What Is A Sensitive Striver and 9 Signs You Are One


What Is A Sensitive Striver and Signs You Are One

A Sensitive Striver is a high-achiever who is also more sensitive to their emotions, the world, and the behavior of those around them.

Sensitive Strivers have a special set of genes that leads them to process information more deeply than their less sensitive peers. Because of this, they pick up on subtle changes in their environment. Sensitive Strivers are driven to succeed and give their 100% to everything they do – all with an inner world on overdrive. Many are former gold-star students who bring that same commitment into the workplace.

I coined the term Sensitive Striver after a decade of researching and coaching top performers at companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, Visa, Verizon, and many others. Through my work, I discovered that the intersection of high sensitivity and achievement leads to a particular set of challenges. Everything from struggles with imposter syndrome and confidence to difficulties setting boundaries, speaking up, and beyond.

If this resonates with you, then welcome. You’re in exactly the right place.

Your mix of qualities makes you who you are and likely has made you super successful. On the one hand, people appreciate your warmth, depth of personality, and overall conscientiousness. On the other hand, situations others find relatively easy, such as making decisions and recovering from setbacks, can send you into a downward spiral.

Related: 25 Signs You’re A Highly Sensitive Person

As a Sensitive Striver, you may sometimes feel demoralized by the high expectations you place on yourself, leading to overthinking minor situations. You may also be prone to emotional overwhelm that shows up in the form of tears, panic, or complete withdrawal.

That’s because when sensitivity and achievement meet, it can be a tricky combination. Being highly attuned to your emotions, your environment, and the behavior of others can be the key to success, but it can also lead to overthinking everything and burnout.

Because they are easily overwhelmed, Sensitive Strivers have a heightened stress response. Common workplace situations like getting feedback, giving a presentation, or even deciding what to eat for lunch are more challenging than those for less sensitive people.

While many Sensitive Strivers rise quickly in their careers, they often face a daily battle with stress and self-doubt and crave a sense of control and calm, like my client Kelly (name changed) did.

Story of a Sensitive Striver

Kelly’s job was killing her spirit.

When she originally started as social services director at a large county agency, she’d been excited to lead a team and take her career to the next level. The agency’s mission of serving underprivileged children fueled her. All her mentors said that she was perfectly positioned to quickly step into a VP role with her drive and ambition.

But, due to budget shortfalls and changes in management, Kelly’s team had been short-staffed for the past three years, which left Kelly to pick up the slack. In addition to her official job responsibilities, she was assigned to lead a major project. She filled in at board meetings and made decisions on behalf of her boss, an absentee manager.

At first, she didn’t mind. She loved her job and took pride in being the go-to person at the agency. Besides, good employees go above and beyond. Or at least that’s what she was taught and assumed she needed to do to be successful. Over time, the demands on Kelly’s energy and mind became too much. She logged 60+ hour weeks. Her hair began to fall out. She battled migraines daily.

Work also affected her home life. Kelly was always glued to her phone and answering emails, including during family dinners. She felt distracted and worried about issues at the office, even while playing with her young daughter.

Kelly knew she needed to say “no,” delegate, and stop taking so much on. But the thought of having that difficult conversation with her boss made her impossibly anxious. Her mind rushed to worst-case scenarios: What if her boss questioned her commitment? What if he fired her? She told herself to “work harder—you’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

Before long, Kelly’s exhaustion caught up with her to the point that she had to take a medical leave from her job. Although extreme and highly unpleasant, this experience was a profound wake-up call for Kelly, and she finally decided to seek help.

Kelly and I started working together as she returned to work after her medical leave. She told me she felt like she wasn’t in control of her own life anymore. She desperately wanted to rediscover a feeling of fulfillment and to seem more like herself again.

