A day in the life of a HSP…..

Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) certainly feels tough some days. 

Like today, for example. The whole female population is currently posting pictures of themselves on Facebook without make-up, to support and raise awareness for cancer. I can think of nothing worse than showing my bare face for all to see; which is good, because nobody has “nominated” me. 

I am sure that most people wouldn’t have given this another thought, other than possibly to feel relief that they haven’t been recruited to do it. However, I am not most people. I actually feel hurt. I’ve seen so many friends post their au natural look today, all giggly with girlie camaraderie over who they are going to force to go naked. But no-one has included me. 

I am guessing that for the non-highly sensitive people reading this, your first thought may be somewhere along the lines of “get a life!” Only, as a HSP, this is my life. At times, it is hard being this way. Every conversation (especially my part) is scrutinised and re-hashed; every reaction from others is observed and analysed; and every decision is questioned a million times, and then some. I am so aware of others, and their reaction to me, that it sometimes makes social interaction incredibly difficult; to make matters worse, HSPs are intensely intuitive, and I am rarely wrong when interpreting a reaction invisible to others. I know when people don’t like me; even if their words are to the contrary. And I always knew when boyfriends were cheating on me, even without any tangible evidence. 

Thankfully, life-experience allows me to throw reason into the mix sometimes: in the scenario above, I know that it doesn’t mean people hate me, or even dislike me. I am sure that my closest friends probably aren’t participating, and that’s why I have been missed. I know all of this to be true; however, that doesn’t stop the evil whispering voice in my ear saying: “They don’t like you. They don’t like you”. Which, to a HSP, is simply devastating. Our inherent need to be liked, accepted and praised over-shadows everything else. 

Over the years, I am sure many friends have mistaken my behaviour for self-absorption; that my need to be liked is vanity. It’s not that at all. It goes no deeper than a fundamental need to fit in; to be the same as everyone else; not to feel that there is something just a little skewed.  Research has discovered that the HSP trait is only found in around 15-20% of humans, which makes us a minority group. Therefore, when we feel different, it is because we are different.  

The most noticeable thing about a HSP is our ability to feel; every emotion we experience is on a grand scale. We don’t ever feel slightly angry, or mildly happy. Neither do we laugh demurely; it’s a full-on bull’s bellow, or nothing at all. We are the ones that cry at soppy adverts, feel the pain of a bereaved parent, and become enraged at social injustice. There are just no half measures; our dial is cranked up to maximum all the time. This is a mixed blessing. I love my empathy, the ability to really feel the emotions of someone else; I love the deep connection, and understanding I have with my children; I love my kind heart and generous spirit; and I love that I always take other people’s feelings into consideration. However, I don’t love how criticism feels like a knife through my heart; I don’t love how people can trample on my feelings without noticing; and I don’t love that it takes me forever to decide on something, only to regret my decision as soon as it is made. 

Things have come a long way since I was a child; back then, I was miss-labelled shy. HSPs are not shy; we are wary and careful, finding our way gently. We are not over-emotional or highly-strung either; names that were (and still are) pinned on us, screaming negativity. If anyone ever described you as highly-strung, it was not being used as a compliment. Yet, researchers say that HSP is a necessary trait factored into evolution, and that it plays a vital part in the success of our species. To survive, all animals need members of the group that are sensitive, cautious, and intuitive; those that deeply feel their surroundings. 

Sometimes living as a HSP is a curse; life would be easier caring just that little bit less about what people thought about me. And although I know I would be happier if I could move through life without doubting every single move I make; deep down, I know that I would not want to be any other way. 

Check out the HSP self-test and see if you are in my exclusive gang:

http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test.htm

 

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “A day in the life of a HSP…..

  1. I am “The Discourses of Mrs. Hate”, and I just started following your blog. This is my son “all over”, especially those behaviors listed in paragraph 4 (starting with “I am guessing”):. observant and analytical and intensely intuitive. I’m enjoying your posts!

    • Sorry for the late reply – this never showed up in my feed! Thank you for your comments, and so good that my post resonated with you. I also believe that my nine year old is also HSP, and it helps to understand his somewhat very difficult behaviour. I am reading the HSP by Dr Aron – definitely worth checking out! I read every page and mentally nod my head and how much it rings true for my son!

      • Boo on not showing up in feed LOL I will check out your suggestion on Dr. Aron. I could write an entire blog on my son alone—in fact, I’ve told him HE needs to write because he expresses his thoughts so beautifully and others like him would find it helpful, in that “you are not alone…I’m like this too.”. Maybe one day he will understand the joy writing can bring in all sorts of ways, both for the writer and the reader.

      • I am doing it about turn really – I am reading up on how to help my son, rather than how to help myself. But, I guess, you don’t get to be 46 and not have a reasonably good idea of who you are. How old is your son? Do you have any HSP traits?

