Comments on
5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive

By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

Douglas Eby.jpg

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Douglas Eby,
M.A./Psychology, who is a writer and researcher on the psychology of creative
expression, high ability and personal growth. He is creator of the Talent
Development Resources series of sites (including HighlySensitive.org)
at http://talentdevelop.com. I know many of you are “highly sensitive” and enjoy articles on that topic, so I am excited to pique his highly-sensitive brain today!

83 Comments to
5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive

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  1. Interesting. This characteristics describe me to a T. Except that I do consider myself extroverted, which is a huge plus considering that I am studying to be a psychologist. In that way, I have the best of both worlds. I credit my highly extroverted parents with making me extroverted as well. However, I do have to have some time by myself everyday.

    Also, I would add under the “Flaws” section that people who have “Highly Reactive or Sensitive” Temperament are significantly more likely to develop anxiety disorders. I think the stats are something like 50% of us develop anxiety disorders. (myself included).

  2. I am also and extrovert. I just came back from the American Counseling Association Convention, where I believe I spoke to nearly everyone! LOL, LOL

    I just published my book: Sanctuary of the Soul, where I poured out my heart and soul….I don’t seem to have any disorders. I am however, driven to make a difference in the world, and get the message out there regarding verbal and physical abuse; i’ve written a 25-page paper entitled: Society’s Hidden Pandemic: Verbal Abuse: Precursor to Physical Violence and a Form of Biochemical Assault.

    My endorsements amaze me: Elie Weisel, Dr. Larry Dossey, Clint van Zandt, Alice Miller, Patricia Evans, Nikki Giovanni, Wayne Dyer…..etc…..Feel free to e-mail me: wacalice@aol.com

    • Wow! Allison. That sounds great! I definitely agree. We had an intervention party for a formerly-suicidal new friend the other week, and I noticed how abusive her old friends are, and her to them. It’s just that constant nattering and teasing and cutting each other down. I would n’t be able to stand it. Take care, Rachel.

  3. Rather than “curses” or “flaws” I prefer to think of some aspects of high sensitivity as challenges – including a greater vulnerability to anxiety and depression. But a number of artists and writers think even these “disorders” can have positive value for personal growth and creativity.

    • I have grown up with this trait and I do view it as a blessing and a curse. I tend to take on other peoples emotions and how they feel which is incredibly over-whelming. But a old of good comes from it. I’m constantly aware of people’s feelings and although they can’t “cater” to my feeling I can at least make them feel good about themselves which is great! I suffer from anxiety because my brain is always thinking about what if I hurt someone or do something horrible? I love being me, but being sensitive can be hard.
      Thank you

      • Chloe I can relate to that. I’m trying to remember that how people feel are theirs, and not mine. That I can observe and be aware of their feelings without having to do anything about it. Actually, if I try to change their feelings, it can be manipulative and not helpful. Everyoen’s entitled to feel how they feel. So I try to be aware but not feel responsible. That’s the key for me. I know I’m not really responsible, I’m just AWARE of their feelings. So I have to be patient to just sit with that awareness and be ok with it. Peace, Rachel.

      • We’re on the same boat!I know just how hard it can be especially at times like adolescence. I just wish others were a bit more kinder/nicer/more caring.However it really touches me when someone reaches back out to you- it really surprises me when I see the goodness in this world after so much trauma and that keeps me going;)Your comment agrees exactly with me!

    • yes, interesting. I agree.

    • I completely agree with you! They’re not disorders or curses-maybe not even challenges, but just another side of the story.We don’t overcome them, instead we harness them!

  4. I enjoyed reading this very much, as passed it along to several people to whom I have tried to explain this to. I’m very extroverted, but I also cannot tolerate too much stimulation without feeling completely overwhelmed.

