If we HSPs have a problem, we all agree it is overstimulation. But I realize that emotion and empathy, the E in DOES (Depth of Processing, Overstimulation, Emotionally responsive/Empathy, and Sensitive to Subtle), while not at all an inherent problem, can be an even bigger issue for HSPs, “for better and for worse.”
I have written often about emotion, but perhaps not enough. We feel so intensely. It is part of why we process everything very deeply—we are more motivated to think about things by our stronger feelings of curiosity, fear, joy, anger, or whatever. But this intensity can be overwhelming, especially when we have negative feelings. That’s why we need to learn emotional regulation skills.
What is emotional regulation? It is a fancy term for something simple that we all do, which is to consciously or unconsciously influence what emotions we have, when we have them, and how we experience and express them. Feel in a bad mood? Go for a walk. Feel silly but it’s not appropriate to laugh? Silence that chuckle.
Can we be more skillful at it? As with almost any skill, always. But note that the definition of emotional regulation is that a great deal of it is unconscious. That means it was usually learned in childhood or under duress. For example, when we are upset we may feel it is intolerable without knowing why, but maybe it is because as a small child we were left without help when we were having overwhelming emotions. Or we saw the adults around us being overwhelmed by their emotions, unable to control themselves at all, so why would we think we could do it?
On the other hand, many HSPs learned wonderful emotional regulation as children from their parents. These, too, are unconscious skills. Their skill may drive those having trouble to envy these others for their good moods and lack of anxiety. But whichever kind you are, you are you. You have to play the cards you were dealt, not those of someone else with better luck, so far. Likewise, if you have good cards, it is not fair to say to those with bad ones that they aren’t very good at the game. Luck is a huge component. But we can all do better.
HSPs Tend to Fail to Use Certain Strategies
As it happens, a research paper was just published in the Australian Journal of Psychology on “Is the relationship between sensory-processing sensitivity and negative effect mediated by emotional regulation?” (It is by Brindle, Moulding, Bakker, and Nedeljkovic, and you can read the abstract here.)
First, consistent with other research, these researchers found that HSPs are more aware of and have more negative emotions–depression, anxiety, feeling very stressed–than other people. Second, the answer to the title of their article and the important finding for you was that among many strategies that help everyone regulate and thus reduce their negative emotions, HSPs tend to do certain ones less. So, if you want to boost your emotional regulation, increase these five:
- Accept your feelings.
- Do not be ashamed of them.
- Believe you can cope as well as others do.
- Trust that your bad feelings will not last long.
- Assume there’s hope–you can do something about your bad feelings eventually.
Why We Might Have Trouble with these Five
A huge factor causing HSPs to have trouble with these five, as the researchers found, is that we simply are more aware of negative feelings (of all feelings, but they did not measure positive ones). Perhaps some of us have had so many bad experiences that the typical strategies do not work. Maybe our negative feelings do last a longer time, darn it, and we cannot change them! Maybe these “attitudes” are just how it is for some of us, especially those who did not learn regulation strategies while young. The researchers did not look at the effect of the history of past negative experiences, especially in childhood, or the work one has done to heal these. If that had been taken into account, there might have been little association between negative effect, especially depression, and being an HSP.
On the other hand, HSPs tend to be higher on most measures of anxiety and being stressed, given the nature of the questions. Whatever our past, we worry (and rejoice and feel gratitude) more than others, and many of us are stressed by trying to manage in a non-HSP world. Still, we can apply the above five very well to anxiety and feeling stressed.
This is Not Your Fault, but There Are Things You Can Do
Very often the failure to use those five is, again, at least at first unconscious. So you may have to recognize these first—for example that you are ashamed of your negative feelings or it seems to you that they will go on forever. So perhaps just reading this will help to make these attitudes more conscious and available for you to change. In particular, clearly it helps to replace a sense of defeat with a little hope and confidence when looking for and applying new strategies. Perhaps the best place to begin is talking specifically to other HSPs who have truly struggled yet found answers. Hence our other blog post today, by a friend and colleague, one of the first HS men I ever knew well, who has found his own terribly important path through his lifelong depression and anxiety.
The bottom line is that emotional regulation can be learned. You can begin with self-help, unless you are having suicidal thoughts. Then you need help right away. Starting there, at the extreme, one way to regulate emotions that we often forget is through medications—it’s really okay if you need to and tolerate them. Just find a psychiatrist who is kind and understands high sensitivity, at least as soon as you explain it. Another way to begin is to see a good psychotherapist familiar with HSPs, who will help you find the best strategy for regulating your emotions, and if the first ones do not work, help you explore why and find new ones.
If you begin with self-help, you could learn meditation, which can dramatically help with depression. Here’s a recent testimony on Transcendental Meditation (TM) helping depression.
Continuing with “on your own,” you can search the internet for emotional regulation strategies (this one from the U.K. is not bad). You can read. I’ve been told that a good book for HSPs on anxiety is Dancing with Fear by Foxman. But there are so many books and websites on reducing anxiety, depression, stress, and being happy that I cannot begin to review them here. Just explore. But do consider credentials and read reviews and comments. And remember that emotional regulation is actually a very individual matter. Try a variety of methods, ignore the heavy sales pitches, and watch for actual results. Do not feel hopeless or ashamed if something does not work for you. You are different; you are an HSP and unique as well.
Emotion Regulation for Me and You
I suppose I am writing about emotion also because, for reasons I will not dwell on here, I have been truly inundated by intense emotions since last April. Naturally I have some methods for coping that I will share, as I shared Alanis’s last month. I want you to see that we are all individuals in the tools we have at hand.
One method of emotional reaction that scientists praise is distracting yourself through thinking about other things, especially turning to your work. I am not always so sure about this method. Yes, my emotions fade away when I start writing, researching an idea, or just reading research (I have to admit I love Scientific American). However, I’ve learned it’s not a great method in the long run because I tire out my brain, and the brain uses a great deal of bodily energy. Once I am tired, I have less tolerance of my negative emotions. So watch out for the kinds of distractions you use. Choose ones that are not highly depleting. Maybe funny TV or movies are not so bad. If you are an introvert, once you are tired, spending time with friends can also be depleting, although quiet time with an empathic friend can also help.
Rest, Rest, Rest
The point is, our emotions come through our bodies, for better and worse. Often we can change our emotions through changing our bodies, and our bodies are changed by our emotions. That’s why, again, I recommend a very restful type of meditation such as TM (transcendental meditation), downtime in general, time in nature, time in or near water, and plenty of sleep. These can change the body quickly. I have a friend who told me that recently he felt grumpy and just terrible, took a half-hour nap, and woke up feeling great! Rest is the basis of activity. Everything we think and do is determined by our state of consciousness, from tired and terrible to fully aware and just plain brilliant. These states change according to how we treat our bodies.
Indeed I like Rilke’s line, “no feeling is final.” In a moment, you are going to read his powerful poetical teaching, emotional regulation (I am pretty sure he was an HSP). But for now, the lesson is that usually a good night’s sleep improves things. If not, at least with a fresh mind you are better able to understand the reason for extreme negative emotions. Some feelings are inevitable, such as grief over a loss or fear of a truly threatening event, and only time will help. But many times we must look deeply into our complexes in order to bring our emotions under control or at least to tolerate them. I’ve written about complexes mostly in my books, the Workbook, The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, and especially The Undervalued Self, as “emotional schemas.” A clear mind helps in this.
Above all, after a rest we can often step back and see the big picture. Maybe the big picture comes from going out and looking at the stars, or seeing what troubles you now will not be important a year from now. If it is a problem in our world, remember that others are working on this too; or even that you can’t do much about it, given human nature. If it is about another’s need, maybe you just can’t help, but someone else can. If someone has hurt your feelings, maybe the person meant well but does not have the bigger picture of you.
Rest does not always work, of course. Nothing always works. But the more ideas you have for emotional regulation that works for you, the better off you are. I will continue this in a future post. Now to the poetic solution:
“Go to the Limits of Your Longing” by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Book of Hours, I 59
Paola Dumet says
Dear Dr. Aron,
thank you so much for this post in your blog, as well as all the wonderful work you continue to do! I am so excited about the upcoming movie on HSPs!
I discovered your work and that I am a HSP about 5 years ago when searching for answers for my VERY highly sensitive son. He is 6 now and most of the time thriving in life 🙂 One wonderful technique that I would love to reccomend as an emotional regulation technique that works marvellous with adults and even more so with children is EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, known as Tapping. It\’s a combination of acupressure on meridian points in the body and modern psycology. It\’s actually pretty known to Energy Psycology. EFT can help for physical pain but also get down to the root of almost any issue that would affect us emotionally. There is quite some research being done and lots of wonderful resources available. And everyone can learn and use it. I do it regularly and my 6 year old son as well. Here are a couple resources: http://www.thetappingsolution.com/what-is-eft-tapping/
I live in Luxembourg. hopefully i can meet you in Brussels this May.
Brenda Cordle says
I agree wholeheartedly! I am a Certified EFT Practitioner, and many of my clients are HSPs. (I am an HSP as well.) EFT is a very effective tool for HSPs, and it is a skill they can use for the rest of their lives, any time, anywhere! 🙂
Caroline G. says
Thank you Dr. Aron for writing this post. I often use your blogs as discussion topics in the HAP (highly attuned) meetup group I participate in (“HSPs of Metro Vancouver” with 600+ members.)
I’m very appreciative of how you refer to extensive research to support your claims. This particular post speaks to me because my focus and passion has been on the emotionality & empathy part of the DOES equation.
In my humbling role as a facilitator for our group, I have been noticing a trend and a pattern. The trend is that a majority of self-identified HSPs initially gravitate to the “overstimulation” aspect of the trait, followed by deep processing & sensitivity to subtlety; and, lastly, the emotionality aspect.
