A common “symptom” of psychological conditions like ADHD, autism, and Nice Guy Syndrome / People Pleasing Syndrome is being “too sensitive”.
For me, I found out far too late in life that I’m a “highly sensitive person”, a term referring to someone who’s nervous system seems to be more reactive than most others. It took me a long time to realise that most other people didn’t feel as strongly in response to stimuli as I did, both physically and emotionally.
I feel hot and cold strongly, to the point where it hurts. Loud noises or cacophony (multiple noises at once) feel like pieces of glass cutting through my brain. I nearly always wear sunglasses outdoors because otherwise the normal glare will make my eyes water. I can smell my own body odor even when others can’t. I nearly passed out when I got my back tattooed.
But even moreso, I’ve always been highly sensitive emotionally.
I was the “cry baby” kid when I was younger, mostly due to a sensitivity to physical pain, but also crying was my default response to difficult emotions. I was particularly reactive to confrontation, and would cry at even the thought that someone was upset with me.
As I got older, I learned to suppress my crying reaction (an unhealthy trade-off as I later discovered), but I was still very reactive to emotions. My empathy was so strong that I suffered as much as anyone I was witnessing. I couldn’t bear to see bullying or grief or conflict between others.
I always just thought of myself as “soft”.
I developed a lot of shame around my sensitivity. I thought I needed to be “harder”, and even though I wasn’t overly bullied for this trait, I certainly got negative feedback about being both physically sensitive and emotionally responsive. Raised in the macho West Auckland culture of New Zealand, I quickly learned to suppress, hide, and minimize my reactions.
I pretended not to feel or care. I thought of my sensitivity as a weakness. Despite there being no evidence to support this idea, beyond judgmental feedback from others, I thought being highly tuned into physical phenomena and the social/emotional world of others was somehow a deficit.
Is that what you think too? Are you worried that being sensitive is “bad”?
I want you to question this shame, as I once did.
You wouldn’t consider someone with superior eyesight to be disabled. Yet they are simply more “sensitive” to visual stimuli.
You wouldn’t consider someone who’s excellent at guessing people’s true motives to be somehow inferior to others. Yet their superior psychology reading abilities can easily be described as heightened “sensitivity” to voice and facial cues.
What if being “highly sensitive” is as much of an advantage as being stronger, faster or smarter?
I understand why you might feel like it’s a weakness. If you’re like me, you’ve attributed all kinds of suffering to your sensitivity. From the direct suffering, like struggling with bright lights and loud conversations, to the more indirect suffering of bullying, shame, and perceived social ostracism.
But while the direct suffering is real, in a sense (I can’t force myself to “handle” bright sunlight, despite my best efforts), the shame and psychological pain is no different to someone who thinks they’re “too tall” or “too brainy” or even “too attractive”.
You’re ashamed of your advantages!
Once I got over my shame, I started to look at being a highly sensitive person as a potential advantage rather than a weakness. When I looked more closely at it without judgment, I saw how I outperformed others in certain situations.
Think of some of these examples, and reflect on your own experiences:
I could always smell when my daughter needed a nappy change, way before my wife could, even if it was just pee. My daughter never got nappy rash because I was on it right away.
My ability to endure uncomfortable physical situations is far beyond that of most people I know, simply because just being alive is physically uncomfortable for me. I’m used to it.
I can walk into a room full of strangers and accurately gauge roughly how each person is feeling, not just as an emotional state, but also how they feel about each other. I know when people are offended, disgusted, attracted and so on, often before they’re even aware of it themselves.
Since becoming a coach, this emotional sensitivity has been massively enhanced by conversations that deeply dive into what people are thinking alongside these feelings. This has become a kind of superpower for me.
I’m almost psychic with correctly intuiting when people are lying to themselves. I can accurately guess when someone’s emotions are coming from trauma and shame rather than the trigger they think it is. I usually guess how someone is about to end a sentence as they start talking. I can clarify a client’s muddled ideas as if their mind was a book I could easily read.
I can’t even describe how I’m able to do this, the ideas just pop into my head. And ever since I stopped being ashamed of my sensitivity and learned to trust it as a predictive tool, I’ve developed a kind of radar that just “pings” me with truths about people. Honestly, I sometimes feel like an X-Men mutant, that’s how accurate it is.
Your thinking that your sensitivity is a problem, and trying to suppress it or “overcome” it, is like being a tall person who hunches over to look smaller instead of trying to play basketball.
You’re missing out on your superpower.
Now, to be fair, having massive meltdowns, or fluctuating in a bi-polar fashion between mania, depression and apathy, are not the best ways to respond to being highly sensitive. While sensitivity is not a problem, your reaction to it may be.
