Are you a Highly Sensitive or Highly Perceptive Person?
It can be painful when your family, friends, and teachers don’t understand why you feel and react to the world the way you do. It’s like trying to describe the color blue to someone who is color blind or describing the taste of an egg to someone who has never eaten one. You feel strange, or wrong, or isolated when people don’t get you and compress yourself to fit into societal boxes. Parents, siblings, and teachers may mean well, often wanting you to “toughen up” – to protect you from trauma and constantly being at odds with the world. But your sensitivity comes with gifts as well as challenges.
I knew a toddler who would scream as if she were being tortured any time she had to walk barefoot on grass. In Hawaii, where walking barefoot on grass is “normal,” this was a problem. Her mom took her to doctors to find out what was “wrong” with her and she went on to have a tough time in school. I suspect she could feel the stepped-on energy from the grass and was generally hyper-aware of so much around her that her school experience was sensory overload most of the time. To me the issue isn’t whether she felt “extra” energy, the issue is how to hold her sensitivity and help her channel it in healthy and creative ways.
Imagine each person having a control panel with lots of dials that regulate range and aperture of energetic perception. We all have different abilities – or different sized dials depending on our range and capacity. Dogs perceive sounds at frequencies higher than the human ear; they would have bigger and more varied dials in the sound section of their control board than people. Colorblind people – who can’t differentiate red or green, for example – would have smaller dials or that maybe don’t turn as far in their color range; they might also have larger sound and dials by way of compensation. Our collective awareness of subtle energies seems to be expanding as part of our planetary evolution.
High perceptivity is by definition “extra,” yet there are a lot of us with some form of extra sensitivity, perception or intuition running around. Sensitivity expert, Elaine Aron estimates that approximately 1 in 5 people are “highly perceptive” and proportionately more are being born on the planet every day. A highly Sensitive or Highly Perceptive Person or Highly Intuitive may be aware of energy, sound, color – just about anything – in a way most others are not.
Is genius simply high sensitivity in a specific area?
The way I grok it, we each pick up on different bandwidths and our openness fluctuates within our lifetime, depending on need and use. Many people have combined sensitivities – e.g. the ability to see colored energy auras, and feel the emotional charge of a gathering, and intuit diagnostic information…. The list is endless and no two people are perceptive in exactly the same way. I use the terms sensitive, perceptive, and intuitive somewhat interchangeably to refer to the ways we perceive the infinite subtle energy in and around us. W.A. Mozart was hyper-sensitive to sound and musical structure – and probably other things we don’t even have names for yet. Genius may simply be sensitivity that is recognized, appreciated, and then well-directed.
We all start Open and Receptive
We all start out as sensitive babies – small, vulnerable and open – and then learn to open or close depending on how comfortable it feels. A sensitive person needs to learn to modulate her/his openness to prevent overwhelm. Ideally, someone shows us how to manage and use our sensitivity or superpower when we’re young. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t get such mentoring and simply shut it down instead. The closing and hardening that tends to characterize “growing up” also costs us the gifts that come with the extra sensitivity. Plus, being defensive feels terrible.
Humans have a long history of persecuting people who perceive beyond the norm. It’s devastating when you are ridiculed for your sensitivity or are attacked on the very levels you are most open. So you build emotional armor as a brilliant way to defend your tender, sensitive parts from the onslaught of life in human society. Your defenses are evidence that you have something precious and vulnerable to defend! The trick is to find a way to feel safe enough to let down your necessary defenses and liberate the sensitive parts that needed defending when you were young. Once set free, your sensitive parts will help you do the work you know you are here to do.
Your Sensitivity is a Gift
You may have turned yourself inside-out to be seen as “normal” as a kid. But now that you’re an adult, you can see how reclaiming your sensitivity is a critical part of healing and becoming whole. Being recognized by other sensitives feels wonderful and helps you develop your gifts to put them into service. Fortunately, we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift and we are starting to embrace and claim our extra abilities in unprecedented ways. The planet needs scientists who are also sensitive to Nature and her miracles. We need our emotional and medical intuitives to step forward and heal our approach to health care. Check out my vision for a Healing Catalyst Network – a hub for sensitives dedicated to healing themselves, each other, and the planet. Now is our time to integrate our abilities to transform ourselves and the planet.
If you are a High Perceptive, I say to you: Embrace your gifts! Don’t try to be “normal” by hiding your light. No one else has the perspective you have. Your gifts make you special. You chose your mix of strengths and challenges as part of your toolkit for this lifetime.
You can take Aron’s 20-question sensitivity test to see how you fit in her rubric. Keep in mind that there are infinite ways to be sensitive. Aron’s questions are based on her experience of the world and with other sensitives, most of them introverts. Not all sensitives are highly introverted.
One of my gifts of sensitivity is that I can feel emotional energy in the body. I have learned to speak up about my intuition and the importance of intuition in all of our lives. Over the years, a disproportionately high number of “sensitive” or Highly Perceptive People  have shown up on my table. Strong intuition or High Perceptivity is normal in my world. I work on levels of subtle, emotional energy – exactly where sensitive people tend to get stuck – and I use my sensitivity to grok and translate the connections that are healing.
I talk openly about being intuitive and sensitive and I encourage you to recognize and use your sensitivity. That’s my purpose. I am a connector. I connect awareness with experience, sensation with words and metaphors are one of my tools. To me, connection = healing – that’s my flavor. Some experience connection primarily as creativity, or as joy. We’re simply seeing and reflecting different facets of the same diamond.
Working on Maui, I get to see people from all over the world. When my first book had just come out and the Internet was young, it was amazing how people found me on the slimmest of vapor trails… I especially remember an MD on vacation here from Virginia who came for a session. He saw or heard my book mentioned somewhere and his intuition pinged. He found me on the Internet, and was on my table two days later. When I asked, he didn’t identify himself as “sensitive” but he could feel the resonance. I helped him recognize the strength of his intuitive knowledge and how much he uses his intuition in his work. Sometimes that’s all it takes to help someone claim their full magnificence.
Are you a Sensitive, Too?
At some point, if it hasn’t already, some sensitive part of you will eventually clamor for reclaiming. If you are drawn to me and my material, chances are you are highly perceptive. You may even be a Healing Catalyst, yourself. I am a beacon, drawing you in to offer you understanding, recognition, support, and resources. I can help you claim your “superpowers” and empower you to use your abilities in service and love.
An important first step to reclaiming your wholeness and health is to explore what your sensitivity means to you. Even if you’ve shut down the functional use and expression of your extra capacities for a long time, they can reemerge and blossom with intention and practice. Unlock the door and and encourage them to come out and play. Talk about that with others. This will expand the dialog and acceptance of sensitivity in general. This is the time of Perceptivity Ascendant and the planet needs us and our gifts!!
Here’s to Peculiar!
We now have films that give us great visual metaphors about sensitivity, perception, intuition, and superpowers. The 2015 animated film Inside Out shows us the various emotional parts that drive your helm at different situations. The Incredibles gives us great metaphors about superpowers. Read or watch Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Embrace being “peculiar.” As the film’s theme song says, “There’s a new world coming… come and play!”
We don’t have the vocabulary for or equipment to measure this energy that well but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
 Term coined by Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land to mean, “to understand (something) intuitively or by empathy.” It’s a great word to know and use if you’re highly perceptive.
 Elaine Aron is an introverted sensitive and her test questions reflect that. My sensitivity quiz would include more questions about intuition and the ways you perceive “extra.” Don’t get too caught up in the details here. 😉
 This has replaced the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) as having longer social legs.
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