HSP’s deal with struggles that less sensitive people don’t experience. This article explains these struggles, as well as ways to deal with them.
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Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
You Are Not Alone
I bet you all have had moments, where you were the only one who seemed to recognize something annoying. You feel incredibly irritated by this sensation, but can’t seem to understand why no one else in the room is bothered by it. Eventually, you start wondering whether there is something wrong with you. You might even consider yourself weird and feel negative about yourself. Let me tell you one thing:
You. are. perfectly. fine!
I have experienced those moments rather often, where I thought that I was being too critical or sensitive about certain circumstances. However, I recognized a change in my life, when I met more highly sensitive people in reality. Put more HSP’s in one room, and you surely won’t be the only one to be bothered by that annoying noise or that bright, painful light. You are not alone! In fact, you are one in five, as 15-20% of the world population are highly sensitive.
Many of these HSP’s experience certain struggles in life due to their high sensitivity, me included. In this article, I will discuss some of the struggles that I face rather often. Also, I will offer some solutions that you can try out in order to overcome these situations. These solutions have helped me in the past, and I hope that they might help you as well!
Overstimulation Of Senses
One of my biggest struggles as a highly sensitive person, is dealing with my senses. Whereas it can be a beautiful gift to deeply register and process all sensory input around you, it can be a great burden if your senses are overstimulated. Think about that time your co-worker kept making that noise with their keys over and over again, while you had a tight deadline. Or that time when you went out to a busy night club and suddenly the light effect changed from just fine to a fast-flashing nightmare. Or that moment the water tap dripped in the kitchen and your partner could not be less bothered by it.
It can be frustrating to experience this, and obviously, some situations can’t be controlled. For example, people should not be controlled (unless they are screaming or being inappropriate of course). You shouldn’t ask all of your co-workers to adapt their normal behavior, simply because you experience something differently. What you can do though, is to buy a noise-cancelling headphone that you put on, as soon as you start hearing those distracting noises. This helped me a lot to survive busy work days at the office.
Certain places and situations, however, can be avoided. When you know that this specific nightclub tends to make you feel bad, why would you continue going there? Because your friends want to go? Let them know that you get physically ill from being at that place. If they are good friends, they will go to a different bar with you and go to that night club another time, when you are not around. And that dripping water tap? Get someone to fix it. Try to make your home as neutral as possible when it comes to sensory input. Buy lamps that give a comfortable light, isolate your home properly so that sounds don’t get in as easily, and buy fabrics that are comfortable on your skin.
Feeling Other People’s Vibe
According to Dr. Elaine Aron, other people’s moods can have great influence on highly sensitive persons. Due to HSP’s noticing subtleties in other people’s (non-verbal) communication, it is rather easy for them to recognize whether someone is feeling for example sad, happy, or angry. Laura Trittin explains the phenomenon of absorbing other people’s emotions in this blog. According to this article, rather than just sensing what somebody is experiencing, many HSP’s start to actually feel the other person’s emotion.
As a result, it can be draining for HSP’s to be in a room with a negative vibe. At the end of the day, you walk home drained, wondering why you feel so bad. It is likely, that you have absorbed the emotions of the persons you have been in contact with throughout your day.
Sometimes, I wake up and feel incredibly happy and positive, but as the day progresses I suddenly might start to feel sad or annoyed, without knowing why this is the case. When I look back on my day before going to bed and analyze what happened, I often realize that the emotions I was feeling at a certain point, weren’t mine. They were somebody else’s. This is, in my opinion, one of the worst struggles for many HSP’s and empaths.
It can be very frustrating to walk around being an emotional sponge, absorbing everyone’s emotions. Therefore, it is important to protect your energetic space (aura) and cleanse it every now and then. I myself am a rather spiritual person, so I use guided meditations and aura cleansing to clear my energetic field. This meditation has helped me tremendously in cleaning my aura. I understand, however, that some of you might find this weird or non-sense.
For those of you who feel that way, I would recommend to just evaluate your day. Write this down on paper:
- How did you feel when you started your day?
