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Highly Sensitive People: How all Sensitive People are Natural Born Social Chameleons

Updated on February 16, 2017
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You Exist to Notice, Inform and Adapt

You're probably no stranger to the opinion that: "You are too sensitive for your own good", or words to that effect. No matter how much you try to hide it, eventually, people begin to notice.

Ah, I see. This person is extremely sensitive...

That's where part of the strain of being sensitive begins. People notice, but they don't understand. When people don't understand something, they also don't know how to approach it. As a result, you end up feeling tired and misunderstood, even if that wasn't their intention.

That's where part of the strain of being sensitive begins. People notice, but they don't understand.

However, while the advantages of your trait of high sensitivity might well be overshadowed by its disadvantages in a world which is run by confident, dominant and ambitious people, you were designed by nature to be as you are.

The problem is not that you are sensitive. The problem is that the world you live in doesn't seem to have need of your sensitive services. It's easy to feel lonely in a sea of millions, and feel as if you'll never be accepted, or understood.

But numerous studies have shown that this trait of high sensitivity occurs naturally in over 100 hundred species of animal, from rodents and birds to pumpkinseed sunfish. Humans are animals too, which is why, like other species, 20% of all humans are highly sensitive.

As one of the lucky few, in the right place and at the right time, it is your job to notice, inform and adapt.

As one of the lucky few, in the right place and at the right time, it is your job to notice, inform and adapt.

But why? How is being sensitive useful to anyone?

In those studies I mentioned earlier, researchers proposed that having a small percentage of sensitive animals in a population would actually benefit the group.

For example, while in the wild, it is the most sensitive members of a species that respond to changes, risks, or opportunities in an environment. In doing so, they alert the less sensitive but more dominant types and spur them into action, thus serving the whole and ensuring the survival of their species.

Notice, inform and adapt.

You were designed, or at least your body was, to serve the other 80% of humanity. You notice things that others don't, you then observe, dipping into your reservoir of memories and experiences in order to come to a conclusion, and then you alert others of your discovery. Isn't that wonderful? To have such an ability, to see what others cannot.

But wait. There is another problem.

Once again, science tells us that submissive, sensitive animals that notice changes and adapt to them, are much better suited to environments in which there is constant change, such as in the wild where there is danger from predators and lack of food sources. In a stable environment, with little change, such as in a developed and civilized human society, it is the dominant types, i.e. the other 80%, that thrive.

So you see. You are extremely valuable. This just might not be the right environment or time for your gifts to become as useful as they deserve to be.

This just might not be the right environment or time for your gifts to become as useful as they deserve to be.

A book for those who want to embrace their gifts

The Highly Sensitive Person's Workbook
The Highly Sensitive Person's Workbook

When I read this book and practiced the exercises inside, I was already well on my way to understanding and accepting my sensitivity. However, this book and the exercises in it helped to guide me the rest of the way to acceptance. Nobody understands highly sensitive people like Elaine Aron, after all, she is one of us!

 

You are a social chameleon

So you can't warn your fellow man of impending doom or lead others to food sources. However, that doesn't mean your sensitive gifts are useless. On the contrary, you should think of yourself as something of a superhero because you possess all the necessary attributes that any excellent actor should have.

You listen, you watch, you observe, you learn and adapt, and you mimic if necessary.

It is this mimicry that allows you to play several different roles in society, roles that are useful and that can make a difference.

These roles not only serve to help others, they also allow you to blend in for a while and come in handy for those situations in which you might not be totally comfortable.

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The Aggressor

You can be a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Yes, it is true that you become overwhelmed more easily than others, especially if exposed to bright lights, loud noise, and crowds of people. However, your natural adaptability allows you to become anyone you wish, if only for a short time. This ability allows you to escape unsavory situations or even help others before drifting away like Batman, fading into the shadows.

You can be an aggressor, you can bare your fangs and scare off would be invaders.

Granted, you will need to rest afterward, but your ability did its job.

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The Impersonator

Because you are always highly aware and in tune with your surroundings, you never miss a trick.

You see subtle gestures, movements, and hear every detail of a person's voice.

This makes it easy for you to become anyone you wish for a few moments. You can use this ability to sail through stressful social situations.

Again, you will need copious amounts of rest afterward, however.

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The Jester

You can crack a joke or two like the best of them. Again, this because you have watched and listened to others for so long that you literally have memory banks full of unique and interesting behaviors.

If you need to break the ice in an awkward situation, crack a joke.

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The Conductor

You are capable of leading too, believe it or not. You might not be suited (but not always) to a leadership position that requires the management of dozens of employees, due to your propensity to become overwhelmed easily, but you can manage a group of people.

Because you notice things others don't, this gives you the ability to convince others of the logic behind any decision that needs to be made.

Others mostly see in pieces that need to be put together. You see in completed puzzles.

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Others Don't Get You because You Notice and Adapt before they Know What's Happening

People probably struggle to get you because you are always one step ahead of them, at least in the awareness stakes. This means that when you notice and adapt without informing, other people might wonder why you are acting so weird all of a sudden.

They didn't see what you saw moments ago. They didn't just realize what you did. Therefore you might sometimes seem a little peculiar or eccentric.

However, you probably have a friend or two that values your ability to notice things other don't, and these friends probably seek your counsel.

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If Your Life was a Movie, You'd Win an Oscar

Finally, my aim in writing this article was to show you that although life can be hard as a highly sensitive person, and people may struggle to understand you, you truly are unique.

If you embrace your gifts, there is nothing you can't do. Don't hide your sensitivity. Use it to better yourself and the world around you, after all, that was always what nature intended for you.

