Gift of sensitivity

8 Reasons Being Highly Sensitive Is A Gift In Disguise

If you are a highly sensitive person, you may well have grown up equating this distinctly human quality to weakness. After all, such feelings can make us vulnerable to the robust demands of professional and personal existences, while there is also an external view that sensitivity is a negative emotional trait.

This way of thinking does not take into account the benefits of being a highly sensitive individual or the unique gifts that it bestows. In fact, highly sensitive people have a positive range of attributes that can enrich their lives, while also adding value to their friends and loved ones around them.

8 Gifts that Highly Sensitive People Possess

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of these unique gifts and explore the reasons why being highly sensitive can be a blessing in disguise:

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Highly sensitive people are in-tune with the feelings of others

Some would describe highly sensitive people as being empathetic, but their gifts extend far beyond this. In fact, they are able to identify the feelings of others and those around them, either through their expression, body language or the words that they use when communicating. Highly sensitive people can also determine tone, meaning that they are able to tell when others are sad or experiencing a negative emotion regardless of what they are talking about. Aligned with their superior listening skills, this makes them incredibly warm and approachable people.

2. Highly sensitive people have gratitude for the simple blessings in their lives

Sensitivity to others also extends to the world around us, making certain individuals acutely aware of the pain and suffering that exists in society. As a result of this, highly sensitive people are able to view the world with a superior sense of perspective, making them grateful for the small blessings that others may take for granted. From the warmth of their children’s smiles to spending time with loved ones, these blessings trigger immense feelings of joy in those with high levels of sensitivity and make their lives fulfilling.

3. Highly sensitive people are excellent parents

On a similar note, those of a highly sensitive nature also make for attentive and patient parents. After all, babies and toddlers can be particularly demanding, meaning that parents must display huge levels of selflessness in order to provide adequate care. As highly sensitive people are in touch with the needs of those around them and inclined to give their time to help others, they make for committed parents who ensure that their children are listened to, understood and given the best possible care. As children are the ultimate blessing in life, people with high sensitivity tend to be extremely appreciative of the gift of parenthood.

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Highly sensitive people never shy away from loss

For those who consider high levels of sensitivity as a weakness, it would be reasonable to assume that such a personality type would struggle to cope in the face of loss or tragedy. The opposite is actually true, however, whether you are sensitive and dealing with a personal loss or helping a friend to cope with tragedy in their own lives. As highly sensitive individuals are undefended and open to the nature of loss, they are less likely to shy away from this and more capable of remaining strong in the face of true sadness.

5. Highly sensitive people are extremely creative

Creativity is a huge gift, and one that can change the world around us for the better. It is also something that highly sensitive people have in abundance, at least according to psychologist Elaine Aron. She estimates that roughly 20% of the world’s popular are highly sensitive, with 70% of these heavily introverted. This trait is one of the key drivers of creativity, meaning that those of an acutely sensitive nature have a considerable capability for conceiving and acting on abstract thoughts.

6. Highly sensitive people can make more informed decisions

If you were talking to a psychologist, they would tell you that highly sensitive individuals have a far greater awareness of nuances in meaning. In laymen terms, this means that their attentiveness to detail makes them able to process large amounts of information in a thoughtful manner, leading to greater caution and more informed decision making. Because of such thought patterns and the fact that highly sensitive individuals are aware of all potential outcomes, they also make for excellent leaders.

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7. Highly sensitive people are great conversationalists

Highly sensitive people also make for great conversationalists, but not necessarily in the way that you might think. While they are certainly skilled listeners and capable of identifying with other’s feelings, their keen sense of the world around them ensures that they are highly engaged with topical issues and talking points. In short, their unique relationship with the world makes them feel as though they belong to the narratives that they share, meaning that they are rarely lost for words and often stimulated by meaningful conversations.

8. Highly sensitive people have greater sensory perception

On a final note, certain studies have revealed that highly sensitive people tend to benefit from greater levels of sensory perception. This is a true gift and a wonderful virtue, and one which can enrich our everyday lives considerably. It enables us to more easily identify subtle nuances of texture in clothing and materials, as well as fragrances, colours and the beats that underpin our favourite tunes. Such a gift creates superior visual and interactive experiences, while also allowing us to take greater joy in life’s simple pleasures.

