The Special Challenge Of The Outsider

To be an outsider is not an easy task. It is a special role that has great potential for personal transformation.

Who Is The Outsider?

The outsider is the person who departs their existing cultural home for a new unknown destination.

People do not become outsiders accidentally. It is a path that is deliberately chosen because it is necessary, important and valuable:

  • stage of life – the transition from adolescence to adulthood is one
  • issues within the culture that makes life their untenable
  • life changes like divorce that cause a person to leave a social system.
  • the search for the soul’s purpose

The outsider is the person who brings a fresh perspective to others, a new way of proceeding, valuing, or synthesizing information.

The outsider’s journey is the beginning of the process of transformation. It starts with an awareness that something is not right or that something needs to change. According to the book, Dharma Types by Simon Tony Chokoisky:

Anything that requires radical re-thinking, leaps of imagination, and creative synthesis of many elements is the Outsider’s purview. Ruled by the Space Element, there is no ‘where’ Outsiders cannot travel, just as there is no experience they cannot have. From the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, Outsiders trek the terrains of the wild and the inner spaces of the soul,reaching to depths and heights that no one else dares to follow. Laws and morals hold little power to obstruct their need for experience, and Outsiders are most creative in their interpretation of social strictures. As a result, they can just as easily fall into depravity, as soar to the heights of purity: such is the razor’s edge that defines the Outsider’s path. However, just as it is easy to fall off track, it is also simple for Outsiders to get back on, for they are never far removed from Redemption, though it may not seem that way to them. Examples of criminals-turned-saints abound in sacred literature, illustrating the Outsider’s roller-coaster journey from truth to error… and back again.

What Simon Chokoisky is talking about is that outsiders rethink the rules and what is considered conventional thinking. They are questioners and seekers of truth and in doing so can investigate anything and make many mistakes. Being an outsider carries the pitfalls of openness.

HSPs As The Outsider

Highly sensitive people are outsiders just because of their difference and because they are in the minority. Does that make them outsiders in spirit? Are we the adventurous outsider that Simon Chokoisky talks about?

HSPs in some ways are reluctant adventurers. Our nervous systems take in everything and we cannot escape that. Our sensitivity also means that we cannot escape consequences. It causes us usually to be cautious and conscientious because when you take in everything you cannot be in denial.

When you take in and process everything around you develop the ability to look at the world from multiple perspectives. Highly sensitive people are very much outsiders in that they are the integrators and synthesizers of the human race reworking and reweaving the human story into one that seems more authentic to them. The range afforded the highly sensitive person is offset by the values that come from having an empathetic nature. Thank goodness! It will cause us to reweave the human experience into one that is healthier and more compassionate.

We humans are creative people. However, creativity is not always constructive. HSPs have the chance to make creativity something positive by applying their empathetic values to the open experience of the outsider in a way that serves us all well.

Published by


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 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 also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.

4 thoughts on “The Special Challenge Of The Outsider”

  1. Avatar Annys says:

    Well timed, Maria. Deciding where you’re going to go and who you’re going to be – or perhaps the attitude you’re going to live your life with! – after a long illness is a bit daunting.

    Hope your Christmas was your sort of Christmas!

  2. Avatar Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for introducing the Outsider concept here. I believe I might be one, and it is empowering to know I am not alone.

    I would personally include an important caveat to the idea that empathy is a natural guide to moral behavior.

    Empathy on it’s own can be shortsighted, causing us to draw deep connections with the people or causes in our immediate path, to the exclusion of our broader goals and values. This kind of empathy will lead us to condone behavior which we would otherwise see as wrong in another context (such as acting in solidarity with a particular group, to the extent that you deny your empathy with another). Or more commonly, prioritizing time spent with present company or on a current task, to the detriment of being punctual or consistent in your efforts.

    In fact, empathy can lead us to make decisions that are immoral at worst, inconsiderate, or seemingly inconsistent to other people (who couldn’t begin to understand our complex system of reasoning).

    Without a well-developed sense of self, a highly empathetic person could unwittingly undermine the integrity of their own character in order to fit an unrealistic standard of empathy toward a specific cause or person – a standard that is most often self-imposed.

    I have learned to consciously check myself whenever I feel deep empathy, to see that my inclinations are healthy, sustainable, and aligned with my higher, integrated self.

    1. Avatar Maria Hill says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth for your insight. I agree with you that empathy can lead us astray and cause us to align with unhealthy causes and individuals. I think that without it we are worse off in making moral choices however you are right that our empathy can be manipulated to serve unhealthy agendas.

      All the best,

      1. Avatar Elizabeth says:

        Thank you for your thoughtful response! Yes, definitely without it we would be much worse off.

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