Sensitive? Gooooood!

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Entreprenurial Ponderings | 7 Comments

In 1991, Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychologist and a sensitive, began studying the trait known as Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS).  To her surprise it turned out that this is an innate trait and occurs not just in humans but in over 100 species!  It is normal.  It has been mislabeled as introversion or shyness, but is neither of these. About thirty percent of sensitives are extroverts, and sensitives are not necessarily shy (nor are introverts, by the way).

Individuals with this sensitivity trait are easily overwhelmed by bright lights, strong odors, large crowds, and loud noises. They may monitor their activities to avoid potentially overwhelming situations. They tend to be intuitive, creative, and compassionate with a rich, imaginative inner life.  Among them?  Abraham Lincoln, Carl Jung, Steve Jobs, and Princess Diana.

I was often told I was too emotional and too sensitive as a child.  My mother told me more than once that I was too dramatic.  As a young adult, I was ridiculed for avoiding violent movies.  At one workplace, I was told my sensitive nature was not desirable and perhaps I should look for a new job.  It took me a long time—decades—to become a highly functioning sensitive.  When I discovered the concept of the highly sensitive person, my understanding of who I was as a human being changed forever.  The initial stuffing-down-to-fit-in gave way to a strong commitment to emotional healing work and to walking a spiritual path.  The good in being sensitive continues to reveal itself to me.

I recently came across these powerful, healing stories by two other sensitives whose insights I greatly appreciate:

Daisy Gumin » from something’s wrong to everything’s okay

When a remarkable 17-year old, Daisy Gumin, discovered—as she read Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person—that what felt “very, very wrong” with her, was a highly valuable trait, she cried with recognition and relief. Today Daisy is “a mostly grateful, highly sensitive introvert” and I invite you to read her poignant essay on life as a sensitive found on Susan Cain’s wonderful web site for introverts, Quiet Revolution.

Sonia Sommer » from curse to superpower

Sonia Sommer, a sensitive and master healer from Australia, wrote a brilliant, no-nonsense post for the Totally Unique Thoughts/Mike Dooley web blog.  She says “our Western culture has no framework for understanding and utilizing the gifts of extremely sensitive people.”  I invite you read Sonia’s advice on “turning the curse of sensitivity into a superpower.”  I appreciate her unique perspective because no two sensitives are alike.  It’s a trait among many traits that a sensitive personality carries.

If you are interested in knowing more about this trait, here are some resources:

  • Next month in San Francisco is the premiere of a movie called, Sensitive: The Untold Story that includes insights from sensitives from all over the world, including singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette.  I’m sure it will make its way to showings across the country and abroad.  It will be interesting to follow the unfolding of this topic as more people become aware of it through educational articles, films, and presentations.


  • Don’t miss Dr. Ted Zeff if you are a sensitive male or have a son who may be a sensitive.  Dr. Ted’s study includes interviews with highly sensitive males from five countries. This is where the cultural differences begin to stand out. You can read about his research on the Highly Sensitive and Creative web site.




“There has never been, and never will be, anyone who sees, thinks, or responds exactly the way you do. Whether you’re revolutionizing physics or making a quilt, you must display your differences to make a difference.”

Martha Beck






Green Bird Closing







  1. Christin Whittington
    August 20, 2015

    Dear Jana, I was unaware that so much research exists! Thank you for helping to put high sensitivity in perspective. The links — how to recognize it, how to deal with triggers, etc. — were very helpful as well. Many thanks!

    • Jana Jopson
      August 20, 2015

      You are so welcome, Christin. I was so grateful for the discovery myself. You have to sort through and see what feels trustworthy and what resonates with you, but it is changing lives for the better and will eventually change our culture.

  2. Donna Pittenger
    August 20, 2015

    Great post, Jana.

  3. Linda
    August 20, 2015

    I checked off all but one item on the self test. Thinking about it more, I realize that I have a highly sensitive mother, brother, daughter, niece, granddaughter and cat. I wonder if there is a genetic element to this.

    • Jana Jopson
      August 20, 2015

      There is a genetic element, Linda. Not sure about the cat though (LOL)! In retrospect, I see that I, too, had a mother who was a sensitive, perhaps even moreso than I am in that she didn’t have access to the tools for understanding and coping successfully. I am truly thrilled that this information on both sensitives and introverts is coming forward and being told clearly (and clearing away the myths).

  4. JimJ
    August 23, 2015

    Jana, You are bringing to (the) light, what many need to know. Blessing your readers with (the) truth and enlightenment~! As a man, being sensitive was seen and felt as a weakness – now it is a Super Power~!
    Many thanks, JimJ 8/23/2015.

    • Jana Jopson
      September 3, 2015

      You have many superpowers, Jim! Tap in! Much love, Jana