The pattern I noticed is the confusion between the various disorders with the HSP trait. This is why I’ve become passionate and focused on emotionality & empathy. From my 22 years’ experience working with adults with various spectrums of autism, Aspergers, et cetera, the one aspect that distinguishes them from society, is the lack of skills in processing and delivering emotions and empathy. In addition, in your “Let the Market Decide…” blogpost, adding the four hallmarks of the HSP trait really hit the nail on the head this time. It was my “a-ha moment” in figuring out the easiest way to explain why someone with a disorder and claiming to be highly sensitive can co-exist because of the, for example, overstimulation aspect. However, if one cannot show empathy, then THIS is the difference between an HSP and someone with a disorder. THANK YOU! I’m relieved that you have been talking about the emotionality aspect our trait lately. I hope the global community will pay extra attention to this part of the HSP trait and not just environmental stimuli and deep processing.
I used EFT a couole of years ago with a therapist and it was so powerful that my blood pressure went through the roof. The doctor had to put me on blood pressure meds and has not taken me off of it yet.
If anyone is a truly HSP, I would be careful of EFT. It’s very powerful and it can backfire.
Noreen Statler says
I just read your comment. I am a senior and elder. I just started using eft/tapping on my own, mainly from u-tube. A cousin of mine from Canada recommended it for pain and anxiety. I am going to back off of it. I think you may be right. I am an Artist and hsp, not empath. I do not read people’s minds and don’t desire to. I have depression, anxiety and add and possibly cyclomedia. I think medication can be helpful though I have become more sensitive to it over the years. Need smaller doses.
I am finding it difficult to function now because time is going faster and a new age is supposed to be coming in or we are in it already. And the social fabric of society has broken down with the onslaught of the high digital age. I believe many people being affected by this young and old. There is increasing depression and anxiety. But it isn’t just within us, the cause.
You are welcome to comment back to me.
My name is Shulamit Lazarus and I am an EFT master and this is my specialty and I typically don’t answer anybody’s comments on blogs because I figure they probably have gotten lost and won’t be noticed but in case you are reading, I have never had a client go through this kind of experience in my years of work with them and in fact always the opposite.
Emotionally they always feel lighter, brighter and and healthier. They are no longer triggered by the issue. Physically they feel less tired and whatever symptoms that they are dealing with that are connected to the issues that we are working on invariably get better.
I suspect probably what happened to that person is that the practitioner was not an advanced experienced practitioner or the actual core issue was never addressed and the body was trying to bring the issue up by manifesting high blood pressure.
I had a client that said that she got worse after self EFT and when we started working together we were able to find out that every time she started tapping on something the core issue started coming up and she didn’t know what to do with it and it always created physical symptoms in her.
Whenever she would tap she would start feeling that she couldn’t breathe and her throat was starting to close up.
In our work together we found out that she had a sister who is emotionally ill who had been doing lots of drugs and her mother who considered my client the responsible one, was always leaning on her to clean up her sisters messes. In this case it was actually a real physical mess.
One day her sister came home, locked her self in the bathroom and took out all the chemicals and soap and threw it all over the bathroom and made an incredible mess. Needless to say the chemicals had a lot of fumes. My clients mother told her to go in and clean up the bathroom. My client got incredibly angry and that experience got anchored in her. She never dealt with the anger of it and she swallowed it.
My client had become intensely chemically allergic and by the time we started working together had been on disability for many years because she was not able to go to environments that had chemicals or any kind of fumes which most offices did have.
In any event once we started working on the memory artfully with her, which is what an experienced and nuanced EFT practitioner should be doing, we were able to clear the experience so that she no longer had that feeling when she thought about the memory.
I am HSP and have benefited tremendously from my work on my issues with EFT and have done thousands of sessions by now with clients over decades of working with EFT.
I have not had anyone had an adverse effect physically or emotionally.
I do however suggest that people don’t work on their own issues with tapping especially if they are dealing with issues that are intense for them and triggers.
As soon as somebody starts tapping they are contacting their subconscious mind.
There is a reason why issues have been pushed down into the subconscious and it’s in order to protect the individual and allow them to move forward from day to day. This needs to be remembered since it’s easy to think of tapping as something simple and therefor not powerful and profound.
I am one of the few EFT practitioners and perhaps the only one that I have ever heard say this —I do not believe that anybody should be working on deep issues by themselves because things can come up when we touch the subconscious mind that can re-traumatize us and “kick us in the ass“.
This kind of deep work should be done with a practitioner who specializes in working with trauma. Even the slightest insults to an HSP can feel Trumatic so I use the word trauma widely.
EFT is a simple process but is profoundly deep and immediately connects with the subconscious mind. It should not be done without the awe and the respect that anything that touches the energy field of a human being should get.
I’m happy to talk to anybody about any questions they may have about EFT tapping. If you’re curious you can read more about EFT on my website and contact me anytime.
Why settle, when you can soar!
I totally agree, as a person who has suffered trauma, most definitely engage the help of a knowledgeable practitioner. EFT works realy well but deep issues are best dealt with with the help of others.
Wauw! The whole time when I was reading this article I thought EFT is a emotion regulation technique that works wonders and the first comment I read states EFT! 🙂
As a HSP (knowingly 2 years and accepting it 6 months) I worked through many issues with EFT with the help of an EFT practitioner the last 6 months and climbed out of a big depression. Now I am starting to accept and love myself and there is growing this self-confidence in me like I have never felt in my life.
With EFT you really work through your pains and fears, but in a way that is much quicker than other forms of therapy. On the other side of these pains and fears lies self-acceptance, self-love and self-confidence. And the beautiful thing is, because you are HSP this technique works maybe even better, because you feel so strong and deep and therefore can really work through issues at a deep level!
I am now confident that whatever crosses my path in my life I can face it, because I have this wonderful tool in my toolbox that really helps me 🙂
Dawn Ciavaglia says
I have experienced 2 severe weather related car accidents and felt doctors were the experts and deserving of trust and respect. When I started getting severe migraines I trusted the doctors who prescribed medication for my symptoms but kept searching for the cause. As I saw more doctors and became more depressed by my pain and limitations, more medication was prescribed and labels attached to my depression. At one point I was on 23 different psych and pain medications! I found a psychiatrist who took a different approach and boosted 1 depression med and helped me get off many others. I had gotten to the point where I was taking a pill to cure a side effect of another pill.
I began a voyage of self discovery and ways to consciously choose happiness. I came across your test for HSP. I have have found more relief in meditation and EFT than I have through any pill. My doctor told me that I was more sensitive to pain but could endure more than most people. That led me to believe I could learn to control pain with my mind rather than being so drugged I couldn’t think and use my mind. The past year has been one of high stress and loss & I went into another long depression, however did not become suicidal and I have been able to pull out of it using meditation and EFT. I developed my own kind of meditation/pain relief by combining different types and styles of meditation. Reading Finely Tuned:How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person or Empath by Barrie Davenport today has given me so much understanding and insight & led me to your site and acceptance that being a HSP is real and not just another label. I can’t wait to devour all the info here and am so impressed and thankful for all you have shared! As with many medications and cures, trial and error or success is the only way to find relief. Medication has it’s place and time, but may holistic practices can work and have fewer to no negative long term side effects on our bodies. I’m learning to live mindfully as an extrovert type HSP/empath. Thank you for your contribution to my learning process!
I needed to comment on EFT for HSP. Hopefully, it will help other HSP make a wise decision about EFT. I have used it and it was so much energy work that it caused heart racing and palpitations. It would not stop which was frightening. I had to go on medication to stop the problems. At first, EFT seemed to work and I was grateful for it. I was also working with an EFT counselor. But later on, because my body is so sensitive, it could not handle all that emotional energy exchange or transformation.
I have talked to other HSP about their experience with EFT, and most of them could not handle EFT either, for the same reasons, too much energy work.
I believe that HSP are already have an over abundance of electrical energy and this could make it worse, like it did me. The good thing is if you think you can handle it, it probably is worth working with. I just suggest going at it VERY SLOWLY.
I hope this has helped.
Thank you for this great blog. I found it today at a time when I was feeling extremely emotional about a number of things at once and it did help me. Even if I don’t immediately follow through with some of the advise, it calmed me down. (I’m an emerging writer, a late bloomer, you could say). I have identified as an HSP (as well as someone with anxiety issues, ADHD innattentive type and so on) years ago. I also identify as High Sensation Seeking, which seems to add fuel to the already intensely burning fire! It’s exhausting & overwhelming. Sometimes I wish I could be “normal”. But I’m finally coming around to accept that this is who I am (only took to age 50!) and that I’m fine just the way I am. No more apologizing (one way or another) to those closest to me or the world in general for being who I was born to be. But it’s still a struggle. Part of me realizes that struggle is what life is all about – for all of us but in different ways. The other part feels intensely pissed off that I was stuck with all these things. However, as sad as I get sometimes, I do come back the glass half full feeling – eventually.
Btw, have you ever written blogs about HSP/HSS types? If not, would you consider it? As you have covered in your books, I go from needing quiet time to recharge, reflect & process my emotions- to moving towards exciting, interesting & intense things (which almost always tires me out afterwards & I have to retreat. Especially as I get older). I would love to read them! It feels like we’re on an island unto ourselves. It would be very helpful because it sure is lonely here sometimes! Thank you for all the good work you do.
Summer, I started a FB group for HSP/HSS or HSP extrovertish(?) types to gather and share our unique and conflicting energetic experiences https://www.facebook.com/groups/630612887339995/
Alix Greenwood says
Hi Joy, I agree with your comment about being cautious about EFT. I tried it for some time & occasionally felt some benefit, but nowhere near as much as some people seem to. Then I heard a talk by Donna Eden (who is closely associated with EFT) about why EFT might not work for some people (energetic dysregulation) & embarked on a long process of trying Eden Energy Medicine techniques, with the aim of both improving my health (I have adrenal fatigue & hashimoto’s) & enabling EFT to work for me. Doing the EEM practices alone had no effect, so I worked with an EFT/EEM practitioner for some time. EFT did not become any more helpful, but what was worse was that I had a serious energy burnout which slowly eased after I stopped doing the EEM. I don’t really know what happened – clearly the EEM techniques had an effect, but a negative one. My sense is that they pushed too hard, trying to restore some sort of equilibrium that my body was not able to cope with. I still try EFT from time to time but it’s not much help. My partner (who has CFIDS) has also tried EFT & finds it somewhat helpful but too exhausting to do regularly – all that tapping! So it’s no panacea. I do wish practitioners of various approaches to emotional regulation etc etc would moderate their claims & not just report instances where a technique has worked for someone!.
