Sara Dias

The Untold Story of Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

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There may come a time in your life where you begrudge this innate trait of yours. There is nothing wrong with questioning it. On the contrary, this is part of the journey toward self-acceptance. As a fellow highly sensitive soul, I too, am plagued by questions of how to exist in such a loud shouting world. I often wish there was an off switch. Truthfully, it is overwhelming to feel everything so intensely. It gets lonely living in a world that neither speaks nor understands your language. A world full of copies, of copies, of someone else. A world that shuns fragile subtleties. 

Let’s be honest, right now, things suck. Canada’s Coronavirus cases are spiking. Unemployment levels are still high, with experts warning that our economy is about to sleepwalk off a massive cliff. Despite inspiring the largest movement in history, the tragic killing of George Floyd has done little to reform to brutal police policies. Adding tension to the chaos, many Canadians are still stuck in their homes, anxious and isolated. If you want to lock yourself in your bedroom and hide under a blanket, no one will blame you. That is a natural reaction for anyone living through these cruel and unprecedented times.

Now imagine being a highly sensitive person (HSP), the 20% of the population who feel and process their experiences deeply.  All of this news hits you, it hits you harder than most. It’s a baseball bat to the back of your pulled shoulder. You are not flawed or broken, you believe this with reckless abandon. Your high sensory processing sensitivity is an innate trait, and it is a gift to be treasured, no matter what you may have been told. You possess the capacity to tune in and perceive what others often miss. 

We love and cherish those in our lives who respect our feelings, know our moods, and whose intuition seems to lead them straight to our needs. Sensitive people; they try to fill the world with compassion for their own good and for others’, which is a huge benefit, especially in a world that pretends dominance is somehow preferable to sensitivity. Good people gravitate towards them. Not-so-good people gravitate toward them too, and, believe it or not, sometimes become a better person just from being around those with HSP. One of the greatest benefits of being highly sensitive is you can become the hub for amazing things. People may feel more creative under your influence, more comfortable and free in expressing their true selves. Few things are more wonderful than that, and opening yourself to experiencing this wash of potentiality has the effect of dazzling the entire soul.

Use your gifts to illuminate the dark corners of the world that need healing. A highly sensitive person is simply someone who experiences life a little more “turned up” than everyone else. They notice details and patterns that others miss. Their minds process information to a great degree. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries (learn to say no)! You deserve to exist under terms that do not harm you. This means letting go of friendships, relationships, situations and action patterns that no longer serve you. This is but one step toward self-acceptance. If an experience is not essential, meaningful, or fun then it is not worth your time and energy. 

Cultivate a sacred space that you feel safe in, a space where you are able to decompress and recharge. This will become your sanctuary. Your retreat from the world. Your space to come home to after a day spent processing overwhelming sensory inputs. Protect it and fill it with that which enlivens your soul and energizes your spirit. Think in terms of the four senses: sight, sound, smell and touch. Contemplate the sensory experiences that ardently resonate as uplifting, comforting, and tranquil for you.  

Embrace loneliness, your journey will often feel lonely. Embrace and honour this. Allow the stillness to feel awful and sublime.  Simultaneously allow it to guide you.  It is in the depths of solitude that we seek the hidden treasures within us; however, recognize that you are not alone. Reach out and connect. In a society that devalues sensitivity, this may seem counterintuitive but do it anyway. For you are heard, understood and most importantly, you deserve to occupy a space in the world. Find your soul family, the iridescent individuals who feel like home. Appreciate the catharsis as you narrate stories of triumph and tribulation. This will resonate with you, I’m sure.

On top of their deep processing, HSPs also have higher levels of empathy allowing them to easily tune into others’ feelings and display strong emotional intelligence. Basically, they’re the people who know you had a bad day just from the angle of their shoulders. In conflict, they often see past the yelling and false flags to what’s really going on.

It is not easy, however, try to accept yourself as you are! Being an HSP is a wonderful gift. Your high sensitivity means that you have the potential to live an extraordinarily rich and meaningful existence. Do not spend your days apologizing for your way of being in the world. You are a lighthouse, allow your light to pierce the darkness. Stop apologizing for shining so brightly.

Yet there’s no denying that something very real is happening in 2020 — scarcity and tragedy on a scale that many Canadians have never experienced before — and HSPs are the ones who feel it to the marrow. But just like any superpower, it comes with a kryptonite. All that empathy means HSPs get overwhelmed easily by suffering. It is not easy being a sensitive person in this cruel planet, and rest assured, there are many others like us. Kindred spirits, trying to find a space in this world. Should our paths intersect one day, I hope we get to connect and share our stories of feeling and healing.

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