Embrace your personality

A while ago I discovered a wonderful podcast, called The Highly Sensitive Person, by Kelly O’Laughlin.

She talks about the personality traits of highly sensitive people, and although I don’t recognize myself in all of them, there are some that most definitely resonate with me.

One of the best episodes I’ve listened to is nº60: “The Extroverted Highly Sensitive Man: An Interview with Johnny Martinez”. I was listening to it today while walking in London, and suddenly I heard something that made me stop and pause the podcast to let the information sink in my brain, because it was beautifully expressed. The guest said this:

“During your whole life, if you realise there’s something different about you, you look for answers and you put the pieces together so that you can complete the puzzle. And when you complete the puzzle you have a big picture of it and you can start to look at it as a gift and not as a hindrance. Once you know it, you can point yourself in the right direction so that you can start to utilise it in a wise way. It’s as if you had a hammer, but until you realise it is a hammer and start hammering nails, you use it to saw wood and it is not gonna work. So you need to figure out what you have so you can apply it in the right way”.

I found this a wonderful image to explain how we should go about our personality.

We all have different personalities, and different traits. There are benefits and disadvantages in all personality traits. But as the say goes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

So being very sensitive, I started to think that my life would be so much easier if only I was less sensitive.

I came to this conclusion because I’m pretty familiar with what it is like to experience life through very strong emotions, but I have no idea what it means like to live life with less intensity. I’ve simply assumed that less sensitive people (or less emotional, less empathic, whatever you want to call them) had a much easier life.

I got to believe my sensitivity was a hindrance, almost a handicap. So I started to change myself and learn to be less emotional. This didn’t go very well, because I projected an image that didn’t really matched how I felt inside, and ultimately it just made me suffer.

What I found out later in life is that we really need to embrace our personality. This does not mean that we’re never going to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, or that we’ll never try to improve ourselves. But it means that we need to figure out the benefits of being who we are, and apply them in the right way. As the guest was saying in the podcast, if you have a hammer and you try to saw wood, you’re not using the benefits of the hammer and you think it’s useless. On the contrary, if you have a saw and you try to hammer nails with it, you might also think it’s completely useless.

So when I say that we need to embrace our personalities I mean to understand what our personality is really good for, and to find its purpose. If you’re a very sensitive person and you try to fit the role of someone who has to make tough decisions regardless of emotions, you’ll struggle with every decision, you’ll suffer a lot and you’ll think you’re useless because this role does not enhance your main personality traits. On the other hand, if you’re a very rational person and you try to help a friend by talking him out of his problems, you’ll think you’re a useless friend because you’ll not help him at all. However, if you’re a very sensitive person you’ll be very good at helping a friend because you just sense his problems, and if you’re very rational you’ll be able to make the right decision even if they make you sad or scared.

The way I see it, is that in this life we’ve been given some personality traits, specific parents and some personal challenges we need to overcome. The reason is that there are certain lessons we need to learn, and our personality, our parents and the challenges we’ve been put through are exactly what we need in order to learn those lessons. It might be that we need to learn how to love ourselves, how to forgive, how to become self-reliant. Normally, the things we struggle the most with are the things we need to learn the most. Once we’ve learned our lesson, we’re ready to pass to the next class, our next life or whatever you want to call it.

So ultimately, our personality is like a map towards our true purpose in life. If we can understand what make us click, what we’re really good at and what we can do naturally, everything will start to happen almost by magic, and we will bring our true gifts to the world.

Different degrees of sensitivity

Different degrees of sensitivity

Everyone has different degrees of sensitivity. It’s obvious right?

It is obvious and yet it wasn’t so obvious for me.

I’ve always been an extremely sensitive person. Being sensitive made my life very painful sometimes. Just today I was talking with my grandma and she reminded me that she used to get worried when she saw how sensitive I was as a little girl, feeling very deep joy and very deep sadness even when I was very young (I’m speaking 6-7 years old).