Hopefully, understanding these traits will help you to appreciate the true value of being highly sensitive the many benefits that it offers in everyday life.

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Featured photo credit: Evan Kirby via stocksnap. io

5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Douglas Eby, M.A./Psychology, who is a writer and researcher on the psychology of creative expression, high ability and personal growth. He is creator of the Talent Development Resources series of sites (including at I know many of you are “highly sensitive” and enjoy articles on that topic, so I am excited to pique his highly-sensitive brain today!

Question: If you had to name the top five gifts of being highly sensitive, what would they be?


1. Sensory detail

One of the prominent “virtues” of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides. The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature. All of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.

Of course, people are not simply “sensitive” or “not sensitive” — like other qualities and traits, it’s a matter of degree.

Years ago, I took a color discrimination test to work as a photographic technician, making color prints. The manager said I’d scored better, with more subtle distinctions between hues in the test charts, than anyone he had evaluated.

That kind of response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help visual artists and designers be even more excellent.

2. Nuances in meaning

The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.

3. Emotional awareness

We also tend to be more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.

A greater response to pain, discomfort, and physical experience can mean sensitive people have the potential, at least, to take better care of their health.

4. Creativity

Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.

As examples, there are many actors who say they are shy, and director Kathryn Bigelow, who recently won an Academy Award, has said, “I’m kind of very shy by nature.” The star of her movie The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner (who was reportedly shy as a child), has commented that “in social situations she can be painfully shy.”

5. Greater empathy

High sensitivity to other people’s emotions can be a powerful asset for teachers, managers, therapists and others.

Question: And, if you had to name five curses, what would they be? And how best do we overcome them or co-exist with them?


1. Easily overwhelmed, overstimulated

The biggest challenge in high sensitivity is probably being vulnerable to sensory or emotional overwhelm. Taking in and processing so much information from both inner and outer worlds can be “too much” at times and result in more pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and other reactions.

An intriguing neuroscience research study I came across that may explain some of this said people with nervous systems having decreased latent inhibition are more open to incoming stimuli. Which can be a good thing, or not so good.

Actor Amy Brenneman once commented, “I’m too sensitive to watch most of the reality shows. It’s so painful for me.”

That kind of pain or discomfort can mean we don’t choose to experience some things that might actually be fun or enriching. Though I don’t mean reality shows.

2. Affected by emotions of others

Another aspect of sensitivity can be reacting to the emotions — and perhaps thoughts — of others. Being in the vicinity of angry people, for example, can be more distressing.

As actor Scarlett Johansson once put it, “Sometimes that awareness is good, and sometimes I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

3. Need lots of space and time to ourselves

We may need to “retreat” and emotionally “refresh” ourselves at times that are not always best for our goals or personal growth. For example, being at a professional development conference, it may not be the most helpful thing to leave a long presentation or workshop in order to recuperate from the emotional intensity of the crowd.

4. Unhealthy perfectionism

There can also be qualities of thinking or analyzing that lead to unhealthy perfectionism, or stressful responses to objects, people or situations that are “too much” or “wrong” for our sensitivities.

5. Living out of sync with our culture

Living in a culture that devalues sensitivity and introversion as much as the U.S. means there are many pressures to be “normal” — meaning extroverted, sociable and outgoing.

Dr. Ted Zeff, author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, points out that other cultures, such as Thailand, have different attitudes, with a strong appreciation of sensitive or introverted people.

Jenna Avery, a “life coach for sensitive souls,” counsels people to accept or even pursue being “out of sync” with mainstream society, and be aware of other’s judgments of people as too sensitive, too emotional, or too dramatic.

And if we are sensitive, we may use those kinds of judgments against ourselves, and think, as Winona Ryder said she did at one time, “Maybe I’m too sensitive for this world.”

Certainly, there are extremes of emotions that are considered mood disorders, for example, and should be dealt with as a health challenge.

But “too emotional” or “too sensitive” are usually criticisms based on majority behavior and standards.

