say my dad was intent on making me into his ideal and it confused me, overwhelmed me, and exhausted me.

We now know that phrase "you're too sensitive" as a favorite gas lighting line that can be used to make us conform. Please don't let it. There's nothing wrong with us! We're sensitive which means that we're taking in way more information, and processing it, than the average person and naturally it's affecting us. We can get overwhelmed easily, anxious, sad, depressed, and more. Our physical senses are highly attuned and we're constantly receiving information from our environment. Our emotional processing is churning constantly too. We perceive every nuance and subtlety of conversations and interactions and these may lead to hurt feelings, rumination, and feelings of abandonment, rejection, and isolation. HSP, we're more soulful and more spiritual than most folks and we feel more deeply, intuit more, and perceive more, and are at our best when we have a sense of purpose through spirituality. Did you know that Highly Sensitive People make up 20% to 30% of the population? We're not alone. Since we're noticing every little nuance and are constantly analyzing it and interpreting it we have more information to work with than someone who doesn't notice as much. We make amazing leaders because of these traits. And, we can learn how to use this sensitivity to our own, and the world's advantage if we're able to use these traits and skills properly.

We're strong in our sensitivity

We pay attention and notice everything, especially the injustices, big and small, and this can inspire us to take a stand. As children we observe the world of our parents and caretakers as "the way" and it might set us up for some embedded belief systems that eventually stop serving us. As we grow up we enfold these beliefs as our own and form behaviors around them. At some point our own intuition, education and knowledge, as well as our inner wisdom overrides these adopted beliefs and we may begin to question them.

I started talking back to my dad and other authority figures in my teens when talking back was forbidden. My dad switched "you're too sensitive" to a stern "you better change your attitude" and he got even tougher with me, and I saw through it. I saw it as his sense of authoritarian power being threatened and I wasn't afraid. And I did change my attitude to finding what felt safer to me, and standing up for those without a voice. I needed an outlet where I could process all of the feelings I was experiencing and I found a way to feel safe on my own terms: I started spending more time alone or with a few trusted friends at the beach, hiking, gardening, dancing, swimming, or making art. I paid attention to the way my senses interacted with my environment and later learned that I was practicing mindfulness before I knew what it was called. It helped me overcome reactiveness when in a challenging situation, like with my overbearing dad, and I found that I thought more clearly and trusted myself more, which led me to chose my path as a counselor. My sensitivity is my super power!

I think one of our traits that isn't talked about very much is that we're strong because of our sensitivity. We see through the lies, the manipulations, and the injustices and our sensitive souls just can't go along with them any longer. I feel it, and I just know what is right for me through these feelings. I later understood this as clarisentience. As a young adult I felt so deeply about what I noticed in the world around me through my own sensitivities that it led me to a serious yoga and mediation practice, which led me to transpersonal and somatic psychology, and deep spiritual exploration.

My high sensitivity became as asset as I tuned into myself, nature, and the subtleties around me. I learned to calm myself as I listened with all of my heightened senses, including my intuition. I learned to allow my super power sensitivity to take over and let my mind rest as I opened to my intuition and inner wisdom. Are you ready to devote time and attention to your inner world and how you interact with the outer world so that you can transform your sensitivity into a super power?

HSP and nature
Find the sacred in the ordinary.

Nature was very important in my development. I was very fortunate to live near a beach and a redwood forest during the school year, and on a plains farm in the summer, so nature was my constant guide. I spent every moment that I could on my horse taking in her amazing love and graceful power. I had free rein on the farm and I loved that freedom to feel and think without interference from the noise of the world. I found a way to translate my sensitivity into strength, and you can too.

What were once my greatest challenges became my greatest strengths. I transformed anxiety of fitting in to self love and acceptance that led to confidence and empowerment. I didn't realize it, but I was strong then and it helped me through some very rough times, and I am strong again today. Not the kind of strength that has power over something or someone. No, that's not strength in my opinion. I'm talking about the kind of strength that listens carefully, notices subtlety and nuance, discerns between truth and non truth, that can interpret energetic exchanges as safe or dangerous, and knows how to use that same energy to deflect it or use it to protect peace, and hopefully a greater good.

Self awareness is the key to your own empowerment

This kind of self awareness can be like mastering Aikido; the art of using the opponents energy to move with it and past it with little exertion. We can use our sensitivity to acknowledge and deflect unwanted energy and move away from it. It's like a dance when we know how. We do this with breath work, mindfulness, somatic awareness & release, and being witnessed in our vulnerability by a skilled guide. I teach these forms of self awareness in my counseling practice. Mindfulness is the foundation of self awareness that opens into a spacious realm of conscious choice. Our strength is finding that we can choose how we want to be in this world. We can choose to be empowered as we embrace our sensitivities and our strengths with self love and care.

I welcome you to visit my website and send me a message. Just click on the button below. I'd be honored to help you learn how to soothe your nervous system, improve your own self understanding and acceptance, & come into true self love so you can live a healthy & authentically empowered life. I'll look forward to talking with you soon.

Grounding, tuning in, and listening to self & nature.
Finding calm and listening to nature brings wisdom and strength in peace.


Janis McKinstry, MA

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