© 20June20 Lyn E. Ayre
Photo is a fractal I created called, “Spiritual Thought”.
Have you looked at yourself through critical eyes and found yourself wanting? Are there parts of your personality that you don’t like? Do you burn with shame, when you feel you’re a fraud and a failure, because you hide your true self from others, keeping a low profile? It’s time to come out into the sunlight and claim your freedom from your own worst enemy – you. I’ve heard it said that when one compares ones insides with someone else’s outsides, they will always lose. We just never know what others are going through, or what others are really like.
HSP is not a disease, a disorder, or a syndrome. It is a personality type that one is born with, in response to several sets of genes within ones specific genetic profile. You are likely in touch with several people who are just like you – a highly sensitive person.
You can really notice how our different responses to the startle response start right away in a human life. Just watch one of those baby YouTubes to see how uniquely each new little human responds when mom or dad say, ‘boo’. Some jump and cry, while others jump and laugh. The ones who laugh likely want you to do it again.
Here are some of the hallmarks:
- over-empathy for others
- heightened creativity
- abhorring: loud sounds, strong scents, too many items on display, an over-abundance of colour, cruelty of any kind, violence, and deadlines
- having a paradoxical or odd reaction to food, drugs, and alcohol
- thinking too deeply about things
- having dreams and nightmares that are very real to you, and which may remain with you for days, feeling like actual memories
- focused in on the details, as the big picture is too overwhelming
- low pain tolerance
- sharp BS detector
- highly conscientious
- easily overcome with awe when in the presence of natural beauty
- highly spiritual
- noticing every single detail
- having multiple food allergies
- displaying a hyper startle reflex
- constantly seeking and asking the question ‘why’
This is not something one needs to be prescribed for, and you don’t have to get over it, as that would be impossible. But, perhaps that has been your thinking all along, “If only I could get over this, I would be more acceptable to people.”
Have you been subjected to insensitive people who were truly unaware of their impact on those around them? They unknowingly trod on people’s emotions, wore down people’s spirits, and broke people’s minds unaware of the damage they were doing.
Perhaps, over your lifetime you’ve gathered several techniques for helping yourself feel better. There are some great ways of dealing with this situation, and these types of people. You might recognize a few here:
1. Literally and purposefully narrow your field of vision, so that you don’t see every single detail, and notice absolutely everything. It is an exhausting way to live; and if you do this, you’ll have more energy for you.
2. Look for the love in the situation, instead of the danger. Being afraid all the time is no way to truly live.
3. Find things to be grateful for each day. Self-centeredness could lead one back to self-destructive behaviours. Other- centeredness will create joy.
4. Firmly establish boundaries for those who are not good for you, or those who don’t have your highest good at heart. ie: people who are always saying that you shouldn’t be so sensitive; who call you over-sensitive, or too sensitive; yelling at you – why do you have to be so touchy!; telling you to toughen up and grow a thicker skin; and to take off your rose-coloured glasses.
5. Calm your mind and feelings of overwhelm. There are just so many wonderfully healthy self-care things one can do – yoga, Ch’i gong, running, walking, meditation, and breathing techniques. I’m sure you’ll find your own level of being in the world.
6. Accept and incorporate into your psyche, your successes in life, and realize that you have contributed something of value to the whole, and you have done some good in the world.
7. Reduce areas in your life where you can become overwhelmed or overburdened with sensory input. ie: going into big box stores; shopping; attending loud places; venues with high olfactory experiences ie: hair dresser or nail salon; having too many lights on; places with boisterous people; watching the news; viewing violent television shows; reading the newspaper; and being in the mall or anywhere there is a crush of people.
8. Let people know that you have a tightly strung nervous system and it’s just the way you were made, so you would appreciate it if they didn’t sneak up on you, or surprise you in anyway, and no practical jokes, please. No, it’s not that you don’t have a sense of humour, it’s just that your nervous system is tightly strung.
9. Are you able to choose to stay home more often, and make your home a sanctuary for you, in part to avoid over-stimulation of your nervous system?
10. Listen and respond to what your body needs in that moment. It might be a nice juicy navel orange, or a cup of tea, or a walk around your house, or watch some endearing animal videos on Facebook. Very often, it could simply be a cuddle with your pet, child, or significant other.
11. Try to be your own best friend by not pushing yourself so hard, or criticizing yourself, or being harsh with yourself. Rather, can you elevate your self-talk, as if you were talking to your own best friend? “You’re tired, sweetie. Why don’t you go have a nap?” “You’re feeling upset. Why don’t you make a cup of tea?” “Your body is tense and tight. Give the massage therapist a call for an appointment.” “You’re all wound up. Why don’t you close your eyes, and do some deep breathing?”
12. Let go of old hurts, so that you can go on with a clean slate. Quit dragging all that weight along with you and drop the rock. People will be who they are, yourself included, so no need to get upset about it. Can you just move on and be with folks who do accept you?
13. Come to appreciate your uniqueness and the gifts that only you can offer the world. And when it’s your turn, step into the light and enjoy yourself. We only live once and joy gives a person so much energy.
You’re not alone in this. According to everything I’ve read, twenty percent of the population, or 1 in 5, are highly sensitive people. Perhaps this will give you a new lease on life. I know it has for me. I’ve written this article using my own experience of how I’ve gotten through it. It’s explained a lot about many of my relationships. This knowledge has given me ‘permission’ to just go ahead and be myself, no matter what.
Sure, I’ll continue to be rejected and bullied by others for being sensitive. Now, I have some tools to deal with that. I’ve spent most of my life wondering ‘what is wrong with me’. But, there’s nothing wrong with me, or you either! We are just highly sensitive people. It’s a personality trait. I’ve always maintained that it’s better to be sensitive than insensitive, anyway.
I wonder… what are your choices going to be for yourself?
Disclaimer: this is a personal piece, written because I am a highly sensitive person, and I wanted to share my personal findings with others who may find it useful. I am not a trained expert in this field. I only know and share what has worked for me.
This HSP idea came to me in a Tiny House newsletter. A woman said she was HSP, and had decided to move into a tiny house and go minimalist in an effort to better control her environment. I wondered what HSP was, so started to research it. There was an article with 21 statements, 20 of which were written just for me. Et voila! Here are the sites I looked at. One site started saying something about being a successful HSPer who had figured out a work around. I wondered what I had come up with over the years to deal with what I was going through. In short order, I had nine points written out. Then I fleshed it out, edited it, and here I am.