Burnout, like that Kelly faced, is common among Sensitive Strivers. They are so loyal to other people, and the path to success society has laid out that they blindly pursue more achievement without ever stopping to define what makes them happy. Many Sensitive Strivers in Kelly’s shoes have also never been taught to recognize how their sensitivity shapes their lives, and they lack a game plan to channel their ambition and drive in a way that emboldens, rather than drains them.

sensitive striver burnout

What Being a Sensitive Striver Is – and Is Not

Sensitive Striver might sound like just another way to describe a perfectionist, overachiever, or introvert. But those terms do not adequately describe the unique struggles Sensitive Strivers face.

For instance:

  • You can be a perfectionist who has a low degree of self-awareness and not be highly accomplished in your career.
  • You can also be an “overachiever” (defined as someone who performs better or achieves more success than expected) without feeling paralyzed by mistakes (perfectionism) or facing the higher-than-normal emotional reactivity that comes with being sensitive.
  • About 30 percent of sensitive people are extroverted, meaning they gain energy by being around people.

Related: 15 Things That Lead To Frequent Emotional Burnout in Empaths and HSP

So, Are You a Sensitive Striver? 9 Signs

What Is A Sensitive Striver and Signs You Are One info

If you relate to most of the statements below, then you may be a Sensitive Striver:

1) You experience emotions to an unusual level of depth and complexity. You may cry easily from both sadness and happiness.

2) You’ve been called “intense” or “too much” because of your relentless pursuit of achievement and desire to get better or do more.

3) You’ve always had a keen ability to sense others’ feelings, needs, or insecurities, including those of parents and teachers, which may have resulted in people-pleasing versus considering your own needs.

4) You struggle to “turn off” from work mode and it can feel like there are 100 tabs open in your brain at all times.

5) You’re a stickler for details and organized to the nines, but can get too caught up in being meticulous. You may drive yourself (and those around you) crazy because you never feel like work is complete.

6) You know intellectually that most feedback is no big deal, but one negative comment can leave you feeling terrible for days as you analyze and try to interpret the information.

7) You’re deliberate and need time to think before you act. This means you excel at strategy and planning — that is, if you can move past second-guessing yourself and overthinking everything.

8) You are conscientious and try to prepare for every eventuality. But if you’re caught off-guard in a meeting or conversation, you may get easily overstimulated and question how to respond.

9) You’re able to sense conflict often before others are even aware of it, making you a master at empathetic communication. However, your constant vigilance can be emotionally and mentally draining.

How Being a Sensitive Striver Can Be a Strength

Thinking and feeling deeply isn’t a defect. You see, your sensitive qualities, when channeled productively, can be your career superpowers. The research proves it: managers consistently rate people with higher sensitivity as their top contributors. That’s because Sensitive Strivers are thoughtful, conscientious, empathetic, and dedicated – all of which make them ideal employees and leaders.

Kelly, the client whose story you read about earlier, reflected on the patterns she needed to change during her time off. She realized her actions—from people-pleasing to negative self-talk—were preventing her from pursuing opportunities that better fit her true nature and financial goals.

Through our work together she came to understand (and protect) her sensitivity, leverage it as a strength, and channel her ambition in healthier ways. She put into practice the same tools you’ll discover in my book, Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work.

Related: How To Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person

Kelly put into practice many tools from the book include quieting her inner dialogue, regulating her emotions, and learning how to speak up and push back against her challenging colleagues. Within a few months of returning to work, she received a promotion, was honored as a top manager at the company, and is now entertaining several new job offers from recruiters.

As Kelly’s story shows, once you better understand how your built-in sensitivities shape the way you see yourself and approach your career, you can channel your qualities as strengths and not self-sabotage. Instead of feeling ordered around by your insecurities, worries, or your own unrealistically high expectations of yourself, you can feel in control of your own life and reclaim what success means to you.

Get My Book: Trust Yourself

“Groundbreaking and insightful, TRUST YOURSELF is essential reading for every sensitive, introverted professional. Wilding does a brilliant job of giving you tools to regain your confidence and become your most empowered self.” ––Susan Cain, author of Quiet and creator of Quiet Revolution

Trust Yourself offers a neuroscience-based blueprint based on decades of research and client work to help you break free from stress, self-doubt, and perfectionism so you can regain your confidence at work and reclaim control of your life.