Your comments are interesting. i too struggle with adrenal fatigue, what has been helpful for you when you are overstimulated.
Hi Alix, Thank you sooo much for your comment. Sorry to be so late in replying back. I tend to not read as much as I use to because it wears me out. But I am finally glad to hear someone that understands some about EFT and the HSP, that it might have a negative affect on them. I don’t want to discourage anyone from it but HSP, I believe needs to be more cautious when doing any kind of energy work. I have heard a few HSP that can’t handle any energy work because its too intense. We are such deeply emotional people that “normal” energy work can backlash on us and we’re worse off than before. It kinda leaves us half done. And all that tapping, like you said (we have a lot to tap too) can very well be way too overstimulating for HSP. I honestly believe that. And naturally, we get over excited and tap too much because we want to rid ourselves of so much input. It’s a wonderful release. But EFT is a short cut, which many HSP may not be able to handle it.
I wish there were better answers that worked for just us.
Joy and others I’m so thrilled that I’m not the only HSP who had an averse reaction to EFT. It made my anxiety increase which increased frustration too. I will say the the PAIRS program’s “Emptying the Emotional Jug” exercise is incredibly helpful for me. It’s like EFT minus all of the tapping, instead you write out your feelings. Here are the instructions. You can do it alone or with a partner.
Thank you for your very helpful words. I am also HSP and I red your book in German, so my English might be not that good. I’ll try: I wondered whether there might be a link between the regulation of emotions and taking the birth control pill? Of course I know that hormones always have an impact on the psyche. But it may be that highly sensitive people react more intensively on it? I ask, because my female environment do not have emotional problems since they took the birth control pill. The gynecologist also smiles very friendly and explains me that I just have try until I find the right one. But I can’t find. Emotions get more and more uncontrolled and the feeling and observation that it might be not “my fault” get’s stronger as well. Is there something you can say about other woman who had similar experiences?
I was on birth control as a teenager and had to be switched to the lowest does of hormonal birth control pills because the others made me terribly depressed. I no longer use hormonal birth control because of this.
I tried EFT a while back and it worked at first. But since I’m extremely HS it eventualky worked in reverse on me. I was working with an EFT therapist too. I started having a terrible reaction to it. My blood pressure went sky high and my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I ended up on medication ever since then. I would suggest being careful with this practice, especially if you’re super HS.
Thank you so much! My son is 7 and I need some strategies to help him. I appreciate your post and the links!
Thank you for your article and your work. I have found it personally very helpful. I was curious if you were familiar of the work at the HeartMath Institute on self regulation? I stumbled on them in 2006 while preparing a research study on emotional intelligence I was going to conduct in a women’s state prison. I found their techniques and biofeedback so impressive we used them as the main modality for emotion change and nervous system training. It was remarkable what happened. I also began using the techniques and continue, too. They have helped me the most of anything I have done to help my highly sensitive nervous system. Not everything helps everyone, but it is a well researched set of techniques and I have seen and experienced their benefit first hand. Just wanted to include it for thought with your terrific article. Thanks again.
Bonnie Thompson says
I would like to add here that I too have been so impressed with HeartMath and their techniques for emotional regulation and energy management that I am going through training next month to be a licensed provider. I have been coaching HSPs for years and I have been using HeartMath myself for years. I recently had a new client in another country who has suffered from chronic social anxiety his entire adult life. I recommended he look into HeartMath, he did, is practicing three times a day and is free of anxiety for the first time! HE is so impressed that he also considering taking the training. As Dr. Aron suggests, meditation is truly excellent for HSPs. In my experience only some people will actually practice it on a daily basis. They will, however, practice HeartMath 5-10 minutes.
Hello everyone, I am just learning about HSP and I am having a little bit of trouble understanding why this is not commonly known. In reading the posts, it seems that many of the traits of borderline personality disorder are being described. or, should I say, being identified in a positive way instead of negative. Why is HSP different from borderline personality disorder? Thank you very much,
Hsp is not a personality disorder, a large part is about overstimulation of the senses, which affects biology, emotions etc.
karin sommer says
I can see clearly, how much of what you mention, has changed my life. Realizing the fact, that emotions don´t last forever, especially. Because when they are strong, it just feels, that they will last forever. Also accepting, that this is how I feel, works for me. Being okay with who I am and how I react to situations, although my mind is shouting, that other people cope much better with situations than me, helps.
I still wonder sometimes, how come, that I have to experience the same thing so many times – and I am still surprised each time, when I am feeling better. Like “wow”, the bad feelings passed again and it didn´t even take so long.
Being able to handle my emotions gives me a sensation of being independent and free. I know, that nature and exercise, sleep and body attention works for me, but it is priceless, that I can rely on my inner recources to deal with overwhelming feelings.
I love your nunjudgemental approach. Thanks for your article!
Marie Valgarðsson says
I am an extroverted HSP and I find as I get older, with less stamina as when I was younger, I really have to pace myself. Nowadays, I am finding that even a 10 to 20 minute rest helps very much. The non-HSP world is always powering though their days, and this is the area where I realized I was different from many others. I have to watch my caffeine intake and find that a rest works wonders and can replace the cup of tea I would have normally reached for when I start to lag.
I used to really thrive on being passionate about so many things, but now even my own zeal is tiring! So sometimes I have to not let myself get too carried away by my own inner excitement…it is still there of course, but I consciously am aiming for ‘peaceful excitement’ instead of ‘hyper excitement’ if that makes sense.
I live in Iceland and have been living here for the past 8 years. We are having a wave of tourism now, and I see so many people racing around the country, trying to see it all in something like a few days or a week. It’s crazy! I have thought, wow, that style of travel surely is not appealing to us HSPs. We need a much more gentle and relaxing approach to travel, don’t we? Maybe some of us could band together and form a ‘Gentle Travel Group’ or some such.
For me, when it comes to dealing with stress, especially for situations beyond my control, I find that giving things up to God in prayer is highly effective and I feel a great deal of peace afterwards.
Thanks for all your work Elaine, it has been big blessing in my life!
I am an HSP, and I agree, that crazy kind of travel is overwhelming and exhausting! I just went with my brother and his family to Disney World for a week, and I had to take a day off! I actually had 2 panic attacks and developed a migraine because of this! Thank you for your comments- I am learning more and more about this!
Terry Sisk says
Oh, a Gentle Travel Group! Wouldn’t that be wonderful! My husband was also HS and we used to have such a good time not doing typical tourist things but relaxing.
I’m a widow now and travelling with high energy, high stimulation busy-busy-busy people isn’t fun, its exhausting. Thanks for the post.
Linda McBee-Martinez says
Wow, I am reading this post about HSP travel almost 2 years after the original post. I found out I was an HSP 16 years ago and have been so thankful for the companionship of your readers and writers. Yes, a Gentle Travel Group sounds wonderful! I’ve traveled internationally twice; once to China; 20 years later to Italy and both were with the same extroverted high-energy male travel companion. Both times I returned exhausted and feeling like I hadn’t taken in anything of worth. Oh, to go with other HSPs, male or female, would be a delight. Please keep me posted if this materializes! Husband is gone and children are grown.
Natasha Goodman says
I was crying on the train on the way to work feeling so drained and alone. This is exactly what i needed today. no feeling is final. i can now go on with my day. thank you.
I really enjoyed this blog and synchronisitcally aligned with it during a period of rest and recovery.
Thank you for your honesty and compassion
This post is highly relevant to me, as I am trying to learn how to undo (or at least mitigate) a coping strategy I applied rigidly when I read about it in college. I had struggled with intense emotion and social fear my entire life and was shamed for it by my family. I had no way to deal with the sensitivity and was sure everyone was judging me negatively. When I discovered Epictetus’ ENCHIRIDION in a philosophy class, I decided the only way to mange the overwhelming sensitivity was by adapting a rigid stoic philosophy, one that replaced the heat of emotion with the coldness of logic and detachment. While it was helpful at the time and has allowed me to achieve a great deal of growth with self-applied cognitive-behavioral work, at almost 43 years of age I now feel pithed, like all my emotional responses are so thoroughly filtered through my brain before I even get a chance to feel them, so I never feel anything deeply or spontaneously anymore. I have no idea how to get back to a reasonable level of “gut” emotion…
I really feel your pain when I read your response. I too have been so misunderstood by so many people, and it has greatly affected friendships and relationships. I wish we could somehow all come together and talk!
I just found this page and relate so much to this article. I have always been sensitive and misunderstood. Now with two adult children they are telling me what others have said…don’t take everything so personal, have thicker skin, not everything revolves around you. It is very hard not to feel alone and sad…I am going to keep reading and learning new strategies and yes wish we could all connect somehow to support each other….
My husband is HSP,which he has not realised yet. I just came across one of the articles about HSP on Facebook and began researching about it. I agree with you about coming together and talking cause that will help all of us know each other and ourselves better. Which inturn will help our relationhip to improve.
As I read these blogs, I do not feel so alone. I feel like I have a common ground…thank you for sharing!
I hope this finds you well. Your comment was particularly striking to me as I have implemented this very same strategy. I had read that very same Epictetus book along with Marcus Aurelius and Diogenes, along with a whole load of existential and absurdist literature. They had excited me and gave me a sense of control, but I think the ideologies and methods of this type of philosophy seemingly compliment the nature of the HSP so well because we feel we’ve found a sound and reasonable solution to deal with our extreme emotions, entirely!!
