Is An Aware Child The Same As A Sensitive Child?

October 25, 2018

Helen Joy Butler - Claim your awareness quote

In my blog post Are you Sensitive? Or Just More Aware? I shared the definition of both ‘sensitive’ and ‘aware’.

But are these definitions enough? To help us understand the differences between a ‘sensitive’ child / soul and an ‘aware’ child / soul?

If there is any difference at all?

A dive into the research might help clarify things, particularly if you identify as ‘sensitive’ and wonder if ‘aware’ is really what you’d rather call yourself (or at the very least, feel within yourself) moving forward.

According to Psychology Today, high sensitivity can be defined as “acute physical, mental, and emotional responses to external (social, environmental) or internal (intra-personal) stimuli. A highly sensitive person may be an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between”.

OK, right.

If you’re like me and you’ve read these two sentences you’re none the wiser. ‘Acute’, thanks to a quick Google definition search, means “(of an unpleasant or unwelcome situation or phenomenon) present or experienced to a severe or intense degree”.

Right. Still clear as mud.

So let’s turn to the woman I hold in high regard in the sensitivity field – Dr Elaine Aron.

Dr Aron is the author of The Highly Sensitive Person, a wonderful book first published in 1996, and The Highly Sensitive Child, first published in 2002.

In 2011, when Dr Aron wrote Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person she created an acronym to help therapists assess the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) for this trait. In my opinion, her acronym D O E S does more to define ‘sensitivity’ than any two sentence definition that sends us around in circles ever will.

D is for Depth of Processing

According to Dr Aron, depth of processing is at the foundation of high sensitivity. HSPs simply process everything more, relating and comparing what they notice to their past experience with other similar things – and they do it whether they’re aware of it or not. You might also know this concept as intuition.

O is for Overstimulation

By noticing every little thing in a situation, and if the situation is complicated, intense or goes on too long, HSPs, according to Aron, will wear out sooner from having to process so much so thoroughly.

E is for Emotional Reactivity and Empathy

Sometimes HSPs do not just know how someone else feels but they actually feel that way themselves to some extent, causing them to, at times, want to do something to help or assist the person in need.

S is for Sensing the Subtle

These are the little things others may miss, not through their or our own senses, but the hidden meanings or opportunities within what is happening around us. My friend Cherie is amazing at this – as an artist of the most exquisite artwork, she sees things in nature that many of us, including me, miss.

So the question really is – is the Aware Child / Soul and a HSP one and the same?

Yes and No.

On one hand the Aware Child / Soul and the HSP are one and the same, sharing many of the same traits and complexities Dr Aron and other researchers talk about in their work.

But on the other hand, to me, the Aware Child / Soul and the HSP are quite different.

From my experience many, if not all, of the HSPs I’ve met, have felt less than.

{Yes, including me.}

They feel out of place in their family, their work, their community.

They have been judged, taunted, ridiculed in public and in private for their deep sense of feeling and knowing.

They feel wounded, incomplete, not good enough because of how others have made them feel.

The Aware Soul however claims their depth of feeling; claims their sense of knowing; claims their sense of connection with the human and unseen realms.

They are the mystics of their time and they own it.

They own it because they are proud of who they are.

They own it because it makes them a valuable part of our world.

And they own it because they won’t take on someone else’s judgement of them anymore.

This shift in focus, this shift in energy is the real difference.

Let me share a little story, to help support what I’m saying here.

I recently had a lovely morning tea with a friend of a friend, to talk tantric numerology. This lady had analysed my birth date and we met in person for her to share her findings with me. During our lovely conversation, which filled my heart with so much joy and happiness (put two Aware Souls who ‘get’ each other together and this is the likely outcome!) this lovely lady asked me:

“Can you claim your high sensitivity in the same way you claim your high awareness?”

She wasn’t asking from a place of judgement – she herself readily identified as sensitive. She was asking from a place of deep love and peace. She wanted me to accept myself for who I am – a HSP – and being OK with that being enough.

I’ve reflected on her question a lot since we spoke. Because yes I am a HSP and there’s nothing I can do to change that.

But what I can change is how I allow other people’s opinions to shape my world and my life. And in turn, yours or those of the HSPs around you.

Because my sensitivity – my AWARENESS – is my greatest Super Power, and I’m going to claim that for myself, for my child, and for all of the Aware Souls on our beautiful planet.

And then I’m going to shout it from the rooftops, to anyone who will listen to me.

Because it’s time to shake up how people see HSPs, and particularly how we parent Highly Sensitive Children.

Whether you identify as a HSP or an Aware Soul or not, I know you can see that the way we’ve historically parented our children isn’t working in our modern era. And it’s especially not working for highly sensitive children. I don’t think I’m melodramatic when I say we have to change this – our future depends on it.

If you’d like to explore if you or someone close to you is a Highly Sensitive Person, Dr Aron shares a wonderful self-test on her website for you to do. This one is for you; and this one is for your child.

With much love,

Helen xx

PS There are a few articles on the Aware Child that you may like to read. If you’d like to continue this journey with me, please join us in the SANCTUARY INNER CIRCLE – it’s free!





Helen Joy Butler - Sanctuary Creator and Elemental Space Clearing® practitioner


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