- When did you notice a mood-shift?
- What happened at the time you noticed this change in your emotions? Who were you spending time with? What was happening? What mood did that person seem to be in that day?
Most likely, you will recognize that somebody else was interacting with you or close to you when you noticed this change of energy. When you have found the cause for your energetic discomfort, try to think about ‘returning’ the emotional burden you feel to the person owning it. It is not your job to carry it for them.
One of the most common struggles, not only for HSP’s, but also for less sensitive people, is stress. When there is a lot going on at once, one might experience stress. This is a big challenge for somebody who is highly sensitive. For example within work, stress can be killing for HSP’s. Whilst being known for performing extraordinarily well in a peaceful and calm environment, a stressful environment can influence a HSP’s productivity, energy level and happiness.
I have had those situations at work, where it felt like everything was happening at once and my to-do list was getting longer instead of shorter. Within few weeks, I started feeling burned-out and less productive, even though I felt like I was doing more. The key here is, that HSP’s strongly dislike to make mistakes and they seek meaning in what they do. However, when they are rushed to do more tasks in a short amount of time, these needs often are not met. By rushing through many different projects and tasks, instead of taking the time for a few of them, I felt like I was not being at the top of my game. This resulted in me feeling incredibly unhappy, stressed and out of energy.
Not only in relation to work, but also with regard to relationships, friendships, living situations and much more, you can experience stress. Below, I stated a solution for dealing with this stress.
It might sound cliche, but you do only have one life. It would be a shame, to waste your life on stress. Sometimes, it is unavoidable or temporary, but if you recognize that stress is a steady component of your job, in one of your relationships or in a different situation in life, you should try to eliminate the source of stress.
I know that it is easier said than done, but sometimes you have no other choice. Your inner peace is important, and if this stress that you are experiencing is limiting you from being at peace, try to leave it behind.
Think about your ideal life and answer these questions:
- What makes you feel at peace?
- What is limiting you from achieving inner peace?
- How can you remove these barriers, in order to feel peaceful?
By answering these 3 questions, you have a clear goal, you see the obstacles that are in the way to achieve this goal, and you are aware of the steps that need to be taken to remove these barriers. I know: It sounds hard, it is hard, but in the end, you will feel more peaceful.
Every HSP has probably been there. Full of enthusiasm, you scheduled a meeting with a friend, but when the day arrives you feel exhausted. The unexpected stimulating situations of the day (or week) have overwhelmed you and your body is screaming for a recharge! Now you feel bad, because you don’t want to disappoint your friend by cancelling your plans. However, your body can’t take no more and it is in desperate need of some me-time. Oh no! What to do?
Tricky situation. I have had this experience quite often, and I can tell you one thing; the times I neglected my body signals to go to that appointment anyways, I needed 2-3 days to recharge. Probably, if I would have recharged when my body initially was in need of it, I might only have needed an evening. Conclusion; your health goes above your feeling of guilt due to cancelling.
Try to explain to your friend(s) that you are highly sensitive and therefore sometimes unexpectedly might cancel. Explain to them what a highly sensitive person is and what it involves. When your friends are aware of your trait, they will understand it much better when you cancel, than if you just quit your plans without any explanation.
Overwhelmed By All These Struggles? Here’s what you can do!
The struggles above are quite common amongst HSP’s. Experiencing one or more of these challenges at once, can be quite overwhelming. At one point, you might feel your heart pounding due to the stress, feelings, thoughts and exhaustion that you are experiencing. At that point, you most likely have neglected your body for too long. That’s so sad, and you truly deserve better!
You are worthy of feeling at peace and healthy, and I hope that you become more aware of this with this post. If you at this moment happen to be overwhelmed by everything (been there, done that), consider to start using these tools. I believe that they can help you to achieve a happier and more calm life as a HSP. If you feel the need to calm down right now, consider trying this meditation.
And if you’d like to read more about how to thrive as a highly sensitive person, you may want to read the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Eseential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World’.
What are your most common struggles as a HSP?