Overall, I think being highly sensitive is a trait we can embrace and use to be more creative and aware. But it demands taking care to live strategically, even outside popular values, to avoid overwhelm so we can better nurture our abilities and creative talents.

The Gifts of Sensibility, or Why Sensitivity Isn't a Disorder

Sensitive children are known for their intense experiences - they are aroused by the environment. They often experience sensory overload due to too loud sounds, too strong smells, unbearable touch sensations, or clothes tags. Such children can be difficult to understand with their violent reactions and emotions, especially when they show increased resistance or anxiety. Raising sensitive children is incredibly difficult; but if at the same time the child develops normally, amazing gifts are usually hidden from our eyes, which go "into the load" to a more acute reaction to the world around. nine0003

The number of sensitive children in North America is estimated at 15-20% of the total population. An exacerbated reaction to both external stimuli and body signals is a consequence of the increased reactivity of the nervous system. Parents of sensitive children tell me, "It seems like they were born that way: more agitated, more reactive, more difficult to soothe." When I look at photographs of young children, I can see the sensitivity in some of them by the way they clench their hands, wrinkle their faces, the tension in their bodies, as if saying that this world is too heavy a burden for them. nine0003

Sensitive nervous and sensory systems are found not only in humans: biologists have found them in other mammals and even fruit flies. While it's still not entirely clear why some babies are more sensitive, current research suggests it's genetics, prenatal experiences, or birth. Be that as it may, but one thing is certain: sensitive children need the same conditions for development as other children: strong caring relationships with adults and soft hearts. nine0003

Sensitivity is a continuum where no two children are the same in terms of their increased sensitivity to stimuli, including differences in response to sights, smells, tastes, touches, sounds, and kinesthetic/proprioceptive (responsible for the sensation of the body in space and time ) and emotional/perceptual abilities. As a mother of two sensitive children, the difference between them is obvious to me - one has a scent like a bloodhound, she can catch a slight treacherous smell of chocolate on my breath, and she is also very sensitive to tickling and pain. My second child can quickly "read" the space and capture the emotions and true intentions of those who are there. nine0003

The difference between sensitive children is huge, but the gifts that come with increased reactivity of sensory systems can only manifest themselves when the development process goes on as usual. Although these children are more prone to emotional problems, they are able to thrive in a supportive environment where there is room for warmth, time for play, and space for tears.

Although all children have abilities and talents, in sensitive children, due to the increased reactivity of their nervous and emotional systems, they are most likely to be grouped as follows:

1. Susceptibility. Sensitive children very often pay attention to small details and notice things that are different or changed and can put together different features and abstract details. When it rained one hot summer day after a drought, my daughter stood there smelling the rain and said, “Mom, I forgot what rain smells like! It's so wonderful. " When she was younger, she said that "the dust in the sunlight sparkles like magic." To see the world through the eyes of a sensitive child is to re-experience the wonder and splendor of the ordinary things that surround us. Such children often help us slow down and notice what we are missing in the hustle and bustle of "adult" affairs. nine0003

2. Deep concern for others. As part of the nervous system, the emotional system directly influences sensitivity and can lead to increased solicitude. If a child develops in an ideal way, as he matures he can become very compassionate, empathetic and considerate of others. When such children are given the opportunity to speak out what they feel, extremely deep emotions open up before us. Sensitive children are easily moved by music, stories, nature, art, and the kindness of others. They cry over sentimental songs or stories, like my daughter when I sang Danny Boy to her or recited the poem Puff the Magic Dragon. The warmth that such children radiate when their hearts are soft is breathtaking. They may show care for their brothers and sisters with desperate zeal. nine0003

3. Passion and intensity of feelings. An increased sensitivity of the emotional system can lead to unbridled, intense feelings and reactions to things, people, and interests. They love their pets - as well as their friends, their clothes - and this particular bedtime book. They can talk with incredible animation and enthusiasm about their ideas and the big dreams and goals that flow from them. Often these are people with whom it is interesting to communicate - they literally glow and infect with their energy. Some sensitive children carry this energy inside, but it often reveals itself when they play, move, write, or tell stories. nine0003

