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The Strengths of being Highly Sensitive

Updated: Feb 6


A PERSONAL STORY...


Funny thing happened. Well, it didn’t feel so funny at the time. Maybe we’ll call it ironic.


I have a new job, which means I’m trying to find my way and doing a lot of observing and absorbing rather than calling attention to myself. My introverted, Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) nature likes to see how things operate before I add my personal flare.


On top of the new job, we are also relocating to a new building. The building was empty and we were responsible for moving in and decorating. What I know about myself is that I pick up on subtleties in my environment and have a very good sense of what is therapeutic and what is not. It might be important to add, I’m a therapist and work with adults in recovery from addiction and mental illness. On top of generally being in-tune with what others need, many of my clients have HSP traits, which I like to think I am even more in-tune with.


From the moment I entered this new building my body became tense and uncomfortable. It was sending me a message. I made subtle comments about the harsh lighting, lack of windows, and need for decor. I was not hearing the same comments from coworkers. It bothered me so deeply, yet no one else seemed to mind. I was worried about myself and the clients being in this environment. I literally lost sleep over it. In a gentle way I continued to bring this to different coworkers’ attention individually, hoping it would spark some interest and bring more collective noise. That didn’t seem to work.


“What’s wrong with me? Why is this bothering me so much? Can I not just be grateful for the new space? I need to get over it. I bet the clients wont even care. I’m just being too sensitive!”

This started to become my inner dialogue. Sound familiar?


I did my best to arrange the chairs and clear clutter in the rooms. That’s all I could do. The day came to welcome in the clients. Immediately the negative comments started coming. “I don’t like this. It feels like jail. The lighting’s too harsh. I’m feeling claustrophobic.”


Other staff are now beginning to pick up on the discomfort and the need for a more soothing environment. They’re starting to take action and make the changes I had hoped for a couple of weeks prior.

I learned something that I hope I don’t forget any time soon.

I have a superpower!

My intuition and sensitivities are strong and often emerge before other people are aware of the same issues. This does not mean I am wrong or that something is wrong with me. It means I have every right to speak up and point out the issue because it is real. If I really want to reframe this for others: I am saving them time and protecting them from potential consequences if the issues is ignored. I am alerting them sooner than they would naturally be aware. I’m like their personal warning sign!


And another thing... my clientele are often HSP or possess some of these qualities. This means I do know them and can be an advocate for them. I don’t think it’s too far fetched to view myself as a HSP spokesperson at my job. This is a responsibility I hope to wear proud.


In writing this, I hope that you, too can see the superpower you possess.

TRUST YOUR INTUITION & SENSITIVITIES. There is nothing wrong with you. You are sensing important information that others are not yet aware of. By speaking up with confidence about what you know to be true you are helping others and being a spokesperson for those who aren’t able to speak up.


“Follow your heart, listen to your inner voice, stop caring about what others think.”

Roy T. Bennett



Rayne Satterfield, LCSW

Written 2018


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