14 Success Strategies For Highly Sensitive People

This is the second article in a series on Highly Sensitive people.

What does it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person? Do you want to know if you qualify… read this article: 23 Signs That You Are A Highly Sensitive Person.

Click here to receive Your Special Report on How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person…

How do you thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person?

Here are 14 Success Strategies for Highly Sensitive People!

1. Accept your sensitivity
Your sensitivity is a gift. I know it doesn’t always feel like it. But it is. I spent more than half of my life denying that I was highly sensitive. Until you acknowledge and say “yes” to your sensitivity you cannot begin to learn the tools that will help you leverage that sensitivity into a positive benefit.

2. Empower your sensitivity
It has taken me many years to get to the place where I can truly claim my sensitivity and use it as a powerful tool on my journey of self-discovery and deliberate creation. As a Highly Sensitive Person in an often over stimulating world, dampening your sensitivity sometimes seems like the best solution. And while that may be helpful, and even necessary, at first, ultimately you want to empower your sensitivity and turn it into a powerful ally in the creation of a truly brilliant life.

3. Connect with other sensitive people.
It is very easy to get caught up in the stress and overload of our frenetic, chaotic world. Sometimes it seems as if there is no one else as sensitive as you. And from that thought it’s a short slide down the slippery slope into feeling like you are crazy or weird or strange. So find some other folks who are highly sensitive and create a support group where you can go for encouragement and to remind each other that you are not alone and that you are not crazy. One important note on this: This group is not a complain and whine group! The point is not to compare notes on how horrible and insensitive the rest of the world is. You connect with other Highly Sensitive People in order to know that you are not alone and discuss ways to leverage your sensitivity to create positive changes in your lives!

4. Hang out with successful, not-so-sensitive people.
I know this seems like a contradiction of the last one. But I have seen it happen (in myself and others) where a sensitive person basically says “screw you” to the rest of the world and all of the less sensitive people and finds someplace to curl up in a little ball and hide. While this can certainly be a beneficial and sometimes necessary short-term strategy, it’s not an effective long-term solution. Those of us who are highly sensitive can learn a lot from people who are not sensitive. So find some not-so-sensitive people who are successful and begin hanging out with them. Observe them. Learn from them. Watch how they move through the world. Not so that you can dampen your sensitivity but so that you might learn how to bring your sensitivity into the world in a balanced manner.

5. Have a regular practice of “mindful exercise.”
Exercise is important for everyone. But especially so for Highly Sensitive People. Moving your body helps to get any environmental, emotional and energetic toxins out of your system. While any type of exercise is beneficial, workouts that incorporate your mind, body and spirit can be especially helpful. Try things like Yoga, Tai Chi, Akido. and Pilates. Dancing and rock-climbing can also be great opportunities for the body, mind and spirit to move. The bottom line is to find a form of exercise that touches YOUR body, mind and spirit.

6. Find successful HSP role models 
Do you know any Highly Sensitive People who have learned to not only survive in this world, but thrive in it? What lessons can learn from them? What life strategies can you emulate? If you can’t find role models in your own life, look in the wider world. What teachers, authors, artists, and entrepreneurs (yes there are successful AND highly sensitive entrepreneurs) can you find? Once you find them, again look for lessons and strategies that they are using to leverage their sensitivity into success.

7. Gently push yourself beyond the level of your sensitivity
Your sensitivity is a gift and strength. But in order for this gift to be of any value to you and to the world, you must learn how to put it into use. That means you have to stretch yourself and bring your sensitivity with you into places and situations where it feels uncomfortable. Just as you build muscle mass through resistance, you increase your ability to bring your sensitivity into the world by practicing and exercising.

8. Know your limits
Don’t push yourself so far that you blow a fuse! Become aware of the internal signals that let you know you are reaching maximum capacity. And when you notice them back off. You want to push yourself and strengthen your sensitivity, but not to the point where it causes you to blow a fuse!

9. Set up a consistent self-care routine
As a sensitive person you need more self care than others. Don’t compare yourself to less sensitive people. Get clear on your needs and take steps to ensure that those needs are met. If you need a massage every week, get one. If you need to take a bath with sea salts every night, do it. Your sensitivity is of no use if you are not able to function in the world!

