Why Highly Sensitive People Can (and Should) Trust Their Hearts — And Use Their Voices


From Highly Sensitive Refuge: “Highly sensitive people (HSPs) have important perspectives to contribute to society. They must protect their process, especially when the world doesn’t.

HSPs are known to use our sensitivity to promote the well-being of others — we absorb their thoughts and feelings, and lend them an empathetic ear. Unfortunately, however, our modern-day grind culture of rush-rush-rush is particularly harsh toward sensitive types.

We need time and space to think and process in order to contribute as only we can. Since society today doesn’t tolerate our ‘different’ way of relating and communicating, we are often left out of the conversation. Make no mistake, the world suffers from this as much as we HSPs do.

So it’s time we demand our right to our way in the world, grind culture be damned. There are too many injustices, too many problems, and too much suffering to tolerate HSPs’ perspectives being left out of the solutions.

If you find yourself discouraged and dismayed by your inability to fit the mold the rest of the world insists upon, you’re not alone. If you feel like you have nothing to contribute because you cannot perform the way society expects you to, take heart. The status quo always requires disruption for real change to happen. And to do so, dear HSP, remember these things about your process and voice.

1. Trust the process and focus on the task at hand, one step at a time.

While I was in labor with my firstborn, my little highly sensitive child (HSC), the doctor came in and out of the delivery room to see how I was doing and make some small talk. I chose to labor unmedicated and I was totally in the zone, focusing on riding out each contraction, honing in every last bit of energy for the task at hand. Perhaps a non-HSP could have managed a conversation with the doctor at the same time. But talking was a bridge entirely too far beyond what my limited energies could allow. (I mean, there was enough overstimulation around me already — I was about to have a baby!)

So when the doctor popped in and asked how I was, I didn’t respond. I knew I should have. I could feel the expectations of everyone in the room to engage in this social formality. But in that moment, my need to preserve my energy for labor trumped the expectation of responding to his small talk. Rarely have I abandoned my extreme conscientiousness so completely, especially with all those eyes on me, but in that moment, I didn’t have a choice.

For HSPs, our process is crucial if we are to fulfill our mission of society better understanding us in the world. Sensitive people take in sensory intel others miss and often see crucial pieces to the puzzle others overlook. But, as HSPs know all too well, it all comes at a cost: We cannot move through the world like everyone else . . . our energies must be focused on the task at hand.

In essence, we are all laboring (no pun intended) . . .

2. Take your time — it doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time.

Because HSPs tend to be very pragmatic, our own process can feel inefficient. Don’t let that keep you from it, no matter how much society agrees. Not everything in life is efficient, and often the most important elements can be frustratingly inefficient.

. . . As frustrating as your process can feel, HSPs often have the gift of knowing that, contrary to the values of modern society, productivity and efficiency are not always top priorities . . .

In her workbook, The Empowered Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Amanda Cassil compares the highly sensitive mind to a phone running multiple complex apps at once. It simply won’t produce the output at the same speed as a phone running only one or two.

It truly feels that way for me much of the time. I worry that my inability to keep up — even in conversation with friends (and especially in a group setting) — renders me irrelevant. I’m simply taking in too much information, including all the sensory elements others can filter out. I have to buffer through all of that, while they drift freely from one topic to the next, utterly unburdened by the sensory intel. But the buffering is critical — it’s rendering an important output . . .

3. Lean into your empathic roles, your birthright as an HSP.

Before I knew anything about my highly sensitive trait, I assumed my retreat to silence was a sign of weakness or even unintelligence. Of poor social skills. Of cowardice. I’d always envied those who could respond on a dime, never at a loss for words. Oftentimes, I’d also resent them for seeing their words as useful until proven otherwise, while I’d dissect every idea I had or every opinion I drummed up to ensure it’s fit for public consumption . . .

4. When in doubt, remember that your voice is crucial (even non-verbally).

Stake your claim. Voice your opinion — even when communicating may be difficult . . . Don’t count your voice irrelevant just because it’s taken time to form. Remember: Your process is worth trusting, and so is its result.

