Do People Accuse You Of Being Highly Sensitive?

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“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” ~Edgar Allen Poe

As long as I can remember, my hyper-sensitivity has been a running theme in my life.

When I was a child, I could easily pick up on the subtle undercurrents going on in my house. When the mood shifted from normal to tense, I was quick to notice it and quick to try to set things right. My mom called me “the little peacemaker.”

When things did get tense or volatile in my household, I felt overwhelmed with the intensity of the negative emotions whirling around me. It made me extremely anxious, and if I couldn’t do anything to make things right again, I’d find a way to escape — through books or play or spending time with a friend.

If any of that tension or anger were specifically directed at me, I was quick to change my behavior or apologize in order to regain emotional equilibrium. I got my feelings hurt easily and was thrown off-balance when someone would say something biting to me.

I felt other positive emotions quite deeply as well. I felt intense love for my parents, became strongly attached to my friends, enjoyed hugs and physical affection, and was easily touched by moving stories, art, or music. I could sense someones’ mood or needs and instinctively  knew how to pull the right groups of people together.

As I grew older and lived on my own, I discovered other interesting sensitivities. I was highly sensitive person and more sensitive than most of my friends to medication, caffeine, crowded and noisy environments, and making life changes. And my intense feelings around conflict, arguing, and violence never abated.
 
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But also as I grew older, I learned I had to adapt to a world that wasn’t filled with equally sensitive people if I was going to thrive and be happy. I had to manage my sensitivity where appropriate and learn new skills for reacting and responding to situations that turned up my emotional juice.

Does any of this remind you of yourself — or someone close to you? If so, you aren’t alone. And you aren’t crazy or weak or “too sensitive.”

Being highly-sensitive (also known by its scientific term as  SPS, Sensory-Processing Sensitivity) is a normal trait found in 15-20% of the population.

Dr. Elaine Aron is a psychologist, researcher, and pioneer in the study of the innate temperament trait of high sensitivity. She is the author of the books The Highly Sensitive Person, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You, and The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them.

Dr. Aron has found that not only is high sensitivity a normal trait, it is also innate. In fact according to Dr. Aron, “biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates.” However, the brains of highly sensitive people actually work a bit differently than other people’s brains. The sensitivity trait actually reflects a survival strategy of keen observation before action.

Here are some other interesting facts about highly sensitive people listed on the Highly Sensitive Person web site:

  • You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
  • You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
  • This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
  • Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.

Some of the traits of a highly sensitive person include:

  • feeling easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input
  • keenly aware of subtleties in my environment
  • easily affected by other people’s moods
  • feeling very sensitive to pain, physical or emotional
  • needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place to have some privacy and relief from stimulation
  • particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine
  • easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells,coarse fabrics,or sirens close by
  • enjoys a rich,complex inner life
  • feeling uncomfortable by loud noises
  • having a nervous system that sometimes feels so frazzled that you just have to go off by yourself
  • highly conscientious
  • easily startled
  • easily rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • readily knows what needs to be done to make it more comfortable in a physical environment (like changing the lighting or the seating)
  • quickly annoyed when people try to get you to do too many things at once
  • trying  hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things
  • making a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows
  • becoming unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around you
  • reacting strong when hungry, disrupting concentration or mood
  • feeling shaken up by life changes
  • noticing and enjoying delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art
  • finding it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once
  • making it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  • feeling bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes
  • when competing or being observed while performing a task, you become so nervous or shaky that you do much worse than you would otherwise
  • as a child, being seen as sensitive or shy by parents and teachers

It was a great relief to read Dr. Aron’s research and realize that my sensitivity doesn’t make me an emotional oddball. In fact, being highly sensitive has many benefits, not the least of which is feeling the good, happy, meaningful things in life even more intently.


But we sensitive types live in a world of people who don’t necessarily understand or appreciate our strong feelings. If you are hypersensitive, here are some tips for living in a less-than-sensitive world:

1. Learn to manage the way you react to your emotions. Highly sensitive people should  allow extra time for feelings to pass before reacting to what others say or do if it feels hurtful or negative. Remind yourself that what sounds harsh or hurtful to you may not have been intended this way. This is especially true in work environments where overly sensitive reactions are not often appropriate.

2. Minimize exposure to chaotic situations or people who push your buttons, create drama, or have angry or volatile temperaments.

3. Get enough sleep and exercise regularly so you are properly rested and energized to cope with emotionally charged situations and to support emotional equilibrium.

