On being a highly sensitive person

About a month ago I stumbled upon an article about “Highly Sensitive People.” The article resonated with me , hard. My entire life I have been told that I am “too sensitive.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. So I have grown up my entire life thinking that something was wrong with me and I have spent a lot of my life trying to fix this “too sensitive” thing to absolutely no avail. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to stumble on this article and see that being “highly sensitive” is actually a personality trait .

I picked up the book and read it and can recommend it. Some things I learned about myself (most of this stuff I already knew but the book confirmed that this is part of the HSP personality type):

  • It is OK to be “too sensitive.”  In fact it isn’t good or bad. It just is.  Those of us who are very sensitive are the poets, artists, spiritual ones, etc. We are highly intuitive and tend to be very creative.
  • I notice everything. This is something that the book confirmed about myself (among many other things). I pick up on everything around me. It is both good and bad. The problem I have with this -and that I am working on, is attaching stories to all of the things I pick up on. I am learning to let go of the story line and just let things unfold without my brain giving its input. For example, I might sense something is wrong – like someone around me is giving off a nervous energy. My initial reaction to this weird nervous energy might be to assume this has to do with me in some way (they don’t like me, they are annoyed with me, etc). I am learning to put space between the feeling and the thought.
  • Sometimes weird things happen to me. This is actually common for Highly Sensitive People – to experience weird things.
  • I am sensitive to the energy of places. Here is an interesting story regarding that.
  • As I mentioned above, I am sensitive to the energy of people. When I am sitting on the Reference Desk at the library I can literally feel the bad mood of a person, or even a family, while they are in the area. Sometimes it is just a chaotic energy that I feel. Sometimes it is a very calming energy. Sometimes, if it is a draining, chaotic kind of energy, I am completely exhausted by the end of the day. I need to have some time to myself to recharge.
  • I feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS. Again, this can be really, really great, and really, really awful. There is rarely an in- between state. I cherish those rare occasions when I feel that state in-between THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME  and this. fucking. sucks.  Though those THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME feelings are pretty fucking awesome.

    I highly recommend this book if you are sensitive as well, or if any of this resonates with you. The website is really good too. It helped me to see that I am not a weirdo, that this is normal and there are lots of people like me out there.
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9 thoughts on “On being a highly sensitive person

  1. I’ll add this to my reading list! My husband is definitely highly sensitive and I am in my own way as well. I tend to be very sensitive to the energy in places. One time, when we were visiting a historic house, I started to get very emotional. I managed to hold it together until we went out the door, but I started bawling. To this day, I don’t know what happened there, but it made me feel so sad.

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    1. Melissa, I can relate to your experience at that historic house. That happens to me quite often too. I had a very similar odd, unpleasant experience on the Golden Gate Bridge.

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  2. Certain personality types just don’t obviously fit with what is seen as the ideal, which I see as extraverted, high-energy, high-activity. If you do Myers-Briggs I’m an INFP, a fairly rare type representing 4% of people. And it’s not a classically “manly” personality – I’m contemplative, and I feel deeply, and I am driven by ideals. There is some overlap here with high sensitivity, but I don’t meet enough of the criteria to truly quality.

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    1. I am an INFP as well, so I totally get what your saying. It’s definitely not the cultural ideal and sometimes I have a hard time getting along with Extroverts because they don’t get why I’m so quiet. It does help to know about all of the different kinds of people out there and how all of our brains work 🙂

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    1. Oh no! I hope I didn’t imply that extroverts are not sensitive. That wasn’t my intention at all. actually this particular book has nothing to do with Myers Briggs and focuses more on the Highly Sensitive personality trait. One can be an extrovert and be an HST though it is kind of rare. You might enjoy the book if you feel like any of my blog post resonates!

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  3. “In fact it isn’t good or bad. It just is.” I find this a very helpul maxim in life, too Moni. How is your blood pressure? Some of what you have said reminds me of the condition from which I suffer, one of the symptoms being low blood pressure which causes anxiety and exhaustion. I have high BP which generally falls gradually when I am sitting or standing which results in anxiety, exhaustion, dizziness, high sensitivity to people and my surroundings, sweats and nausea. It can sometimes fall suddenly which causes fainting. If mild it can present mostly as anxiety and being highly sensitive.

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    1. When I get it checked it’s usually normal but I do get that feeling like I’m going to faint if I get up too fast. What you are describing had happened to me but I attributed it to low blood sugar. I get that anxiety, dizzy, sweats, etc when I’m exercising or out walking. It can be really scary if I’m alone, it seems like if I time my exercise just right I’m ok. It’s weird. I’ve never gone to a doctor or anything for it.

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