"Ah, don't be so sensitive!" "Why are you crying, it's just a movie?" "What do you mean you can't go into the grocery store? It's not that crowded!" "Come out with us, it will be fun. You can't stay home every weekend!" Do any of these statements resonate with you? Have you felt overwhelmed by the holidays and the crowds? Have you felt sad or angry for no reason at all, as if it comes out of nowhere? If you can relate to any of these statements, you may be a highly sensitive person (HSP).
I identify as an HSP, but I didn't know that until I was in my 50's. Until then, I thought I was just odd because I didn't like clutter in my living space or that I became physically and emotionally overwhelmed by crowds of people. I thought there was something wrong with me, when out of nowhere I would become angry or sad. I could feel the anger or sadness in my entire body, but I had no idea why.
There came a time when I started to think that I possibly had some sort of mental disorder. Then I was introduced to the book "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aron, PhD. I took the self-test available on her website only to find out I was on the high end of being very sensitive. As I read the book, so many things that I've experienced in my life started to make sense. It made sense that I needed to have alone time to recharge. It made sense, that I connected very deeply to art, music, and nature.
I started to understand why I became angry just by passing by someone, even if I didn't know they were angry. A number of years ago, I was alone in my home office when a friend of ours was visiting. The friend was in the kitchen about 15 feet from my office talking with my wife. As I was working, I felt an overwhelming sense of anger come over me. Not just a little angry, but very angry. I pushed back from my desk and stood up to take a deep breath, trying to figure out what the heck was happening.
That experience always stuck with me, as it was a true mystery. It wasn't until I understood my sensitivity that this memory came back to me. I asked my wife about that day and she told me our friend had been very angry that day. She was struggling with a personal issue and was venting her feelings. The overwhelming emotion I had in that moment was my first awareness that other people's emotions effected me. This awareness made other events in my past make more sense.
After this, I started digging into more information on being an HSP. Dr. Aron tells how this is not a mental health condition, but rather a trait I share with about 20% of the world's population. Dr. Aron goes on to say that this trait is even found in over 100 species on the planet.
From my own experience of understanding how I am sensitive, I have had to adjust a number of factors in my life. These factors include the foods I eat, the chemicals I allow in my environment, medicines or supplements I take, needing more sleep, trusting the information I was feeling about people and situations, and making sure I had time alone to rest and recharge.
Having awareness of your sensitivities gives you a place to start. Your life can be better by making adjustments that will bring you into alignment with your true nature.
While I know that being an HSP has its challenges, it's also a superpower. In a recent Pollen article, "4 Traits and 5 Hidden Powers of Highly Sensitive People" it talks about the following 5 superpowers:
HSPs are aware of—and compassionately responsive to—the feelings of others
HSPs are super-observers, noticing tiny details that many others might miss
HSPs find deep pleasure and enjoyment in the finer things in life
HSPs tend to be very intentional about living a meaningful and impactful life
With their unique combination of intense awareness and profound empathy, HSPs are poised to make the world a better place
If you resonate with this article and you have challenges with anxiety, depression or other aspects of being sensitive, Know Thyself Healing & Therapy can offer you tools that will enable you to better understand who you truly are. You can take your life back and uncover your own superpowers.
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The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron - https://hsperson.com
4 Traits and 5 Hidden Powers of Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) by Amy Lajiness, LCSW, PMH-C — Pollen magazine. https://www.simplepractice.com/blog/highly-sensitive-people