4. Avoid too much caffeine and pay attention to medications and how they affect you. Also pay attention to how certain foods, your hormones, and the weather impact your mood, as you are bound to be more sensitive during these times.

5. Eat healthy meals regularly and prevent yourself from getting too hungry. HSP’s need to keep blood sugar levels steady with a healthy diet to prevent irritable, edgy feelings.

6. Avoid or minimize your time in crowded, highly-stimulating environments like crowded malls or concerts. If necessary, visit these places in off-hours or go to smaller, less-crowded venues.

7. Don’t over-schedule your time or allow others to “steal” too much of your time. Feeling pressured and overwhelmed will flood your emotions and prevent you from getting anything done at all. Learn to say no or to delegate.

8. Practice asking for what you want. Highly emotional people are so sensitive to the needs of others that they fear asking for what they want or need because they don’t want to “cause trouble.” But your built-up resentments over this will emerge in anger or sadness eventually.

9. Create a peaceful, relaxing environment for yourself in your home and office. HSP are especially affected by their surroundings. Make sure your living space, especially your bedroom, is a relaxing, harmonious space.

10. Disengage from the negative beliefs you might have around being a sensitive person. It is hard for people who aren’t highly-sensitive to understand the deep emotions and reactions of their sensitive friends or family members. You can teach the people in your life that being sensitive isn’t a flaw — it can be an amazing gift allowing you to experience life at a very profound level.

If you have a highly sensitive person in your life, simply recognizing how this trait is part of HSP’s genetic make-up will help you understand why they respond the way they do.

You can enhance your relationship with your sensitive spouse, child, or friend by supporting their efforts to create an environment that isn’t over-stimulating, and by being cognizant of the intensity of their feelings.

In general, hyper-sensitive people will be quite responsive to your moods and needs. But eventually this responsiveness drains their energy. Frequently ask the sensitive person what they need from you and be proactive in meeting their needs so they feel heard and respected.

Are you a highly sensitive person or do you have someone close to you who is? What has been your experience and how have you handled any issues that have arisen as a result?

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Comments

  1. Jenna Amundson says:

    Barrie- as I was reading this I felt you were talking exactly about me!! Thank you for sharing this, it all came together for me as I was reading. I have unconsciously realized this and made a lot of those changes, but to see it documented here all in one spot, and to realize what it is will help me going forward immensely!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Jenna,
      It is a relief to see this info, isn’t it? I’m so glad it came to you at the right time. Embrace your sensitivity. It makes you special and unique. :)

    • Shaun henson says:

      I’m a 45 yr old woman who has suffered for all my life. I feel for you Clara. I grew up feeling Everything. It sucked. When I went to high school it was a nightmare! I was an outcast from every group dynamic. But everyone would seek me out for advice on their problems. My psychology teacher caught me one day giving me advice and asked to see me in his office. He said that was the same advice he would have given to that boy. Weird. What the boy said to me after I gave him advice on dealing with his mom sums up my high school experience. ” thanks for the advice. Your a nice girl but I can’t hang out with you or anything, or talk to you. You understand, right?” Well, I did. I was weird, everyone thought so. It sucked being weird. Being told to get over it. It’s still embarrassing for me to cry at the drop of a hat over tv, books things people say. If I see or read something that click with me, I get emotional and tear up. My parents would fight and I would get physically ill. Mostly in my stomach. I was diagnosed with manic depression but after being on mess for years I finally realized that the mess we’re making me zombie like. It did make my moods more even but it wasn’t me. I quit taking them a year ago. My moods are back. I always knew I was different than others. I’ve seen ghosts been touched, have had my name called out several times when no one is there. I laughed then geared up when I read that HSP are afraid of escalators. They have always made me very anxious. Takes forever to get on one, I grip that rail for dear life and most times I back up a few before I can get the nerve to jump, yes jump off! I never knew what I was exactly and reading some of these articles made me cry because they were so spot on. Got sidetracked. I’ve learned something’s that might help you with your problem. 1. Girl, there is nothing wrong with you! 2. Learn to forgive yourself. I used to feel guilt over feeling strong emotions. 3. Go outside. Go into nature, even just your back yard. Sit under a tree, close your eyes and breathe slowly for a while. You’ll feel so much better. Going into a quiet darkened room works too. 4. Forgive others. This took a lot longer for me because it hurts when people tease and lash out at you. A lot of people are scared and uncomfortable with things that they don’t understand so they say things to hurt, to push you away. Most people are not bad but they make bad decisions when they feel threatened they may not even recognize it in themselves. 5. If you have a religion pray. Prayer is a form of meditation that helps to make you feel calm and quiet. Visualization works well with us. Like picturing the white light of God surrounding seems to help create a kind of bubble of much needed space around your spirit. Hope this helps some. Sorry so long

  2. Thanks for the article, Barrie! Do you have any suggestions as far as career choices that may be a great fit for HSPs?

