I have always had a vivid imagination. I remember the first time someone told me that they rarely dream and never in color, I was shook. I had never even fathomed that being a possibility since I dream nightly and always in vibrant color. I was similarly perplexed when I realized that not everyone pictures the months of the year as race track oval with January at one turn and July on it’s direct opposite. My mind and imagination have always been extremely active, which I find to be a blessing and a curse. It’s like I have a million light bulbs flickering in my brain at all times, but not all of them turn all the way on. However, when they all turn on at the same time it radiates a beautiful and brilliant light.
Though having a vivid imagination has its perks, it can also easily run in a negative direction. Instead of those light bulbs flickering on to produce light, they all flicker out to produce a darkness that brings me to a very negative place. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to navigate this world where my imagination runs wild. Over time I've found that people with these traits are often considered to be highly sensitive in nature. My mom, wired very similarly, recognized my highly sensitive qualities as a young child and provided me with a nurturing supportive environment where I could thrive. However, sometimes my senses spiral out of control and I have to reflect on all the traits of a highly sensitive person that are beneficial.
BENEFITS OF BEING HIGHLY SENSITIVE
Author of Highly Sensitive People Going Strong, Josephine T. Lewis, breaks down the benefits of being highly sensitive into these nine qualities that I've summarized below.
Creativity: Senses are always on overdrive, so the brain is continuously being flooded by information overload. Due to the mind processing this information in a different way than most others, the perspective of a situation has the potential for turning into a brilliant idea.
Health: Tend to have faster reflexes, and are more acutely aware of changes in the body and are less likely to use stimulants such as coffee because the senses are always awake. (Note to self...maybe I should quit my coffee addiction...yikes!)
Sense of Self: High attention to detail, so have a better understanding of self and what life goals to pursue.
Sense of Pleasure: More intense experience with new discoveries such as a new movie, song, or hobby which could be linked to higher dopamine levels in the brain. More motivated and determined to achieve goals, because you know what you love.
Vivid and Emotional Dreams: Dreams are intense and vivid and often correlate to emotional areas in life. Also, it is easier to recall dream’s details and reflect your life and subconscious.
Compassion and Kindness: Have a better sense of your own feelings and the feeling of others. You have a huge heart and a good grasp on what could hurt others. Kindness is given freely and compassion is deep.
Intuition: Are able to piece together details that are often overlooked, allowing you to predict how things may play out in future. You are able to feel the energy in a room and have a great sense of situations. It’s like you have a sixth sense.
Sense of Nature: Often the first to notice subtle changes in weather. Can literally sense when a storm is brewing. You also feel more pleasure from nature and influenced and calmed by being out in it.
Hard Workers: Extremely determined and motivated, you are prone to be a perfectionist. Your acute attention to detail compels you to complete tasks thoroughly and diligently.
QUALITIES OF THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON
In our world of education we encounter highly sensitive children and adults everyday, but may not completely understand how they perceive and process the world around them. I’ve listed a few of the common qualities of sensitivity as characterized by Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person:
WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT ME...
Here are some things that I have learned about myself in order to fully appreciate my personality.
Surround myself with positivity: Though we don’t always have a choice about everyone who enters our world on a daily basis, we can still be intentional about creating a network of positive people that inspire, support, and encourage. Reaching out to those personal and professional networks can bring sunshine into my life on the gloomiest of days. I also have learned to let go of people in my professional or personal life that are toxic and sappers of joy. It’s so hard, but sometimes necessary.
It’s not all about me: Because of my sensitivity to fluctuations in moods and emotions, I can easily let other people’s moods affect mine if I’m not careful and let it sap my energy. I have to stop myself in my tracks sometimes and realize that their moods or emotions often having nothing to do with me. Taking the time to show empathy and truly understand what is going on, can shift my self-centered focus.
Focus on what is true: It is easy for me to read into a comment whether it is in a text, email, or DM, and let my imagination run in a direction that is simply false. I struggle with this. When people leave me on “read”, or don’t respond with the same punctuation as I might use, it is easy for me to jump to conclusions and before long my mood can plummet from joy to despair. When this happens, I need to stop and focus on what I know to be true and stop my imagination from getting the best of me. The way I react or respond isn’t how everyone does.
Find time to feed my soul: I often find that when my mind spirals out of control, I am tired or overstressed. Taking time to do something that I love brings me peace and solitude and can help me decompress or recenter my focus. Walking, reading, praying, writing, or drawing are activities I turn to when I need to retreat. In fact, that is exactly what I’m doing by writing this post. I have a “to do” list a mile long, but I was not in the right frame of mind to tackle it, so knew I needed to feed my soul and write. Often in these moments, all my light bulbs flicker on and my best ideas are born. Sometimes, all I need is sleep. When I start feeling emotional about silly things I have learned to stop everything and just go to bed. Often times I feel much better in the morning.
EMBRACE THE MAGIC OF YOU!
Because my sensitivity can be so draining at times, sometimes I forget that the qualities I possess can be a gift to others. When I focus on my sensitivity as a strength and not a weakness, I can bring brilliant color to the world around me. Whether or not you possess the qualities of a highly sensitive person, you are made up of amazing characteristics that make you uniquely you! Embrace them, develop them and sprinkle your magic on this world.
Culinary teacher & Discovery School Lead in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning magical for students. Love to gamify!