Being labeled too sensitive as a child, and finding it difficult to regulate my emotions even well into my teens and twenties, was all part of early life for me. It truly felt like more of a curse than a blessing as I struggled to navigate life. In recent years however, that has all changed.
Extensive psychotherapy in my 20s and 30s to deal with my suppressed grief around my mother's death (she was 47, I was 12) helped me to understand why I felt depressed, sad and alone. However it wasn't until I did more research around being highly sensitive that I really started to feel as though I completely understood myself.
With around 20% of the population being highly sensitive, it's a reasonably common personality trait. Sadly though, for these individuals, being labeled as too sensitive or told to toughen up is all too common. This personality trait is an innate part of their being and cannot be overcome or treated with medication, therapy or any other healing modality.
An HSP has a central nervous system that is more sensitive to physical, emotional or social stimuli. This means they process everything in their environment more deeply and as a result can easily become overwhelmed and exhausted. Here's an example. For a non-HSP a loss can be worked through, processed and let go, whereas an HSP will feel it much more deeply, and take longer to process those same feelings. The good news is that HSPs feel happiness and joy more deeply too which is something I personally love about my trait.
If you're an HSP it's quite likely you're sensitive to light, scratchy fabrics, large crowds or rowdy gatherings to name a few. To learn more about it and take a quiz check out Dr Judith Orloff's Self Test and her amazing books.
Discovering more about being an HSP has been truly life changing for me, even if it has come a lot later in life than I'd have liked.
What I've found is that there are many wonderful benefits with HSPs being highly intuitive, empathic, and noticing things others do not. With increased self-awareness around what my personality needs, I give myself the time and space for the rest I need. I work at a slower pace now because I understand that I need more time. Using things like meditation and yoga have been a blessing too.