    • I was wondering the same thing. How can I use this quality that I see in myself now, to help me along on my road to discovering my true passion?

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi JJ,
      I just Googled “careers for highly sensitive people,” and a lot of info came up. I haven’t done any specific research on it, but you might Google it too. I would imagine that work and work environments that are chaos-free and not over-stimulating would be ideal. Of course, that’s not always possible. Working independently is great because you can control your environment and interactions.

      • Charlotte Kinsey says:

        This article was like finding a hidden treasure! I have worked in the wrong profession for over 15 years. I’ve been laid off or quit before being fired more than I can count. After reading this, and looking back all the way to childhood combining my personality type with career choice has made for bad choices. I’m 40 years old and a single mom with a child in college. Now I need to figure out, practically what practically I do?

        • Barrie Davenport says:

          Hi Charlotte,
          I am so glad you figured it out! Better late than never, right? Although it will continue to be hard to find the best fit when most of the world isn’t as sensitive. You will have to learn coping skills and how to adapt in certain situations. Check out my other site, http://www.barriedavenport.com, to learn more about figuring out what to do and how to find your passion.

  3. Wow. This is a wonderful post. Beautifully articulated. I can ABSOLUTELY see myself in this. Although I’ve recognized some of the characteristics mentioned in myself and made appropriate adjustments, seeing it as a trait enables me to realize this may have impacted heavily on my tendency to isolate myself, which is something I’m working on now. I always wrote it off to certain experiences in my past or the fact that I lean much more toward introversion. This has me thinking there’s more to it and wanting to look deeper into this subject. Defintely a lot of food for thought here, Barrie. Thanks for your efforts!

    probably ome to some realizations on my own on the characteristics of an HSP and made appropriate ‘adjustments’, it reached some of these realizations already, this really helped me to appreciate why I have

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Brian,
      I’m so glad the post resonated with you. I would imagine that many introverts are also HSP’s. There is a great book out called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I saw the author speak, and it was a fascinating topic. You might check it out.

    • Brian said:

      “Although I’ve recognized some of the characteristics mentioned in myself and made appropriate adjustments, seeing it as a trait enables me to realize this may have impacted heavily on my tendency to isolate myself, which is something I’m working on now. I always wrote it off to certain experiences in my past or the fact that I lean much more toward introversion. This has me thinking there’s more to it and wanting to look deeper into this subject. Defintely a lot of food for thought here, Barrie. Thanks for your efforts!”

      YES! This.

      Barrie, this is my first visit to your blog. I followed a link that was shared on Facebook. Thank you very much for putting this post together. It has really helped me understand more about myself. A lot of these traits are things that I knew about myself, but not necessarily things I understood. I’ve been accused of being overly sensitive and walled off. I’ve had people come into my life who claimed to love me and then want to help “fix” me (I’ve been through some very challenging circumstances, and so a layperson actually tried to convince me that they saw signs/symptoms of PTSD in me) because it’s not normal to be so protective of my tender heart. I see now that it’s more likely that I am a person with HSP, and that I’m really okay. The challenge for me is to find a good balance between spending time with people and being isolated. Most of the time, I prefer solitude because it’s just more peaceful. Now, I think I have a better understanding why this may be!

      Thank you for sharing this information – it has truly helped me.

      All the best to you!

  4. Holy buckets. Light bulb! This is exactly what I have been struggling with all my life, and has been extra-difficult recently due to many factors including a medication causing withdrawal effects that my doctor has only seen in 1 other patient. Thank you for this — it gives me much-needed hope that I can develop some coping skills and help my partner understand what I am going through. Maybe I can make it through this rough patch after all.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Amy,
      I’m so glad you had that “ah ha” moment! Reading this info did the same for me. You WILL get through this rough patch. Don’t get discourage, and keep seeing your doc and explain some of these things to him if necessary.