If like me, as a result of implementing these methods, you tend to think in black and white (a reason I think we tend to misdiagnose ourselves as being on the autism spectrum), and every problem can be solved with cold hard logic without much emotional involvement, it can make you feel personally in control and safe, but also very detached, lonely and soulless. I suppose I mean that not only do you feel disconnected because of being emotionally fragile, you disconnect yourself further by solving emotional problems on a rational/ logical level… Further distancing you from other people and your own experience of the human condition.
The conclusions I’ve drawn thus far is that us HSPs are very good at being self reflective and self critical, we’ve made great efforts to find out what is ‘wrong’ with us and how we fix it! I think we are very prone to feeling broken, ashamed and like we ourselves are a secret to be hidden.
I’ve found we are very good at being active in everything that is not ourselves, further distancing us from that fragility.
I have since stopped reading and slowly making effort in meditation, just Being, listening and sitting still with myself. I read the universal declaration of human rights from time to time and tell myself I have a RIGHT to be here and that I DO belong as I am. Allowing yourself to feel the depth and breath of the feelings you have are a good way of seeing what your boundaries are, I think we have to listen to ourselves in a very honest way so we can met our needs and look after ourselves. Our sensitivity and fragility are like super powers, that if we can draw strength from them we can help ourselves and others in very deep and meaningful ways- revealing the best and beautiful things about what it is to be human and HSP.
Mediation and yoga have been life saving for me! And some works by German psychologist Erich Fromm about the art of loving, and ‘I Am That’ by Sri Nisagardatta Maharaj. They’re writings are similar to the stoics, absurdist and existentialists in that they talk of detachment, but I find them more nurturing and find great solace in feeling connected!
We weren’t completely wrong on our initial quest with Enchiridion, but I think in feeling very fragile we look for certainty and absolutism, and when we think we’ve found it we feel safe, but we also stagnate.
The two aforementioned men above offers ways that allow you to honour being fragile and develop a strength in it, as we HSPs feel porous and constant ‘attacked’ by outside stimuli. I’m curious to see if any of this rings a bell with you and if you have any thoughts.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Erich Fromm:
“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”
Best of luck!
That was beautifully worded. Figuring out & accepting my being an HSP has been of great effort & challenge. Yes, this world isn’t tailored to us. Particularly the highly developed West. Your comment was right on par with my suspicions. We are alright just as we are. Will check out your recommendations.
Blessings to you.
Thank you, Adrienne, for this post. I have explored some of these philosophers in the past, and intend to do so again. Very happy to see someone else mention them, especially _I Am That_, because few of us westerners seem to have read it.
As others have mentioned, I have a found a measure of relief using EFT, and am going to do advanced training in it next month.
Lee Howell says
I Highly Suggest a book by Dr. Henry W. Wright called, “A More Excellent Way”, which includes tons of endorsements by medical doctors, letters from people who no longer are dealing with the overwhelming, debilitating emotional issues, but more shocking: some of their diagnosed issues ALSO disappeared with this technique!! A serious read for those who may be dealing with anxiety, depression and everything else that is way to long to list…
Thank you for this article, I have been learning to accept my feelings and not be ashamed of them. That’s a big hurdle that makes a huge difference when you create awareness around it, so thank you for the reminder. I just want to share that meditation has made a huge impact on minimizing my anxiety. I have been practicing yoga for years, and that is very calming for the nervous system and makes me feel a hundred times better after if I’m feeling anxious. But, incorporating daily meditation into my life has changed everything for me. I recommend all HSPs adopt this into their lives. When I start my day with mediation, I feel less anxious throughout the day, and can handle stressful moments calmly and logically. I am also just happier, and not so hyper-sensitive. Mindfulness mediation, Transcendental meditation, Loving Kindness meditation….whatever works for you, just do it. Your life will change for the better.
Azra Khan says
I really enjoyed reading your blog
Jennifer Russell says
I recommend DANCING! Just this past weekend, I was feeling extra down and depressed. I am an introvert and had been spending too much time alone and too much time daydreaming.
I went to a dance. Freestyle dancing (dance however you feel like). Total mood changer. And it’s strange because I’ve had this experience many times, I was surprised by how effortless the transition was.
Plus, what an amazing Rilke poem! Sheesh!
I read this article today and I recognized at once that I’m HSP. I scored 23 at the Are you highly sensitive?-test. To calm down I dance every morning (I want to boogie, You can never tell by Berry etc) and practice yoga. I use EFT too, a lot. There have been a lot of pain in my life, misunderstandigs etc. Now I manage quite well because dance, yoga and EFT. Quite amazing to find out finally what’s “wrong” with me.
Thank you for your work, Dr. Aron. It has been so helpful to me.
Over the years, I’ve discovered many ways to deal with my emotions as a HSP, some of them talked about here.
I would like to suggest one that I haven’t seen mentioned, yet. It not only deals with the emotions, but helps to strengthen ones being as a HSP. I’m referring to shamanic soul retrieval.
I’ve been practicing shamanism for quite awhile, and have found soul retrieval, and other shamanic methods of healing very helpful to my sensitive journey. They have helped me greatly in accepting who I am, and my natural traits. These alone can help any HSP to become stronger, and to believe in themselves.
Do you have any experience with Amazon shamanism? I am going this month to work with ayahuasca ceremony in Peru and hope for healing. I am curious how being already a HSP will play out with the plant medicine.
As an HSP looking to go on an ayahuasca ceremony I´d love to hear about how the experience was for you!
All the best, John.
Larry Wagner says
My comment is as a 62 year old straight HSP, who most of my life has had women mainly ignore me. I have read a couple of your books, so am familiar with the 20% of men and women as HSP, thus a general 1/25 chance of an HSP-HSP hetero couple. Women who do get to like me like me a lot.
Question: might there be many more HSP gay men, than straight men, thus to be an HSP male is to be a higher chance of being a closeted gay man, than simply a nice hetero man ? Thus most women would make the presumption I am gay, despite no other obvious gay characeristics ? This would explain a lot.
Hi Larry, I don’t know if you received a private reply from Dr. Aron, but I would like to mention my own experiences as a straight 48 year old male from New Zealand.
As you would have noted in Dr. Aron’s books, HSP’s are generally looked down on in the English speaking/ western world. The many insults sent my way from both men and women over the years are mainly centred around the ‘wuss’ or ‘sissie’ theme, which includes, wimp, wanker, woman, boy, girl, poof, wuss, mama’s boy and faggot. Sissie isn’t used in New Zealand as far as I can tell.
Of course that didn’t happen all the time but it is a prevailing belief that if you’re not ‘staunch’ then you’re soft and soft means loser. Women (in general) don’t want to go out with a loser. Remember, even if the female likes you, you can still miss out if you are rejected by her friends. It takes a special kind of woman to go against her peers and/or family’s discrimination so your odds are lowered considerably. I have managed two long-term relationships, 4 years and 13 years. So it can be done. I also noticed that when a woman likes me, she really likes me. That is probably what is needed to overcome society’s discrimination. In my research I’ve even found a U.S. based website which is basically a group of females who hate ‘nice guys’. The discrimination is real and probably an evolutionary thing.
Hello Dr. Aron,
I believe that I am a HSP after looking over your website. I’ve been in psychotherapy for 14 years and have been dealing with the emotions of HSP, but I feel like now that I know the details, I will be able to do so much more work, and acceptance.
I have recently become a new mother, which has exacerbated my anxieties and I’m wondering if there are any books or links for this specifically. I know you may not address this comment, but I will continue to check the blog and reading other HSP comments. Thank you for this space.
If you had to find out you are HSP from your own research, it might be time you considered getting a new psychotherapist. One who specialises in HSP’s. Wish you well on your journey.
I am an HSP and I live with a very loud roommate. He plays his music and TV loud and refuses to shut his door. I have one other roommate and he is totally cool as far as shutting his door and staying private. I have asked my roommate to close his door and he refuses to do so because he said he was in jail and if he were to close his door, he would feel confined like he was in prison. Anyway, for me as an HSP, my brain gets overstimulated when he plays his TV and music loud and/or just makes a lot of loud noise which I deem unnecessary. He doesn’t know I’m an HSP and I doubt he would care one way or the other. Anyway, anyone have any advice on how to handle this besides the obvious solution which would be to move out. I am on disability and have three dogs and it’s probably going to be impossible for me to find a place to live by myself. I’m really confused.
Hi Timothy I recommend getting custom earplugs. I got some from an audiologist and I wear them all the time, even when walking down the street.
In my 20s and 30s I used to work in a high constant public contact job in a bank, teller, consumer representative. Now I know why I would some days come home from work and the minute I got in the door, I would literally just sit and cry. It would relieve so much from me. I was overstimulated and constantly at someones beck and call.
Now as an older adult, I abhor loudness, crowds and loud happy people, it just racks me to the core. I used to think I was beginning to be an old “fuddy duddy” but have realized I would much rather be home alone with my thoughts and comforting quiet, controlling my own environment, mainly sound.
Thanks for this information, I will bookmark this.
Loud YAPPY people. Not loud happy people. I love happy people.
LOL, I’m glad! I was worried for a minute there. NOW I agree with you. 🙂
I am also glad you like happy people! Yappers drive me insane–er 🙂
HSPs need to be very careful about the psychotherapist they choose. Not all mental health practitioners are highly sensitive. I speak from experience. The HSP must have the gumption, which may be hard, to disengage from someone who is not helping them.
Terry Sisk says
How right you are, Karen!
I agree. I would perhaps benefit from some therapy right now but past experience tells me to be careful. Or is it my innate HSP fear, (just kidding). I was in therapy 20 years ago and almost got diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. SO Wrong! Am putting out feelers. i was disappointed to see there was no one listed in Minnesota. But I do know someone who is helping my Sister-In_law and myself a( couple of times )with grief over the sudden loss of my brother. I am checking to see if she has any experience with “HSP’s”.