    On many levels, I am grateful for the vast spectrum of emotions that come with being what I affectionately call hyper-sensitive. I find it helps me have a greater understanding of personalities and experiences – it’s a very intense (and sometimes intimate) empathy. And with that comes a talent to relay those experiences to others through stories. On the other hand, I have had to work very hard to overcome the intensity on the other end of the spectrum – I often don’t understand why others do not experience or understand the same sensitivity. Learning to understand that it’s simply a different experience for others – like enjoying apples over oranges – was an enormous challenge. I have learned to accept – and even to appreciate that now and life is far more enjoyable!

  5. “For example, being at a professional development conference, it may not be the most helpful thing to leave a long presentation or workshop in order to recuperate from the emotional intensity of the crowd.” Was this sentence a mistake? This is just when you need a break? I just returned from a 2-day conference and I was and am completely burnt out. I think you do need to let yourself be an exception and take a break for you health.

  6. I agree with Douglas Eby; I also think of the ‘curses’ as challenges. I’m reading a book called “Finding Your Bipolar Muse” right now, and it deals with this subject matter. I write on it also, because I live it. I’m diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and am determined to find a way to live completely without psychoactive drugs. It’s just difficult when you live with a highly medicated family.

    Also, Douglas (if you see this), I clicked through to your site, and I think that it’s fantastic! I’ll most likely post a number of your articles to my blog!

  7. Stunner of a post. And good follow-up comments.

    I’m a fairly typical oversensitive creative, and all the bells rang true with all of the points. Except that I’m both exceptionally introverted AND exceptionally introverted too.

    My sensitivity helps me tremendously in my professional life. I’m a visual facilitator. Which means that I listen to the things people say in conferences, seminars, workshops, and I ‘translate’ the concepts into pictures. Live. While they’re talking.

    Because I’m able to use my senses well, I get information in subtle ways. I also process info differently to non-sensitives. I have a longer and better access to the stuff that enters my brain.

    The intro/extroversion simultaneity gets a little tedious. It would kinda be neat just neon ONE.

  8. Stunner of a post. And good follow-up comments.

    I’m a fairly typical oversensitive creative, and all the bells rang true with all of the points. Except that I’m both exceptionally introverted AND exceptionally introverted too.

    My sensitivity helps me tremendously in my professional life. I’m a visual facilitator. Which means that I listen to the things people say in conferences, seminars, workshops, and I ‘translate’ the concepts into pictures. Live. While they’re talking.

    Because I’m able to use my senses well, I get information in subtle ways. I also process info differently to non-sensitives. I have a longer and better access to the stuff that enters my brain.

    The intro/extroversion simultaneity gets a little tedious. It would kinda be neat just be ONE.

  9. Fantastic post. I love the allowance given to sensitive people that they need time alone and they need space. I need that, and I hate it when I can’t have the solitude and quiet I crave to enjoy being alive. I am NOT a misogynist but I like to have company when the mood hits, and I need solitude to stay calm and relaxed. It is hard to get what sensitve people need in our rush and bustle society.

    • I think you mean “misanthropist” as opposed to misogynist. A misanthrope hates people, while a misogynist hates women.

  10. I like the article having seen myself in it…I sometimes feel crazy when I forget that I get ovrwhelmed by others emotions. Learning to cope and protect myself has been an ongoing process. I too am shy and an extrovert. I,ll chat to anyone while out and about but won,t get up and speak to an audience.I love my alone time and need it to recuperate, but can,t survive well without social interaction. If I,m alone too long I get over analytical/anxious and have to get back out and about. It,s like I don,t know what I want or need and just have to go with the flow or go crazy

    • I’ve always thought of my super-sensitivity as a curse.That there were positives to this trait never even occurred to me.
      Need an inordinate amount of time to be by myself to reboot. I think it also contributes a great deal toward my anxiety because my reactions in my interactions with people can be very emotionally draining. When my social interactions are over I’m always over analyzing.

      Love and need to be with people but not for long periods at one time. It’s a balance act for me that I think the majority of people don’t have to contend with.

