(Post was originally named: Justifying sensitivity to the outside world)
This post might be a bit muddled and confusing – bear with me OK?
These past few weeks have been really hard. I’ve been struggling a lot with my sensitivity and the changes going on in my life. I’ve felt incredibly isolated from my family, friends and community in one particular way – my sensitivity. I’ve come to understand that a huge part of my overall happiness and satisfaction is derived from feeling understood and appreciated by others. This becomes a problem when I have to actively shield them from my sensitivity or “tone down” aspects of my personality to fit in. I’m not satisfied with people knowing my “surface self” or what I used to refer to as my “yellow dress personality”…it doesn’t seem authentic or worthwhile unless I can wholeheartedly express myself (sensitivity and all!).
I recently contacted a local therapist who specialises in HSPs. This was borne out of pure frustration and isolation. I asked about some kind of support group or opportunity to meet with other people who are highly sensitive in my local area. Unfortunately the resources in Australia are severely lacking and it didn’t amount to much. I don’t want one-to-one therapy she offered and resented being told that she was a HSP herself. I felt like screaming: “I don’t care if you’re a Martian! Your ability to understand and emphasise is not directly related to your personal experiences! My experiences as a HSP won’t necessarily match yours, it’s irrelevant to my request for help!“. I am often confused by the need to justify sensitivity with medical data (Elaine N. Aaron does this a lot, as does a British speaker called Heidi Sawyer), as well as the need to “own” the trait themselves. It doesn’t allow for the complexity of personality or for the shifting nature of our identity and I often struggle to believe that 20% of the population are really as highly sensitive as I feel (this might be a gradiose statement but I truly feel debilitated by my sensitivity in a way that 20% of the supposed HSP population are clearly not!).
Another recent experience with a more medical approach to my sensitivity was a phone call with a nurse from the local hospital. I had been referred by my GP for pain and fatigue issues (both of which I strongly believe relate to my sensitivity). She spoke to me for a while about the expectations of the hospital and the mandatory programs they offered. She focused on the hospitals “holistic understanding of health” and their “rejection of clinical diagnosis’s”. I spoke about some of my reservations (being in large group situations with others experiencing high levels of pain and distress) and how I felt it would affect me (sensory overload, too many competing emotions to process at one time). My hesitation was met with disbelief and suspicion, not exactly the “holistic understand of health” I’d hoped for. I could almost sense her thinking: what makes her so special? Why does she expect these programs to change or be adapted for her preferences? She’s just non-compliant, I don’t have time for this!
Do any of the above experience ring true for you? Does anyone have similar stories or experience that they feel comfortable sharing? Please let me know in the comments because it would be reassuring to know that I am not alone. Maybe there are entire forums on the internet devoted to venting frustrations with health services and being a HSP – I wouldn’t know because I find them too overwhelming to participate (another on-going difficulty is the sense of disempowerment I feel – the very fact that overwhelm constricts and limits my ability to reach out and find others just like you!).
With blessings and a weary heart x
I would not mind been labelled lightly
With HSP ❤️ Iv been told I’m extremely
Hostile,oppositional,difficult and full of profanity 😊
Those are just my good points 😂
But iv been labelled far worse
The “S” word 😡
And Iv suddenly got complex needs
Found that out in my medical records
Guess Iv got to go out and buy a new personality
Something wrong with the one Iv always had 😂
yes, absolutely and that is what I mean by saying I find it helpful. I really shouldn’t have used past tense because I still do, really… but I truly practice non-attachment with this stuff…really…it’s wired into me at this point.
I sometimes find this sort of labeling to be divisive as well…kind of like us and them…I sort of believe everyone has a sensitive buried somewhere inside. Once I came to realize that one of the most abusive people in my life was a gravely wounded sensitive I really shifted with that…
I agree that it can be divisive – and encourage elitism which I find tiring. And i like the image of having a sensitive buried inside!
frankly HSP, while somewhat less problematic, still feels like a label to me…a box. I have found the construct helpful too…but in the end I really can’t abide by any label for myself.
I guess I find it helpful to hold labels lightly – personally I see them as a way to have shared language about something but also helpful if you want to find people with similar experiences to oneself. But with all labels I think we should always start out by making sure we agree on what it means to us and be open to redefining them
Was just reminded of one of the important things for me around the HSP label: realising that I needed to go about being in the world in a slightly different way than most people around me. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prescriptions-life/201105/top-10-survival-tips-the-highly-sensitive-person-hsp so sharing strategies with other people who experience being sensitive – so many of these things I had never thought of myself before coming across the hsp construct.
yup…I need to do all that stuff and certainly not everyone does 🙂