Bethany @ Online Therapy and Coaching says
As an HSP, the most surprising thing I have found is that I experience other people’s emotions. I had one friend whom I was ALWAYS very fearful around. I wondered if something was always on my mind at that time, or if I was fearful of her. But then, after talking to her, I saw that I was experiencing HER fear. HSP’s have a very heightened sense of empathy, but it can be very overwhelming before we learn to work with it.
I recently went to an exhibit of Pompeiian artifacts, including the plaster casts of the people when they died. As you can imagine, I had a very difficult time keeping my composure in that last room with the plaster people… you could see their faces. I struggled mightily to appear normal. Just before the plaster casts, I had been getting to know these people by their art, tools, statues… and then they all died in such confusion and fear. It was an extremely overwhelming exhibit for an HSP, I can tell you that.
I also absorb other’s emotions, and I learned the hard way that I could NOT travel anymore with a particular friend of mine, because she got stressed so then I’D get freaked out… long story.
I’ve been there. The saddest and most impacting one for me was the mother trying to shield her child from the oncoming lava. Saw it in 1997.
You should not go to Auschwitz….
Jane Elizabeth says
I found out about being an HSP about 20 years ago when Elaine Aron began making presentations here in the SF Bay area. When I saw the movie Anne Frank as a young person. I was haunted for days afterward! I imagined hearing sounds above me in the attic when I was in my room alone at night. When I traveled to Paris as a middle aged adult, the sounds of sirens brought back the horror of the gestapo arriving to capture the people who were hiding from the Nazis! I learned to avoid movies or theatre with holocaust themes. I am still learning how to take good care of myself…. and I’m 70 years young now!
Bethany @ Online Therapy and Coaching says
I definitely agree that accepting, rather than resisting, emotions, as well as understanding that we can cope, is key. Utilizing mini-breaks and rest times, taking care of physical needs, using calming strategies, and using strategies to examine the thoughts behind the emotions are also strategies that can help regulate and prevent emotional overstimulation.
My father used to tell me “feelings aren’t facts” when I would get bent out of shape as a kid. I have held that mantra close to my chest as an HSP. Sleep helps to regulate emotions. I have learned when to call it a day and just pass out. Sometimes I go to bed at 8PM. I don’t care what time it is. If I have worked a full day, earned my pay, and done a good job, I could care less if I sleep early. My wife and I have no kids and sometimes she is exhausted as well from her highly complex job. What acknowledging that I am an HSP allows me to do is have the freedom to create the life that I want. My wife has been reading these blogs with me and learning more about it and she is beginning to see that there is a whole world of people out there with the same characteristics I have. It’s nice because it allows her and I to connect more and on a deeper level. Who knows where the road will take us, but now we are armed with information that is accurate, educational, and enlightening. We are more powerful than we were before. Thanks. Dr. Elaine!
One more thing…the emotional dysregulation that is a hallmark of BPD seems to be described exactly in the HSP. By the way, I am not an HSP, and I process things on a very deep level. What measurement is used to determine that HSPs feel more deeply, or are more tuned in than others?
Merrilee Betts says
I feel sure, after taking the quiz, that HSN is at least part of my problem. I need to know if anger is also associated with HSP?
So, I guess you people can understand that it\’s not easy for an HSP to be from a very orthodox religious family, the only boy between four girls, have a judging, emotionally locked-up father and an always-worried, over-protective mother, and then lose your religious and conservative beliefs yourself…
My first survival strategy from early childhood on was to suppress my shameful emotions and adapt myself as much as possible. The older I became, the more the inner conflict started to manifest itself, which activated my second strategy: think – think – think. And judge. Every single act, thought or feeling you notice. I judged myself for judging myself, and I judged the judging of my judging. Intelligence becomes a curse at the point you find yourself in a world of extreme abstractions where you cannot imagine anybody has ever been there before, and where you feel nothing but the deep desire to feel ánything. The hardest thing is that it\’s such a lonely fight. Especially moving abroad made it a lot easier to both physically and emotionally isolate myself. Sometimes I feel like if I could just cry for a week, everything would be fine. But I will keep fighting anyway. Two days ago I broke contact with my parents. Tomorrow I am starting a Gestalt therapy. And on friday it\’s my birthday :-).
Sarah Rolph says
Hi Floris, i felt extremely indentified with you in EVERYTHING you said…the only difference is that i’m an only son, and that incremented a lot much of the things that you expressed. I realiced that i have almost every of the characterystics of the HSP about 3 days ago, here no one knos about that, I’m passing a overwhealming moment of depression and anxiety, to resume…I’m just writing to you because of the “Emphaty” that I felt I guess. So nothing…thanks for your comment.
Hello Floris. I truly identify with you. Only that I’m a woman (had 3 brothers and one sister while growing up). It was tough. Was always misunderstood. I struggled through. I avoided insensitive men all my life. Now I ended up marrying one who is so insensitive to human feeling, does not understand me and not willing to make any effort to either. By the way, I just found out I’m HSP today. Even though I’m received to know, it does not solve my problem immediately though. How do I get people around me to understand me? I am a nice person when I’m understood.
Oh, I know, I did the same thing. I’m a serious HSP, and my husband is my stark opposite, a narcissist. He is incapable of empathy. I’ve spent 25 years married to him, and it has been grievous the whole time. He has blunted me with inappropriate misuse of the bible. Narcissists are attracted to people like us, and they win us by mimicking our displays of care and emotion. Once we got married, it’s like he just switched the caring part off. Brutal doesn’t even describe it. Do some research about narcissists, and know that you aren’t alone. There are many of us HSPs who got duped into life with these narcissists. Peace to you!
First off: I thought you might like to know that your website was featured in the superb daily internet/media publication Today In Tabs (http://www.fastcompany.com/3046538/today-in-tabs/today-in-tabs-journalition-man)
Second: Upon reading some posts I immediately realized that I am a HSP and your writing was very moving and accurate. Finally a reason why I jump at loud noises and am always bumping my elbow during chores. I’ve always just thought of it as a “lack of grace” but knowing that it is connected to emotions makes so much sense. Sincere thanks!
I would dearly love to meet a HSP man
No, you really wouldn’t want to meet an HSP man. We are frequently stuck in our heads, and overthink everything.
I understand what Floris is feeling, being an HSP and a born-again Christian, myself. My thought is that her parents may have been HSPs who overreacted to what they perceived to be scriptural guidelines. I encourage Floris to remember that the shortest verse in the Bible is, “Jesus wept,” and that action took place when he saw his friends, Mary and Martha, weeping over their brother’s death. He also overturned the tables of moneychangers who were cheating their fellow Jews, and he cried when he looked down on Jerusalem. Then, he sweated blood at the thought of his upcoming crucifixion. Maybe an HSP has more of the Divine personality in him or her?
Michael Zander says
Dear Dr. Aron,
I really appreciate the way you navigate inside the mind of a highly sensitive person.I am an HSP, and I agree with your statements. I would like to add 2 more signs you should look to find out if you are a HSP
1 .Criticism Is Your Motivator
You are a natural people-pleaser. When someone criticizes you, you take that to heart and become motivated to improve. As a sensitive person, you are flexible. If someone doesn’t approve of how you are doing something, you will stop doing it that way and adapt to the other person’s “right way.” This leads us to our next sign.
2. Your Manners are Superb
Highly sensitive people have above average manners, because of their desire to get people’s approval and to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and happy. They are very conscientious and show this by making sure they are always exhibiting good manners to everyone.
I read about those 2 signs here https://medicinetoday.com/hsp-highly-sensitive-person/
Thank You fro your great work.
I’m HSP and an athiest. References to god and religious texts leave me cold so the poem at the end didn’t do much for me. That is meant to be constructive criticism 🙂
Some secular poetry could convey much the same thing and include everyone methinks.
The part in your article about being careful which distraction you use (in case the distraction itself tires you out) is the main thing I will take away from this. I love reading too and had not thought of it as taxing on my brain in that way before. Thank you.
The comments by Paola Dumet on March 11 on EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques also look very interesting and I’ve saved the links to check out later.
Caroline G.on March 21 states: “In my humbling role as a facilitator for our group, I have been noticing a trend and a pattern. The trend is that a majority of self-identified HSPs initially gravitate to the “overstimulation” aspect of the trait, followed by deep processing & sensitivity to subtlety; and, lastly, the emotionality aspect.”
This is exactly the path I have taken since finding out I was HSP in April last year. Today’s article was the first time I started to address the emotional aspect of my being. The comments from other HSP’s and therapists on your blog are a gold mine. Thank you again Dr. Aron.
I’m not alone! Phew! I was beginning to think I am the only person who has to cover their ears – when everyone around me seems unperturbed – when an alarm is going off; who smells things so acutely (dinner smells in the bedroom can cause me pbs falling asleep; I dislike most perfumes – but get so much pleasure from my own delicate one); who cries at films more often than not (even at not particularly sad bits!); who often finds long(ish) phone calls – even with loved ones I’m keen to catch up with – exhausting… It’s so nice to have found this resource, thank you 🙂
Many years ago I saw a plaque dedicated to Rilke. I was traveling in the South of Spain (the beautiful city of Ronda, near Malaga) and apparently Rilke had lived there or visited there. The poem is really meaningful.
Aside of that, I am very grateful for your book, The highly sensitive person, which I finished reading a few days ago and re-read partly after. It is such an affirmation for me: I feel so much, so much better. For years I knew I was sensitive, very sensitive (not only your self-test gives me this, but even my mother and spiritual mentors have said it. Still, the hurts are here, the complexes develop. I resonate with this post of yours on means to deal with emotional situations. I practice Christian Meditation daily and it is wonderful: I look forward to it every day -for a period in the mornings and another one later in the day: I contemplate God, speak with him, be silent in his presence. A quiet place, with dim light is the best, although I cannot always find such a situation.
I heard a great radio piece yesterday on Wisconsin Public Radio from Elizabeth Bernstein who is with the Wall Street Journal. Seems HSP’s are finally getting some overdue understanding. A lot of research is being directed this way and just today I happened on this website. YEA!