10. Connect with nature as often as possible
If there is one consistent theme I have found among sensitive people it is the restorative capacity of nature. Even if you live in a city get outside every day. Connect with a tree. If you don’t want to look strange, pretend you’re leaning up against it waiting for some. But while you’re there, feel the restorative, grounding energy flowing through that tree.

11. Create safe spaces
It is very important for sensitive people to have safe spaces to go to when the world gets overwhelming. You need to know that no matter what is happening in the wider world, that you have a safe space, a sanctuary to which you can return and restore yourself. Ideally, your home is your sanctuary. If it’s not, start by taking a small space and turning it into a safe, private, sanctuary where you can go when you need quiet and solitude.

12. Limit your exposure to news
In some ways, this one suggestion may be the easiest and most powerful success strategy for Highly Sensitive People. And yet, I find it amazing how often this suggestion triggers people. They feel that if they don’t read the newspaper they’ll be missing out on important information. My response is that if reading the newspaper makes you feel like crap what good does that information do for anyone. I would much rather see you feeling great and doing positive things in the world, than see you feeling depressed and hopeless because you’re reading too much news.

13. Explore energetic healing modalities.
Try acupuncture, homeopathy, Reiki, energy medicine, flower essences and other forms of energetic healing. When you find one that works, schedule regular sessions.

14. Learn how to create positive energetic boundaries.
There are wonderful resources that can teach you to setup positive energetic boundaries. Read books by Caroline Myss, Donna Eden, and others. Once you venture into this world you will be amazed at how easily you are led to the information and teachers you need to get learn how to thrive in this world!

If you are a Highly Sensitive Person, I encourage you to begin using some of these strategies. Look through the list and pick one or two of these that resonate with you and begin integrating them into your daily life. You may be surprised at how quickly and dramatically your life can change when you actively employ success strategies specifically designed for Highly Sensitive People.

Please leave a comment below and let us know which of these strategies you already use and what other techniques you use as a sensitive person in this world.

And if you want more information, inspiration and techniques to help you thrive in this world as an empowered sensitive person, I encourage you to read my new report: The Energetics of Attraction: Understanding and Applying the Harmonics of Human Awareness and to Compose The Life You Desire.

Click here to receive Your Special Report on How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person…

23 Signs That You’re A Highly Sensitive Person

Sensitive male role models were hard to find growing up in the seventies in a middle-class Boston suburb. So for most of my life I considered myself a fairly thick-skinned, typical guy. “Sensitivity” was not a trait encouraged in men. Stability, strength and steadfastness were more like it. All good traits, but often it seemed like an either or equation rather than a both and.

So I followed in the footsteps of the male role models I had; mostly stoic, emotionally unavailable, intellectually focused men.

That worked for a while but at some point during the past 18 or so years that I have been actively and sometimes intensively engaged in personal growth, I have discovered that behind the walls and under the layers of distance and detachment lives a highly sensitive person.

This awakening sensitivity has, sometimes, felt more like a burden than a blessing. But ultimately, and only quite recently, I have come to accept my sensitivity as a gift and a powerful ally on my journey of personal evolution.

When I began this journey, the term Highly Sensitive Person was not widely known (if at all). But as more has been written about Highly Sensitive People and the concept has gained wider (though certainly not universal) acceptance I have come to recognize and accept myself as a Highly Sensitive Person.

It is estimated that 20% of the human population would test positive for what Carl Jung called Innate Sensitiveness. This innate sensitivity has been well researched and the term Highly Sensitive Person was coined in 1996 by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. and explored in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You

Wikipedia has this definition of Highly Sensitive Person:

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Gustav Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, which would represent about a fifth of the population, process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems. This is a specific trait with key consequences that in the past has often been confused with innate shyness, inhibitedness, innate fearfulness, introversion, and so on. The existence of the trait of innate sensitivity was demonstrated using a test that was shown to have both internal and external validity.

While the idea of highly sensitive people is still shrugged off by the mainstream press and health-care community, I have no doubt that, just as people have different levels of visual acuity, hearing, intelligence and physical grace, there are also varying levels of what I call vibrational sensitivity.