4. Memory. Because of their heightened sensitivity to the environment and their attention to situations and details, sensitive children can absorb and store information to an incredible extent. They can retell a story from memory and memorize an entire picture book. They often start talking early, imitating others, and can locate things you've misplaced with incredible accuracy. "Natural giftedness" is often the result of sensitivity along with abilities in specific areas such as visual comprehension, reading comprehension, or dexterity. nine0003

5. Creativity. When sensitive children play freely, without rules or structure, their imaginary world can be rich and limitless. They often demonstrate a unique ability to create something original from ordinary things. In other words, they build what surrounds them into their game. For example, one sensitive child created a "candy wall" in his room with blue Velcro and Halloween candy. Sensitive children who flourish in this way can be ranked with the most gifted artists, writers, actors, musicians, designers, engineers and talented creators of the new. nine0003

6. Insight - they are not easily fooled. Sensitive children can be especially selective in choosing who they can trust and build relationships with. They expect a lot from their affections and often people first have to prove that they are psychologically safe and will not hurt before a sensitive child trusts such a relationship. A parent of a sensitive child told me about how his child went to a new school: "It seems that he studies the children's resumes before choosing his friends." Sensitive children are less likely to believe false excuses and pretense. Often they feel the true intentions of people, despite attempts to hide the truth or mislead. nine0003

7. Resistance. This may not seem like a gift at all, but the ability of a sensitive child to resist coercion and control by others has a positive side. And although these children can quickly become defensive if they feel pressured and often start to resist, this is what helps them keep the space for their own ideas. The ability to quickly wall off coercion and resist allows them to be themselves, resist peer pressure when needed, and become a unique individual. nine0003

8. Problem solving and innovation. When a sensitive child is able to digest a mass of sensory information and put all the pieces together, he can begin to organize them in an interesting, non-trivial way. The ability to discover new and unique solutions grows from the ability to play with ideas, connect dissimilar objects, and form connections. Because sensitive children have more “inputs” to process, they can be considered problem solvers in innovative ways—their possibilities are endless when development unfolds properly. nine0003

9. Gifts associated with the senses. Every sensitive child is at some point on a continuum of heightened responses, and with that comes unique abilities and talents. Children with heightened emotional/perceptual awareness can notice, describe, and translate the world around them into feelings and emotions, as happens in poetry and storytelling. Children with auditory sensitivity can pick up a tune and play it on a musical instrument or sing a song with perfect clarity. Kinesthetically/proprioceptively gifted sensitive children are sensitive to the movements of their bodies and can achieve heights in various sports. There are many ways to show the sensitivity of the child, and each sense organ has its own talents. nine0003

10. They make parents develop. Sometimes parents of sensitive children feel that such children - with their sharp reactions, ability to resist and strong, frightening feelings - are too difficult to care for. But love for the child and a sense of responsibility motivate the parent to grow and develop in their ability to find patience, understanding, compassion and self-control. Sensitive children need strong, caring and firm parents to lean on, who are not afraid of off-scale emotions and will help children cope with them. If a parent learns to "dance" with his sensitive child in this way, if he can understand his emotions and behavior, he will gain the confidence that is necessary in order to be an answer to the needs of the child. nine0003

The gift of a sensitive child is the opportunity for growth that he gives to those who care for him. In caring for a sensitive child, you need to learn to “dance” with human vulnerability, become an airbag for strong emotions and lead him through life's disappointments. If you manage to do this, you will be rewarded with self-realization as a parent, as well as your own personal growth. Although sensitive children are not easy to raise, they can make you amazing parents. nine0003

What do sensitive children need from their parents?

Sensitive children need what any other child needs - someone who will take care of his heart when emotions are running high and the pain is too strong. They need adults who will lead and take responsibility for reading needs and generously meeting them.