  5. For a very long time, I felt ashamed of myself for being “too sensitive.” Throughout my childhood, this term was used like a weapon. I was admonished for expressing my feelings to the point that I shut them down. After a traumatic experience, I went into a deep depression since I did not have the ability or freedom to express my pain. Having had family who did not (or could not) appreciate or accept this quality, I have experienced strained relationships and self esteem issues for many years. Only now, after having discovered and researched being a highly sensitive person, I am able to start accepting, and valuing, this rich and vibrant quality within myself. I need to continue working on loving this part of myself and practicing strategies that help me cope, and thrive, in this often insensitive world. Thank you for this article! More follow up information would be greatly appreciated!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Carrie,
      Thank you so much for sharing your personal story here. I am so sorry for the experiences you had to endure. But I’m so happy you are learning more about yourself and learning to value the gifts that come with being sensitive. Keep on working on it. It’s a journey as you know. And yes, I’ll write again on the subject.

  6. Communicating issues is not always being over-sensitive. Spending time with people who are respectful has to balance out time with those who don’t respect boundaries to keep life/emotions more peaceful . True, better control of my reactions is something to master as well as not dweling on negative conversations. How do you suggest presenting boundaries?

  7. This was fascinating, as promised! So well done as usual. Does it make sense that sometimes, in some of my life circumstances, I’m highly sensitive (some of those traits definitely apply to me) and sometimes I’m not? That probably does really make me an oddball huh? ;-) No wonder I’m a mess!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Jodi,
      I think sensitive people sometimes have to “freeze” their emotions in order to protect themselves. Especially if they’ve been wounded in the past. You aren’t an oddball, I promise!

  8. Yay! I’m not alone. I’ve had a lot of people feel like I’m downright crazy because of this trait. I’m slowly but surely learning how to manage it, but–it’s also a strength. A lot of times being “tuned in” has been incredibly helpful, too.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      You are definitely not alone Carmen! I think there are forums and websites devoted to HSP’s. I agree, it is a strength. We are able to tune in to moods and feelings much better than most. And we feel beauty and love so deeply. I’m thrilled to have those abilities.

  9. Gosh Barrie….It seems you have struck a cord with fellow HSP’s through your sharing of these thoughts and information.
    My experience is similar to Carrie’s in that my childhood is riddled with examples of being ridiculed or in some cases specifically targeted (such as being sneaked up on because I startled so extremely). It certainly was not a trait that I valued and in fact, my self esteem and confidence suffered a great deal as I sought to deal with a volatile environment, minimise stress and seek isolation. It all felt extremely overwhelming and distressing and I felt like such a misfit in a world that seemed not to feel the way I did.
    As an adult, I have more understanding of my HSP traits and I’m a little kinder to myself as I make allowance for them in my life. The underlying shame of not being able to deal as well as I’d like to with certain situations still lingers though. I am however working on accepting these sensitivities and your article has – as Brian commented earlier- provided great food for thought in how I can do even more than this…and consider instead the inherent gift that these qualities might bring to the lives of others once I fully embrace them.
    Thanks as always Barrie. You are so often a lighthouse for me and for many others too I am certain. :-)
    Thanks as always Barrie.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Shaleen,
      It is so validating to see that being sensitive isn’t a weakness but simply on the spectrum of personality traits. We just need to find ways to protect ourselves a bit more and learn to adapt in a world full of people who aren’t as sensitive. Finding like-minded people is a great way to boost self-esteem, as you see you definitely aren’t alone. This post has attracted a lot of attention, so there are many HSP’s out there! :)

  10. i am so glad that i got to hear all this wonderful ideas about life.

  11. I’m a sensitive person, maybe not too sensitive but still I know this trait of character.
    Thanks Barrie for your interesting article and for very useful tips. I think they will be of great help for too sensitive people and not only for them.

  12. Aaron Black says:

    “Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.””

    My wife has been called shy, and others mistake this for a weakness. I tend to think that there are very few genuine weaknesses, only misapplied strengths.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      What an interesting idea Aaron — about misapplied strengths. Or perhaps strengths we haven’t fully explored or utilized. I don’t think shyness is a weakness. One could say being overpowering or overly-confident is a weakness. Even though in our culture it is praised as a strength. We are all simply wired differently, and part of loving and appreciating one another is embracing this fact.

    • Hi Aaron,
      I also do not agree that shyness is a weakness. Those people are wrong thinking like that! I totally agree with you.

  13. This describes me exactly. I always knew that the word introvert did not fit but on the list of qualities you describe, 2/3 of them fit! Nice post. Thank you.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Isn’t it a relief to discover that about yourself Kelly? And that it is perfectly OK to be sensitive? So glad it resonated with you!

