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Why it’s Time to Stop Apologising and start Embracing your Sensitivity

Welcome to the Highly Sensitive Human Academy’s weekly newsletter, a newsletter for Highly Sensitive People and Professionals who are looking for resources to navigate overwhelm and empower themselves to step into their authentic gifts and purpose in life. 

As a coach and educator for HSP, I still find myself shocked at how many people haven’t heard of the term HSP; I find this particularly challenging when there are so many individuals who are struggling with anxiety, overwhelmed and have spent many years or even decades seeking out healing and therapy, yet, they still haven’t had anyone lead them down the inquiry of whether they are, in fact, highly sensitive. 

What is the Highly Sensitive Person?

High Sensitivity is an innate trait which has been found in 20-30% of the population, and although many HSPs can struggle with sensory or emotional overload, there are many gifts and capacities that come with the trait. Recognising this can be life-changing for so many people who have been previously told they are suffering from a disorder or that there is something ‘wrong with them’; the truth is - there is nothing ‘wrong’, and your gifts are just waiting to be uncovered. 

There are also so many negative connotations associated with the word sensitive. When I meet someone new who algins with many of the characteristics of HSP, I ask, ‘have you ever considered you might be highly sensitive…?’ I quickly find myself following up with an explanation of, ‘This isn’t a weakness, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, and it’s really a gift…’ to make sure they haven’t misunderstood my suggestion as a perception that they are fragile or broken in some way.

Team Facilitators from our recent HSP Retreat, UK (June, 2024)

Finding out about the Trait

Finding out about high sensitivity was such a life-changing moment for me - when I truly understood what it meant: the depth of processing, the empathy, the sensitivity to subtleties and the tendency to get overstimulated. I suddenly understood why I had struggled with anxiety in the past, why insomnia and sleep were often a challenge, why I usually needed more alone time than others and why I burnt out when I went against my needs for so long. The past decade has been a slow and steady journey of reclaiming my gifts and stepping into the capacities that come with my sensitivity.

How it Empowers us

The label of High Sensitivity - like any label - can quickly become self-limiting or slip us into a sense of victimhood, for example, ‘I can’t do that because of my sensitivity’, yet my reason for educating and sharing knowledge of high sensitivity is not to limit our potential but to empower HSP to do the exact opposite - to realise that with the right environmental conditions and resources, there’s nothing much we can’t do - we thrive when we’re in suitable spaces and with the necessary tools in place, we are not suffering from an illness or a condition and being a highly sensitive person isn’t synonymous with weakness. 

When we evaluate and reflect on what’s really important for ourselves and the collective and what’s needed as a catalyst for positive change and transformation,  it’s common to hear words such as compassion, empathy, authenticity, connection, unity, harmony, and love. Yet, these qualities are often not what we see in those in positions of leadership. 

Connecting with Your Purpose

For those of you who are Highly Sensitive, I encourage you to get clarity on your individual purpose and mission in life - to take small steps to live in alignment with your purpose-driven-mission so you can take small steps towards being the change-maker, leader or visionary that so many of us are called to be. As HSP, we often need community and like-minded others to help us mirror and bring to light those qualities we hold inside: the compassion, empathy and authenticity that desperately need to be shared and cultivated in the communities, companies and educational institutions that we are all part of. 

The most significant transformation I’ve seen in many of the HSPs I work with is realising that they were only making themselves smaller and disempowered or working against themselves when they were trying to suppress their sensitivity. They used to believe that if they were to be ‘successful’ - they needed to process and think like those around them; they needed to speak loud, quicker or faster than their peers or cut themselves off from their empathy and become more like the ‘the norm’ or even the ruthless and often, narcissistic leaders they were operating under. 

It's time to Stop Apologising 

An awareness of sensitivity and finding a community of like-minded others helps us to realise we’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong with how we process information or the depth of empathy, we feel. Meeting others like us often permits us to embrace our uniqueness; there’s no need to apologise for our innate way of being, and it’s liberating to finally feel we don’t need to mask or hide our sensitivity. It’s usually the attempts at hiding who we really are that create and fuel the overwhelm, anxiety and exhaustion so many of us can feel.

If there’s one crucial place to start on our healing journey, it’s to stop apologising for our unique needs. We don’t need to apologise for needing more time to respond to an email or even a text message because we’re still processing it and considering our response. We don’t need to apologise for needing some downtime between meetings; it doesn’t mean we’re anti-social. We don’t need to apologise for having reached our limit for the day or putting our phone on aeroplane mode so we can rest and recharge. Imagine what could happen if we started to speak up for our needs and enabled ourselves to work in a way that suits us and our sensitivity rather than the cultural norm that clearly isn’t working for so many of us anymore.

About the Author

Jules De Vitto is an accredited transpersonal coach, trainer and experienced educator. She is the founder of the Highly Sensitive Human Academy - a central hub that offers courses, coaching, articles and a podcast for Highly Sensitive People. She helps those who identify with the traits of high sensitivity to navigate emotional overwhelm, step into their authentic power and align with their true purpose in life.

She is a published author and wrote one of a series of books on Resilience, Navigating Loss in a time of Crisis. Her research has also been published in the Transpersonal Coaching Psychology Journal and Journal of Consciousness, Spirituality, and Transpersonal Psychology. 

In addition to her academic and coaching pursuits, Jules has spent years engaging in deep transformative healing work. She is a Reiki Master and Teacher and has completed Michael Harner’s Shamanic Practitioner Training through the Foundation of Shamanic Studies and a Grief Ritual Leadership Training with Francis Weller. 

Jules is passionate about creating community for Highly Sensitive People and embracing the full spectrum of our emotional and sensory capacities rather than trying to ‘fix’ ourselves. Deepening the connection to our sensitivity enables us to open our hearts and form better relationships with ourselves, others and the world.

As an expert in the field of high sensitivity, her writing has been featured in SAND and Highly Sensitive Refuge and she has been invited to speak on the Sensitive SEO Podcast, Quiet and Strong Podcast and the Healthy Sensitive Podcast.

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