Work that Works for Sensitive Souls:
Six Steps to Transforming Your Career
Articles By Jenna Avery, CLC, Life Coach for Sensitive Souls
Have people always called you “too sensitive?” Do you try to hide it, pretend it doesn’t exist, or work around it as much as possible? Many Highly Sensitive Souls believe that our sensitivity makes us weak, weird, or different. Actually, being sensitive makes us highly aware, caring, and perceptive.
For more information, see my article “Are You Highly Sensitive?”
In the workplace, the gift of sensitivity may feel like a handicap. As Sensitive Souls, we care passionately about our work and it tremendously impacts our well-being. I am a fervent champion of work for Sensitive Souls where we can fully contribute and feel deeply satisfied by our efforts. So how is this possible?
Create Work that Works
Work for Sensitive Souls must feed our minds, hearts, and souls. We must make a contribution that resonates to our core. To do otherwise is to invite despair, confusion, and sorrow. The traditional structure of working culture isn’t always supportive of our needs. So we must create work that works ourselves, whether by creating our own positions or businesses, working in less mainstream positions and companies, or adapting our current jobs to better suit us.
In order to create work that works, I believe that Sensitive Souls can benefit from the following explorations.
1. Tune Into Yourself
A critically important aspect is to know yourself. This may seem obvious, but many Sensitive Souls get lost in the expectations of others and become disconnected from ourselves. When we discover our own passions, values, personality, gifts, and dreams, we steer clearly toward work that supports our true nature.
How do we tune into these magical inner clues? I’m a huge advocate for self-discovery. For example, working with a life coach is a powerful means of accessing the truth of who you are, what you want, and where you want to go. A coach supports you to claim your dreams and discover your talents in a safe space. Additionally, meditation, listening to your intuition, journaling, and personality discovery work are great self-facilitation approaches.
2. Factor In Your Soul
As Sensitive Souls, we require work that is meaningful, intellectually stimulating, and creative. It must be a true calling. One way to think about this is to remember the “meaning factor.” That is, the intangible satisfaction we get from doing work that is important to us. As you contemplate career options, be sure to consider whether the work will be satisfying intellectually and creatively, while also meeting other requirements like income and location. Look for what you are naturally drawn to and excited about as critical clues to what will ultimately be most rewarding. Your passions will guide you to your deepest truth.
3. Create an Ideal Career Checklist
When looking for a job or making a career change, remember to “think outside the box.” Draw on your innate ingenuity. A helpful technique is to develop an Ideal Career checklist. Consider the environment, people, type of work, pay, hours, emotional climate, and intellectual challenge, alongside soul requirements such as your gifts, sensitivity, passions, dreams, and meaning factor. In other words, know what you must have, need, and want. When you know what works for you and what doesn’t, potential jobs are easier to evaluate. You might even consider adapting your current job to meet your ideal!
4. Do Take Your Sensitivity to Work
Your sensitivity is an important part of who you are. It’s one of the unique gifts you bring to work. Your empathy, emotions, creativity, and thoughtfulness are part of your valuable skill set that makes for authentic work relationships, dynamic invention, and compassionate service. One way to use your sensitivity is to share your insights, intuition, and gut responses in meetings and with co-workers. You can also use your sensitivity interpersonally. Take a deep breath, tune in, and ask: “How can I best be of support here?” Let your sensitivity guide you.
5. Support Your Sensitivity and Practice Self-Care
Career transformation challenges Sensitive Souls because standard formulas don’t work well for us, like 40-plus-hour workweeks, commutes, fluorescent lights, and cubicles. We require physically and emotionally supportive environments along with plenty of independence and privacy. In addition, each sensitive person has specific challenges – such as people, noise, or light. It’s important to know which of these are significant for you and to learn how to address them. For example, you might bring in an incandescent lighting source or create a cubicle of plants to define your space. You might also learn protective energy techniques for interpersonal challenges.
And remember: Take great care of yourself both inside and outside work! It’s important to recognize that self-care is a REQUIREMENT for a Sensitive Soul. It is fundamental to making a meaningful contribution to the world. This means making sure to get plenty of sleep, eat well, take time for yourself, and engage in soul nourishing activities like art, gardening, cooking, or being in nature.
6. Get Support
Many of us have been hurt by our prior work experiences. We bring our tender souls with us wherever we go, and transforming our careers can bring up painful emotions. This is a normal part of healing and transforming a career. Sometimes it can be an obstacle to simply know what we want. Be sure to ask for support from friends, coaches, therapists, or career counselors.
Above all, remember: You are here for a reason. In the words of Woodrow Wilson, “You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.”
Copyright 2004-2005, Jennifer Avery, All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jenna Avery is a highly sensitive coach and intuitive who offers an original coaching program called Embrace Your Essential Self, designed to guide sensitive souls to find a deep sense of inner rightness within themselves so they are inspired to step forward and shine. Jenna is a Certified Life Coach based in Berkeley, California. She can be reached at 510.981.0697. She also offers support for sensitives in business through the Sensitive Professionals Network.You’re invited to take her free online assessment: "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?" on her website at www.highlysensitivesouls.com