  14. Thank you – I feel like the missing lines have been drawn to make a complete circle.

    Your account of your childhood is similar to mine …. I had a very emotionally immature mother who was moody and unpredictable. I lived in fear of her wrath and as the eldest child often bore the brunt of it. My parents marriage was difficult with frequent arguments periods of stalemate with non communication and a terrible atmosphere permeating every part of our home.

    My younger brother and sister have grown up and have wonderful marriages and families. They always seemed to cope better than me. I however was so hyper sensitive to what was going on, picking up on every nuance and feeling tortured. I was always told off for being so sensitive. I did not seem able to put up the barriers that my siblings did. I felt emotionally involved in every argument even though I was just a child and it was between my parents and not me. I tried to lose myself in reading and became a terribly quiet and withdrawn child even though I do not think I am necessarily shy. I am 46 and have never married or had children although I have had some long term relationships with lovely men.

    I am hyper sensitive to everything, cry when I watch anything sad on TV, get moved to tears by beggars or seeing old people in the street, overreact as i feel incredibly angry by injustices, I can almost hardly bear to watch the news on TV sometimes as it upsets me too much. I have to have certain colours in my environment, am sensitive to music that is not exactly in tune with my current feelings, have never needed to take drugs at dance parties as the music has always been enough to create such an incredible high. In fact,I cannot drink caffeine at all and have never taken drugs or wanted to as it would scare the life out of me to have any more feelings!

    Recently I went to Bali on holiday. I came back and said to my friends that after two days I wanted to sit in a white room with no noise or anything to look at. It was complete sensory overload – too much beauty for me to take in! I am very very visual and could not look at everything – my brain felt like it was going haywire.

    I find I see so much more than other people. I notice details and see things other people don’t pick up in every glance. I also pick up on so many subtleties in people’s conversations.

    I am a teacher – it brought me out of my shell. But it also overloads me and I literally have to be on my own for hours at the end of the day to balance out the stress I have from dealing with my large classes. In holidays I have to travel on my own. Being on my own is when I am happiest and can ground myself again.

    Thank you for showing me that I am not so wierd or unusual!

    I will read more about this – and continue to meditate and run on the beach. I could not live without these things!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Jane,
      Your personal story is very compelling, and I know you must have suffered over the years with your hyper-sensitivity. I am so glad you are finding ways to manage it, as well as to come out of your shell through teaching. That is so important — to find people and situations where you are respected and understood for your sensitive nature. Of course exercise and meditation are great ways to work through feelings — as well as talking with people who understand and empathize with you.

    • Susan Balsamo says:

      Thank You for your words today, I cried while I read them. I feel so much better and realize that their isn’t anything wrong with me, I simply have a 6th sense….My boyfriend, sister, daughter and co worker have all called to my attention my sensitivity as a fault, and I was beginning to believe them. All of my life I’ve been like this and was always able to hide it, now and then I think I can be myself and maybe they would learn a little about sensitivity. Funny though, each of them whom I love are a few of the most critical humans I know. I have walked away from spending time with my Family and wonder how they aren’t able to not see what I see or feel some of what I feel in my soul……according to al of them I have a deep problem with being too sensitive and am in need of help….But now I see things differently, Thank You.

  15. Sometimes being sensitive or react to thing out is both good & bad, as we voice and shows our reaction towards something instead of hide it inside of us.
    On the other hand, a sensitive person that is close to me, tends to enlarge every minor problems and over-react on it, which bothers me. Sensitive people really need self control.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      You are so right JJ. Sensitive people, like all people, need to learn the appropriate times and places to express their feelings. And they need to learn coping skills and discernment about what is and isn’t worth getting upset about. Just as less-sensitive people need to learn how to pick up on cues from their sensitive friends and be more responsive and understanding. When we understand each other and what motivates us, then we can learn how to accommodate the personality traits in ourselves and others.

      • Yup, there’re too many types of people in this world, whether sensative people, non-sensative, ego, angry, cheerful, evil and many more. Most important thing is to be true to ourself and other people around us, learn to accommodate the personality traits in ourselves and others.

        We can’t please everyone, just be ourself and people that love us will be with us, walking a great life journey. :)

    • I agree. Acceptance of self and others is important, but if an HSP has a friend who is naturally rude, or playful, or “in your face”, then it seems odd all attention must go towards the HSP’s needs.

      This is a bit counter-productive, since the HSP is not learning social skills whilst his or her friends or significant other must learn social skills to accommodate the HSP.

