July 2023

Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul

By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun
Review by
Dorcas Cheng-Tozun’s hopeful, practical book will equip highly sensitive people to work toward justice and social reform while still taking care of themselves.
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Many of us long to help the world bend toward justice, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it. However, our culture’s image of the social justice warrior—fiery, loud, unapologetically confrontational—limits who can participate and how it should be done. Dorcas Cheng-Tozun’s essential new book, Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul: How to Change the World in Quiet Ways, is written specifically for highly sensitive people (HSPs) with a passion for social reform. It encourages and equips those who don’t fit the typical social justice warrior profile to work toward the changes they want to see in the world while still taking care of themselves, particularly in the current climate of public disagreement, trolling and outright hostility. With gentleness and vulnerability, Cheng-Tozun persuades readers that the world needs HSPs’ strengths now more than ever. 

Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul first explores what it means to be highly sensitive, both in terms of strengths and limitations. Cheng-Tozun writes that HSPs are defined by four traits: “depth of processing, quicker to overstimulation, emotional reactivity, and sensing the subtle.” Next, she considers key questions that can help HSPs critically analyze sustainable options for participating in social justice causes. The third section offers an abundant and exciting set of pathways for politically active HSPs, organized by the different roles they could play according to their strengths and visions for the future—such as connectors, creatives, record keepers, builders and so on. Throughout these sections, Cheng-Tozun draws on survey data from over 200 HSPs, shares her own struggles with debilitating burnout and offers insights from social movements of the past.

Each section builds on what came before, and the loving touches throughout—the heartfelt personal examples, the memorable illustrations from history, the strong and affirming overall vision—make it truly unforgettable. Like a deep breath of fresh air in the morning, this is a book that can draw readers back to center and give them new ideas to move forward. Be sure to inscribe your name in your copy; you will want to share this hopeful, practical, richly evidenced, deeply personal and exceptionally well-organized book with your friends.

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