HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)
I mean, we all have them, right? The day to day emotions of excitement, anxiety, frustration, fatigue, etc. Despite the prickly title, this post is less about substance and more about process. This post discusses how I process, why I process the way I do, and the very particular things I need in order to feel safe and supported during my life/emotional process.
If you’ve been a long-time supporter, you’ve seen me explore empathy and identify myself as an empath. However, that title never felt mine. Do I feel other people’s feelings? Sure! Do I often feel responsible for helping others solve their issues? Yes. However, there’s a layer of emotional intensity and depth that I could never quite explain. Why do I need 5-7 days to recharge after a single night out with friends? Why am I very particular about lighting in my environment? Why does my body repel the concept of being busy? Why am I extremely sensitive to sound? Why do I need soul-level connection in all of my relationships? Why do I have all of these big picture, humanity-based questions (small talk and chatting seriously annoys me-let’s get to the good stuff, like what’s the most traumatic moment in your life and how do you believe it has affected your experience on this planet? Ya know, first base conversation.)
I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Thanks to Elaine Aron, Ph.D.’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, I finally understand this emotional depth that often made me feel like an outcast.
I have often felt too connected or plugged into the world or the people around me. Highly violent movies make my stomach turn. I don’t do well with surface level “give and take” connections that simply require me to go with the day to day flow. I can walk into a place, and instantly turn around because the atmosphere doesn’t feel good. I can “read” people’s emotions. For instance, telling me “nothing is wrong” when your tone of voice, body language, and energy says otherwise makes me feel extremely unsettled. If you don’t trust your emotions, how can I trust you?! (Whew! Snap out of it, Chasity)
My mother has shared stories with me about my behavior as a child; behaviors like bursting into tears seemingly out of nowhere, rejecting particular people from holding or touching me, and never liking crowded places. I will also never forget the intense emotion I felt after watching Man on Fire as a kid. I broke down into tears! My poor mom, LOL!
As I study this personality trait more, it allows me to accept myself. I’ve often felt “too” everything! Too sensitive. Too intellectual. Too deep. Too needy. The reality is I have been emotionally starving myself to fit into the general population. I have not been fully honoring my process as a highly sensitive person. I accept that I need depth. I accept that I need rest. I accept that I need flexibility in my schedule. I accept that I care about details and concepts that others may not. I accept that I receive pressure different from others. I accept the way I embrace conflict. I accept that there are certain classes I dread because I do not find the energy of the professor pleasant. Hell, I accept that I’m the reason my eyesight is getting worse because I need dimly lit rooms to study and read. I accept me. Though it is tough and I have spent the majority of my life feeling understood and being told I am “way too sensitive” and I “overthink”, I accept people’s takeaway. But I will no longer ingest their experience as my belief about myself. I like me. I like my willingness to dig deeper. I love that I honor and respect emotional evolution and psychological concepts.
For my fellow HSP’s or anyone else for that matter, honor your process. Honor yourself. Communicate your needs to the people in your tribe. Hold yourself accountable when it is applicable, but do not use the beauty of accountability to destroy the way you see yourself.
Below, I have attached a few key articles that blew my mind and helped me understand more about the functionality of an HSP: