I’m a highly sensitive person. That means that I am sensitive to stimuli, particularly emotions, loud noises, smells, and busy environments. Nowadays, I know that my sensitivity comes with many advantages, but it wasn’t always this way.
Before I knew that I am a highly sensitive person (HSP), I spent a lot of time feeling isolated and confused. I didn’t understand why I was so easily overwhelmed. I would get home from school and social activities totally exhausted and then feel guilty for being anti-social.
If I had understood what I will share in this article, I could have saved myself a lot of pain and frustration. Here’s what I wish I’d known sooner as an HSP.
6 Things I wish I’d known sooner as a highly sensitive person
1. Emotions are our strength.
When you’re a highly sensitive person, you feel your own emotions deeply. You’re also more sensitive to the emotions of others. This makes you especially susceptible to emotional overwhelm.
My mission in my teens and early twenties was to control and hide my emotions. I tried to put them in a box in the basement of my being and never take another look at them. The problem was that the emotions always found a way of sneaking out.
I would get emotionally triggered and burst into tears. Stress also made it impossible for me to ignore my emotions. And that’s a good thing!
The deep emotions of a highly sensitive person are our secret weapon. They are the compass that lead us toward our best life. They also fuel our creativity and intuition. Our emotions often know the answers before our logical brain does.
2. Pretending is a waste of time.
One of the most common coping mechanisms of the highly sensitive person is to put on a mask and pretend to be tougher than we are. But there’s a problem with this approach.
It literally pains an HSP to be fake. This is because by nature we are very genuine people. We have great difficulty engaging in activities that don’t light us up. We also find it excruciating to interact with people we don’t truly like. If we follow our natural inclinations, we create an authentic life with meaningful friendships.
3. Passion is essential.
“You were born to be among the advisors and thinkers, the spiritual and moral leaders for your society. There is every reason for pride.” —Elaine Aron
One of the most endearing quirks of the highly sensitive person is our passionate nature. We need to be utterly obsessed with our projects or we don’t care. There’s not much middle ground.
This quality can be dangerous if we aren’t aware of it. A highly sensitive person without some sort of creative outlet for our deep emotions will likely feel anxious, unmotivated, and frustrated. We might try to fill the void with busyness that only serves to drain us more.
4. Focus is a key ingredient for HSP success.
When you’re a highly sensitive person like me, having too many tasks to complete at once is beyond stressful. Multitasking is enemy number one for HSPs.
I wish younger me had spent less time trying to do it all and more time focusing on fewer activities with more meaning, which brings me to my next point…
5. We are driven by the search for meaning.
A highly sensitive person can’t just shuffle through life like a zombie. We need to find meaning in our relationships, and other pursuits.
Superficial friendships feel painful for us. Since socializing can be particularly overwhelming for the highly sensitive person, we’d rather not even bother if there’s no chance of true connection.
When I went on an Introvert/HSP retreat in Peru in April, one thing really stood out to me. Everyone else there had the same desire for meaning. We wanted an experience that would enrich our mind and soul. We also wanted to have deep conversations with interesting people.
I loved spending time with other introverts and HSPs because we could seamlessly flow in and out of meaningful discussions. We also respected each other’s need for recharge time. As one participant noted, “we recharged together.”
The next Introvert/HSP retreat is taking place in January 2019 in Guatemala. Many of the spots have already been snatched up, so if you’re interested in finding adventure, meaning, and connection in Guatemala, get all the details and reserve your spot here. Use the promo code INTROSPRING50 for $50 off
If you have any questions you can email organizer Melissa Renzi at email@example.com.
6. The right diet is non-negotiable.
Highly sensitive people are more sensitive to sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals. We are also more sensitive to hunger. We can become emotional and unable to focus if we haven’t eaten enough.
Oh man, do I ever wish I understood this sooner! I spent most of my teens in a chemical fog from all the processed food I ate (lunch meat, chemical-laden sauces, chocolate bars). For the average person, eating that way might seem like no big deal, but for a highly sensitive person, a careless diet can be detrimental.
The way I eat nowadays keeps my blood sugar stable and my mind alert.
Over to you
Are you a highly sensitive person like me? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below. I’d love to hear from you!