We all feel that we are sensitive, because we are “in” our own worlds, and we assume that others could not possibly be as introspective as we are. However, there are people who are actually considered a “Highly Sensitive Person”.
How do you know if you are a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)?
There is a psychological scale and there are nine key areas that point to HSP traits. All of these can be intuitive and thus, gifts of the sort.
- Overwhelm. When there is perceived pressure of any kind, an HSP might go straight to overwhelm. They have a hard time staying on task, which includes keeping appointments, following through, and self-care.
- Pollution. They feel that almost all noisy areas are polluting or assaulting in some way. HSP tend to not enjoy music concerts, festivals, or anywhere that there is quite a bit of buzz around them. Even areas of higher scent or visuals may cause them unease.
- Hunger. They do not do as well with hunger. This is not the same as low blood sugar drops that can make anyone irritable or anxious. An HSP will at the second that they realize that they are hungry, often have anger or anxiety that is markedly abrupt.
- Judgment. An HSP does not like to feel judged or observed in any way. They prefer to not like high risk or high stake situations.
- Creative. The HSP is moved by art. While being in a concert may be overwhelming to them, listening to music in their home, may prove incredibly moving to them. They often enjoy art and have a strong sense of emotion connected to lyrics, compositions, and all creative endeavors.
- Others. HSP can come across as being preoccupied with others’ comfort, at the risk of their own, which is often the case.
Now, in the next three, I’m going to explain how the gifts of sensitivity might actually be a curse.
7. When there is sensitivity, from overwhelm or caring too much about others, the HSP needs to retreat and when they do not, they open themselves up to exhaustion and if they fight that, they open themselves up to illness, including the common HSP ailment, which can take the form of unknown cause inflammation in the body. This might look like fibromyalgia or an unnamed illness.
8. Because the HSP has a lower threshold when it comes to their senses, they often are seen as rude if they do not go with the flow of those who are not HSP. This can cause quite a bit of conflict, as friends or family may not understand why the HSP needs to refrain when they for instance, love music but do not want to attend a concert or party.
9. Many people go to the HSP with their problems because the HSP has the “gift” of understanding them; while the curse is that the HSP is actually focusing on putting themselves in the other persons shoes and is simply soaking up the other person wants them to feel; you see the other person, not the HSP, is creating the emotion for the HSP, to project and get what they want – usually a sympathy, pity or their energy.
Which brings me to:
The HSP is most often, I have found, to be a victim to a narcissist. The narcissist wants energy and the HSP has lots to give, or so they think. From my experience and research, the HSP isn’t often “born” but bred. Meaning, they have had a certain level of emotional hardship or neglect, and have learned to put a false smile to the outside world early on, while they suffered inside. Since their go-to is suffering and false happiness, they work very hard to showcase to the world how they are happy, and attract narcissists who want that “happy” energy. The narcissist also enjoys the void that they sense in the HSP and the vulnerability that envelopes the HSP. The narcissist is then easily able to swoop in, dump their issues and sob stories like spilled sour milk and the HSP without complaint, is there to sponge it up. This begins to be a pattern and pretty soon the HSP is simply a sponge for the emotions of the narcissist. This is the main curse of an HSP.
HSP’s are often in constant trauma and stress, and internalize their pain which surfaces in physical ailments to chronic headaches to weight struggles and on and on. In the most challenging moments of all of our lives, we have understand the plight of a HSP; we all have empathy and we all can be vulnerable. When we overdo anything from giving to hiding ourselves, we become sensitive.
Imagine you are a person who had some type of pain growing up that you decided was “just the way it was” at home, and you coped “well enough”. You might feel that your relationships were always the other person’s issues or your jobs were not for you or whatever; you simply never put together that you were taught to have low standards for yourself. You did learn to stay a step ahead of the controlling parent or the neglectful parent; the abusing uncle or the toxic sibling. This made you hyperaroused; as an adult you constantly are trying to analyze others and figure them out, feeling that you know best how others should live. You feel you’ve got the answers and you come off this way; which in turn, attracts the very people who want to find a receptacle to dump their emotions.
It’s a cycle.
The HSP has some gifts for sure, but overall, the HSP is suffering.
You can’t just “toughen up” but you can draw boundaries.
When someone wants to “chat” about their problem, give them the name of therapist. When someone is gossiping, say you don’t have time. Keep making excuses to keep yourself protected and don’t see emotion dumping as a badge of honor you wear for the dumpee.
Being an HSP is also a gift in that you can deeply relax by honoring nature and your truth, when you allow yourself to feel it rather than the external world. It is important to honor the triggers that are too much for you and to not go to concerts or loud bars or anywhere that overloads your nervous system, which is actually at it’s limit, not in a gifted space.
Honor your boundaries and build resistance and an outer shell that turns off narcissists.
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