Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World

Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life
by Ilse Sand

This book was recommended to me by my business coach. I have always known I was sensitive but when I read this book, it felt like the author was speaking to me. The author is a therapist in Denmark and this book has been translated into 16 different languages; so, I guess I am not alone!

She begins the book by talking about herself as a highly sensitive person, who often experienced low self-esteem because the traits she valued and the life we feel comfortable living are traits that are less valued in the world. This book demonstrates how highly sensitive people can have deep happiness and success when their surroundings are peaceful and explains how to create and manage a more supportive environment.

What are the qualities of a highly sensitive person?  It is not a new discovery, as Carl Jung and other therapists have deduced introverts to be more sensitive, but of those more sensitive, 70% are introverts and 30% are extroverts, which I found helpful given that I am an extrovert. There is a quiz in the back of the book to see how highly sensitive are you, which I would encourage any interested reader to take. Here are the key traits:

  • Receive more inputs and think deeply about them – which can cause you to leave a party because you feel overstimulated.
  • Sensitive to sensory inputs – which means you may become disturbed or irritated by sounds that other people can filter out but throw you off balance such as going to a noisy café.
  • Easily affected by the moods of other people – which means you can sense conflict and will have a difficult time distancing yourself from other people’s suffering.
  • Conscientious – many highly sensitive people tend to feel responsible for the entire world and this can be draining.
  • Rich inner life – many may include an active dream life and a lively imagination and they may enjoy expressing themselves in creative ways such as art or writing.
  • Natural spiritual curiosity – many see themselves as part of a larger whole and have deep respect for nature.

The A-HA moment for me was the chapter, “High Standards and Low Self-Esteem” when I realized that I set high standards for myself at a young age because I suffered from low-self- esteem, feeling that I was different. It was a way of overcompensating, not wanting to show people my perceived weakness. This negative self-view arose during my childhood because I didn’t grow up with sensitive parents or in a supportive environment. This book shares how to break the vicious cycle of not living up to your high standards. It begins with accepting yourself as that is the key to strengthening your self-esteem.

The rest of the book is focused on providing specific strategies and tactics to help sensitive people organize their life to bring out their best. There were many helpful reminders including:

  • learn to set boundaries and say NO;
  • how to create the high-quality interactions that sensitive people prefer;
  • how to manage your anger;
  • tips for dealing with shame and guilt about being more sensitive;
  • and (my favorite!) ideas for sensitive people that can bring joy and well-being!

Many of the activities I have been doing for years, so it reminded me to make sure to find time for walking in nature, spending quality time with friends, kayaking down the Hudson River, taking a yoga class, and my new love – giving myself a foot bath at the end of a long day of walking.  This book is a gift to us sensitive souls, making us realize sensitivity is NOT a flaw; rather, we have traits the world needs – we just need to manage ourselves and our environments carefully, if we are to bring out our best selves.


One Response to Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World – How to Create a Happy Life

  1. From: One sensitive soul to another.

    I love this post and I applaud your honesty. I look forward to reading this book.

    You go girl!

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