Sidewalk Talk

Sensitive Striving with Melody Wilding

October 11, 2022

Melody Wilding is an executive coach for Sensitive Strivers - smart, sensitive high-achievers who are tired of getting in their own way. Melody is a Sensitive Striver herself, a licensed social worker, professor of Human Behavior and a contributor to Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Business Insider. She’s also the author of Trust Yourself, described by Susan Cain as “essential reading for every introverted, sensitive professional”.

Listen in is as Melody and Traci take us on a tour of what it means to be a Sensitive Striver, the constellation of challenges facing sensitive people, and how the characteristics of Sensitive Strivers make them the leaders of the future.


Episode Timeline

  • [00:09] Intro 
  • [2:20] Melody shares the personal and clinical experiences that led her to the work she does now, including her experience of extreme burnout
  • [9:32] The constellation of challenges Melody sees facing sensitive, Type A people
  • [13:22] Melody’s wake-up call moment
  • [16:42] The Honorable Hangover (a form of achievement addiction)
  • [19:30] The 3 characteristics of the Honorable Hangover (perfectionism, people-pleasing and over-functioning)
  • [24:43] The mindset shift needed for success as a Sensitive Striver
  • [27:27] Melody’s own experiences of being a Sensitive Striver
  • [29:53] Creating intuitive flow (and leaving behind “butt in chair” time)
  • [30:31] Why Sensitive Strivers need processing space and time
  • [31:00] Behind the scenes of Melody’s book-writing process
  • [33:14] How Sensitive Strivers are perfectly placed for leadership and the future demands of workplaces
  • [35:12] Is Sensitive Striving a Millennial thing? 
  • [39:22] Melody’s message to you, if you’re a Sensitive Striver
  • [39:50] Closing
  • [41:10] Outro


Resources Mentioned

Trust Yourself - Stop Overthinking and Channel Emotions for success at work (You can download a free chapter of Melody’s book)



Standout Quotes

  • “I was working with very high achieving, career-driven people and saw this constellation of challenges imposter syndrome, self-doubt, the people pleasing, perfectionism, over-functioning, and really came to see that it fell into two patterns. It fell into a profound sensitivity towards the world, as well as this striving side, this high achiever, pushing, want to be the best and grow yourself sort of side.” (Melody)
  • “The Honor Roll Hangover is usually one of the biggest blockers to trusting yourself and to really becoming a more empowered, balanced, sensitive driver. And with it, some signs of it. You are fixated on goal setting. You set a lot of goals, you enjoy hitting them. But if you don't have something that you're moving towards, you feel like you're worthless, you're never doing enough.” (Melody)
  • “So that's what I would offer people is to think about how you might see those three elements of the honor roll hangover, perfectionism, people pleasing, over functioning coming up in your life. Because really being able to shake that to put in its place is really key to moving on and getting the best out of your qualities as a sensitive driver.” (Melody)
  • “And so the work isn't “butt in chair” time. It's the time that we create so that we can be more intuitive.” (Traci)
  • “(Sensitive Strivers are…) highly empathetic, and that is classic because we need processing time. We need processing space and time. And neurologically speaking, we're wired differently. If you look at research on the highly sensitive brain, we have more activation in areas related to mental processing. So our brains make novel connections. We see nuances, we spot opportunities that other people miss. We synthesize and are able to take in and process complex information more deeply, which is why on your run you're having those great insights.” (Melody)
  • “30% of the population that has this genetic trait difference that leads to a highly attuned nervous system, which is basically all sensitivity is.” (Melody)
  • “you are not crazy for being so affected by everything around you. The fact that you are doing this work, that you are receptive and perceptive and empathetic to other people's needs is your superpower and find other ways to lean into that fully and let that be your greatest strength because it's a gift to yourself and a gift to the world.” (Melody)



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Find | Traci Ruble


On Instagram: @TraciRubleMFT

On Twitter: @TraciRubleMFT

On Facebook: @TraciRubleMFT


Find | Melody Wilding


On Medium 

On Instagram: @melodywilding





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