Are you able to blend in to social situations? Are you a social chameleon?

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    • sparkster profile image

      Marc Hubs 2 months ago from United Kingdom

      Great article, this all rings so true to me and seems more relevant today than ever before.

      From the article:

      "the most sensitive members of a species that respond to changes, risks, or opportunities in an environment. In doing so, they alert the less sensitive but more dominant types and spur them into action, thus serving the whole and ensuring the survival of their species"

      Again, this seems so relevant today with all the "sensitives" waking up to the true nature of reality and realizing we must change if we are to survive. The "imaginal cells" get ridiculed for being sensitive/perceptible to the things around us that others cannot see... and unfortunately, they get ridiculed by the majority for it.

      It's those "imaginal cells" who are recognizing the problems in the world which need to change and who will lead us on to the next level of our evolution.

      Enjoyable read, thank you.

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Sparkster, long time no see.

      Yes, I completely agree with you on that, in fact, I did think of it as I wrote this article, and I actually might expand on this and write such an article because as you say, it is relevant today.

      I think a lot of sensitive people would actually need to hear that now is a great time for them to use their heightened sensitivity for something that will benefit the whole world.

      Yes, I would imagine that there are more tin foil hat wearers among the sensitive clan than in the other 80 percent as like you say, we see things others don't and so may appear loopy until proven otherwise!

      Thanks for those great insights, Sparkster. I'm really happy to see that you are doing well on hubpages. I went away for a while but am back because I just love the freedom you get here when creating articles.

      Until next time my friend.

      Richard

    • sparkster profile image

      Marc Hubs 2 months ago from United Kingdom

      Indeed I think this an article which many of the sensitive people out there would take comfort in and would provide a bit of reassurance which is exactly why I shared it on Facebook.

      I'm very much of the opinion that these people have such abilities because it's necessary at this time of our development. From empaths and psychics to indigos and starseeds, these are the people that are going to make a difference in order to bring the world back into balance.

      I also went away for a couple of months - nearly got myself into a bit of trouble there for a minute, but I'm back also!!

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Glad that you're back. As freelance writers, we often don't get to write about what we really care about. That's what drove me back here in the end. Here we can write about what we love, and get a little income for it in the process. Plus, I love designing hubs. There are so many variations!

      Thanks for sharing my article. I appreciate it. I'll pop over and see what's happening on your side of hubpages.

      Take care.

    • ian 12am profile image

      ian 12am 2 months ago

      This is a great article. I believe it speaks to many people out there. Being Sensitive is not a crime as long as one gets the ability to have self control

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Alli.

      That's a cryptic comment. What do you mean?

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Ian,

      Yes, we must also have self control, which can be attained through practice and an open mind.

      Thank you for commenting.

      Richard

    • Rafini profile image

      Rafini 2 months ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      Great article, and thank you for understanding.

      One little problem, though.

      Not everyone fits a stereotype. I may be highly sensitive, but I am not submissive nor do I enjoy constant change. I am also confident, except in any type of social situation, and ambitious enough to be determined about succeeding.

    • Lori P. profile image

      Lori Chidori Phillips 2 months ago from Southern California USA

      Wonderful and important piece. It gives sensitive people some relief from confusing feelings. I used to chide myself for being so changeable depending upon who was in front of me. It wasn't that I was being "two-faced" in that I was deliberately matching my words and opinions to curry favor. I just could identify--empathize--deeply. Rafini is correct that not everyone fits a stereotype but I sure did according to this article.

      It took me most of my life to understand what was going on and how to use this trait to positive end. It also helps to know oneself (and that alone can take a lifetime!)

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Rafini.

      I'm sorry if the article seemed to paint all HSPs as submissive and lacking in confidence. I too am highly sensitive, which is why I write on this topic, and I agree that we are not all the same.

      I didn't mean that we enjoy change, I simply wanted to point out the findings of research which suggests that we thrive better in changing environments, because our gifts become more useful.

      No, we are also not submissive, as animals might be, because we humans become more hardened over time. We might have been submissive as children perhaps, but time and experience hardens us, even though we are sensitive.

      It's nice to see that hubpages has a healthy complement of HSPs.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Richard

    • Jane Belle profile image

      Jane Belle 2 months ago

      Very interesting points :) Thank you for that!

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Lori,

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Yes, I think we can't help but change and adapt to our surroundings and the people in them. I'm glad you have come to accept and understand that about yourself. That's real progress and it took me many years to also accept that side of my nature.

      Knowing oneself is definitely a challenge, especially when you can't help but change to suit your environment! I guess it helps though that we have such rich inner lives.

      Thanks for stopping over.

      Rich

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hey Jane,

      You are most welcome.

      Thanks for coming over.

      Rich

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 2 months ago from Great Yarmouth

      I really enjoyed reading your hub. I've always been a very sensitive person.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 2 months ago from Illinois

      Really loved this!!! Thanks for sharing. :-)

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hello, Coffeequeeen.

      Thanks for stopping by for a read.

      You must be one of the HSP clan.

      Rich

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Hello, Seek-n-Find,

      You are welcome and I'm glad you like it.

      Thank you for popping over.

      Rich

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This explanation is very helpful, especially the part about needing rest. I always wondered why after doing these things, I am just plain worn out! Now I know! It makes a lot of sense. I have to get off the stage, and veg out after I take on these different roles. It takes a lot of intense energy to become someone else for a while!

    • Richawriter profile image
      Author

      Richard J ONeill 2 months ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Good evening, Denise.

      Yes, it's an awesome ability to have but boy is it tiring!

      Thank you for coming over to read.

      I'll pay you a visit sometime.

      Rich

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