I have known I am an HSP since I read The Highly Sensitive Person many years ago. But I feared everyone would laugh at me if I ever mentioned it because I have been able to cope so well in the world (job, family, success, friends). A lot of the time it is excruciating and I have to “go in my cave.” I need enormous time alone. And I can pick up on the negative and dysfunctional parts of a person in a second. This has caused me to lose lots of friends (and much trouble with family) because I cannot be around people who use me to dump their woes. Because I am so empathic this presents a double-edged sword. Even strangers in Walmart will stop me and tell me stuff out of the blue. A big gathering of family sends me into a red alert; barking dogs put me over the edge. I have learned to take an Advil and deep breathe and carry on.
After listening to the radio piece yesterday where Bernstein highlighted the genetic predisposition to HS and assured listeners HS is not a mental illness, I sent an email to my two adult children with a link to the radio piece. I guess I just got tired of hiding the fact that HS has caused me great strife. I now know my father had HS, and my uncle (both deceased).
I wonder if there is a correlation between early death and HSP? Or alcoholism? Or suicide? I will read more articles on this. I am happy to be HS because it has given me great creative joy and many opportunities to listen to others’ stories. It helps so much to read the comments from others here. I love the idea of a HS travel group (no loud dinners, no cramming into a small room for lectures, no five hour bus rides, no rooms beside elevators!!).
Do you think HSP are more likely to have cats than dogs? I have two HSC (highly sensitive cats).
Good wishes to all of you. Junel
Alan Johnston says
I appreciate your post Michael and the link you provide – the two additional traits you mention have definitely played out in my life. What I am set to considering with the whole HSP debate and diagnosis, is the role awareness, particularly body-awareness, plays. For me, while I fit the HSP criteria, such recognitions have only been useful since I have begun to bring my awareness to what my body is truly feeling. I would suggest that it is vital for HSPs to self-nurture (really it is vital for all) and this can extend to diet, environment and simple everyday choices in the full understanding that it is not just what we understand about how sensitive we might be but what supports this – what allows it to burgeon and expand but always supported by a body that is truly in wellbeing.
granny franny says
I disagree that this trait is a problem. Because HSC is not the norm does not make us wrong. It is wrong for others to ignore their rational and critical thinking skills in favorite of mindless overstimulation and lack of respect for Mother Earth’s sounds. Their favoritism for loud noise and the overstimulation of TV, motorcycles, et al, is just basic training for Transhumanism.
Thank you for all your work, which is really intersting. I’ve found your speech on YT, where you mentioned climate change and HS reaction on it. I wonder if you could give any advice for a climate activists group (in my case each member is HS), which knows that we all are sad because of CC. Maybe there is something more than common agreement on our feelings. Is there anything what could stop sadness?
Thank you so much Dr.Aron for your highly scientific research to prove that my being HSP has nothing to do with “hocus pocus”. As a person living in a country laden with wizardry and black magic ideas, your work is such a relieve. I have always known that I am an HSP but to prove it a valuable and scientific contribution to my society is another big story. Thank you too for all people’s comments here…they are very supportive and calming. Linasa
So lovely to follow your work on HSPs, and how to cope with this situation. Am not sure if I check out as one but I do get a really high score on your self assessment checklist and it really helped me come into terms with all these feelings I keep having and kind of helped me accept with myself in spite of all the lack of understanding from my family and peers. This is of course assuming I am HSP and I have no other way of finding out other than your checklist and also the fact that your work resonates so well with me. I try to channel all my thoughts into writing off late and after I read about you I wrote a blog post to sort of celebrate this major reconciliation of mine. I would like to share the link here as my way of letting you know how your work is reaching the farthest corners( I divide my time between Middle East and India) and it touches lives in ways that are truly miraculous and simply to say Thank You.
Lara M Pazek says
Elaine’s book basically transformed my life. My Minister handed it to me after a long discussion about why I was not moving forward from a life of depression, anxiety, repeat hospitalizations, and as the daughter of an alcoholic with many “control” issues, and trauma. It was my own instinct for self-preservation that allowed me to find the inner strength to question both myself and my past and the relationships around me that has led to my recovery. By taking a good long look at both the world and myself I have managed to work through an eating disorder, build my own confidence and self-esteem and work on myself personally so that I can finally understand why I went through the past experiences that I have and that being an HSP is truly a gift it is what makes me who I am and my past experiences, although traumatic are a part of me and it is time to move on with my life.
I know that I am a very strong person, and by taking responsibility for my own recovery has led me to actively push for change in my life and to stubbornly at times refuse psychiatric “labels”, avoid medications and find a renewed joy in life.
Unfortunately here in Canada, the mental health “system” and government services and overall tone of society does not like to be challenged. Recent attempts at employment have caused me a lot of heartache because I am sensitive and limited to part-time jobs where individual talents or sensitivity or creativity are highly discouraged.
I would very much like to make sense of my journey and use the talents, sensitivities, my inquisitive mind and empathetic abilities to re-educate myself as a therapist.
Unfortunately, I am, as other people with “mental illness” are caught up in a system where we are flooded with being unable to disclose our histories in workplaces or society in general. Even my HSP tendencies are continually criticized, my doctor insists on offering medication, to learn to just relax and accept my situation as do those around me. In other words, learn to accept “uncertainty,” stop worrying about my future and just relax. But it is my fighting spirit, often viewed as being stubborn which keeps me getting out of bed everyday.
I believe all of our lives should have meaning. And I am reaching out because H.S.P.’s have something unique to offer the world.
I am not complaining, I just wish I could find a way out of a series of doors which seem to keep on closing. Affording education right now is so difficult, I am terrible at self-advocating and those around me often suggest more years of “therapy” or “C.B.T.” or to just stop “worrying” and “stop being so sensitive”. But at what point does “working on yourself” or challenging your own worldview and assumptions via therapy have to go on for?
I believe that being human means we are complex creatures and our behaviours, needs and desires and unique and deserve to be respected.
I sincerely feel the need to change my life but I am terribly sad at the options around me. In lieu of being able to step forward and re-educate and integrate myself back into a community, I have been asked to learn to “make mistakes” but not in regards to learning how to play the game of government services, or part-time employment where one is expected to keep her “head down”, never ask questions, help her co-workers, show enthusiasm or be an “individual”
I have been asked to file papers to go on welfare, I am desperate to get into a program in September to finally actualize a real life, and become a therapist because I am certain in my heart that I was destined to help individuals in this way.
I cannot afford to, my doctor insists I am “not ready” and my family and friends cannot help because except for one person no one truly understands that being sensitive and introspective and caring are talents which can help others.
I really do not want to work in retail or a grocery store and I know I have talents, I am crying as I write this because I simply wish there was someone to advocate on my behalf.
There is truly nothing wrong with being, sensitive, heartfelt and caring, and feeling things deeply. If it was not for my Minister placing Elaine’s book in my hands I would have never understood this or that by taking time to re-frame the past, and with a little curiosity and insight into why we are the way they are: well our hurt and sorrows can be overcome.
I just want the opportunity to help people to realize that and assist them on their own journey.
At thirty-five I have a chance to start over after almost a lifetime of fighting severe clinical depression and anxiety. I am no longer clinically depressed and attribute that as a gift and due to my own need to change my life and constantly question the world around me.
I guess at this point I am just wishing for some kind of help or a sign that I can use the talents and insights and special gifts from being an HSP* to transform my life into one with purpose and leave social assistance behind but I am deeply scared and do not see a way to do so.
Thank you Elaine and all of the other HSP’s out there who actually make me like I have a gift as opposed to a deficit.
I always tell people you can change your world. But as I am having trouble changing mine….well it feels like I am a bit of a hypocrite.
Lara. I miss you, and I wish I had had the sense to devote more time to get to know you.
Nancy Ash says
Thank you for enlightening the world about HSP! I am currently going through a very emotional period in my life due to quitting my job of 24 years, walking out on a mob hostile work environment. My boss was narcissistic, and took pleasure in destroying my career as he felt threatened and insecure by my HSP traits. I have been researching to help resolve my feelings of an emotional crisis due to this, and found the following website for emotional healing. Her healing process is called “Quanta Freedom Healing.”http://www.melanietoniaevans.com/services/transforming-family-of-origin-wounds-course.htm
Is this something you have knowledge of, and would you recommend for HSP?
I have come to realize that being an HSP had a role in my destructive career, and have an extreme amount of healing to accomplish and need some guidance.
Thank you so much for sharing a little of your journey with us. I, too, have recently discovered some of the reasons I have always struggled with the things you mentioned. I’m a HSP too. I’m thankful beyond words for the personal relationship I have with my Creator, who has sustained me through so many years of wondering about so much. I have appreciated reading many of the comments left about your post as well. It’s good to know we’re not alone in our struggles and there is hope for us all.
Ana Rita says
For me it works the following:
– sleep, some days more then is usually acepted as normal ( like waking after 12:00)
– periods of vacation to have some distance from every day people and problems ( the levels of anxiety come down and I can see things with new perspective )
– if i start to feel more anxious, I try to bring the feelings from my subconscious to a conscious level – rationalization of things gives me some little doses of peace that reduce the stress in that critical moments ( it’s like hear your body and tell him, it’s ok you are absorbing to much stimulus, control your respiration in order to control your heart beat, just like yoga…some times it works)
Hi, my name is Anne and I have known I was highly sensitive for about 30 years. I didn’t have a name for it, but I realized I was cognitively different from many around me. I absolutely agree with finding a quiet room and meditation to calm down, and I have to excuse myself several times a day to “gather” myself. I find I can cry at the drop of a hat these days and it annoys my children to no end. Fortunately my husband is more understanding. I often wonder if some illnesses like Fibromyalgia are directly connected or the result of being highly sensitive. I suffer from this condition and I know many many individuals that are HSP that do too. I find this study very interesting.