Sensitivity can be a wonderful thing if we give our children enough time to develop and understand the world in their own unique way. Nature did not show cruelty and was not mistaken - differences and diversity have always been characteristic of it. Gifts are contained in all the characters that our children have, and it does not matter if the child is sensitive or not. nine0003

Deborah McNamara

Translation by Natalia Lysak


Read online The Gift of Supersensitivity. A Book for the Gentle and Vulnerable”, Judith Orloff – LitRes

Our innate capacity for empathy is the source of the most valuable of all human qualities.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

THE EMPATH’S SURVIVAL GUIDE © 2017 by Judith Orloff. This edition published by arrangement

© Filippova A., translation, 2022

© AST Publishing House LLC, 2022

Reviews of the book “The Gift of Supersensitivity. A book for the tender and vulnerable”:

“Have you ever been advised to grow thicker skin? Can you guess that your sensitivity is a source of not only pain, but also joy, as well as empathy, creativity and spirituality? Then this book is for you. Written - how else? “With incredible empathy, this book will help you understand yourself and your gift and find the right path into the depths of this hardened, but still beautiful world.” nine0003

The New York Times bestselling author Introverts and founder of the Quiet Revolution

vitality and resilience without losing compassion and empathy.”

author of the book Supergenes

“The gift of supersensitivity. A book for the tender and vulnerable” is a wonderful, warm and wise book. Reading Judith's book is like talking to an understanding sister who initiates you into this amazingly complex world of hypersensitivity. We all know hypersensitive people who have a hard time in life. It can be yourself, your sister or brother, spouse or spouse, colleague, friend or girlfriend. This book is a collection of practical advice on how to embrace your sensitivity and turn it into a gift. nine0003

author of The Radiance Sutras

“Being an empath is the new normal, and you have the perfect tool in front of you. Now people are learning how to deal with high sensitivity in everyday life. Amazing and so timely. Everyone needs this book."

author of Anatomy of the Spirit and Sacred Covenants

“In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Judith Orloff helps us deepen our understanding of the empathic journey. Professional knowledge, as well as personal experience of empathy, complemented by practical tools for surviving in our sometimes complex world, make the author a leading expert in his field. Through this book, you will not only accept your sensitive nature, but also learn how to use your abilities and develop self-mastery skills. Dr. Orloff masterfully helps to bring out the empath in each of us.” nine0003

New York Times bestselling author “Myself a placebo. How to Harness the Power of the Subconscious Mind for Health and Prosperity”

“Dr. Orloff has done all empaths a great service by creating this book for them. This information will help thousands of people protect themselves from energy vampires, build healthy boundaries, and accept their sensitivity as the true gift that it is.”

bestselling author The New York Times Goddesses Never Age, Women's Body, Women's Wisdom, and Menopause Wisdom
9 who are overwhelmed by the chaos of our world and strive to master useful techniques in order to become a more sensitive, whole and energetic person. It is also suitable for those who want to better understand sensitive loved ones. The book is easy to read, gets straight to the point and offers practical methods to help loving people live in harmony and avoid burnout. Dr. Orloff, a medical practitioner and empath, shares how to prevent sensory overload by building healthy boundaries between yourself and energy vampires of all kinds, including narcissists. This book is a guide for all times, to which you can return again and again. Highly recommend!" nine0003
New York Times bestselling author Give Yourself Health

“The Gift of Supersensitivity. A book for the tender and vulnerable” is a salvation for sensitive people and all those who want to develop empathy in relationships without enduring the partner’s stress. Highly recommend!"

international bestseller "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus"

"This could be a book about yet another pathology. But instead, “Gift of Supersensitivity. A book for the tender and vulnerable” Judith Orloff describes people whose special skills and talents have been developed in the course of human development and are valuable for their unusualness. We recommend that everyone read this book to expand their understanding of human diversity and develop empathy as a special talent and paramount task.” nine0003

Harville Hendricks and Helen Lakelly Hunt, Doctor of Philosophy,
Councils of bestsellers The New York Times “Love for Life”, “Imago-therapy for Relations” and “Light Life in Marriage”
9000 9000 9000 9000 “Anyone who is under a lot of stress or takes personal and global change too personally will love this book. It provides advice, tools and techniques for those of us who are often misunderstood by others. A masterpiece of love and understanding." nine0003
author of No Limits and The Secret of Attraction

problems. Don't despair, empaths! You don't have to give up on empathy - you just need to develop skills that will help you avoid unpleasant surprises. “Gift of supersensitivity. A book for the tender and vulnerable” Dr. Judith Orloff will teach you this. This is a really needed book. It is devoted to a topic that for a long time remained unraveled in psychology, and in healing, and in medicine.