  11. wow! so nice. Have gone through the same and when i read your article it really touched me. Keep up the good work

  12. I am also considered an extrovert but I feel that my gift to the world is my understanding and non-judgment. But even as this is an attribute, it often leaves me feeling overwhelmed and I must “steal away” to refresh and re-focus my energy. Within an organization I’m the person you want as motivational because I know how to inspire people and make them feel good. At the same time I need my alone time. I am also married to a highly sensitive person and we really understand each other but sometimes it gets complicated.

    • “I feel that my gift to the world is my understanding and non-judgment.”

      What a wonderful way to look at being an HSP! I hadn’t thought of that. My mother said once that I would be a good mediator (if I could handle the frustration/anger vibes!) because I can see where both sides are coming from.

      It was a wonderful day when I realized I am NOT the only person who is like this! I’m struggling right now to learn how to shield myself from others emotions (as much as possible), and it seems like an almost impossible task because half the time I don’t KNOW I’m picking up other people’s stuff! A few people have told me what they “do” to shield themselves, but those don’t seem to work for me. I guess I’ll have to keep looking!

  13. I remember when I was a child my mother constantly telling me ‘don’t be so sensitive’. As an adult, I have a very rich experience of the world, I prefer quieter environments in which I can take in each single thing deeply and fully. I think it’s too easy to get caught up in trying to be like everyone else who seem to be social, experiential and career thrill seekers. I, myself, have found outlets for this high sensitivity through writing, painting and playing piano. Fantastic article, and so true as there are usually pros and cons to all sorts of personality traits. I mean if they weren’t useful then why would they have evolved in the first place? ;)

  14. Hello all! I’m BLOWN AWAY with this article! I’m going to have to let all this soak in as I’ve been going around for YEARS wondering why I’m so overly-sensitive (and/or a fair amount of the rest of the population is more than just a bit obtuse)! Talk about reading an article that “introduces you to YOURSELF!” (I’m also just a BIT amused that mostly the folks-extroverted in the group posted comments first!) I’m definitely going to “keep” this one to send to my not-so understanding counterparts, and just perhaps I won’t be smacking myself around so much wondering why I’m not the “life of the party”! THANKS AGAIN for all you do!

  15. Thank you so much! I see myself in almost everything in this article. Last years I have started to feel more and more that it isn´t a curse to be this sensitive, it has been quite a journey to get here but possible. This article has given me more understanding,motivation and courage to continue being who I am. Thank you.

  16. I really liked this post. It clearly shows that there are both positives and negatives to being highly sensitive. But I think the key is awareness. If you know what you need to feel better, and what makes you feel worse, it makes navigating the turbulent waters of life a little easier. I’m an HSP who’s challenged with the ups and downs every day. Check out my blog at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sense-and-sensitivity