Hi Anne, I saw your post and immediately wondered if you’ve taken wheat and caffeine out of your diet? The reason I ask is because HSP’s nervous system is quite sensitive and, from experiments I’ve done using my own body and diet, detects harmful chemicals. The body will try to protect itself by giving you a “condition” like Fibro – to alert you there’s a problem. Because wheat and corn are GMO products, so genetically engineered using strong chemicals that our sensitive bodies don’t like and can’t handle, this may have something to do with your condition. You may find it worthwhile to join a local (or start one) HSP Discussion Group to get to know your HSP trait better, and process unresolved feelings – which can also come to the fore as medical conditions. I’m glad to hear your husband is supportive – you are blessed. 🙂
Is one of the Highly Sensitive books better for someone who was emotionally abused by their parents and is HSP? My siblings don’t realize it was emotional abuse because they are not as sensitive but I can still see the effects. I’ve been “parenting” myself slowly but I still can’t handle saddness or anger well because I was punished for it by my parents severely. Any resources would be appreciated.
hi, i think you would benefit from DBT ( dialectical behavioral therapy )….i think everyone could benefit from it…but really, it saved my life! be well
Emma, I have enormous help from a recovery group called ACA ( adult children of alcoholic and/or dysfunctional homes) google it to see if there is a meeting near you 😊
I am an HSP and a Meyers-Briggs INTJ. I am both highly sensitive and driven to change organizations and structures (if not the world). Elaine – the work you’ve done and are doing has brought me greater peace…now if I could just get my 16 year old HSP daughter to realize her presumed weaknesses are actually strengths.
This is directed to Elaine or any other HSPs who work in the counseling field or related field. I would love to work in this field, but every time I see someone cry, I cry also. I know that can’t work for the professional! What are some ways you have coped with this sort of empathy, to get past it so you can work? Thank you!
Thank you for this article and all the others. I was told at age 15 that I was a HSP. My parents had a great deal of difficulty understanding this, and still do. I am now 30, married and I believe my son is also highly sensitive. My husband is also very unaccepting of this and it is a struggle. This article was particularly helpful in the fact that I realized I have adopted a certain coping mechanism that is most unhealthy. My counselor calls me a “brilliant mimic”. In order to avoid uncomfortable feelings and rejections, I will rely on my high sensitivity, read the subtle cues, and mimic the reactions and behaviors of those I see and ignore my own feelings. And in public, I seem fine. In private, I cannot sleep for days at a time, cry myself to sleep constantly, and very rarely will leave the house. I find the world outside to simply be… Too much, too muchness. My family supports my seeing a counselor as they tell me I am, “obviously messed up” and she is truly a gift from above. Unlearning life-long habits has proven to be the most difficult undertaking, but its coming along. But I would like to warn other HSPs like me. Do not mimic others to become socially acceptable. It is an easy, easy quick fix. But you will lose yourself. And yourself is very, very much worth keeping.
Sounds a lot like me. This is precisely how we give our power away to others, and we attract people who know that they can take advantage of us because we do not know how to establish boundaries and say no. I attracted a narcissistic coworker who abused me and harassed me constantly because she felt jealous of me. Anyway now I suffer from chronic fatigue as a result.
I am definitely a HSP, which i’ve known pretty much all of my life. I am 33 now with 2 young daughters, one who is definitely HS…and a spouse who is HS. Its a pretty sensitive and intense household! I was also diagnosed as having traits of borderline personality disorder when i was younger and have suffered from depression and anxiety since i was about 12. Ive seen that some ppl have commented that being a HSP and having borderline are very similar. I believe in some ways they are….the intensity of emotions, not being able to regulate emotions, and having more severe reactions to stimuli, of any type, than what would be considered “the norm”; all of these fit the bill for both, and while it’s wonderful to be able to feel and live so “deeply”, it can also be excrushiatingly hard to even get through the day sometimes. I’m sure that being a HS only child with two extremely non-sensitive parents, thus never able to validate my feelings, had a lot to due with my borderline traits. There are, though, many traits that one with borderline would have, such as feelings of worthlessness, abandonment issuse, etc. that a HSP may not have. Either way, I dont think lables matter much. They are helpful in diagnosing and finding support in others with common ground, but when it comes to mental illness, or mental health in general anything that improves ones quality of life is a gift and can be used and passed along by all.
Though therapy and medication have helped with my depression, etc, i also have greatly benefited from DBT ( dialectical behavioral therapy ). DBT is commonly known as the one thing that can truly help someone suffering from borderline, but it is so much more! DBT changed my life in ways that “regular” therapy couldn’t. It is a toolbox, and a true gift to anyone….with or without borderline, sensitivity, etc. I highly recommend DBT to anyone, especially those who are HS, bc it focuses on regulating emotions, learning how your body gives you small signals before you even realize you are in an emotional state, learning how to “ride out” unpleasant emotions and increase positive thinking, radically accepting things that cannot be changed or that we have no power over, and improving our relationship with ourselves and others. Most DBT is done in a program like setting, where there are groups, one on one therapy, and homework, and most programs are about a year long. That year changed my life….i still go to a dbt group once a week. But there are therapists who can work on it with you, even if your therapist hasn’t mentioned it you can bring it up. you can also find help online and there are wonderful books and workbooks to start DBT on your own.
Being a HSP is intense, I can be paralyzed by something that is so beautiful that i can’t take it all in. Sometimes i feel so much i feel like i will explode. Sometimes i feel like i wish my brain would shut up or that i could just numb the intensity of my daily living. I ve also been ostracized by family members or others who don’t understand. Ifind that i love too deeply sometimes, or have bouts of anger make me feel insane. With all that said I wouldn’t ever not want to be HS. As I learn to harness my emotions i’m grateful for the deep appreciation i have for the simplest of things, the fact that i can find love and beauty in the ugliest of places, and that i’m in tune with others, even if they don’t realize it, that i can forgive more easily bc i’m able to visualize from different perspectives with ease, and that i feel connected somehow to everyone by some deep energy inside of me, no matter how isolated i can be. Simply I’m grateful for my ability truly feel and understand. i’m so glad that conversations like this are now happening so we can all spread more understanding, not just for ourselves, but to help us understand HSP in our own lives.
zainab hassan says
My dears would you start now accepting yourself as they are with all of these diffrent emotions and start looking at it from a different approach that it is really not a bad think, I brought you this article about it can make change your view. read it and let me know what do you think
I’m 48 years old and have been struggling with anger and depression issues for a long time. I grew up in a culture where conformity was the norm and celebrated. Imagine…I was born left handed and my sitters and my teachers were told by my mom to ”switched” me over. As she put it, it is annoying to be sitting next to a lefty at a round chinese dinner table. Anyway, I was grouchy and ill-behaved when dinner was late, couldn’t care less if I ate it right handed or left handed. I hated pretty, lacey girl dresses – they prickled me endlessly. I would whine, scratch and break out in rashes. That was very annoying to my mom who had looked forward to having a little girl. I hated crowds and would never go to any festivals or parades – how strange and unsociable! I took the bus an hour and a half each way to go sit on the beach by myself – that was weird! I must be lying and meeting a boy. ”Why are you so sensitive?’, ”Why is your skin so thin?” ”Why can’t you control yourself? Stop crying, you look horrible.” By the time I was a teen, I thought I belonged in a mental asylum. I felt crazy!
I grew up learning to stuff my emotions down or ignoring them. Why do I have so much to feel, think and say about nothing? I tried to be ”normal”. But I couldn’t be normal no matter how hard I tried. I married a man with Asberger. He functioned at an emotional level of about 1 and I at a 10, that was what the therapist said. I felt ”broken” but never knew exactly what was wrong and didn’t know how to fix it. All the therapists I saw had no great insights. I learned to use anger as a shield to ”protect myself”. Yet loathed myself for this and denied I had an anger issue for all these years. I finally sought help from an anger management group following an aggressive incident that shattered my self-image. I started voraciously reading everything I could on anger, frustration, irritation, etc. and how to deal with them and when I chanced upon Dr. Aron’s website on HSP and took the self-test, scoring 25/27, I spent that morning crying. That was 2 weeks ago. It was so liberating! I felt like a weight has been lifted off me. It is wonderful to know that there are other people just like me. I feel like it’s OK to be myself because I’m not ”broken” anymore. I am just highly sensitive! Wow! Who knew?
Now when I’m overwhelmed, I know to leave and take a break without hating myself and trying to ”teach” myself to be a more ”sociable” by making myself stay in that painful environment. My self talk has changed. The voice in my head (which sounded like my mother’s or my teacher’s or my friends’ who don’t understand) that was telling me unkind things and trying to change my behaviour is no longer.
I just want to share my story and say thank you for sharing your stories, Dr. Aron and everyone in this blog. You have started me on a path filled with hope, love and joy. Thank you.
Rather be hiking says
I am a 52 year old HSP woman who recently has been asked to participate in “Emotional Intelligence” training. I suspect it is because of my “over-the-top” reactions to people engaged in a project that directly impacted my success (or to better put it – resulted in my failure). Discussions with top management left me feeling unsupported, misunderstood and sometimes crazy. I was eventually removed from the project, but my work, of course, continues to be used. It left me despondent, depressed and feeling like there is no way to succeed in this organization. So when asked to participate in the “Emotional Intelligence” training, I was both insulted and suspicious.
However, it has led me to dig for answers. The book we are using seems to have a common theme – control your emotions – or at least, control your reaction to them. In one session, I explained that I disengage to control reactions. Either I’m passionate about something or I’m disengaged. Nothing in between. If I’m overwhelmed, I spend time away – alone. The older I get, the worse this becomes. If I spend more than 2 nights out with friends after work, I get physically exhausted and have to spend a day in my room resting – alone. I avoid vacations with the family. I avoid public performances (concerts, games, etc.). Shopping stresses me out.
Yes, I am on anti-anxiety and depression meds. It helps get me out of bed in the morning. A part of me wants to tell everyone that there is nothing wrong with me and I don’t need to change in order for them to accept me and function in their world. Another part of me wants to succeed so I must adapt. Meditation doesn’t work for me. Rest does, but it’s absolutely exhausting to control your emotions all day long. I thank you for the article and will continue my search for effective ways to manage at work.
