I must admit when I hear the term highly sensitive person, my first impression is to have somewhat of a negative reaction. Being sensitive is often perceived as a weakness, soft, or easily offended. However, being a highly sensitive person (HSP) encompasses far more characteristics.
Essentially, a highly sensitive person is someone who experiences their feelings, both positive and negative, on a greater intensity than most people and often experiences greater energetic or emotional reactions to external stimuli. For example, because an HSP has greater reactions to external stimuli, an HSP may walk into a room with a lot of people, lights, and frenetic pace and feel like their energy is draining out from them. Further, an HSP may feel emotions on a greater level. This may manifest in positive experiences such as being able to walk into an art museum and feel the emotional energy of the pictures. If the pictures depict beauty, nature, or integrity, then that person may feel more alive, inspired, or energized. However, if the pictures contain sad or hurt people, then the HSP may feel more sad or hurt inside themselves. This is the same with music and movies. An HSP may watch a scary or violent movie and literally feel anxious, exhausted or paranoid after watching the movie. There is actually research that shows that watching violent movies may negatively impact a person’s immune system. Alternatively, listening to music or watching movies that show humans at their best, being courageous, or beauty may create experiences of awe, inspiration, or tears of joy in an HSP. Thus, being an HSP allows people to experience both positive and negative emotions to a greater intensity.
This can make relationships more challenging for an HSP. An HSP may intuitively know whether someone has good or bad intentions during a conversation. As a result, the HSP may feel drained, exhausted, or deeply angry when they are around people who lack intergrity or who have bad intentions. An HSP likely has cut people out of their lives, for good reason, because those people have drained their energy or hurt them on a deeper level than most people would get hurt. They may have felt stressed moving to a new environment. If so, MoveBMS.com can help with stress free moving. Or if you are visiting Hawaii, Aloharents.com can help you find an affordable rental car. This website can also help you find a good financial advisor.
However, being an HSP does not mean you dislike being around people. HSP’s may really enjoy being around people, but can just pick up on their intentions, emotions, and energy on a much more instinctual and visceral level. Additionally, one strength an HSP has in relationships is the ability to know when their partner is feeling sad, stressed, angry or anxious and can respond with greater levels of empathy and compassion to their partner’s wants and needs.
Below are a few strategies that an HSP can integrate to get the most out of life.
- Set boundaries and be willing to say no to people, especially friends. An HSP may overextend him or herself and say yes to requests that they should say no to because they care deeply about being there for others. Not setting boundaries though, has an especially draining affect on an HSP.
- Make self-preservation and extreme self-care a priority. An HSP must protect themselves because they are at greater risk of having their energy drained. Find ways that rejuvinate you and make it a priority to schedule those activities on a daily list. Put those self-care activities at the top of your to-do list and schedule them on a daily basis just like you would a doctor’s appointment. Or, put another way, prioritize self-care just like a person would prioritize taking their daily medication.
3. Take time to walk or sit in nature. Sometimes just driving to a park and sitting in your car and looking out at nature for 10 minutes can be rejuvinating. This is especially helpful if the weather is bad because you can sit in your car where it is warm and look out at the window.
4. Be aware that you may feel emotions with more intensity than most people and don’t beat yourself up for having emotions or feeling angry or anxious. Part of who you are may be to feel emotions on a deeper level. If you are feeling angry, anxious, or highly sensitive, then recognize this is who you are and it comes with it’s own unique strengths, challenges, and joys in life.
What is your takeaway from this article and how can you use it to make a difference in your life?
Dr. Matthew Welsh, J.D., Ph.D.
Founder of Spiritual Media Blog