Have you ever had moments when you felt like the world around you was just a bit too much to handle? Perhaps you’ve found certain sounds, textures, or emotions overwhelming at times. If so, you may have wondered whether you are hypersensitive.

Why I felt “different” for a long time

For so long, I blamed myself for my mood swings, my anger, my tears, my moments of intense emotion, and my inability to be “calm,” “rational,” or “zen.” I sometimes carried the burden of being “too much.” I also heard it from others: too emotional, too excitable, too quick, too impulsive, too reactive…

Yet, I made countless efforts to try to fit in, to “create distance” as I was advised. I tried to limit myself to the technical, the factual, the orderly, and the “cold.” It’s a language I learned to master relatively well… but I quickly fell back into what I considered to be my major flaw: taking everything to heart, with my gut, and letting it touch me deeply. “Detaching” myself felt like a “betrayal.”

When I heard about hypersensitivity for the first time

What a surprise it was when my father slipped a book on hypersensitivity into my things about a year ago. He simply said, “you know, we’re probably a bit hypersensitive in the family”… what a revelation from this paternal figure, so upright, stern, and strict, whom I had long considered emotionally distant during my childhood…

Hypersensitivity is a term that’s been gaining attention in recent years, and it refers to an increased or heightened sensitivity to various stimuli in our environment. While it’s not a disorder in itself, understanding hypersensitivity can shed light on why some people experience the world more intensely than others.

Sensory Sensitivity: A Common Experience

One of the most common forms of hypersensitivity is sensory sensitivity. This occurs when individuals have an exaggerated response to sensory stimuli. For example, they may find the hum of fluorescent lights distracting or experience discomfort when touching certain fabrics. Everyday sensations that others barely notice can become intense and overwhelming for those with sensory sensitivity.

Emotional Hypersensitivity: Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster

Emotional hypersensitivity involves having intense emotional reactions to various situations or stimuli. People who are emotionally hypersensitive might find themselves crying easily, feeling deeply affected by others’ emotions, or experiencing mood swings that seem to come out of nowhere. Emotional experiences, whether positive or negative, can be magnified for these individuals.

Physical Sensitivity: Feeling Every Sensation

Physical hypersensitivity manifests as an increased sensitivity to physical sensations or discomfort. Some individuals with physical hypersensitivity have a low pain threshold and may find certain sensations, like heat or cold, to be more intense. Everyday physical experiences, like wearing certain clothing or feeling a gentle touch, can be felt more acutely.

Empathy and Social Sensitivity: The Gift of Connection

On a social level, some individuals are hypersensitive when it comes to empathy and interpersonal interactions. They are highly attuned to others’ emotions and may even absorb those emotions as if they were their own. While this heightened empathy can be a strength in understanding others, it can also lead to social anxiety or feeling overwhelmed in emotionally charged situations.

Leadership and Hypersensitivity: A Connection Worth Exploring

Interestingly, traits associated with hypersensitivity can also be found in effective leaders. Leaders who exhibit high emotional intelligence are often attuned to the emotions and needs of their team members. They can sense when someone is struggling, celebrate successes with genuine enthusiasm, and create a supportive work environment.

Leaders with sensory sensitivity might pay attention to the physical workspace and how it affects their team’s well-being. They may notice when lighting or noise levels impact productivity and take steps to create a more comfortable environment.

Embracing Hypersensitivity for Self-Leadership

Understanding hypersensitivity is not just about recognizing it in ourselves but also in others. Leaders who understand the potential for overstimulation can better manage their teams. They can create work environments that minimize unnecessary sensory input, provide emotional support during challenging times, and foster a culture of empathy.

If you’ve ever wondered whether you are hypersensitive, know that your sensitivity can be a unique gift that enhances your leadership style. It can help you connect with your team on a deeper level and create a more inclusive work environment.

The spectrum of hypersensitivity

In conclusion, hypersensitivity is a spectrum, and individuals may experience it to varying degrees. It’s not about fitting into a box but rather recognizing and embracing your unique way of experiencing the world. Whether you’re a leader or on a journey toward self-leadership, understanding hypersensitivity can lead to personal growth, enhanced leadership skills, and a deeper connection with those around you.

Have you ever thought about your own sensitivity levels?

If you’d like to explore this topic further or discover strategies to thrive as a hypersensitive individual or leader, feel free to reach out to me 😊

Sincerely yours,

Dr Sophie


Drawing Inspiration from “Are You Hypersensitive?”

This journey into the world of hypersensitivity was greatly influenced by the profound ideas presented in Fabrice Midal’s book “Are You Hypersensitive?” (originally written in French).

Midal, a renowned French author and philosopher, offers a compelling exploration of heightened sensitivity and its far-reaching implications in our lives.

His work has provided me with invaluable perspectives on the multifaceted nature of hypersensitivity and how it can be harnessed as a unique strength, particularly in the context of leadership and self-discovery.