      • There was not a reply button on your comment at 3:02 p.m. 3/26, so hopefully this will show up somewhere and you can connect my answers to your questions. I FINALLY have a pretty good idea of who I am, and I’m older than you! 🙂 Son is 25 and has enriched my life immensely, but it’s been very, very hard…an autistic spectrum type of thing, supposedly, but with anxiety/OCD thrown in; kind of an infinite loop of the dog chasing its tail, or which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Since I have spent 21 years now (he began exhibiting symptoms at age 4), learning about him and how to help him, (and he’s much more able to function now) I like to give myself the treat of some “me” stuff—like blogging. 🙂
        To answer the second question, I am so split/down the middle of being functional yet deeply emotional (so much fun!! haha) that when I took the test, I only got EIGHT check marks!! No wonder my byline under my blog title is what it is!!
        I’ll have to do what I might call a “wildcard” post periodically and post some things I’ve written about my son that will give you and others a glimpse into how he thinks…he’s delightful, but totally different from the other chlld, like polar opposite. 🙂

      • Hello again! My two are polar opposites too! As with our 9 year old, we have questioned possible ADD, and even being on the autistic spectrum (but he has so many non-autistic traits that this was quickly over-ruled in our minds). Children with HSP often get mistakenly diagnosed as having ADD. He is a beautiful little boy, but everything is taken so seriously: he finds it hard to laugh at himself, if he get something wrong he calls himself “stupid”, and he gets his feelings hurt very easily. Knowing why he is like he is, makes it so much easier to deal with! I guess you get to have the good parts of HSP (the emotional side), without all the other grotty bits!

  2. Hey! I got 21 on the test, whatsaaaap?! 🙂 I consider myself more sensitive, but I didn’t know there was a title… I am very outgoing and outspoken and I can with no problem talk in front of a large crowd, so no one labeled me shy. But sensitive yes, I was and still am always aware of others, their feelings, unspoken things, and I run away from noisy places since noise and too much stimulation trigger my dizziness and panic attacks or anxiety attacks.
    Nice to meet you, I have been surfing through your blog a little bit. 🙂

    • Hello! Would you believe that I am 46 and only discovered that my personality traits had a name! Like you, I wouldn’t class myself as entirely introvert (although I do follow a lot of classic traits), but WAS labelled shy, which kind of crippled me in many ways! 21 is high! Not much mistake there! 🙂 My son actually got higher than me (and you), he got 22. I am just so glad I’ve realised it now, so that I can raise him as a sensitive child should be (and no, I have never referred to him as shy!). Thanks for stopping by!

      • Hehehehehe… Maybe that is because I don’t like labels, I don’t feel comfortable in them. :/ But, many of the doctors that I have been to with my health problems have used the exact same word: sensitive. I was like; “Me? No, I AM NOT sensitive, what are you talking about?!” Because I was taking the negative connotation from it. Now I try to see a positive side, being sensitive doesn’t mean I’m not strong – on the contrary, I am one of the strongest people I know. I just enjoy things differently, and with years and years behind me trying to “fit in” I have decided to roll on my own. Not alone, but in any direction my heart wants to go and do stuff that makes me happy. So, I’ll go from there…. 🙂

      • Oh, I agree! Along with shy, I was also labelled “highly-strung” and “over-sensitive”, two descriptions that are not exactly thought of as flattering! Now, I embrace it! I like to care and feel deeply! You’ve reminded me of a time I went to the doctors because I was feeling ill with some quiet nondescript symptoms. He told me he thought I was stressed. Stressed? I don’t get stressed! When he asked me what had happened in the previous months, and I said moved to a new country, left a job I loved, both very suddenly, and he just nodded and said “yes…stressed”. So, I see where not wanting to quite admit to something that you maybe have perceived as weak in some way!

  3. I got 22 on the test! I wondered if I might, after reading your post, but there were bits (like laughing loudly) that I wasn’t sure were me. How interesting. I’ll have to read more about it as both kids (particularly my son) share a lot of similar traits (although that could be learnt behaviour from me). I thought my over-reaction to loud noises, strong smells etc, was linked to my depression. It’s both liberating and also frightening that it might be something completely independent. I often say to hubbie I hate being me!

    • I think that so many people probably are HSP without ever realising it. I am 46 and this is the first time I have a positive label for myself, rather than just “highly-strung” (society’s description, not mine), and I am trying to embrace my differences (and the fact I feel different). It is always liberating to realise that there is a reason why you feel different – it’s the same with Misophonia. My nine year old is definitely a HSP – he scored 22, too, on the child’s one. I am not sure if laughing very loud is a typical trait. Thinking about it, it probably isn’t – I think highly sensitive people are often more introverted (although there are many extroverts that are also HSP). I do not class myself as an introvert – yes, a lot of things fit, but not everything! The things you learn as you go along in life!

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