Why Being Sensitive Is a Strength

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When was the last time you bragged about being sensitive?

Most likely, the answer is never. There are plenty of traits we take pride in but being “sensitive” is usually perceived as a weakness. It’s used to mean you’re fragile, thin-skinned, or just overreacting. Men are told that they shouldn’t be sensitive at all, whereas women are told not to be “so” sensitive—an infuriating set of words that ought to be retired.

Either way, the message sensitive people get isn’t to celebrate who they are. It’s that they should “overcome” their sensitivity and “toughen up.” Putting aside that this approach doesn’t work, it’s wrongheaded. Sensitivity is largely genetic, and not something you can turn off. It is a trait linked to giftedness and something we ought to embrace. In fact, according to three decades of research, it’s not only a healthy trait, it also serves as a a powerful asset.

As a personality trait, being sensitive means you take in more information from your environment, and you do more with it. Sensitive people are wired at a brain level to process information more deeply than others do. That includes sensory input (like noticing the texture of a fabric), emotional input (reading social cues), and ideas (spending a longer time thinking things through and making more connections between concepts).


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