Do you notice the detail, the small things?
Do you feel the breath of life upon your face?
Are you exquisitely aware of everything and everybody about you?
If so, you might be a Highly Sensitive Person.
Life is exaggerated, and both painful and sad, and beautiful and fulfilling for the HSP.
I read that about 20% of the population are Highly Sensitive. Everyone has the ability to feel deeply, to feel touched and moved, and often do, but people who fit the bill of being a Highly Sensitive Person feel like this all the time. Like I said, it can be both a curse and a blessing.
We can become quickly overwhelmed. People, work, chaos and clutter can cause stress and we can become immobile by these things. We often need to retreat and regroup, please don’t think we’re being antisocial, once we’re comfortable we can socialise with the best of them, but our energy reserves drain fast and we need time alone.
Sometimes this is because many of us are empaths and as we feel the emotions of those around us we can become overwhelmed. Our emotions cut to the soul which is why many of us are natural empaths. I remember standing behind a woman in a supermarket queue and her emotions brought me to tears. I could literally feel her sadness engulf me and the impotence of being unable to help was paralysing. Sometimes I’ve spoken to people and helped, but sometimes the empath can also feel the barriers and the inability to help can be painful.
Those who are HSP can feel moods and emotions easily and can read people well. We’re conscious to the needs of others and perform very well in those tests that ask you to identify emotions on anonymous faces. We can see that slight hint of a smile, or that frown, and those emotions that barely surface.
We often become people-pleasers and we have to learn to be able to say ‘No.’ I spent years depleting my energy by saying ‘Yes,’ to everything. Our bodies are susceptible to fatigue and we can be more responsive to pain, both our own and others. Self-care is important to the HSP, and essential to prevent exhaustion as we give.
Many people dislike change, but Highly Sensitives like to be in control and change needs be tackled slowly, so we can assess it, reflect and choose the best course of action. We’re often seen as indecisive, but we just want to be sure we make the right choice! We dislike contention and conflict and are mortified when we offend. We do everything we can to resolve conflict as fast as we can because we cannot believe our considered choices and decisions may have caused hurt or offense.
Though we may avoid conflict, when we give our hearts or believe something deeply, we will not be moved and will fight our corner with the ferocity of a lion or a lioness!
We have hugely heightened emotions and senses. This can be tough for the HSP. We notice everything and are exquisitely aware of our environment, be it sight, sound, taste, touch or smell. Some of us suffer from misophonia which is the sensitivity to sound (eg. people eating) which causes great distress to the sufferer. Others can have other hypersensitivities to their environment. I am unable to wear certain materials, natural wool against my skin for instance, and my ability to notice every little thing around me has caused problems all my life. I have rearranged bookshelves because I cannot have a white spine book placed among dark spines. I notice every piece of lint or fluff on the floor and cannot rest until it has been moved. I cannot concentrate with someone’s foot on the end of their crossed leg bobbing up and down! I also have problems with strong smells, particularly strong perfumes. Hypersensitivity (or Sensory Processing Disorder) can be difficult for both the sufferer and their family!
On the other hand being an observer can be wonderful and life affirming. We notice every detail and the subtleties that most people miss. We’re intuitive and creative, and nature and detail inspire us.
Intuition is second nature. We often just ‘know’ because we sometimes learn without realising we are. The small details become intrinsic. I would be very sad if I moved through life without noticing the rainbows, the heron by the stream, and the expression of need on a homeless face. We should notice the daisy in the crack of concrete, the smell of honeysuckle, and many more tiny things that aren’t necessary but are life affirming.
Though being such a deep thinker and a contemplative, my life as a Highly Sensitive Person is fulfilling and beautiful. I wouldn’t be without the touch of sunlight on my face, the taste of raspberries, and the depth of my soul to help me offer charity. Sometimes I need to step out of life, to retreat to the woods, or running water, or to spend quiet time on the mountainside…but once recharged I can offer myself once more and allow the intuitive grace of life to lift me.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?
Is it a curse or a blessing to you?