On Seeing Sensitivity as a Strength

I used to hate the word sensitive. Like, recoil at it. That’s not too strong a word, either. The concept of a “highly sensitive person” made me LOL, and not with someone. It was a knee jerk reaction to something I found repelling for reasons I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand why I reacted this way. I’m a sensitive person. It took me a long time to acknowledge it.

Quiet author Susan Cain pointed out what was obvious, to me: our world prizes extroverts – those who present themselves in the world boldly and gain energy in doing so – but, as Cain says, we neglect to support people who require (or in the case of introverts), prefer – a lot of alone time, to our detriment.

After all, extroverted people aren’t always going to be the best type for a job, a role, or a task. And they’re not. That’s what Caine’s work is about.

She wrote: “Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi – all these peopled described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to. And this turns out to have a special power all its own, because people could feel that these leaders were at the helm not because they enjoyed directing others and not out of the pleasure of being looked at; they were there because they had no choice, because they were driven to do what they thought was right.”

These peeps were introverts, which is the point here, but the fact that they were also deeply in touch with, and driven to action by, their connection to the feeling in every bone in their bodies – both their passion and their fear – to me means they were sensitive above all else.

Sensitivity and passion are a powerful mix. We have some great examples as proof. 


I used to treat my sensitivity like a nagging parent who insisted that I go to bed earlier than I wanted to, left the party sooner, drank less coffee than I was prepared to allow myself to rely on, thinking it was holding me back. But I can see now, the certain ways my sensitivities are strengths. I’m driven to work hard because I feel deeply and I care. I pay close attention to detail because I’m perceptive. And I need time to refuel because I don’t just clock hours, I damn make power moves.

Seeing it this way has helped me get how we can be effective without pushing or forcing. (Lao Tzu: “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”) #deepness #originalselfhelpOG.

Though there’s a time for disruption and resistance, I think when it comes to working with yourself, it’s water that wins every time. Adopting this attitude hasn’t made me weaker but more whole. And I think it’s a stronger way to be.

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