      I actually consider a sensitive person, but then I know if others mean offence, or are actually bad-tempered, hostile and abrasive people, who am I to say they must accommodate to me? My right to be myself cannot supersede others right to same.

      I generally think one major human social tool is to disengage. If somebody is not worth our time, for whatever reason, don’t be around them.

  16. Dear Barrie>> reading your article is like reading my mind. I thought my problem was from social anxiety, shyness, and anxiety. But now I get the full picture. Since SPS is linked to the nervous system, is it curable? please help

  17. Other people see me as bold, confident and even brash, but I know myself to be usually fearful, extremely self-protective and easily overwhelmed with the world. I can across your site while trying to find a way to reconcile these two extremes. Thank you so much for presenting this new perspective! So nice to consider the idea that there’s nothing I need to fix in order to be normal; that I can embrace my HSP self and still express my “brash and flash” side.

  18. Jasmine Jamison says:

    Hello Barry Davenport

    I really like reading this information about being so highly sensitive, which help out a lot.I am a very highly sensitive person, and at the age of 26 for many years I have hated it sooooooooo, much being picked on and teased it was ruff. I always thought being sensitive is a blessing and a curse. I saw it more at a negative being a set back a easy target nothing positive about it, I realized now that this who I am. I was born this way, being sensitive is amazing.I am getting help with it by learning to accept it, will continue to emerge it. I will not fight my gift anymore, but be satisfied with it.

  19. this is me ! a very sensitive person ! i love to care for people around me, friends family, strangers. i put so much of time, energy, love and patience into every friend, not because i have to but i want to and cannot avoid it. however, i am misunderstood to be more dramatic, crazy, weird. i let my friends leave when they want to. even though i want them to stop and be with me, i never ask them because i feel i caused them a lot of pain to having to deal with me. i feel i am responsible for having the people i love abandon me. feel like an orphan more often. words hurt me really bad. not every friend can understand and i do not expect them to ! but i end up losing people whom i love and care for !

  20. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for your article! My doctor told me about hsps 3 years ago. And I have read every article that I could find on it :)!
    I have a major problem trying to get my family to understand it though! They just say that I am depressed…. I try to explain to them that I work 55 or more hours a week. I have 2 days off, one day to take care of everything that I cannot get to during the week, then I need to shut the curtains and block out the world on Sundays. I do not want to go anywhere or see anyone. Too overwhelmed and exhausted…. how can I get them to understand this???!!! I do not have enough down time as it is already! It’s getting to the point where one of these days I will totally come undone…. and that will not be pretty. I have given them all the info I have, but they choose not to read or learn about it. I am going to move so I can find some peace in my life….

  21. I must say I don’t agree wholly with this article.

    What if a person is merely being themselves with no intention to offend, yet causes the HSP great pain in his or her manner? Whilst offence is invariably subjective, there are some common offensive statements, if not by social consensus or how a “reasonable person” should respond. If I hear a person speaking French and ask him or her if s/he has lived in France, this is not offensive and is legitimate. Some people are naturally more in one’s face without genuine cause/intention to offend, it takes all kinds…

    It just seems to me that the blog writer is citing responsibility onto the HSP’s associates to change, when change on either party may not be feasible. Life is complex after all.

  22. Wow. I thought somerhing was wrong eith me. I can’t relate to most people amd this is why I think!

  23. Nicely written article
    Hi baron
    I m a 14 yr old girl n i am too sensitive . little things hurt so muchhhh and i am afraid of what others say or think about me . this has taken a toll on my studies too . i live in constant fear.
    Plz share sum tips to stop worrying about the negative comments others make
    How to tackle these issues