  17. I was deemed as bipolar since a hospitalization in 1988. I was 34 and went on a drinking spree..which was a whole lot more than drinking for I was missing for 10 days and not drinking constantly. My only child, a son was only 10 at the time and I remembering blocking out my real world on purpose because if I thought of he or my husband I would kill myself. So I went on day after day. In that summer of 88 we had a really bad heat/humidity spell. I wasn’t eating much..hardly anything but a little bit of a sub or something each day. I was hitting bottom. I was in a men’s rooming house which was over the bar. I didn’t have much make up with me..Just a eyeliner and lipstick. I was with a man that came into the Irish pub I worked at. (I had quit drinking for over 2 yrs. and fell of the wagon about this time. I gave him a ride home to this rooming house. I was wild and out of control. Fortunately I get overly happy and I don’t get hostile. My senses are very astute even though I am drinking I am on a high setting.
    To make a long story short. In 88 when I hit bottom I started to learn a lot about myself that I could never really put together before. I had, had 2 severely traumas by the age of 5..Both were issues of abandonment. I was in the hospital for 6 wks. All through these years it has been difficult to medicate me. I went to a well know psychiatrist in this area that was well known for successfully treating people who didn’t respond well to any of the common bipolar cocktails. Well. I didn’t get manic when I saw him for 10 years. I stayed depressed. I really think 9-11-01 caused my depression to worsen. This is much too long..during my 4th hospitalization during 2011 the doctor was trying all different mood stablizers…the last one being lithium which the doctor back in 1988 with no success. It made me feel horribly anxious and like I could not judge space or have a normal perspective on things. Even just visual things. After 4th hospitalization they send me home on Prozac and Lithium and I thought I would lose my mind. I was back at the hospital within 22 hours. I felt like I had to kill myself to stop the pain. I could not bear the utter anguish and torturous fractured thoughts, feelings of unreality,etc.
    This time I explained to the doctor that I didn’t think I had many manic episodes now since I had quit the drinking. It seemed to me that I would pull these crazies when I drank. A pattern that started at about 17 when I began to drink. Drinking age became 18 withing 2 mos. of my birthday so I thought I was all set to handle social situations now. I was so very shy when I was even or depressed or whatever I was. I really think I was depressed on in off since I was a small child. To get to the point..they had tried me on tryleptal..the doc I had had for 10 years was starting to try the anti’psychotics such as Abilify..made me worse plus tics and involutary muscle movement. After trying a couple of those cocktails with anti psychotics and after about 10 years getting now where I left that doctor. ( I think he was glad too for he must’ve been frustrated) So at the hospital I explained to them how for all these years that it suddenly hit me that the mood stablizers were what was making me depressed. They put me on tylepptal and it seemed the brand name worked but once out of hospital and my insurance only covering the genetic something happened for I got edema in my legs moderately but painful. They also had me on geodon. The first Geodon knocked me out and after a class at hospital I went in my room and fell directly asleep and my pals that I had made there shook me and yelled and couldn’t wake me. They got the nurse. I don’t know how she woke me. I took the 2nd dose..a lower dose, 20 mg. and with the tryleptal I almost immediately felt happy. I thought this must be the answer..Well that didn’t last long. As I said I ended up with tryleptal, geodon and lithium.
    I couldn’t handle things at home. Everything was a mess..my husband had kept the laundry going but it was in piles everywhere..Iforgot to mention that I had let my niece 22, and her boyfriend 29 and his two young daughters move in. The deal was..that my niece would help me do spring cleaning, for I couldn’t do anythiing..I was becoming totally non-functional. Her boyfriend was to help with cleaning cellar and yard work. My husband has a serious spinal problem. Well..it didn’t work out. My niece didn’t even clean before I came home. She has her own issues and I don’t think she could let herself help me for she felt like a servent or something. You must understand that I get along very well with my nieces and nephews and I’ve known this particular niece since she was born. We have/had/have again a good relationship. It’s very complicated..Her boyfriend brought his dog too..My favorite dog got sick and we had to have her put down shortly after my last hospital stay. It’s just too long. I’m sorry for going on and on like this but..it’s hard to put into words how I feel sometimes. One of the problems is I feel very guilty that I can’t be counted on for support to my mother who is 85, I don’t see my grand sons enough. No one seems to understand how I am in complete anguish when I get really bad. i can’t even take care of me. It’s a good thing I have dogs for I would not have gotten out of bed had they not happily come to me in the morning. They could always make me smile. I can’t write anymore. I still am not stable and I am still having a hard time getting organized. I am an artist of sorts..I love to paint, draw, pastel, India ink..all of that. And 3 years ago we paid someone to put up a wall in the garage and he did a wonderful job. He built a closet..sealed the cement floor, wall board on walls and ceilings..everything painted..and I’ve yet to do any art down there at all. I go to counseling and soon (when they call to make an appt.) my husband and I will start couples therapy. He I believe is just as messed up as me and can’t be strong for me. He was an easy going guy and he’s stressed now after this crazy year. But he’s the type of husband..as was my own dad, that thinks you bring money home and your work is over. Here I am…can’t even vacuum..and I’m trying to handle bills, cleaning…getting people to do repairs..I just can’t handle it..so I stay home and read or watch tv. I get stuck. Paralyzed. Have you ever heard stories similar to mine. Right now I am on 60 mg. of prozac. 65mg. of imipramine (both of these I have been treated with before with only weight gain as a side effect)The doctor thought the imipramine would help the prozac kick in for I had had some success with prozac before. I was on 450 mg. I was on imipramine for a few years back in 88 my 1st ever hospitalization. I am gaining weight. when I first got out of hospital I had no interest in food and actually lost 20 lbs. I think I’ve gained it all back. Chocolate + halloween equals weight gain. I have to go to bed..I can’t think of any thing to say now. I feel burned out. Thanks ..I hope you can make some sense of this..Oh yes..I started to say..I am on 60 mg. Prozac, 65 mg.of Imipramine,1 mg of dlonopin up to 4X a day and Ambien sr.12 1/2 mg. if needed for sleep.
    Thank you again, Maggie Corsaro

