HSP 101: BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON
BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND
THE HIGHLY SENSATIVE PERSON
Whether you are exploring if you might be an HSP or you suspect you might love
an HSP – be the parent, sibling, or boss of an HSP – the first thing is to accept that
HSP is a ‘thing’ that exists. And, that you may have the power to make your life or
the life of an HSP a little easier and more peaceful. And, you want to.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person
(HSP) is a birth trait that exists. If
you think of Asperger’s Syndrome
being on one end of an emotional
spectrum, an HSP may be on the
opposite end and may range from
being someone mildly sensitive to
someone having strong, painful,
and uncontrollable reactions to
noises, smells, emotions in other
people. No one can wish away or
“cure” HSP. That’s good news.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person does not mean we are “weak.” It means we might
feel feelings with more “feel” than most people feel. For most HSP’s – like
most people – we know how to behave in public, are not brittle, don’t need to be
coddled – but, sometimes need help managing things beyond our control.
Just like anyone with a condition that effects their behavior.
HSP’s can feel things more deeply than most people and hold those
feelings for longer periods of time. This can mean there are times
emotional reactions are amplified to an extent those emotions can be
very difficult to manage. Very difficult. Sometimes, impossible.
HSP’s can feel intense love, contentment, or euphoria over some
things that might make other people simply happy.
Sad things can hit an HSP hard and those feelings can
feel like falling – literally – like we are falling off a cliff.
Being sad can often be terrifying to an HSP.
And, although we can cry easily, for many HSP’s crying is a last resort. Crying
is a pressure valve being released. Crying can deeply embarrass an HSP so
kindness matters. Don’t tell an HSP to stop crying. They would if they could.
Both men and women can possess this trait.
But, it can be much harder for men to deal with or to hide.
We take things personally, because that is how we process most
everything we deal with. Don’t tell us to not take things personally.
We wouldn’t have a single clue as to how to take things if we didn’t.
Because HSP’s process one thousand emotions a day, there are times
we need to feel the safety of reassurance. We need to check in often
with people we love about feelings – good or bad. Just to make sure.
And, when someone we love reaches out, first – or does
something cool or kind with the HSP in mind? Does something special
just for them? It means everything and we will never forget it.
HSP’s – especially in times of high stress or fear, may need some extra reassurance
from those most important to them. A teacher may need to add an extra star, a
parent may need to cuddle a bit more, a friend may need to check in just to say,
“Hi.” Times of excessive emotion can make HSP’s feel invisible – to remind an
HSP (often) that they are not invisible and are loved is really important.
Not all HSP’s are introverts or shy, but we can be very comfortable
being alone and daydreaming. HSP’s often crave the company of
others while also needing isolation and calm. This inner conflict
can bring intense feelings of loneliness.
HSP’s can be deeply
affected by the arts -
music, poetry, stories,
paintings, movies –
and the deeper the
the harder it is to shake
those deep feelings.
HSP’s may come from a place of feelings when we react to something that disturbs
or scares us simply because it is not possible to turn those feelings off. Please, let us
process. It might be hard to understand, but it’s hardly ever about you. Managing
HSP is hard. It’s not a choice anyone would make.
Some HSP’s register the world mostly through feeling – which means your
feelings might become our feelings - your mood might become our mood.
HSP’s can absorb energies like emotional chameleons. The more diverse the
emotions in a room, the harder it is for an HSP to control their sensitivities.
They may need to go to a quiet place for a moment to regroup. Just let them.
HSP’s tend to look forward to things with intensity. When plans change an HSP might have to go
through a process of extreme disappointment. Just like other emotions that are intense,
disappointment is something that HSP have to manage. It very rarely means we are upset with the
person involved – just upset that we have sorted out plans and when they change it can be cause for
anxiety. Just let us sort through it and we will be fine. Acknowledging that the change may be
difficult for them helps tremendously – as will rescheduling the plans as soon as possible.
An HSP who knows someone well can often identify even the slightest
change in mood or emotion. If something bad happens to someone an
HSP loves, it can feel like the same bad thing happened to us, too.
Watching violence on television or in a movie can feel
physically painful to some HSP’s. Many don’t feel it as if it’s
“just a movie” – we feel the violence as if it is actually
happening to us. It’s not funny. It can be terrifying.
HSP’s can be hyper-observant. Because it is essential to
understand as much as possible in an environment for us to feel
comfortable, an HSP notices everything. We “catalog” things
others might forget. We remember promises made. We
remember and do what we say we will do. This can often be
unnerving to some people. It’s hard to get something by an HSP.
Many HSP’s will go into hyper-sensitivity overdrive when we believe we
may have disappointed someone we love. So, when we try to hear
criticism, it can be devastating. Many times, it’s not about feeling bad that
we did something “bad” – it’s about disappointing someone we love.
For many HSP’s this is one of the worst things we could ever do.
Many HSP’s need time to plan. We need to often visualize ourselves
doing things before we actually do them to help calm any anticipated
anxiety. Allow an HSP who needs to plan the time they need because
it’s how they have learned to manage.
Telling an HSP to “let it go” can feel dismissive. It’s not about letting go
of anything – it’s about processing emotions in a necessary way that is difficult to
change. We can’t process emotions any faster than we do. Don’t be angry about that.
Because HSP’s can be very sensitive to their own feelings we can also
be sensitive to the feelings of others. We can be empathetic from the first meet.
Loving an HSP can bring you closer to understanding love in an authentic way.
It can be scary, but will be more than worth any confusion.
Many HSP’s crave deep
connections. In order for some
HSP’s to trust you they may need
to know who you are on the
“inside.” Some HSP’s feel so
much they can’t ‘see’ a person –
instead, they ‘feel’ who that
person is. That can be very
disturbing to people who prefer
to be more private. To love an
HSP is to tell an HSP more than
you might other people. But,
that’s OK. HSP’s keep
secrets very well.
Most HSP’s are strong people and are
(mostly) not inappropriately overly-
emotional. We also don’t need (or want)
to be rescued by anyone – we just need
to be allowed to process emotions in a
way that is empowering and not
embarrassing or defeating. We need to
feel that our way of processing the
world is not wrong or crazy – just
different. And, in a perfect world?
Many of us would like to be seen as
Empathetic Badass Warriors – because
someone needs to remind people of the
softer sides of being human. HSP’s are
just people who need to be as sensitive
as they need to be. So let them be.
And, remember: telling an HSP to stop being so “emotional” or
“sensitive” is asking them to do the impossible. It’s negating who they are
at their very core: emotional people. Just because you might feel
uncomfortable with emotion is not reason enough to ask another person
to try and change who they are – when they can’t.
It takes a special kind of person to love an HSP. It takes a person who is patient
and kind and willing to allow for things that they might not have considered,
before. It takes a loving and generous person. A person who wants to nurture
the HSP in their lives and help them to feel safe in their world.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BEING
A HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON (HSP)
VISIT THIS WEBSITE:
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