Whistling. Loud plastic bag rustling. Loud laughing. Echo. Someone chewing gum. Rustling. Whistling. Laughing. Eating sounds. Baby crying. Children screaming. Eating. Rustling. Panic.
That’s a start to how someone like me could describe what it feels like to have a highly sensitive personality. There is multiple kinds of sensitivity – on this post I’m breaking mine down into three parts. First of all, I am sensitive even to the slightest of sounds, noises and smells. Especially when I am tired. Walking into the canteen at work with a bunch of people laughing loud or shouting makes me so distressed I could cry (but I’m too embarrassed to do so!). Someone chewing loudly or placing their coffee cup loudly on a saucer repeatedly can result me leaving the room and fragrance department in department stores can make me physically sick. I swap seats on the bus if someone behind me has got a bad breath because boy, do I smell it. But I don’t really tell anyone about this. I cope with it; I have to. It sounds so stupid but it’s huge to me and many, many people.
According to hsperson.com being highly sensitive means
- Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population–too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
- It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’. To learn more about this, see Research.
- 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.
So then, the middle bit of HSP is the level emotionality that people similar to me feel. It’s the very deep emotionality. It’s the ability to adapt to someone else’s energy or vibe in order to understand them and match their mood. It’s almost the ability to read someone’s mind or thoughts or simply how they’re feeling by analysing their body language, their movement, even the slightest change in their tone. The emotionality makes me want to make sure no one gets disappointed, that people I care for are happy and pleased. It has taken me a long, long time to learn to put myself forward and say no simply because being too kind doesn’t take you far. It has resulted me saying no to a lot of people, to a lot of relationships and mistreatments and also me being happier. But HSP means quite a lot of crying, too, because a lot of scenarios feel so bloody overwhelming. I’ve got my own demons that follow me from time to time because I am too deep in my head, analysing people’s behaviour as well as my own.
The last part of having HSP is social tiredness. Most of the time I can’t be social. It’s exhausting when all I want is to be silent and observe, or withdraw completely, but I have managed to surround myself with people who understand that I don’t like phone calls, at least surprise ones; they need to planned well in advance so I can mentally prepare myself to a longer talk. Don’t get me wrong, I want to speak with people I don’t see often. Sometimes I just need to gain strength to be able to talk. Most of my friendships are based on once-a-week-meetups anyway which suits me perfectly! (Plus with Joe I can be around the clock without feeling exhausted!)
I hope this would raise more awareness regarding Highly Sensitive People and I’m also hoping that people like me could feel comfort knowing that they’re not weird and they are not alone. ❤