You might have at least one of them in your life. Some call them earth angels. These people notice when you’re not quite right. They have a knack for serving you exactly the way that you need, at exactly the right moment. They regularly have a fitting word of encouragement or exhortation. In short, it is as though they spread fairy dust in the lives of those that they touch. They love deeply. They carry heavy burdens. They get hurt by actions that wouldn’t phase another person. They are like sponges, absorbing the complicated world that exists all around them. They are called highly sensitive types and most of them have been told that their sensitivity is a personality flaw. It isn’t a flaw, it is a beautiful personality type and when handled properly, it can bless everyone involved.
Finally, there are studies shedding light on this very unique portion of our population. We are beginning to appreciate that the highly sensitive personality is real and outstanding. Scientists now understand that the brain of the highly sensitive person functions differently and that these gray matter differences stem from genetic coding which determines how certain hormones are created and transported. Dear highly sensitive one: I hope that you feel vindicated. You are not flawed – you are amazing. For those that have difficulty understanding the sensitives in your life, accepting them without expecting them to change is best. Just like it is impossible for you to be like them, they cannot change to be like you. You may never truly understand them but you can choose to appreciate them.
Here are some ways that you can support the sensitive that is in your life.
>Realize that they are actually very adept at “reading” body language, tone of voice and other social cues. If there is a problem or change in the relationship, they will be aware of it but because they don’t have all of the facts, they will be robbed of their peace as they consider the multitude of possibilities. It is helpful to be honest but gentle with them.
>They will believe that negative behavior is directed toward them and that they have done something to deserve it. If you are in a foul mood or have an emotional or physical condition that causes you to behave rudely or aloof at times, it is helpful to explain this to your highly sensitive. They struggle with taking things too personally.
>Understand that they carry the burdens and pains of others. Their heart can become deeply vested and sometimes they get hurt. This doesn’t make them weak or mentally ill – they are actually strong and brave warriors.
>Because they are acutely aware of external stimuli, they can become exhausted by everything that they are taking in. They are also easily disturbed by noise. They need quiet time, preferably alone, to recharge their batteries.
>They are passionate in almost every area of their life and they usually have a creative aspect within their gifts and abilities.
>They are deep thinkers and they despise wasting time on small talk or stating the obvious.
>They usually don’t fall asleep quickly. They have a difficult time slowing their mind. Sooth them at bedtime. Don’t instigate fights or tickle battles. Create a peaceful environment for them.
>Realize that sensitives are like sponges. When people are in conflict around them, they absorb it and it will affect them for hours or sometimes even days.
>Be generous with genuine affirmation. A sensitive craves affirmation but they also know when you’re insincere.
>Sensitives can become isolated. Their world is complicated and sometimes painful. They easily retreat to safety. Make sure that they are getting out and doing things that they enjoy.
>Value them exactly how they are. View their sensitivity as a gift and point this out to them. They live with a tremendous amount of self-doubt and many times they have what I refer to as a weak conscience, causing them to be overly self-accusing.
For the highly sensitive, I would caution you in two areas. First, you are like a sponge and absorb everything, so learn to discern the circumstances that you need to stay clear of. A quote from Maya Angelou – “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.” Second, it is easy to use your gift in the wrong way. Be aware of your attitudes and tendencies to judge the motives of others or become overly self-focused – these behaviors can turn this gift into a curse. God created you with this special personality – use it as a blessing to serve others and glorify Him.