In my observation there is no diagnostic device presently available that is as sensitive as the human body. When properly tuned, our physical bodies have the ability to perceive and respond to our environment with an accuracy that far exceeds the capacity of our present technology. And some of us have bodies that are naturally tuned to be more sensitive to our vibrational environment.

So, for better or worse, that puts highly sensitive people in the unenviable position of being the canaries in the coalmine. Our sensitivity to the auditory, environmental, and vibrational pollution that is prevalent in our world means that we often display physical, emotional and vibrational symptoms long before others less sensitive than us.

That’s the bad news.

But fear not, there is good news! If you are a highly sensitive person, your sensitivity indicates that your body is more highly tuned than most people’s. And, with a bit of effort, training and regular practice, you can learn to leverage your sensitivity to create success and take your life to the next level. I have! More on that later.

For now, let’s look at some of the “symptoms” of highly sensitive people because, if you’re like I was, you might not even know that you’re highly sensitive. And when you don’t know that you’re highly sensitive it can be very difficult and uncomfortable to live in this world filled with less sensitive people who don’t understand why you have to cover your ears when an ambulance goes by, or leave a restaurant that smells like bleach, or sit under a full-spectrum light during the winter.

So if you have ever wondered if you are highly sensitive, here is a list of signs that could indicate that you are a Highly Sensitive Person. (I’ve added some personal notes to a few of the items on the list).

1. Can you hear things others cannot, especially high-pitched sounds?
Do you hear sirens long before anyone else? Does the high-pitched hum of a partially dimmed light fixture get under your skin when no one else seems to notice? Does the whirring fan in your computer distract you? Is it difficult for you to sleep in the same room as a refrigerator? Do you need to cover your ears when a loud siren passes by? Do you use earplugs at concerts or on planes?

2. Do you notice smells that others miss?
I have a weird olfactory sense: When it comes to nice, natural smells such as roses and lilacs, I have to put my nose right into the flower in order to smell it. But when it comes to not-so-nice smells I am highly attuned. I can smell cigarette smoke from 50-feet away when I’m outside and the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. When I walk into a restaurant that has just cleaned up with chlorine bleach, I often have to turn around a leave because the smell is overpowering. And don’t get me started on some of the unnatural perfumes that have nearly made me… well I think you get the idea!

3. Do you know what other people need before they ask?
This post, Intuition or Observation & Analysis, provides a great example of this.

4. Do you notice the flicker on older computer screens or older fluorescent fixtures?
I’m still amazed at how often I used to sit down at someone else’s computer and wonder how they were able to work on it with the refresh rate set so low. If they were not looking over my shoulder I would usually go in and quickly increase the refresh rate which took away the flicker and provided me with some relief.

5. Do you get “overwhelmed” by joy when you experience great beauty: A beautiful sunset, an incredible musical performance, the smile of your child?
High vibrational sensitivity is not always triggered by “negative” experiences. Positive, beautiful, sublime experiences can also awaken that sensitivity. But again, the difference and occasionally the difficulty for sensitive people is the intensity of the experience. Highly sensitive people can be truly overwhelmed by a beautiful experience, which is fine if you are alone on the beach watching a spectacular sunset, but may not be so great if you happen to look out the window at work just at the peak moment of that beautiful sunset.

6. Do you feel threatened or uneasy in large crowds or big cities?
Sometimes I enjoy going into San Francisco, and other times I just can’t wait to get out. But no matter how I’m feeling while I’m there, I always notice a distinct sense of calmness descending upon me as I leave the City. It’s as if I’m passing through an invisible energy boundary as I cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

7. Do you have “emotional radar” that picks up on what others are feeling?
Do you know what people are feeling before they tell you? Do you ever walk into a room and sense that there has been an argument?

8. Do you pick up physical symptoms from other people?
Have you ever been feeling great and then run into a friend who had a headache and suddenly noticed a headache coming on? I once massaged a friend’s knee after she tweaked it during a yoga class. When I was done, she felt great, but I could hardly walk!

