UNDERSTANDING THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON:
In my early forties, I felt empowered when I discovered that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). (The term was coined by Elaine Aron, PhD in her now famous book entitled The Highly Sensitive Person.) I now understand that being an HSP is a gift and for this I am truly grateful. It means I am highly “intuitive”–not highly “insecure” or “weak” as many people have been wrongly led to believe by our American culture and media. It also means that I am “Sensory”-sensitive which is not about emotionality–it means I am sensitive to sensory input that causes me to feel overstimulated at times–HSPs take in 5 to 10 times more stimuli in our environments than non-HSPs. HSPS are highly creative and often visionaries. Here are some other things I learned about being an HSP that I would like to share:
1) MANY HSPS ARE HIGHLY EMPATHIC. Until you understand the benefits of being an HSP, it can be very difficult to understand why you are so different from those around you and why you yearn to “fit in”. HSPs feel things more deeply and we can empathize with the feelings of others so completely that we often unwittingly “take on” the negative feelings of those around us. We can end up feeling “bad” and have no idea why and blame ourselves for it when actually the feelings belong to the person we were just talking to (or sometimes even someone we have just been near). When we feel bad for no reason, the common reaction for HSPs is to blame ourselves and mentally beat ourselves up. For example, we say to ourselves, “what is wrong with me; I should be happy; everyone else seems happy and carefree so there is something wrong with me that I feel this way; I must have emotional problems; I am flawed compared to everyone else” etc. When we can recognize that the emotions we are feeling are from others, we can learn to stop this negative self-talk and let go of and release this negative energy that we have absorbed.
2) HSPS ARE OFTEN TOO HARD ON THEMSELVES. Becoming aware of how you are treating yourself in your head is becoming aware of your “inner critic”. Your inner critic is always negative and always wrong about you. Becoming aware of your inner critic is powerful. Once you become aware that you are listening to your inner critic you must stop and say to your self, “No, that is not true about me!” Then replace these thoughts with positive affirmations such as “I love and approve of myself; I am safe; I am supported and cared for by the Universe (God); and I am a highly intuitive soul and I am sensitive for a reason”. Being able to change the way you treat yourself and talk to yourself will change your life!
3) HSPS ARE LOVING, COMPASSIONATE SOULS. When you love and approve of yourself as you deserve to be, you begin to shine the light that is inside your soul. This light is the gift of the highly sensitive soul: you innately see the good and the potential in other people; you look to yourself to improve rather than blaming others or expecting them to change; you are able to empathize with other people’s feelings with compassion; you are a trusting and loyal friend; and a very good listener. These are wonderful gifts for a person to have for they are rare—and it is usually only the rare and highly sensitive friend that would point this out to you.
4) HSPS OFTEN NEED TO LEARN HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. Being the kind and caring soul that you are, if you are not seeing the value of that, your worthiness, you will often attract relationships with the kind of negative energy that your inner critic is reflecting. Also, people who are less sensitive and not intuitive at all are often drawn to HSPs because we absorb their negative feelings and they feel better around us. Some of these relationships can really confuse us because these non-HSPs can “act” very kind and generous when they want something from us. These are actually people we need to avoid because they drain us and are unable to reciprocate the giving nature that we need and deserve in a friendship. Ending relationships with people who are really takers and manipulators rather than givers is a giant leap towards becoming the person you dream to be. When you are able to take this final step for yourself and start listening to your inner guidance that is your gift, you are well on your way to a life of emotional vitality and wholeness.
As a final note of support, I want to say that as a highly sensitive and intuitive person, you are part of a group of 15 to 20% of the population that is deep, caring, and compassionate with much love to give. Our giving nature is an inspiration to others who are also part of this 15 to 20% and a gift to the entire planet’s population. One fifth of the population is over 1 BILLION PEOPLE–and empathetic compassionate people are out there. When you begin to love yourself as you are, stop comparing yourself to others, and protect your self and your energy from negative, manipulative, selfish, or unhealthy people by staying away from them while you are healing, you will start attracting and finding more compassionate people like yourself in your life. Do not settle for superficial relationships–take the road less traveled. It is the path to love and enlightenment and inner peace.
With love and warmest wishes,
PS–If you resonate with this article and being an HSP, perhaps you would enjoy working with me for guidance, support and emotional healing. I’m a Life Coach/Spiritual Counselor who specializes in working with HSPs. You can check out my coaching website for more information and testimonials at this link: TrueVoiceLifeCoaching.com