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Are You Highly Sensitive?
by Jenna Avery

Do you often feel overwhelmed by your environment or the people around you? Has anyone ever called you shy or worse: too sensitive? Do you care deeply about EVERYTHING? You may be a Highly Sensitive Soul a person of deep empathy and high intensity, with powerful intuition, awareness, and intelligence.

Being Highly Sensitive, you have a uniquely perceptive sensory system. You are therefore more sensitive to emotions, energy, environmental conditions such as lighting or sound, other people, excitement, and stress. As a result of constant stimuli, you may feel easily overwhelmed or unable to cope. Things can be particularly confusing when others seem unperturbed by the same experiences. For example, your friends might be able to shop all day, go out to dinner, and then head to a loud party. For you, that would be unbearable.

Research psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, has studied high sensitivity extensively. Her research shows that being sensitive is a personality temperament or trait, one usually inherited. According to Dr. Aron, up to 20% of the population is Highly Sensitive.

How To Tell If You Are Highly Sensitive
Being Highly Sensitive comes with a number of gifts, as well as challenges. See if any of these Highly Sensitive qualities resonate strongly with you.

1. You are deeply affected by all aspects of your life. As a Sensitive Soul, you have great emotional passion, intensity, and depth. You may have been told that your emotions are too much. You are sensitive, caring, and easily affected by the energy and emotions of others. These qualities make it easy to lose touch with your needs and desires.

2. You have heightened perceptive skills. A Sensitive Soul is intuitive, highly aware, and keenly observant of the subtleties of your environment, including energy, light, noise, smell, texture, and temperature. You may also be empathic or even psychic. Your perceptive skills operate in the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual realms. You tie together things you see into complex and original concepts. This makes you a visionary.

3. You have a lower tolerance for stimulation than others. Because you receive so much information from your surroundings, your threshold for what's too much is significantly lower than for those around you. This means: a) You may be seen as shy or timid; and b) You may feel uncomfortably dissimilar to others because you respond so differently to stimulation.

4. You are highly conscientious and thorough in all your undertakings. A Sensitive Soul makes a great employee. You concentrate intensely and process multi-source information. However, you require privacy, uninterrupted time, and little or no pressure in order to do your best work.

5. You have a strong relationship with aesthetics and art. As a Highly Sensitive Soul, you have a passion for beauty, art, and aesthetics. You may be highly artistic and creative yourself. You easily create beauty and comfort. Seeing things out of alignment can actually be physically or psychically distressing.

6. Your inner life is just as intriguing and inspiring as your outer life. You likely have a rich, complex inner life and are highly imaginative. You may find it challenging to connect to real world priorities and realities.

7. You absolutely require private time alone in order to feel replenished. Up to 70% of Highly Sensitive Souls are introverted. But even extroverted sensitives need downtime to rejuvenate, often in a darkened, quiet room.

8. You have a strong spiritual connection and depth. If you are Highly Sensitive, you experience a profound spiritual connection with the divine and/or spiritual realm. You see a lot in what appears common. Because of this you may feel impatient with the truly mundane.

Learning To Thrive: What You Need
Learning to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Soul presents challenges. If you're sensitive, you have likely accumulated years of training in trying overcome the trait because you don't fit in with society. And yet being Highly Sensitive is a vital part of you.

A first step toward thriving as a Sensitive Soul is to understand and accept your trait. Hear this now: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are just different. As one of my clients says, being Highly Sensitive is both a gift and a responsibility.

Sensitive Souls require regular self-care, meaningful work, and supportive relationships. Working with a sensitive coach or therapist who helps you tune into your own magnificent inner guidance system your sensitivity is a powerful means of support.

Additionally, there are books, websites, web-based communities, and teleconference gatherings on the subject. Connecting with like-minded souls is often deeply healing for sensitive persons.

As you begin to manage your life in a way that truly works for you, you will trust the power and gift of your sensitivity, and be inspired to share your much-needed wisdom with the world.


Jenna Avery, Certified Life Coach, is the Life Coach for Sensitive Souls. It is her purpose and vision to support Highly Sensitive Souls to find their power and to change the world with their wisdom, beauty, and depth. She offers individual and group coaching for Highly Sensitive Souls, free monthly TeleGatherings, and TeleClasses, and other events specifically designed to support sensitive beings to find their voice and share their gifts with the world. For details, please visit www.highlysensitivesouls.com or call (510) 528-1696.

Last modified: March 12, 2004

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