9. Does reading or hearing about bad news have a dramatic impact on your mood?
Once upon a time I was a news and information junkie. Knowing what was happening in the world was important. As my sensitivity awakened, however, I began to recognize that the news is almost exclusively low-vibration information and had a dramatic and usually negative impact on me. A few years ago I did a week long news fast to see if it would make a difference. It did! Soon after that, I stopped watching, listening to or reading the news on a regular basis. And while I still don’t watch or listen to the news, I am now able to read the paper or gather snippets of news from the Internet without noticing a dramatic effect on my mood.

10. If you see a bad car accident does it affect you for the entire day?
Most people have a reaction when seeing an accident but for some highly sensitive people the effect can be dramatic and long lasting.

11. Have you been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and/or do you experience a noticeable drop in your energy and mood during the winter?

12. Have you ever had a transcendent or mystical experience?
Highly sensitive people are naturally more open to experiences of bliss, ecstasy and spiritual awakening.

13. Do you have a strong reaction when you drink caffeine or when you attempt to stop?
Everything we put into our bodies has both a physical and energetic effect. For most people the physical effects of caffeine are not that dramatic. But sensitive people also feel the energetic effects of that caffeine and the combination can be quite powerful.

14. Do you have food sensitivities or allergies?
Most of us are putting stuff into our bodies that was never meant to go there. This is fine for people who are not highly sensitive (not really!) but if you are highly sensitive your body may tell you, in no uncertain terms, what you can and cannot put into it.

15. Do you have allergies or asthma?
As with food allergies, environmental allergies can indicate that you are reacting to allergens on both a physical and energetic level.

16. Are you a “lightweight?”
A friend of mine used to say that I could “get drunk from sniffing the bottlecap!” And she wasn’t that far off. My karate buddies nicknamed me Ed “No Mas” Mills because of my tendency to get a little rambunctious after a couple of beers. If one glass of wine puts you under the table you might be highly sensitive.

17. Are you sensitive to over-the-counter, prescribed or illegal drugs?
Can you take half the recommended dosage of a drug and experience a noticeable effect? Have you had an overwhelming experience when experimenting with other drugs?

18. If you have ever had surgery, did it take longer to recover from the effects of the anesthesia than from the surgery itself?
For many sensitive people anesthesia can have a long-lasting and powerful effect. Anesthesia impacts not only the physical body but also the energy body by putting you into a completely unnatural state. It’s a neither here nor there state that can wreak havoc on a sensitive person’s system.

19. Is being in a calm, peaceful environment very important for you?
Does clutter, stress you out? Do harsh, disharmonious colors fluster you? Do you feel at peace in a beautiful garden? Is it important for you to create a “sanctuary” within your home?

20. Do you get claustrophobic when you spend too much time indoors?
For many sensitive people, being inside for too long leads to a feeling of claustrophobia, lethargy and/or irritation.

21. Is it important for you to spend time alone?
Highly sensitive people often feel better when alone. In extreme cases, this need to be alone can be debilitating to the point where being around others is almost impossible.

22. Do you experience dramatic mood swings, sometimes for no apparent reason?
Have you ever been sitting at work, or on the bus, or in a café, feeling pretty good, and suddenly, for no apparent reason, started to feel sad, or angry? Highly sensitive people are more sensitive to both their own emotional content as well as the emotions of those around them. So if this happens to you, you may be connecting with something happening inside of you, but you might also be unintentionally “tuning in” to the emotional content of someone else.

23. Do you know when people are lying to you?
Have you ever just known that someone is telling you a lie, even when you have no “logical” reason to believe that to be so?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. These are examples of possible “symptoms” of high sensitivity. If ten or more of these experiences rang true for you, it’s highly likely that you’re a highly sensitive person. But even if you said “Yes” to just a handful of these you could be highly sensitive. In fact, even just one or two of these, if they are very strong for you, could indicate high sensitivity.

Ultimately I believe that being a highly sensitive person is a gift. It certainly has become a gift to me! And, yes, I know, it does not always feel that way. It can feel like a burden and a curse. But when you learn how to put boundaries and systems into place you can begin to access and harness that sensitivity and use it to create the life you desire.