Even though I might always have known, two years ago, I found out that I am a highly sensitive person (HSP). I mostly felt ‘different’ than other people, was tired more often and have been very emotional all my life. Also, I was able to sense other people’s emotions, have huge emphatic abilities and I can happily lift on other people’s enthusiasm. You probably get it: there are huge advantages, but also disadvantages to being a high sensitive person. Sometimes, the disadvantages can tower over the advantages, especially when you’re still exploring what being highly sensitive means for you. But, once you have discovered that, you can make use of that sensitivity. That is exactly what I wanted to learn once I figured out that I can call myself an HSP.
Burdens of being hypersensitive
I’m not going to lie: my sensitivity has created a lot of obstacles for me for a long time. Even more so, if I’m in a bad mood, it can still present me with challenges. For a long time, I heard a lot of noise on my line and got triggered by all the signals that I received: from sounds and busy crowds to emotions (those of my own and others) and opinions. For me, it not only led to being fatigued and, eventually, burned out, but it also caused me to retract myself from (social) situations. I was regularly overexposed and couldn’t control my own emotions, so I didn’t want to be confronted with them by exposing myself to the outside world. Of course, not quite the right solution. However, in that moment, it was the easiest way to deal with my overload of emotions.
Use them as my strength
Nowadays, I barely view my sensitivity as a ‘negative’ thing. Of course, it can still hold me back sometimes, but now I can use it as my strength more often. I got to know myself really well, I learned what provides me with energy and what not, and I am now able to help others explore this themselves. In this way. I can make choices that fit me well in an easier way. For example, I always skip clubbing, but I love to meet up beforehand for drinks.
By not letting myself be influenced by other people’s mood and emotions, I get a better sense of them and can use them in a positive sense. I can help them if needed or pull back whenever I feel that it is better for them. I can be empathetic, but without losing myself in their emotions. When others have difficulty with expressing their emotions, I can help them with that, since I am an expert when it comes to showing my emotions – that’s practically all I do! Also, I can help others enjoy the small things and show them details that they probably wouldn’t have noticed on their own. I absorb everything – yes, literally everything – so it would be such a waste if I wouldn’t share that with others!
At times, it still isn’t easy, but when you learn to deal with (an overload of) emotions and put them to use in a positive way, you experience so much more fun than when you pull back – like I did – out of fear for being triggered too much.
Try to establish what provides you with energy and what drains it, find a balance and communicate with others what you’re dealing with. They might not experience what you experience, but they can try to understand you and make it a lot easier to be yourself. And, in the end, that is the most important!