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‘Sensitivity’ can be both a blessing and a curse

Ever been curious about why there are people who easily cry and get deeply affected by matters around them? Why some become overly emotional for something most people would classify as trivial–a film, a song, or even an art form? Why does someone feel so much pain or emotions over something? Perhaps, you yourself could be someone who feels everything so deeply that you notice the subtlety behind even the most mundane of things.

In the past, sensitivity has had an unfortunate negative connotation just because some people do not know how to deal with it. There is even a perceived stigma against highly sensitive people. But while there may be people who view sensitivity as a curse, for some, it can also be a ‘blessing’ in some other aspects. It all really depends on how people perceive ‘sensitivity’.

For 20 years, Dr. Elaine Aron, clinical research psychologist and the author of “The Highly Sensitive Person – How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You” has been studying people with hypersensitivity. There is a specific genetic characteristic that makes individuals more accustomed to their surroundings. However, a high level of sensitivity is not only necessarily meant for introverts, because in fact, roughly 30% of Highly Sensitive People (HSP) are extroverts—even though they have parallel dispositions like needing time alone and recharging after socializing from a crowd.

Furthermore, 1 in 5 people with high sensitivity tend to be more empathetic and socially and environmentally aware. “What’s interesting is that scientific studies highlight actual differences in the level of neural activity of HSP individuals, compared with non-HSP’s. For example, they have a deeper level of cognitive processing and notice even the subtlest sensations,” further study claimed.

In an article by Stephen Johnson in 2020, he highlighted Mahatma Gandhi who is believed to be an HSP, and who inspired people with his legacies. He was once one of the most influential leaders in the world. In this regard, highly sensitive people may possess a leader’s characteristics such as being empathetic and artistic. Moreover, a study showed that highly-sensitive individuals also have a “unique personality trait profile” compared to people with low sensitivity. “They had higher scores on neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and lower scores on conscientiousness,” the study further reported.

Sensitivity has been covered and studied extensively, science-wise, but there is still so much to learn about why some people have it, why others don’t, and why some just have higher levels of it. But it does have its immediate benefits–it allows those gifted with high sensitivities to be more open with other people’s  and emotions. Hopefully, understanding it thoroughly can lead everyone to an in-depth understanding of the different layers of the world we all live in.


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