In Trust Yourself, discover how to:

  • Achieve confidence and overcome imposter syndrome
  • Find your voice to speak and act with assertiveness
  • Build resilience and bounce back from setbacks
  • Enjoy your success without sacrificing your well-being

If you’re an empathetic, driven person trying to navigate your career and learn how to believe in yourself in the process, Trust Yourself offers the mindset and tools to set you on the path to personal and professional fulfillment.

Free quiz: Break free from imposter syndrome and overwhelm. Discover which “growth gap” is causing your self-doubt and learn how to gain consistent confidence as a Sensitive Striver. >> Take the quiz now

Written By Melody Wilding  
Originally Appeared On Melody Wilding  
What Is A Sensitive Striver and Signs You Are One PIN

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

How To Control Your Emotions And Thrive In Life

How To Control Your Emotions: Foolproof Strategies

Ever felt like your emotions are running the show, leaving you on a rollercoaster ride you didn’t sign up for? If you constantly find yourself swept away by a surge of emotions, then let’s explore how to control your emotions.

Emotions are a natural part of being human, but when they control us instead of the other way around, they can lead to impulsive decisions, strained relationships, and heightened stress levels. 

The good news is that you have the power to regain control and navigate the vast ocean of emotions that lie within you. Today, we will explore how emotions can control us, the importance of understanding and managing them, and practical strategies to help you regain the helm and steer your emotional ship towards calmer waters.

Up Next

“Why Am I Always On The Verge of Tears?” The Psychology Behind Crying For No Reason

Why Am I Always on the Verge of Tears? Hidden Reasons

As the tears roll down your cheeks once again, you silently tell yourself “Again? What is wrong with me? Why am I always on the verge of tears?” But let me just stop you right there and tell you that there is nothing wrong with you. Not even a single thing. 

What you are experiencing is perfectly normal and natural and you will understand why once we explore the psychology behind crying.

If you find yourself on the brink of tears at the slightest provocation, you may wonder why you seem to cry more easily than others. Yes, it can be a perplexing and emotionally exhausting experience, leaving you feeling vulnerable and questioning your own emotional stability. But you are not alone in this journey. 

Let us understand this universal and deeply human e

Up Next

Navigating Forced Masculinity: The Plight Of Highly Sensitive Men

How Forced Masculinity Affects Highly Sensitive Men

Forced masculinity affects so many men, yet most of them feel uncomfortable to speak up about it. Being a sensitive man is not a weakness, rather it’s a strength not many men possess. It’s high time highly sensitive men feel comfortable with their emotions, and being a highly sensitive man is not associated with being a “loser”.

Key Points:

Just as many men are highly sensitive people (HSPs) as women.

False ideas around masculinity cause HSP boys and men to mask their sensitivity.

Honoring sensitivity teaches healthy messaging around boundaries and consent.

Up Next

What Is The Mediator Personality Type Like? 10 Intriguing Secrets of This Unique Archetype

What Is The Mediator Personality Type? Ten Intriguing Secrets

What is the Mediator personality type? Meet the INFP; magical souls fostering harmony and understanding. But wait, what are they like?

Do you know someone who is just incredibly insightful, and has this natural ability to understand people on a deeper level? Well, let me tell you about the INFP the Mediator, the champion of understanding and connection!

You’re at a party, surrounded by a bunch of chatty folks, and amidst the noise and excitement, you spot that one person who seems a bit

Up Next

Happy Crying: Why Do We Cry When We Are Happy?

Happy Crying: Why Do We Cry When We Are Happy? Six Reasons

Have you ever found yourself crying tears of joy? It might seem like an oxymoron, but happy crying is a real thing, and it’s more common than you might think. Let’s explore the secret of happy tears, why do we cry when we are happy and why they’re worth celebrating.

When we think of crying, we often associate it with sadness, loss, or pain. But have you cried when you are happy? Happy crying is a sign of intense emotions and can be a powerful expression of joy and happiness. So, why do we cry when we are happy, and what are the benefits of shedding tears of joy?

What is happy crying?

Happy crying, also kn