Just like anything in life, being a very sensitive person (or what is often referred to as a ‘highly sensitive person’ or ‘HSP’) comes with
On the one hand, it’s a beautiful gift. On the other, with that power comes great responsibility, and that applies in this case for sure. Here are the best parts and the worst parts, I think you’ll notice a pattern or two…
1. We feel everything
Like literally, everything. We can be sat in a doctor’s waiting area and absorb the nervousness of the other patients, or we’ll be watching a poignant scene in a movie (the start of “Up” comes to mind), and it’ll all get too much for us. This can be amazing. It means that we connect with the arts deeply and it makes us highly empathetic and great at working with people (see below). On the other hand, our environments can be overwhelming and over-stimulate us. Too much stimulation, whether it’s from people or just background noise, can get too much for us and wear us out.
2. We are great in people-focused roles
As we are highly empathetic, we do very well at roles and scenarios involving people. Whether it’s in healthcare/psychology, or sales/relationship-building, we thrive in such settings. The flip side is that we get burnt out, and we need to make sure we set the appropriate boundaries so as to avoid taking on too much of others’ stuff (particularly in healthcare roles e.g. counselling)
3. We feel very out of place at times
I had a hard time in my teens and early 20s when I was expecting to somehow become cool and start going out and having the same experience as everyone else, the crazy-n-wild student experience society was telling me I was supposed to have. Uh-uh. I never really liked going out at university and – unsurprisingly – alcohol , loud music and late nights was the perfection conception for… you guessed it, emotional overwhelm and exhaustion. This makes sense to me now but, back then, I thought there was something wrong with me and it only contributed to my angst.
4. Even day-to-day interactions can be tedious
As I now spend much of my working time working remotely from my gym cafe, I have to be cautious when it comes to managing my time – and energy – and not over-exerting myself and making *too much* of an effort with the people in my surrounding environment. Again, it’s all about energy management and preservation.
5. We keep ourselves to ourselves a lot
To manage my energy, socialising is minimal and I have a strong for 1-to-1 or small-group interactions. I used to feel bad at not making an effort and turning down invites. Sometimes I still over-commit and then have to withdraw. That’s not to say I *don’t* like people, connection is one of my themes for 2019 and I find it *so* nourishing. (Just this evening, I have sent out a message to a small group of friends, some in other countries, reaching out to catch up and to hopefully plan some fun trips with them this year).
6. We can overthink – and overfeel – everything!
With a highly attuned intuition, we read people or situations with *a lot* of information being soaked up from our senses. Sometimes, we’ll have a gut feel that is right-on and serves us well, but other times there’s so much we’ve taken in that we’re confused about what it is we think or how we feel.
In short, it comes down to take a lot in and out internal needle moving very easily.
We make wonderful writers and artists as well as being integral in people-focused roles. We can design our workspaces and environments so that they serve us well, as well as finding ways to best manage our energy and serve ourselves – PS. This means maintaining boundaries, not over-extending ourselves and learning to be OK with saying “no”!
Monday, 14th January 2019 | this article first appeared on IntrovertJedi