Imagine a computer with thousands, nay, millions of input channels. It needs a pretty big processor to handle all that incoming data, right? Well, the same goes for your mind.
This computer is, in fact, you.
Every second, oodles of data comes into your experience.
Your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin all sense what’s going on in your environment.
Your internal sensors give you data on temperature, thirst, hunger, balance, fatigue/energy levels, and much more besides.
Your mind is busy sensing mental events: thoughts, images, fantasies, memories. (Never thought of your mind as a sense before? It’s a Buddhist idea, and a jolly good one at that.) Your mind also has the busy task of processing the data from all these senses.
With sensitive senses, you have high sensitivity.
You sense a lot of things, perhaps at levels that other people don’t notice. You can hear sounds that others miss. You spot unevenness in a painted wall. You feel tiny cold draughts at 20 paces.
If you’re sensitive, you have much more information to process than your average person.
You need a bigger processor – i.e. a higher level of general intelligence – to do this. Maybe your sensitivity led to you developing higher processing powers – your high intelligence.
Some people have the sensitivity, and the intelligence, but not the methods of how to manage and use your intelligence to handle your sensory experience.
This is especially the case if you have strong emotions, but you don’t have the strong emotion-processing skills to match the strength and intensity of your emotions.
You’ll have trouble moderating your emotions, swinging quickly between extremes. You’ve probably been told to ‘Stop over-reacting!‘ You’ve probably been described as “too much, too sensitive, too intense, too [insert word of choice/put-down here]” and this is grossly unfair.
Yes, you’re sensitive, but not too much.
The world needs sensitive people.
Where sensitivity gets a bad rap is when it’s labelled as ‘over-sensitive.’
Finding out whether you’re innately sensitive, or you’ve lived though stuff that has left reactive triggers in you, is immensely useful. Sensitivity is about how you’re wired. Being ‘over-sensitive’ to events and experiences is about what you’ve experienced before and the marks it’s left on you.
Take a read of my article Are you sensitive or sensitised? to figure out which of these affect you.
Let’s now back-track a little and turn the sensitive-intelligent combo around: let’s start with high intelligence this time.
If your mind is a high spec processor, you probably learned to do with fewer filters on your sensory data that your average person. You can handle more sense data, so you sense more than average: you’re sensitive. You process more, and more quickly, so you’re capable of sensing more.
Sometimes this second possibility doesn’t quite happen. You may be highly intelligent, but you have some pretty strong filters in place. These filters can come from having very strong interests, so you have a narrow field of sensing. Or you had some crappy childhood experiences that closed you down (see my articles on Helping sensitive, intelligent children and How to heal from insecure attachment in adults).
You could be sensitive, if you dropped your filters.
But right now you might actually be the opposite – insensitive – because your filters are so strong. Yes, I have an article for you about that too: Sensitive insensitive.
Who knows if high intelligence comes first, or if high sensitivity comes first?
In any case, the two together make an extremely powerful partnership – as long as you know how to handle them.
They both have their magnificence.
They both have their downsides too.
Like a high-performance car, you need specialised handling skills.
When you know your intelligences and sensitivities deeply and intimately, and know how to manage and care for them, you can do amazing things.
How do your intelligence and sensitivities work together?