As a sensitive person do you ever feel fierce inside and think that those feelings are inconsistent with being sensitive?

Do those fierce feelings conflict with the empathetic part of you?

What Does it Mean To Be Fierce?

Fierceness is very natural. It occurs in nature all of the time. All you have to do is watch animals and they are fierce as naturally as they are relaxed. They act fiercely as easily as they eat and sleep.

In contemporary society, we do not see a lot of fierceness. We see aggression, we may see passion, but we do not talk about fierceness very much. So why all the confusion?

Aggression Vs. Fierceness

So often I hear people talk about fierceness and aggression as if they are the same thing. That does not resonate with me. I think they are different.

To me, aggressive and fierce are not the same thing because they come from different places. Aggression comes from ideas about life. It comes from the shoulds, coulds, woulds, oughts and other ways of defining life that really have nothing to do with life. Aggression comes from our desire for security – inner or outer. It results in nasty inner dialogues and mind games that drive us crazy. People sometimes act on the basis that the ideas are valid and therefore become aggressive in defending these ideas. All sorts of problems then ensue – some of them very expensive involving military hardware.

Aggression develops when we create a mental or cultural structure and then try to defend it. I think that inevitably where there is aggression there is a structure of some sort lurking whether it is a social role, identity structure, the dialogue of historical narrative, caste systems and the like.

As a result,  aggression comes from the head.

What Is Fierceness?

What is fierceness and how is it different?

Fierce comes from the heart. Fierceness is the protective love of a mother bear from her cub.  It shows up in whatever love we feel for our world and the creatures in it. It is not a small distinction – the difference between aggression and fierceness. To be fierce is important because our fierce heart-based love is the basis of good work, charity to one another, making good choices and the search for wisdom. It is the part of us that seeks to be a part of the good in the world and add to it. It is also the source of our passion.

Aggression is protective of the status quo. It has a preconceived agenda. It will seek order over health and wholeness. Aggression is at odds with the heart’s needs.

Fierce And Sensitive

To be both fierce and sensitive is not as incompatible as they may sound. Many sensitive people, myself included, often have fierce feelings. They may seem incompatible with our sensitive and empathetic natures but I don’t think they are. I think, however, that they can be hard to handle because we feel so many things so deeply.

Personally, I think that fierceness comes from a gentle place so it is very compatible with being sensitive. Even natural. I think it is worth embracing our fierceness. It is a sign that we are alive and awake, as painful as that may be sometimes. Natural fierceness arises from being present not from being threatened; being present is the only way to access our natural loving natures.

One of the ways you can tell the difference between fierceness and aggression is to ask if the feeling coming from defending a structure or affirming life. Then you know what is really going on. Fierceness in serving life tells us when structures need to change when they have become destructive or outlived their usefulness. We are right now seeing a rise in the fierceness of the global population in response to real threats to environmental sustainability. It is fierceness to embrace the need for greater sustainability; it is aggression to defend the status quo.

So embrace your fierceness mindfully. It is a life-supporting force that is worth cherishing and very compatible with being sensitive.


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 of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about 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 also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Zhyldyz on January 29, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Maria!
    Thank you for your article. It means so much in my life. After one conference a lot of people said me that I am fierceness girl. After I immedietly look at dictionary and translate my native language. So I was upset cause of there were word “agressive”. I wanted to find definition in english and google helped me to find your article. After reading your artucle I am relieved. I am fierseness person and today’s world need more people like us! ?☺

    • Maria Hill on January 30, 2018 at 9:56 am

      I am glad the article helped you resolve this issue.

      All the best,

  2. Claire on July 31, 2018 at 2:52 am

    This is a really helpful article Maria! Great timing yet again. Such a relief for me to read and understand the difference between aggression and fierceness.

    I am a new mum with a 3 month old and am currently unemployed. Without needing to go into the minute details, last week, I had an appointment with an employee from the government healthcare/employment service. In our exchange, I felt a fire in me while I was defending my rights as a new mother and felt very protective about my son (who was lying quietly in his pram next to me) and myself and how I should go about opening doors to a new career path. The employee, on the other hand was very aggressive in his tone and words, not listening to me and actually threatened me. I voiced the anxiety I felt in my chest and only when I was sobbing did he actually soften a little and really start listening. When I turned to my son, he smiled at me.

    This past week, I have felt anxious and had difficulty sleeping (HSP overwhelm) while I have tried to understand what happened.
    Reading this article and being able to distinguish between aggression and fierceness makes a tremendous difference to now understanding what may have happened and I feel more confident.

    I really was like a tiger defending herself and her little cub. I was confident in my future and where I needed to go. He just wanted to force me on one path with a bite rather than look at me compassionately and nudge me forwards in the direction I needed to take. His aggression made me lose balance and I lost confidence.

    Maybe next time, and in other situations, knowing and feeling that I am a passionate and fierce person will help me when faced with aggressive people and situations. This was one example but I often feel I lose balance when faced with aggressive situations. I’m proud that I spoke up about how I felt anxious though!

    It’s incredible how 2 simple words can make such a difference. I will always remember this.

    Thank you Maria. Lots of love,

    • Maria Hill on July 31, 2018 at 6:05 am

      Hi Claire,

      It is nice to hear from you. I hope you and your son are well today. Your encounter sounds nasty and I am sorry that happened. There is a lot of aggression in the world, especially around work and money. Most employment services will try to fit you into what is available but not necessarily what you need. If you need something different you have to try a more creative path generally. A meetup around you interest area might be more helpful. I am glad the article helped. I know how you can feel pushed aside by the aggression of others. It happens to me also.

      Take care,

  3. Fiona MacLeod on August 16, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I was literally having an internal dialogue about exactly such a seeming paradox when I opened this article! Yay for serendipity & yay for you & all that you do, Maria???? Xx

    • Maria Hill on August 16, 2019 at 11:25 am

      Great minds as they say…