  24. Hello, It seems to my family that ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer I have become Highly Sensitive. I am at the point of where I don’t know how to respond to family members. I was on the telephone with my sister yesterday giving her an update of my health conditons (she asked me) I told her the oncologist indicated that the 2 nodules on the lungs have remained unchanged, however, they did find a nodule on my thyroid. I am seeing a pain management doctor for the neuropathy and fibromyalgia. I asked him yesterday if he knew of any medications I am taking which is causing my fatigue. He told me neuropathy and fibromyalgia cause fatigue, however, he asked that I speak with the cardiologist about the Pravachol I am taking since it causes fatigue and perhaps recommend another statin. My sister began to raise her voice and said have any of your doctors gotten together and decided to take you off all of the mediations and just put you on a special diet and exercise program? I started to cry and I told her the Doctors recognize the fatigue as an issue and they believe both the thyroid and the statin medication change will elevate my energy. She told me that I should be doing what her and her husband do and that is taking a to z vitamins and playing tennis everyday. She said why are you crying and I told her she was causing me stress. I told her that I was happy that both she and her husband were healthy, and I’m hoping to get there but I currently have a few obstacles in my way and that she didn’t understand what I am going through everyday. (Also, I have to catherize 2times a day due to after effects of chemo and Herceptin). She began to laugh while saying I am causing you stress, “You’re just too sensitive about everything). I said how can you laugh when I am crying my heart out to you. “She told me she had to go and hung up on me” I immediately called her back…..she didn’t answer, however, I left her a message saying, “I know you are there,” I just wanted to know, “How could you deliberately hurt someone’s feelings and not apologize” I just don’t understand. I’ve been feeling terrible since the telephone call, but I really don’t believe I did anything wrong, Honestly, I know I am a sensitive person, I cry at moives, when someone is hurt, when I think of my Dad who has passed and for some of the sick people I have recently visited. I wish I wouldn’t cry, because it upsets my daugther too, who believes I am highly sensitive.

  25. Hi Barry, Thank you for telling us about hyperly sensitive people. Which I am, and always felt I was so not normal to feel and act this way, and have troubles loving, that I feel and act being this way.. which I was wondering if you possibly knew any good careers for these types of people. ?

  26. Thank you so much for posting this and really helping me feel like I am not alone! Being a 20 year old highly sensitive person is not easy. But I thank you! You helped me realize that being highly sensitive can be a great thling and helped me by ways I can tone it down. Thank you so much!

  27. Kaitlyn says:

    I loved this article, and could relate a lot to it since i am a HSP. Question: Why do I constantly question the happy healthy relationship I am in with my boyfriend of 2 years. I love him so much, but yet, I am constantly asking myself if he is right for me, and wondering if I would feel free or relieved if I left him, even though he is near and dear to me.

  28. Hi Barrie, Interesting reading your article. Our story: my husband and I are both highly sensitive people, he more than I, this makes for an interesting household quite often. My husband is also on epilepsy medication and I notice when he drinks coffee, his feeling of inadequacies become almost overwelming to him and it is impossible for anyone, including me to placate, particularly when we are on a timeline, perhaps preparing to catch a bus etc. He also suffers a little from OCD. I feel he has been misunderstood by most people all his life, particularly men as they see his lack of confidence or insecurities as weak. I deal with it all a lot better, but it has made me insular, hard nosed and unwilling to forgive serious wrongs which I feel have been dealt to me by some family members, strangers I just dismiss and do not let people who are not close to me or do not matter to me, affect me at all, I have a “next” attitude. At the same time, I am very intune with others sufferings and tend to want to “fix” all situations and have a generous nature. Benefits are that having such a “ready to respond” personality has made me excell at most things I try, being viewed as a highly responsible and loyal employee and I have a very creative mind. I have over time worked very hard on my “bad” attributes and am a much nicer person than I was 20 – 30 years ago. By the way I have an endomorphic body type.

  29. Thank you for this article Barrie, and your readers for the comments. I thought “Eureka!” when I saw this, It’s like hitting a milestone in that journey of self-discovery. I am from Kenya and its nice to know that this personality is global. I wish more people would read this article,and know what we know now, maybe they would find it easier to understand themselves and the people around them. It would surely improve alot of interpersonal relationships. I have nothing but gratitude, keep doing this.

    • Fabulous article Barrie, “you are too sensitive” has been used by family of origin all my life, as a “bad” thing. I sure am smiling today. Thank you so much.

  30. Do not give in too much to feelings. A overly sensitive heart is an unhappy possession on this shaky earth.

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    I have always been a sensitive child, grew up in an unhappy home with an abusive, alcoholic father who regularly assaulted us and threatened to kill us all. I was bullied and rejected by my peers at school. I developed severe social anxiety in my teens which persisted to this day.

    I am now a 59 years old man, disillusioned and depressed and trying to survive in an empty and meaningless life. I never married and live the life of a recluse, very lonely but at the same time hating people and the shallow, noisy world “out there”.

    Being sensitive has been a curse to me.

  31. Hi! I happened upon this today as I was yet suffering another blow of being called too sensitive and over reacting. This makes sense to me, many of the traits I could use to describe myself. However, I believe the person who is calling me out is probably an HSP herself and misperceiving my words that I mean to be helpful, as harmful and she has begun to send me messages that are just below the level of bully behavior. Being an adult, I delete and try my best not to respond, but would like to see us get past this. Just not sure how to go about doing that.
    Thanks for writing the article.