author of One Mind: How the Individual Mind is Embedded in Universal Consciousness and Why It Matters

Chapter 1

Are You an Empath?
An Introduction to Empathy

I am a physician and trained in traditional medicine for fourteen years at the University of Southern California and UCLA. I'm also an empath. In my more than twenty years of medical practice, I have specialized in working with highly sensitive people like myself. People may be at different levels of the sensitivity scale, but empaths are emotional sponges, absorbing both the pain and the joy of the world. We feel everything, sometimes to the extreme, and at the same time we are poorly protected from other people. As a result, we often suffer from overstimulation and are prone to burnout and sensory overload. nine0003

I am so passionate about this topic, both professionally and personally, because as an empath I have had to face difficulties in my own life and develop specific strategies to overcome them. They allow me to protect my weaknesses and make the most of my strengths - and there are a lot of them and ! I want to share with you the knowledge of how to become a harmonious, energized and happy empath. To be successful at this, you must learn techniques for not letting the energy, symptoms, and stress of those around you flow through you. In addition, I want to teach your loved ones and friends—family, colleagues, bosses, parents, and romantic partners—how to communicate with and support you in the best possible way. My book will show you how to achieve these goals. nine0003

I invite my kindred sensitive souls to discover in this book a source of understanding and acceptance in this often callous, heartless and sensitive world. I challenge the status quo and create a new normal for sensitivity, no matter where you are on the sensitivity scale. There is nothing "wrong" about being sensitive. In fact, you will soon discover what is most “right” about you. With the help of this book, I want to create a community of support so that you can find like-minded people, become yourself and open up to your full potential. I want to support the movement of people who respect their sensibility. Welcome to the circle of love! I bring you words of hope and recognition. I encourage you to embrace your gift and express it fully on the path of being an empath. nine0003

Who is an empath?

Empaths have an extremely reactive nervous system. Unlike other people, we do not have filters that block out irritants. Therefore, we absorb both positive and negative energy of the world around us with our whole body. We are so sensitive as if we have fifty fingers instead of five. We are really incredibly receptive.

Studies show that approximately 20% of the population is highly sensitive, although the degree of sensitivity of individuals may vary [1]. Empaths are often labeled "overly sensitive" and advised to "grow their skin thicker." Both in childhood and in adulthood, we are not supported, but shamed for our sensitivity. We can develop chronic fatigue, and then we tend to move away from the overwhelming world. But now I wouldn't trade my empathy for anything. nine0003

She makes me feel the mysteries of the universe and the passion of my wildest dreams.

However, my empathic abilities did not always delight me.

Growing up as an empath

Like many empathic children, I never felt like I belonged. Honestly, I was like an alien guest on Earth, who is just waiting to return to his home somewhere among the stars. I remember sitting in the yard and looking up at the sky, hoping that a spaceship would come and take me home. I was the only child in the family, and therefore spent a lot of time alone. There was no one around me who understood my sensitivity. There seemed to be no one like me. My parents, both doctors—and there were twenty-five doctors in our family history—said, “Honey, you need to get tougher and grow thicker skin,” but I didn’t want to and didn’t even know how to do it. I couldn't visit crowded malls and go to parties. When I entered, I felt good, but when I left, I was completely exhausted: I experienced anxiety, I felt dizzy, and something could suddenly get sick. nine0003

I didn't know then that every person's body is surrounded by a subtle energy field - its faint light radiates several inches [1] or even feet [2] in all directions. These fields convey information about the emotional state and physical health. In crowded places, other people's energy fields intersect with ours. I absorbed all these strong emotions, completely not understanding and not being able to interpret their nature. I just felt tired and restless in the crowd of people. And most of all I wanted to disappear. nine0003

As a teenager in Los Angeles, I became heavily addicted to drugs to block my sensitivity (I don't recommend this!). By suppressing my feelings, I could live a normal life. I could go to parties and hang around malls like my friends and I was fine. What a relief it was! But after a horrific accident when I flew off a 1,500-foot cliff in Topanga Canyon in an Austin Mini Cooper at three in the morning, my parents were scared to death and sent me to a psychiatrist. nine0003

