The Highly Sensitive Person

I am highly sensitive and things affect me greatly.  I have an incredible amount of empathy to a fault.  It affects my ability to do what I need to do.  The first example of this that I remember is when I was 4 or 5 years old.  My mom brought me home some Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  The next day I traded these dolls with a friend for I forget what.  Later that day I felt absolutely awful because I thought it would hurt my mom’s feelings that I traded the dolls that she bought for me.  I was so upset about this and started crying because of what I thought my mom would feel.  I could feel it.  I made my mom call the friend’s mom to undo the trade.  Now, in reality I’m sure that my mom didn’t give a damn about the dolls and will probably not remember what the hell I’m talking about.  But this story is ingrained in my memory for some reason.

This is a rare, rare trait.  I’ve only met a few people in my life that are like this.  A high degree of empathy is a rare, rare thing.  I’m not saying that this is a great thing and that I’m some kind of special person because of this, this trait has made my life hell quite a lot.  I recently read a book that really helped me.  It helped me to understand this trait of mine that always made me feel like a freak.  It’s called The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.  The world overwhelms me.  I’m especially overwhelmed by the culture in this country.  I’m especially overwhelmed by the culture in this city in this country.  I’ve spent the vast majority of my life trying to fit in to a world that I didn’t really want to be a part of.  But I was never told that it’s ok to be different, to be exactly who you are and this trait of mine was not nurtured.  If you’re like me, read this book.

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Categories: Health

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21 replies

  1. Will do. Thanks.

  2. I like when you say “this trait has made my life hell quite a lot. I recently read a book that really helped me”. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I know I don’t qualify as sensitive but I don’t go that far in the opposite direction to be a narcissist.

  4. So glad the book helped! I kept meaning to ask you about it! Us HSPs gotta stick together 🙂

  5. As a fellow empath, I understood at a young age to not focus on the world around me as much as the person in front of me.

  6. I’m not sure how extreme my sensitivities are, but, I, too, am very sensitive. I cry in front of people all the time and I know they think I am a weirdo. I cry when my students share sad stories with me, I cry when I am mean to people because I feel bad, I have anxiety if I get an inkling that I have offended someone. It’s annoying. I hate being so concerned all the time. But I would rather be “too sensitive” than not at all. I never really noticed it causing problems until I joined the work force, when I had to start acting like a professional. I learned quickly that “professionals” don’t cry at work and you can’t get too personal. I am a question asker and a cryer. This has been a hard adjustment. But I’m learning still.

    • It was very much a problem for me too when I joined the work force. Especially my first couple years as a PT before I knew what I was doing, I thought I hurt everyone and would go home and cry about it. I was a mess.

  7. I can relate to these comments. Nothing worse than your nurse crying. Sometimes it was OK, but not most of the time.:0 I would cry with the good things, but crying when the bad things happened…that was embarrassing. I did get better with my poker face but it didn’t happen overnight. I’m even more emotional these days, good thing I’m not working. My husband nicknamed me the “boo who queen”. I should probably check the book out, although I have come to accept this part of my personality and wouldn’t really want to change it. Sensitivity can be an endearing quality in my opinion.

    • I don’t want to change it either. I want to embrace it and this book just gives tips on how to make that easier in a world where most people don’t understand this trait in the least.

    • I’ve started the book – and it is helping me understand myself – and HOW I’m so different from others. She stresses the positive aspects of being highly sensitive, which I’ve always comforted myself with. On the other hand, HSP’s are supposedly about 20% of the population and the trait is genetic – if that’s true, why weren’t there any others at school or in my family?? Seriously, even now that we range from 62 to 40, my siblings are often telling me I’m “too sensitive.”

      • My sister is most definitely an HSP but I can’t think of anyone else in my family that would qualify.

      • Yes! My family treats me like I am a weirdo for having feelings. But it’s okay for them to be angry, but not okay for me to be sad or bummed out about something. When I do, I am “overreacting” and they mistake it for being rude. So I have started walking away because there is no way for me to pretend I don’t have feelings at all. However, even that seems to be unsatisfactory to them. I can’t win. I would have to just respond in anger and never follow up (their MO) or leave it alone and not say a thing. I have struggled with this my entire life. So frustrating. I never put a title or words to it before. Thanks for enlightening me!

        • All my life, I have just shut up when I’m angry. If I were to speak, I’d cry, which undoes the point of my anger. So no one ever knows I’m angry. Also, when the other person is angry, I have to be kind and comfort him/her, even when I’m the target. I’m the peacemaker, and everyone expects that of me. It sucks to not be able to be myself.

  8. My parents were/are not in the least, nor my siblings I suspect my kids are, but my daughter puts up the same tough wall I used to, and she teases me about my lack of ability to exhibit tough love, while she can (at 25). My son, who is probably a HSP, exhibited a lot of the childhood characteristics, but became a football player, which society does not allow to include HSP. Maybe Vince Wilfork or the Manning brothers have gotten away w it.

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