Discernment: The Key Skill For Sensitive People


Sensitive people have access to a huge amount of information because their ever active nervous system picks up on so much. The upside is that there is much we can do. The downside is that unless we develop ways to process what we encounter we can have difficulty navigating the world and finding the success we deserve. The skill we need to develop is discernment.

The Importance Of Contrast

When your nervous system picks up on everything it can feel like a pea soup of sensory information or sometimes like an unruly ball of yarn. All of our information and awareness begins at the sensory level. Of course, in modern culture the volume and intensity of sensory information is magnified by the speed with which we are expected to think and process information. Demands for fast high-volume processing make it hard to be in one’s integrity and authenticity, although sensitive people strive to do so anyway. The processing demands of being sensitive do not go away just because the culture operates in overdrive.

The reason all of the sensory information we encounter can feel like pea soup or jumbled yarn is because sensitive people have the characteristic of picking up on nuances. Sensitivity to nuance is a gift when we know what to do with it, but can be challenging to deal with when we do not. And although no one knows it all, it is important to have ways to discern what the nuance you are picking up on is all about. Is it something for you to attend to? Is it a problem that is not yours? Are you learning about some kind of important change going on? Discernment is the skill that lets you develop insights so you can make decisions.

One way we can use sensitivity to nuance effectively is to listen to the qualities of the energy we are picking up on. That is just a start, however. The contrast between energetic experience, perception – ours and the perception of others – and outcomes or results is fertile ground for developing skills of discernment.

Developing Discernment

Many sensitive people conscientiously struggle to understand what they are noticing. Fortunately, there are ways to process the nuances we pick up on that elevate our perceptual capabilities. The way to do that is to learn important frameworks that will enable you to connect the dots between what you know and do not know to provide you with a bigger and more accurate picture about what is going on around you.

Sensitive people since they connect so thoroughly with energetic information do not connect as easily with culture. As a result, many sensitive people hesitate to act on what they perceive because there can be many reasons for what they notice. There is an inherent ambiguity that comes with sensitivity to nuance what we need to find a way to handle well. Frameworks about culture are especially useful in this regard.

Discernment And Holes

You could think of frameworks as connecting the energetic flow you pick up on with the more fixed structures of culture. They help you connect what you know with what you do not know. The energetic flow of life is different information than fixed cultural structures; sensitivity to nuance can provide a bridge between fixed cultural systems and the ever changing reality of life. I know, many of us think we are like the canaries in the coal mine and there is merit to that perception.

Once you understand cultural contexts, you can then discern what the energy you are picking up on is conveying to you and more confidently set boundaries and make decisions. In fact, boundary setting feels very natural when you understand the cultural contexts for what you are experiencing.

Sensitivity to nuance may give us a lot of information but that is not the same as having the complete picture. As a result, like all human beings we have holes in our understanding. Frameworks provide us with the roadmaps that help us understand our perceptions and the dynamics of the the many cultures around us. They are a little bit like cultural X-rays what provide us enough information so that we can make our own decisions.

Discernment Is Freeing

Frameworks are a tool that aids discernment. They give us the lay of the land without taking over. So they help fill in the blanks when we do not understand what is going on and also help us figure out our best options. They are very much a tool rather than a directive about what to do and when to do it. As a result they are very freeing because you have greater control over your life when you use them.

Frameworks help you release false self-blame and also help you see how accurate your perceptions are. But most importantly, they provide you with the ‘why’ for your experiences which not only increases your confidence and removes self-doubt but also helps you find inner peace. They are one of the best tools for sensitive people to help them feel safe and confident in life. Learn more here.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program using cultural and personal development frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers The Magic Of Joy program for quantum healing and the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is a Certified Theta Healer and certified in Spiral Dynamics. She is an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.