Best-selling author and highly sensitive superstar Glennon Doyle compares the sensitive in this world to canaries in a coal mine. Our job is to rouse the others, to make them understand that we can sense something they cannot.

Whether it’s about global events or an ignored local injustice, a workplace shortcoming or a family issue, we, as HSPs, need to trust our process and use our voices. So give yourself the time and space you need to process. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Trust yourself as the highly sensitive truth-teller you are.”

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  1. This can be easier said than done. For me as an HSP, using my voice has landed me in nothing but trouble. Challenging others has led me to often sever my ties with them. On the other hand, however, I suppose this was obviously the case since they never really had anyone else’s interests in mind except their own.

    When I hit thirty years old, I thought I finally made the realization that other people’s opinions were less than dirt, and that it was high-time to embrace my inner douche. You don’t pay the bills with opinions, or judgements as I like to call them. Back in my day, an opinion amounted to nothing more than an educated guess.

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    • The idea of “using one’s voice” as a means to combat insensitive or bullying people is that it doesn’t work very well if you don’t have the power to make your own voice heard. Speaking up when involuntarily committed to a psych ward or living with an abusive partner or abusive parents can be extremely dangerous! Certain bosses specialize in firing anyone who “uses their voice” in any way that challenges the boss’s power and control. I do think we should trust our intuition, but we need to be selective where we “use our voices” if we don’t want to get injured!

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    • Clearly, being “highly sensitive” is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Research has proven that insensitive and thoughtless people fare better in society, experiencing less anxiety and depression and being more successful in certain professions like sales, law, or politics. There are special drugs now to help people care less, the most popular being “Fuckidall,” promoted by famous comedian, Robin Williams. Our next efforts will be to create psychoeducational presentations in schools and other places teaching people the importance of insensitivity and teaching them specific “Fuckidall” skills that can be practiced even without medical intervention.

      Stop worrying! Stop caring! Buy some “Fuckidall” today!

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      • Steve says, “Research has proven that insensitive and thoughtless people fare better in society….and (are) more successful in certain professions like sales, law, or politics.”

        I think you left out mental health professionals. But wait a minute — aren’t these just a bunch of salespeople and politicians by another name?

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      • Thank you for the laugh. I seriously need some “Fuckidall”.

        You forgot my doctors and dietitians. They have sentenced me to die by malnutrition. Lucky me. I accidentally “offended” them. My punishment is death. So I clearly need some “Fuckidall”.

        I need to care as little as they do. Doctors and dietitians tell me that people don’t need nutrition or fluids to survive. Do you feel you could survive without food or water? I need some “Fuckidall” to live in their insane world.

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          • I definitely need some “Fuck’emall.” I am at home. I refuse to go to their Emergency Department. I tried another Emergency Department and got nutrition for a few hours before I got blocked by the medical mafia. The problem of being in gastrointestinal organ failure. I need them to survive so they use my “food” as a means of controlling me. They tell me I am only allowed to get medical care at one particular Emergency Department ONLY, the hospital that stopped feeding me and created this whole mess.

            I got a letter today telling me my behavior of asking my doctor if he was going to do any aspect of his job was inappropriate and I am to adjust my behavior. This major hospital lost one billion in revenue in the first half of the year. They just can’t figure out why? So this non-profit hospital’s solution, to charge patients $50 to sent messages to their doctors, which are typically answered by nurses not doctors.

            Medicare got involved in my case so they agreed to feed me again in January 2023. I will believe it when I see it. I get to live on my muscles and body fat until then. Always a terrible plan. I talk to a psychologist twice a week for medical PTSD. The only word the came to her mind to describe my situation was “clusterfuck.” She described my care as a case of classic patient abandonment. I have to get a new prescribing doctor hence the wait until next year.

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  2. The corporate world has turned “mindfulness” into one big “Fuckidall” approach. And schools are playing catch-up. But “Fuckidall”, whether in pill form or chants, kicks the can down the road.

    Psychiatry is zombie medicine, and “psychotherapy” means ‘follow the leader’, i.e. your “therapist”.

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