I could not agree more about the need for rest, though I still find it hard to accept. I find it difficult that between my job, doing the other things out in the world to just live, socializing a bit, and then resting after doing those, there’s very little time for so many activities and interactions I would like to do. I find myself longing for retirement when I don’t have a job that takes up my limited energy, but until then, what?
Another point about rest — I have taken a prescription medication (Zolpidem) to help my sleep, for many years. It works well but I don’t like the fact that I “need” to take it. However, as this post mentions, my mood and ability to cope with life, plummets when I get very low on sleep. Even with good sleep practices, plenty of exercise and fresh air, meditation, etc., I am not able to sleep well without the medication.
I am very confused over what I am i truly am. I am sensitive to the spiritual world and have been my whole life. I also am creative but I question if I truly am creative a lot of times. I also do not feel other emotions like a lot of hsp or empaths do….. i wish I knew who or what I was.
Tanner Strunk says
Ha my anti-spam word was “depth.” I don’t know if the words were chosen on purpose for the themes we see in HSP discussion (or at least what I’ve seen from Dr. Aron’s work so far), but I’m quite amused.
On getting out of emotional ruts:
I’m not sure if anyone has said it, but stand-up comedy is helpful for me when I’m feeling down sometimes. I especially like comedians like Christopher Titus who have really struggled and take a spotlight to their struggles with comedy. (I realize “funny movies” were mentioned, but that’s not quite the same.) I sometimes just make a Pandora station with some comedians or shows I’ve enjoyed over the years (Dressed to Kill has some subtlety and wit that perhaps HSPs will enjoy more than the average bear) and let myself laugh for a while.
Also, one friend has recommended to me to “get out of my own head” when I’m feeling down. At the time her advice seemed impractical, like I was stuck with my nearly endless cycle of painful thoughts, but over time I have come to appreciate that recommendation. It certainly helps me get some perspective on my life and to connect with and realize the value of my friends.
I am a 22 year old HSP male.
Carol Cyr says
I too love stand-up comedy, especially as a way to help get myself out of a bad mood. I actually saw Titus many years ago, performing in Sunnyvale, CA and he was great. I love almost all stand-up comedians but especially people like Louis C.K., Steven Wright, George Carlin (so sad that we lost him), Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Roseanne Barr in her day, Steve Martin in his early career (I bought his records when I was in junior high), Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook and Sarah Silverman. I saw Jerry Seinfeld a few months ago (MAN is it expensive to go to live shows nowadays!) and had a great time.
For me, having someone make light of everyday human problems really helps me remember that we’re not in this alone. We all have issues with life and knowing this gives me hope. A lot of comedy is also subversive, pointing out the aspects of society that don’t make sense, and this comforts me also – I’m not the only one who notices how stupid society can be! I also like that comedy has been around for a long time and I can listen to a routine by, say, Bob Newhart in the 60’s and it still makes me laugh.
I also like funny movies, usually silly but subversive stuff like Monty Python. When you said “Dressed to Kill,” were you referring to the Eddie Izzard performance? I usually like British comedy so I’m going to check it out. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes laughter can brighten your whole day.
Thank you so much for your efforts to research about HSP’s. I am 24 and have discovered this is me, having people not always understand where I am coming from, it feels amazing to have people admitting to feeling the same. I often feel ashamed of my sensitivity and I need words of encouragement like this. Thank you
After completing the test to find out if I was a hsp and basically having it confirmed I must say it does answer a few questions. I’m not sure I know what to do about this information but it’s nice to see so many people come together and share their stories.
For the time being I’ll be staying at home, meditating, drinking tea, not coffee and leaving my phone OFF; the thing startles me so much nowadays when it goes off. Even my dreams freak me out with their influx of information on diet and whatever else.
I’m approaching 50 now and can’t help but think I might have been able to detect some sort of personality type for myself had I not been involved in a very traumatic situation as an eleven year old which has taken forever to navigate, but I’ve ticked all but about two of the boxes on that questionnaire so I don’t I’m confusing anything. I wondered whether I was living with ocd symptoms but that might be the hsp liking things to be ‘just so’, which, I understand is not quite how it is with ocd. I found this site from an article on my online newspaper. Thank you, it has been a very worthwhile read.
Kelly Brady says
I found your site after looking up sensitive personality types as per my psychologists advice… I am so grateful I read this blog post. I am a HSP and introvert and I struggle with emotional regulation. I plan to look up more strategies, but I wanted to thank you for your advice about looking at the bigger picture when someone insults you or when you’re experiencing negative emotions. My adjustment disorder period has sparked a new light in me and lifted me out of a depressed state. I am super intrigued about your work on emotional schemas and I am definitely purchasing “The Undervalued Self.” Thank you !!
Vanessa Ray says
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I’ve recently thought reasearch and the book The Highly Person. Found out that this is why I’ve seemed different for as far back as I can remember. I just never was aware Of this before now. I’ve moved from 2 different apartments in the last 6 months. Even in the hotel I’m staying at now I can feel vibration from the Ac/ heaters and it’s very annoying. I have NOT found any way to manage it other than go outside but I can feel it there to and since at this time I don’t have a car I’m pretty much stuck and not close enough to walk any where. ANY suggestions ???? I’d be very appreciated. It’s ruining my life and it’s off season here and not a lot to rent. I want a house so much but I can’t afford much I’m learning through a book I put on PC how to manage it except I’ve yet to read about the vibration!!! I also have sesitive skin no fragrances no Nickel cadmium in jewelry and am sensitive to meds I’ve had bad side effects before. Any links help suggestion etc are very appricated.
Thanks so much for all of the help. Learning that I was an HSP several years ago was truly one of the best things that has ever happened for me.
I want to suggest, however, that you be more careful with certain recommendations, namely the Transcendental Meditation. I was feeling the need for support and encouragement today. After reading this article, I felt I needed to research and find out about Transcendental Meditation because you brought it up. As it turns out, it is an expensive, secretive and possibly controversial type of meditation. It only made me more stressed and confused to see what is being said about it. (the courses could very well be a scam) An HSP doesn’t need more stress, that’s for sure. I know you’re just trying to help and offering as many ideas as possible, but I still had to tell you.
Thanks again for all that you’ve done for HSP’s.
JG Alegria says
Has anyone suggested Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)? It is also a mindfulness technique combing acceptance (and validation of your emotions) and skills training to help you choose to respond to your emotions from your Wise Mind.
You can do an online DBT course for clients called ‘ME’ MANAGING EMOTIONS – 10 SESSION PROGRAM for around $100 though the Expressive Therapy clinic. It also includes some art therapy exercises as optional.
The course is endorsed by the Australian Psychology Association (APA), Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PaCFA), Australian Counselling Association (ACA), and Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA)
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Pamela Hand says
I am 56 years old. I have realized myself as an hsp for about two years. Some coping mechanisms are seeking out quiet environments. If doing errands by car, I eat in the car between shopping to avoid some of the over-stimulation. I have purchased clear ear plugs for shopping in loud, crowded stores. They help a lot! I do try to avoid crowded areas and pick times of day that have less people shopping. I am beginning to write at a desk in our bedroom. Rest, prayer, reading, nature walks, flexibility training (not yoga) by Briandorfman.com is also very good. A new hobby is sewing. Planning to wear ear plugs to disengage from a very busy household that includes college students living at home. Future planning may possibly include working from home in sewing/etsy/nerdy creator business, writing and/or copy-writing. I also want to improve in frugal and healthy living. Being very careful to identify toxic people to distance myself. Thankfully, I don’t live with any. I am learning to say: O.P.E. – (other people’s expectations) of me can be quickly DISMISSED without any guilt at all. If I am in any group in the future, I am going to pretend I am less able, gifted and intelligent than I really am. That way, I won’t get loaded up with too much responsibility which has happened in the past. I will toss them a small dog bone, intellectually speaking, explain it and be quiet or leave the room asap. I will advocate for myself and complain (sometimes) to get others to help. The new phrase I am telling myself: “perfection is not obtainable or even desirable. in most situations in life”.
Hi, I’m an HSP from Japan.
I’m glad to have a opportunity to share my writing here.It’s been about 1 year since I found that I am one of HSPs. Until then I had been thinking myself of something bad with me or ADHD.When I reached to the idea of HSP, I got relieved and I felt like that I finally found my trait was explained well as just natural trait.Or rather this sensitivity could be advantage,I began thinking that.
I’m still struggling with my emotional regulation.It’s not easier to act than to think.But I won’t think I’m bad.I can think that I am just overstimulated and hard to regulate my intense emotions.It’s the great difference for me to think about my emotions.
I may have been a bit lack of experience to learn how to regulate it in my whole life.
I am trying to learn it now.
When I face the overwhelming situation,
I try to take time or place from it and if it’s possible , I try to meditate and accept my emotions and think how to act next.
It’s not always easy to do though.
Thanks to this researches,I got to focus on living my own life and thinking my strength and how to make my best out of what I want to do and am good at. It was really big transition for me.
I’m enjoying to appreciate ordinary things in my life and began expressing my rich emotions towards a poetry or painting or playing the piano or singing a song or cooking or communicating with people from different countries who may be also HSP, and so on.
Since I noticed that I am HSP, I began enjoying more confidently every activity.
My hope is that I meet a lot of HSPs in the world and share many things and cheer up each other to live lively.
sophie brutt says
URGENT AND POWERFUL LOVE SPELL CASTER AND LOTTERY WINNING DR OJOKA
Do you have a list of psychiatrists in central NC who work with those of us who are HSP? I think I need a physician rather than psychotherapist. I am 72 yrs old and know that I help with coping skills and/or meds. I am particularly sensitive to noise (human made that is constant) and where I live, I cannot get away from it.
Also, where might I meet up with others who are HSP? I think that would be very helpful for me to hear how others cope with their sensory processing sensitivities.