“Some say I’m too sensitive but truth is I just feel too much. Every word, every action and every energy goes straight to my heart”
For much of my life, I thought there were a lot of things wrong with me…things I couldn’t explain. I have always suffered with anxiety. Even at a young age I went through a pretty traumatic childhood that manifested into fearing everything and nothing as an adult. In the last few years, constant meditation, yoga and self-awareness has saved my life but there was still a deeper layer to my personality that went beyond general introversion. I couldn’t understand my constant need to be alone. How relieved I would feel getting in a taxi to go home after a night out with my friends. How deeply I felt other people’s pain not just my own. How much more comfortable I felt surrounded by books, art, poetry, history and philosophy. How overwhelmed I felt at football games when the sirens blared and the crowds went wild. I thought I was a freak for such a long time. I was hard on myself for not enjoying socialising. I was hard on myself for preferring my own company to others. The lack of self-awareness was totally isolating and completely debilitating.
Last year, I discovered that I am part of a small percentage of humans known as Highly Sensitive People. I read Elaine Aron’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ and by the last page I felt like I’d come home…to myself. Self-love and compassion poured out of me when I realised I wasn’t a freak…I was just Highly Sensitive and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all…in fact it’s wonderful…
Common Traits of a HSP are:
– Being easily overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells and coarse fabrics
– Needing to constantly withdraw from the outside world, especially during busy days when there has been a lot of societal interaction
– Being able to feel other people’s pain – strong empathic abilities and being able to sense another’s discomfort or unhappiness.
– Being incredibly polite.
– Being incredibly aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
– Highly creative – an ability to think outside the box
– Feeling and sensing very deeply
Most people think HSP means easily offended or cries all the time. Yes these things do play a part some of the time but the term ‘sensitive’ means being highly perceptive and observant of other people and the world around you. Knowing what I know now, I have been able to create a life that suits the HSP part of me. Elaine urges all HSP’s to look after themselves and be honest about who they are. Now that my family and I know I’m am a HSP, I’m able to tell them that I need to leave a gathering a bit earlier and they are very supportive. In fact, I’ve found a few ways to accommodate to my needs and still live a very full, rich life.
I used to exercise in the evening but I purposely exercise in the morning now because I know that being stimulated all day will leave me exhausted by the end.
I was never a fan of football before but I don’t attend matches anymore because my last experience was horrendous. The lights, the sounds and the people nearly caused me to faint on the stairs.
I no longer consume caffeine or alcohol as I’m extremely intolerant to them and do not need the further stimulation.
I prefer to have lunches and dinners with friends as going out on the town doesn’t appeal to me and I finally know why!
Being a HSP and an introverted one at that doesn’t mean I don’t love my friends. On the contrary I love them very deeply and if I want to spend time with them it shows just how much I care and value their company. I love interacting and trying new things provided it isn’t all the time and I know that at the end of the day I can be alone to unwind. In fact, not all HSP’s are introverted…many are extroverted. I just happen to be very introverted as well 🙂
In 2013 I met the love of my life who is also a HSP and I immediately recognised a kindred spirit. We both understand one another and at the end of the day when we come home to each other drained from the lights, sounds and chatter of the day, we hold each other for a moment and gain strength from one another. I understand his need to sit in the dark sometimes. He understands my emotions. We both relish in our creativity and support one another during social events or when we have to shop at a loud, crowded shopping centre. Knowing he is by my side holding my hand makes it all that little more bearable.
They say HSP’s shouldn’t travel for long periods of time but I believe it’s possible provided you plan your trip accordingly. My partner and I went to the US for a month in October 2014 and we decided to do the adventuring ourselves as planned tours with other people wouldn’t suit us. We saw so much more this way and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves without compromising our needs. We took breaks when we needed to, hopped on short day tours and went at our own pace. It was honestly the best holiday I’ve ever had and I couldn’t travel any other way now.
I look back to my solo trip to China I took back when I was single and unaware. I went for two weeks with a group of strangers and suffered internally the entire time. I still enjoyed everything I saw but when I reflect back, the best moments were when I was on my own, map in hand and exploring. I didn’t understand that trying so hard to fit in wasn’t the right course of action for me. I purposely stayed out really late and drank so I could maintain an appearance but the whole time my mind and body was screaming to go somewhere quiet and less crowded.
I am thankful to Elaine Aron for highlighting a very deep part of me that I used to scoff at and now love dearly. She has helped me embrace who I am and live a life that works for myself and my partner. She showed me that a corporate, fast-paced job would be my undoing. Hence, this year I began a Yoga Teacher Training Course so I can help build confidence and teach something I am very passionate about. I will now ensure that the rest of my life is deeply spiritual and calming and while it may test me at times to teach a room full of students yoga and meditation, I am actually looking forward to the challenge and the benefits.
Yoga and meditation have not only bought me inner peace but helped quell some of the overwhelming feelings that can impact me on a daily basis as a HSP. I have discovered a fulfilling life that is not only filled with adventure and self-discovery but is also comfortable and peaceful. For this I am thankful and for those of you who read this post and feel it resonate – just know you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you…only something beautiful and soulful…
Love and Peace xxoo
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