Understanding Ourselves as Highly Sensitive Individuals

Photo: Anja Benedik

An excerpt from my July newsletter.

“Today, I would like to share something I find essential for understanding ourselves and for creating the life we want.

Namely, all of what we experience as HSPs (highly sensitive persons) might not be even necessary – it could be heightened due to various reasons; I will address one of them. As highly sensitive, we tend to absorb other people’s emotions and energies, take things personally, struggle to say no, and take care of others to the point of abandoning ourselves.

We often approach these situations from a victim standpoint – from the place of “This is high sensitivity; I can’t do anything about it.” We sometimes even wear it as a badge as in: “Look what a good person I am, look at how I exert myself for others.”

But is this necessary? Is it even true – that everything is high sensitivity, and there is nothing we can do about it? Is this the way we want it to be?

During the process of dealing with my own issues and through working with others, I realized that the main characteristics of high sensitivity (in all variety of ways they play out in each highly sensitive individual) are often intensified, heightened by our childhood experiences.

What do I mean by that?

In childhood, we have two essential needs: the need for attachment (it enables our survival) and the need for authenticity (to be true to ourselves; dr. Gabor Maté talks about it here – 4:18). As a helpless infant (and child), unable to survive on our own, the need for attachment trumps. We do everything our system deems necessary to keep the connection to our parents or caregivers because that means our survival.

And so we develop various survival mechanisms, responses, patterns … that help us maintain that connection, keep us “safe” and help us survive. We suppress everything else – ultimately, we might suppress who we are.

In adulthood we might still operate in that same patterns, believing the same things, having the same defense mechanisms, survival responses, and strategies. We mostly do that unconsciously; we are living automatically in our mental space, ungrounded and disconnected to what is going on in the areas below our neck, where our repressed “past” resides – in the body. We can call all that trauma, unhealed wounds, codependence, shadow, etc.

The fact is, this trapped survival stress, trapped past (in a way), is preventing us from living our authentic life in the present. It is keeping us small, in search of approval, terrified of rejection.

Yes, as highly sensitive, we tend to notice more – including the expectations of others. We tend to feel more – including what other people feel, what mood they are in, what their energy is. Because of that, we fear intensity – it is painful, so we want to keep things calm. And if that was what we learned in childhood, we are wired to notice all of the above even more – because it helped us survive, it is a successful strategy, and the stored survival stress in the body dictates the need to keep the strategy on board.

Being born with the trait of high sensitivity, we probably also have stronger emotional reactions compared to the majority of the population. This might mean that if our parents were not “emotionally informed” if they did not know how to handle their own emotions, they were not able to handle ours and were therefore not in a place to teach us how to do that for ourselves. And so as grown-ups, we might struggle to manage our emotions, thinking it is about high sensitivity only.

We might also not be able to set boundaries, and we have difficulties saying no as well as putting ourselves first to cater to our needs as highly sensitive.

Why am I writing all of this?

To show you the possibilities, to expand your horizon, maybe, to inspire or motivate you, to ignite your curiosity to learn more. To become aware (more). Without awareness, no change is possible.

If you are not satisfied with your life, you CAN do something about it. Only YOU can do something about it.

However, if you approach it from the place of “it’s all because of high sensitivity, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” there truly is nothing you can do about it.

As Henry Ford said a long time ago:

 

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

 

Do you have a comment, an idea? Maybe a question?

I am looking forward to reading them and connecting with you.

If you feel you need support and guidance in doing that and are determined to make a change, let me know. I have a three-month individual coaching program that will address your challenges, show you your openings and opportunities, and support you in becoming the most impactful person in your life – for your life. You can apply here.

If you want to take it slow(er), you can join my free Facebook group. Request to join here.

For those of you, who would like to start with my newsletter, this link will be useful.