But you have to realise that your behavioural reactions are not “caused” by being sensitive. If anything, they are shame responses, the kind of overcorrection blow-out that happens when you’ve been suppressing and bullying yourself for too long. You might feel that you can’t control your anger, for example, but it’s more likely that you get into rages from the build up of holding back your anger for the last few weeks.
In Nice Guy terms, this is called a “puke”. Being sensitive isn’t the issue; being unable to express in a healthy way is what’s really causing the explosions (or implosions).
What I’ve learned through being a coach is to treat my reactions as helpful information to be expressed as calmly as possible.
I don’t ever think of myself as “too” sensitive any more. I now view my reactions as a superpower ability; access to data that is invisible to others.
You must notice: you’re not sensitive to things that don’t exist, are you? That would be schizophrenia. If you’re “highly” sensitive, it means you’re simply reacting to real stimuli quicker and stronger than others do. Your equipment is better at reading information, that’s all!
Measuring equipment can never be “too” accurate, right?!
What you’re missing out on is the fact that you are probably empathetic to a level where it’s nearly a psychic ability. If you could drop your judgments, both of yourself and others, and just rationally view the inner sensations you’re having as signals, warnings and measurements of a person, you’ll see that they are more visible to you than they are to others.
You probably know when someone has bad intentions, even if they sound friendly. You probably know when someone is struggling with life, even if they present as happy and cheerful. You probably know when someone loves you or despises you, regardless of how hot or cold they’re being right now.
And you’d be able to see this more clearly if you didn’t dismiss your equipment as faulty.
Here’s a 3-step process for transforming your hyper-sensitivity into a superpower.
Firstly, make a commitment to stop shaming yourself for it, and instead to treat it like a strength. From now on, you will not call it “being too sensitive”, or even the victim-hero term of “Empath”. Instead, you will call it being “psychic”, or “tuned in”.
Secondly, start expressing instead of suppressing. Literally say what you’re feeling and intuiting and suspecting, even if you don’t know why you think or feel these things. This is to start conversations where you verify and calibrate.
Thirdly, start to test these things to see if you’re right; validating them when you are, and fine-tuning them when you’re not. Call out what you think people are thinking or feeling, see how they react. Journal your predictions about how people are going to respond to upcoming events and situations, and then detachedly observe whether your forecasted correctly.
Once you start doing this, you can combine your emotional sensitivity with logic and rational deductions. When you notice an emotional radar “ping” inside your mind, you can look more closely at what someone is doing or saying, and deduce their most likely intentions, inner beliefs, and feelings they’re experiencing, based on context, background information, behavioural patterns etc.
You can harness this raw power and turn your advantage into a highly accurate weapon. Through shameless expression, dismissal of judgments, and humble measurement, you will become an unstoppable reading and predicting machine.
Then your only real problem will be deciding whether to use this superpower for good or evil!
How you can make massive progress in just a few months!
You can do all this on your own.
Through trial and error, books, courses and online content, you can figure it out slowly piece by piece over time if you dedicate yourself to it and are willing to fail often and get uncomfortable in order to achieve social mastery and build strong self confidence.
You can work directly with me in your corner for a short period of time and achieve the same results in months that would take you YEARS on your own (or your money back!).
That’s what my confidence coaching is really all about. I accelerate your progress significantly by ensuring you:
- Overcome your fear of rejection
- Stop seeing yourself as not good enough
- Develop easy practical social communication skills while still being honest
- Unleash your masculinity to make you more assertive and attractive
- Increase your self-confidence and self-respect
- Get advanced practical tips to eliminate self-sabotage and give you the best possible chances at career advancement, dating opportunities, and deep connections with quality friends
- Help you see your blind spots and errors and develop a measurement system that you can use on your own to ensure ongoing improvement for life
It took me about 7-10 years to figure this stuff out on my own. It takes my average coaching client only about 3-6 months to achieve a level of mastery that leaves them able to continue coaching themselves to further success while feeling absolutely certain that they’re on the right path (proven by the results they get).
I’ve turned virgins into fathers.
I’ve created assertive leaders out of meek people pleasers.
I’ve released overthinkers so they become powerfully decisive.
I’ve transformed shy introverts into social connectors.
I’ve moved highly anxious and depressed guys into a world of permanent self-confidence and optimism.
You don’t need to take my word for it. You can test it out for yourself. Fill out the application form below for a FREE trial coaching session with no obligation to continue, and no sales pitch!
My coaching will either blow you away and convince you that it’s worth it, or you’ll simply spend an hour talking to me without losing anything.
Thanks for reading
Hope to speak to you soon
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