  32. Is this trait hereditary? Because my dad is exactly the same way. Except he’s a little more secretive about it.

  33. CntryDwllr says:

    Can a guy fall into this as well? A friend sent me a text this mornings free two weeks to tell me how upset he is with me for something I had no idea I did. I collapsed, trembling and crying. I took the 20 minute pause, gathered myself, and wrote a reply apologizing and that I had no idea it hurt him. This friend is one I’ve always liked and looked up to, so this really hurt. But I’ve never been very good at reading him. I always get the impression he doesn’t want me around, or doesn’t like me enough to include me in his group of friends. Maybe it’s just me being too sensitive. I have a feeling that if we ever see each other face to face and apologize, I’m going to break right down into tears in front of him. I have always felt that I was different and more emotionally tuned to things than others. This article has helped me gain a better insight into myself. Thanks.

  34. Hi my name is Melissa and I am 46 years old. I was born with a Vail over my eyes. I have always had a 6th since about things and have things come to me in dreams. I read your story and cried. I am so drained in my life. I seem to pick up on peoples moods and fall into them. I am always saying sorry for things that really are not my fault. My mom and some of my friends call me the “PEACE MAKER”! I ALWAYS WORRY ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE AND NEVER MYSELF. I get to the point in my day I have to get peace and quiet. Myhead will hurt for awhile and go away. Anxiety seems to rule me. I can cry watching tv,songs, just looking at someone else. I pull away from people and can not stand crowds at times. I hate large bodies of water or flood water to the point I get so sick in my stomach I could puke! When I feel I can’t handle someone I excuse my self or I feel like I want to run! My mind never stop even when I sleep. I feel lost and people think your crazy if you even talk about it. Help

  35. Hello everyone. I’ve always known I was a highly sensitive person, though I didn’t know there was actually a name for it or that it was a normal trait that many other people shared. I’ve always referred to part of it as “always having my antennae on.” That’s really the only part that causes me trouble or pain. I like myself and value my sensitivity and rich, deep, broad, inner/emotional life. I never had problems in school or friendships since I’m an extrovert with good self esteem. I was lucky to learn very young that I was pretty intelligent and I was lucky to be fairly physically attractive so I always had those two things to value about myself even when I might otherwise have thought myself worthless (for not living up to some very high expectations placed on me starting in childhood (that I still carry, thanks, Mom.) Those expectations were based largely on my behavior and what I “produced.” My “worth” was based on how I acted, not on who I was. So I could have easily had self esteem issues and I’m grateful that I don’t, not much anyway.

    However I do suffer greatly from being far too keenly aware of and reactive to other people’s moods. The comments about sensing subtle changes in the mood of the house and trying to “fix things” and being the “peacemaker” really hit home. That was me all over as a young child. And I was taught that the expression of “negative” emotions, like ANGER, especially, was NOT welcomed, nor even allowed.

    So now the big problem is that I’m married to a man who is a good person but is passive aggressive. He “uses” his moods and emotions to get his way and to keep me in line with his emotional comfort zone. He has only to “go silent” for a short time and I’m all over myself acting out my childhood again, still trying to “get Daddy in a good humor.”

    How can I learn to be less aware of his moods and less reactive to them? It’s a form of bullying – it’s emotional bullying. I’m fully aware when he’s doing it and I usually know why he’s doing it but it still makes me so uncomfortable. I hate being so easily pushed around and being made to conform just by my husband’s childish sulking. Sometimes he does it to make a point, sometimes as a way of expressing disapproval, sometimes to “punish” me and most often, to get his way. How do I turn off my super sensitive antennae and quit noticing do much? How can I get to where I don’t even notice that he’s sulking? That would make life SO much easier.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] for fear-based thinking. And on the scale of emotional sensitivity, I’m probably more hyper-vigilant and sensitive than the average [...]

  2. [...] can be a tricky conversation when someone is defensive, sensitive, or angry. It’s always good to begin these conversations with something positive. You can [...]

  3. […] 2. Do People Accuse You Of Being Highly Sensitive? […]

  4. […] I had more energy, less morning anxiety, and was actually less tired during the day. As a highly sensitive person, my body reacts strongly to any stimulants, but I just needed to pay attention to what my body was […]

  5. […] eventually I moved past it, but this incident was just one of many where the opinions of others caused me pain, anxiety, or guilt. Disappointing or upsetting someone was deeply uncomfortable — sometimes […]

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