When I was a bit older, I felt emotions so intensely that I couldn’t hold them inside. Sometimes it would actually cause me physical pain. For many years I’ve thought it was a curse, a punishment.

Where some people could live life happily and joyfully, I was often shaken by very intense emotions. I couldn’t take anything lightly, I was feeling every experience and every emotion too deep to ignore it.

Where some people could recover from a breakup in a few weeks, it has always taken me months if not years. Where some people can disconnect from negative emotions in a click, I can’t and I keep feeling emotions over and over.

Although i’ve always known I was hypersensitive, I thought that the vast majority was similar to me. Maybe not as sensitive, but I thought that majority of people were feeling victims of their emotions. It occurred to me only recently that there are people who are much much less sensitive than I am and actually control their emotions.

These people learned a very valuable skill (intentionally or unintentionally, I’m not sure about this): they found out how to disconnect from their emotions, how not to feel emotional pain. When they feel it, they can switch it off like a button. To be more accurate, what they do is to numb their feelings, so they don’t feel the pain too much. The kind of feelings they want to numb themselves from are:

  • emotional pain
  • loneliness
  • anger
  • the feeling of missing someone
  • anxiety


I believe that they are not aware of doing it, as I was not aware of being more sensitive than average.

It simply happens that on a scale from 0 to 10, sensitive people feel emotions at a 10, less sensitive people feel the same emotions, but at a level 1 or 2.

Being an “hypersensitive person” who suffered a lot for feeling emotions so intensely, at first i thought that they were just cheating. They were trying to navigate through life hand picking the feelings that they want to feel, and leaving the bad ones out of the table. Too easy, I thought. Then recently something happened to me and I really felt emotions that were too painful to manage. And that’s when I realised that the ability to reduce sensitivity can be a valuable skill. When it’s too much to deal with, more sensitive people can learn from less sensitive people and lessen the intensity of their emotions. NLP actually helped me a lot with that, by playing with images that the mind produces and changing colours, dimensions, proximity and so on.

The problem is that if more sensitive people don’t learn how to lessen the intensity of their emotions when they need it, they become victims of themselves and other people’s emotions. They actually capture and absorb the emotions of the room they’re in, while the less sensitive people are mostly protected from the external influence of other people’s bad energy.

Another example: more sensitive people miss someone they love much faster: they feel the feeling of missing someone much faster because they’re so connected with their internal world, while less sensitive people start to feel that they miss someone much later because they live anesthetized from that pain.

The problem with being hypersensitive is that life can become very stressing, because every experience is very intense: loving someone, missing someone, even happiness can become too intense sometimes and be hard to bear. The problem with being less sensitive, on the other hand, is that life gets boring quickly, because the normal experiences don’t cause any interesting emotions for them. The other big big problem is that less sensitive people cannot empathise with others, because they’re so disconnected from their own feeling that they can’t even imagine how life might feel for another person. They hurt a lot, but unintentionally. They just don’t understand that with their actions, or lack thereof, they actually hurt the people who love them.

Hypersensitive people go through ups and downs many times throughout a single day. They can be very sad and then very happy, and then desperate and then joyful again in the space of a few hours. Their life is pretty exciting, but it also gets very tiring. They need a certain stability (although sometimes they still don’t know it) or else this constant up and down will leave them drained. That’s why they’re often attracted to very stable (and less sensitive) people.

Less sensitive people, on the other hand, don’t feel much, so they normally need to stimulate themselves with big challenges, big risks, overworking, overachieving, extreme sports, drugs or whatever can make them feel something strong. They need to do it on their own, because the feeling of doing it on their own will make them feel something that they actually are happy to feel, like pride or power.

Sensitive people can learn from less sensitive people the skill of lessen their sensitivity when it causes them too much pain. Similarly, less sensitive people can learn from more sensitive people the skill of feeling more, because otherwise they will not be able to enjoy the small things of life, to feel joy, love, passion, happiness, something that we, people who feel “too much” are actually able to experience as a gift of life every single day.