One of the most common experiences for highly sensitive people is to be confused about the nature of their intense sensitivity, and to be uncertain why they are so sensitive. Does that sound familiar?
It is actually very common for highly sensitive people to not even know they are highly sensitive, and thus live with a range of painful symptoms, frustrating life patterns and constant overwhelm as a result of rejected and misunderstood sensitivity. Sometimes I have seen highly sensitive people on antidepressants to cope with seemingly out-of-control sensitivity to their internal and external experiences.
In this article, I invite you to scan the brief list below of common reasons which can contribute to heightened sensitivity.
Understanding the contributing factors of heightened sensitivity is the beginning point of then recognising, caring for, and transforming your relationship with your sensitivity, and thus changing your life in loving and empowering ways. There are many ways to honour, care and fall in love with your beautiful sensitive nature.
The most common cause of heightened sensitivity is your ancestry and genetics, but it is not the only one. Approximately twenty percent of all people are genetically highly sensitive.
Science is now catching up with defining what makes us sensitive genetically, and epigenetics is making great strides in this discovery. There are specific genes which you may have inherited which can contribute to you being sensitive to environments, other people, to your own inner states and to have a sensitive nervous system in general.
Here are some of the major contributors to being a highly sensitive person for you to muse on:
- Genetics and Biology: You may be genetically sensitive, and be hardwired with a highly sensitive, easily aroused nervous system. This means your nervous system can be switched on easily, for better and worse. You may have highly sensitive ancestors, parents or siblings. You are literally thin-skinned, meaning your skin and nerves and your cells respond quickly to input from the environment and science has proven this thoroughly – some of us are thin-skinned to life, genetically. There are scientifically proven reasons we are so perceptive, so attuned to subtle nuances, environments and other people’s inner lives.
- Gestation and Birth: Your gestation and birth can contribute to being highly sensitive. Trauma and stress in utero and being born underweight, premature or through a highly stressful birth are possible sources of heightened sensitivity.
- Spiritual Practice: Meditation and spiritual practice are constantly refining and purifying your nervous system and both your physical and energetic bodies continuously. You are cultivating not only an internal centre, inner silence and steadiness, but also refining your awareness and biological intelligence. This can make you increasingly and sometimes painfully sensitive.
- Awakening and Spiritual Crises: Spiritual awakening, spiritual emergence and Kundalini processes will make you rapidly highly sensitive because the powerful purifying processes of awakening and Shakti are clearing out your system, constantly transforming your boundaries and sense of self. This fast-paced, rapidly growing sensitivity can be acute, but as the awakening process stabilises, can soften and be a profound support in your daily life, and guide you to live well through awakening processes.
- Illness and Immune System Disorders: Chronic and acute illness, some diseases, chronic fatigue and immune system problems can make us highly sensitive on all levels, to the point that loud noise is sharply painful and many stimuli are overwhelming. When we are unwell in any way, we can have low or perhaps no ongoing physical, emotional or psychological tolerance or stamina for input. With a weakened body and low life vitality it is hard to hold strong physical and energetic boundaries, so other people’s stuff is experienced as intense and heightened sensitivity can add to the pain and burden of being unwell and seeking to recover. This sensitivity may heal as the body heals, or remain to varying degrees as health returns.
- Trauma: Experiencing trauma in childhood or adulthood, or exposure to ongoing traumatic or abusive events can pattern the body and nervous system into ongoing, hyper-vigilant and hyper-sensitive patterns which were originally designed to keep you safe. In the long term, such patterns can be fatiguing and make you overwhelmingly sensitive in general.
- Diet: Some diets, particularly raw food, vegan and very pure diets actively purify the body and refine the senses. This brings a wonderful sense of wellbeing, clarity and emotional health. For some people, it can also be coupled with too much general heightened sensitivity in life. This may signal that life changes are necessary in order to live well with blossoming heightened sensitivity.
- Pollution and our Toxic Environments: This affects us all! Our bodies and energetic systems are now exposed to more pollutants, chemicals, radiation and toxic exposure than ever in human history. The ongoing exposure to pollution in our food, water, atmosphere and environment puts a large strain on our bodies and immune systems and can make us unwell, overwhelmed and fatigue our immune and nervous systems and make us very sensitive. Highly sensitive people with their fluid, sensitive nervous systems can be adversely affected by electrical and radiation pollution from Wi-Fi signals, electrical products and mobile phones, and this is now called Electrical Hypersensitivity.
Did any of these factors strike a chord with you? Do you recognise yourself here?
While it is possible to feel somewhat overwhelmed by this list of reasons you may be sensitive, there are solutions and strategies for all of the above causes of heightened sensitivity. Recognition is the first essential step in empowering yourself as a highly sensitive person. Choosing appropriate self-care strategies and actioning them in your life is the next.
Your sensitivity is a profound source of wisdom, joy, creativity and the arrow of your internal compass. Through recognising the sources of sensitivity and learning tips, strategies and self-care you can reduce and eliminate the pain and burden of heightened sensitivity. You can live instead from its beauty, delight, joy and the life-affirming intimacy with the essence of life itself, which sensitivity generates.
I continue to extend my love, commitment, care and support to you as a highly sensitive person, and will share more guidance over the weeks to come.
Did this article inspire you? I’d love to read about your musings. Please write below!