Naturally, I only saw the psychiatrist as an enemy. But this angel in human form was the first to help me realize an important thought: in order to become whole, I must accept my feelings, and not run from them. This was the beginning of my healing and accepting myself as an empath. I was so intimidated by my childhood experience of empathy and intuition that a step in my development as a doctor and as a woman was learning to embrace these abilities. They are precious and deserve encouragement and support. This is why I specialize in helping empaths in my psychiatric practice and workshops. nine0003

Because we empaths can thrive! Empathy is the medicine this world needs.



The Empath Experience

Let's now explore the empath experience in more detail. You will see if it is similar to yours, and you may recognize empaths in loved ones and colleagues.

Let's start by answering the question, what is the difference between a person with ordinary empathy and an empath. Ordinary empathy is sympathy for another person who is in a difficult situation. Or we can rejoice for others in their happy moments. However, as empaths, we feel the emotions, energy and physical symptoms of other people with our whole body, because we do not have such filters as most. We can experience other people's grief and their joy. We are highly sensitive to their tone of voice and movements. We can hear not only words, but also non-verbal silent messages. Empaths feel first and then think - just the opposite of how most people function in our super-intellectual society. We are not separated from the outside world by a protective barrier. This greatly distinguishes us from other people who are protected almost from birth.

Empaths have some, and sometimes all, of what psychologist Elaine Ayron calls hypersensitive people, or HSPs. These traits include a low threshold for irritation, a need to spend time alone, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, and dislike of large crowds. In addition, hypersensitive people take longer to unwind after a hard day because their bodies are slower to transition from excitement to calmness. Empaths and hypersensitive people are united by a love of silence and nature. nine0003

Empaths are, however, more receptive than hypersensitive people. We can feel the subtle energy, which in traditional oriental medicine is called shakti or prana , and we absorb this energy with our whole body. Hypersensitive people usually don't. This skill allows us to delve incredibly deeply into the surrounding energy. Subtle energy permeates everything around, and we energetically absorb the emotions and various sensations of other people. Often it is difficult for us to distinguish the ailment of another person from our own. Empaths happen to experience deep spiritual and intuitive experiences, which is not usually the case for hypersensitive people. Some empaths are even able to understand animals, nature, and their own inner voice. But one does not exclude the other: you can be both a hypersensitive person and an empath at the same time. nine0003

To determine if you are an empath, see if you can identify yourself with one or more of the following types.


Physical empaths. You are particularly sensitive to other people's physical symptoms and tend to carry them into your body. You can be energized by someone who feels great.

Emotional empaths. You often become infected with other people's emotions and absorb their feelings - both joyful and sad. nine0003

Intuitive empaths. You have psychic abilities: heightened intuition, telepathy, you see prophetic dreams, understand animals and plants, and can hear the voices of spirits. There are several different subtypes here with their own characteristics:

Telepathic empaths intuitively receive information about other people in the present.

Prescient empaths can see into the future both in their sleep and while awake.

nine0002 • Dream Empaths see prophetic dreams and receive information that guides them in life and helps other people.

Psychic Empaths can communicate with spirits from the underworld.

Plant Empaths can sense the needs of plants and see their essence.

Animal empaths are able to tune into the frequency of animals and communicate with them.

Empaths experience diverse and multifaceted feelings. You may see traits of one or more of the types described in yourself. In later chapters, I will also describe specific types of physical and emotional empaths, such as food empaths (who feel the energy of food) and relational empaths (who are keenly aware of the mood, physical condition, and sensuality of their friends and partners). By learning to see your special abilities, you will find that they can not only enrich your life, but also enable you to help those around you. nine0003

Styles of Behavior: Introverted and Extroverted Empaths

Physical, emotional, and spiritual empaths may have different styles of communication and interaction with the world around them. Most empaths are introverts, but there are also extroverts among them. There are empaths who combine both behaviors. Introverted empaths like me have a hard time with socializing and small talk. In companies, they are usually inconspicuous and prefer to leave parties early. Often they arrive in their car so as not to feel trapped and dependent on other people. I really love my close circle of friends and try not to be at parties or in a large company of strangers. I don't like to make small talk (I never learned how to), which is a clear sign of introversion. Usually two or three hours of communication in a company is enough for me to feel overexcited. All my friends are aware of this feature and are not offended when I leave parties early. nine0003

Extroverted empaths, unlike introverted ones, readily enter into dialogues and like to joke and chat. They can stay in society longer without getting tired or overexcited.


Judith Orloff, MD

How does one become an empath?

Many factors contribute to this. Some children come into the world more sensitive than others - this is an innate temperament. you can see him at the very moment of their birth.

They are much more sensitive to light, smells, touch, movement, temperature and sound. Also, working with patients and workshop participants, I came to the conclusion that sensitivity can be transmitted genetically. Hypersensitive children can be born to mothers and fathers with the same characteristics. Of course, the behavior of parents also plays an important role. Neglect or abuse of children can affect their sensitivity in adulthood. In my practice, I have seen empaths who have experienced trauma at an early age, whether they have been emotionally or physically abused or raised by parents who suffer from alcoholism, depression, or narcissism. Such trauma has the potential to destroy the healthy defense mechanisms that develop in a child surrounded by parental care. As a result of such upbringing, children usually feel that they are “not noticed” in the family, and then they feel invisible in a big world where sensitivity is not valued. It should be noted that in no case have empaths learned how to protect themselves from stress at the level of other people. This is what makes us different. An irritant like an unpleasant person, a crowd, noise, or a bright light can throw us off balance, because our threshold for sensory overload is extremely low. nine0003

The Science of Empathy

Several scientific discoveries explaining the nature of empathy seem to me of extraordinary interest.

Mirror neuron system

Scientists have discovered a separate class of nerve cells that are responsible for empathy. These cells allow us to experience the same emotions as a person who is hurt, afraid or happy. Empath mirror neurons are thought to be hypersensitive, which is why our response to other people's emotions is so strong. nine0003

How does this happen? The work of mirror neurons is triggered by external events. For example, if one of the spouses hit, the other also feels pain. When our child cries, we are sad with him, and when a friend is happy, we experience joy. Psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists are thought to have a reverse process that science calls "empathy deficit syndrome" (see Chapter 5). This means that they cannot experience the empathy that other people have. The reason for this is the lack of activity of their system of mirror neurons. We must beware of such people - they are incapable of unconditional love [2]. nine0003

Electromagnetic fields

The second discovery is based on the fact that both the brain and the heart generate electromagnetic fields. According to the HeartMath Institute, these fields convey information about a person's thoughts and feelings. Empaths can be especially receptive to this kind of information, and it throws them off balance. Similarly, we often react more strongly to changes in the electromagnetic fields of the Earth and the Sun, both physically and emotionally. Empaths are well aware that everything that happens on Earth and in the Sun affects mood and energy levels [3]. nine0003

Emotional contagion

The third discovery that allows us to better understand the nature of empathy is the phenomenon of emotional contagion. Research shows that many people pick up on the emotions of those around them. For example, it only takes one baby to cry to set off a wave of baby crying in a hospital room. And the loud indignation of one person in the workplace can be transferred to other employees. In a recent article in The New York Times states that the ability to emotionally synchronize with other people is extremely important for building good relationships. What lesson should empaths learn from this? In life, you need to surround yourself with positive people so that there is simply no room for destructive negativity. And if a friend is going through a tough time right now, we need to take special precautions to ground ourselves and stay on balance. By reading this book, you will learn these important strategies [4].

Dopamine hypersensitivity

The fourth discovery is about dopamine, a neurotransmitter that enhances neuronal activity and is associated with feelings of pleasure. According to research, introverted empaths tend to be more sensitive to dopamine than extroverted ones. In general, introverted empaths require less dopamine to feel happy. This may explain why time alone, reading and meditation bring them more pleasure than external stimuli in the form of socializing with a lot of people or going to parties. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to feel the dopamine rush they get from face-to-face interaction.

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