    • Hello there…when I was reading your post I had to look several times to make sure what I was reading wasn’t something I had wrote. Its crazy how people can go through something and feel so alone and there be others that are going through the exact same thing. I don’t wish this pain on anyone or anything. I couldn’t have described anything any better than you did. I know that I have been looking for help for years and I know where the source of peade comes, but sometimes it seems so hard to reach.

      I’m sorry you are feeling like you are. It’s a feeling of pure misery. Today I am having to live minute by minute, not even hour by hour or day by day. I don’t know how I even got to this webpage to read this but I know there’s a reason and somewhere lies our answer.

    • @Searching for peace

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really helped me. I often feel so alone with different things I’m going through like depression. But, to answer your question, yes I have heard many other people with similar stories to yours. I’m so glad you took the time to go into so much detail about your experience. It really helps others to see that despite outward appearances, everyone is struggling at times.

    • Searching for peace,

      As a HSP, I feel your pain, even though I am in a much better situation. Please get help from the FLYlady @http://www.flylady.net/, she helped me a lot on keeping home nice and clean. My life is way much better thanks to her. Wish you the best out of this website.

  18. hello

    Great article.I’m a HSP male actor. I really struggle with my profession as an HSP, because alot of it requires you to be emotionally open and also receive emotions of others. I sense other actors who are definatly not hsp pick up on my vulnerability and then try to prey on ot. I end up feeling really disturbed and upset afterwards and overwhelmed.Guess i’ll have to pick another line of work.which is a shame.i’d love to know about resources for actors who are hsp, if there are any.You can contact me on terrynow@hotmail.com

  19. “But it demands taking care to live strategically, even outside popular values” – I know that this is right, but damn. It’s so frustrating to see that nobody around us feels like us, it can easily lead to self-confinement and that easily leads to depression, not healthy at all…

    • Dear Johnny,I am with you on that. We really should have more sensitives in our communities and more friends like us!Sometimes I wish I had a twin!!!!

  20. Thank you! I have always considered myself “highly sensitive” but never knew it was something common enough to put in quotation marks. Realizing the pros of my “gift”, as I am very recently viewing it, I feel a great weight lifted. It is good to know there are others like me, and that maybe I don’t realize this because mainstream society pushes for extroverted, “social”, people. Again, Thank You! you have made life a little bit easier (which is no small task!)

  21. Thank you for this insightful and inspiring article. As a sensitive, I have always been aware of my personal version of it and somehow found ways to navigate in society, although admittedly it has not been easy.

    I have great compassion for others with this gift because to some degree, even though others are sensitives too, we have to figure it out for ourselves. That doesn’t mean we are alone, however.

    As part of my personal journey and as a coping tool, I shaped my sensitivity into heart-based products and services that resonate with like-hearted people. Being creative with my sensitivity to support others has made it much easier to truly love who and how I am.

    Blessings to all.

    • Dear Charlon Bobo,”As part of my personal journey and as a coping tool, I shaped my sensitivity into heart-based products and services that resonate with like-hearted people. Being creative with my sensitivity to support others”I really need your advice, can you please describe you personal journey, how you coped with it and have handled it?It would really help!~from one sensitive to another

  22. Thanks for this insightful and educational post, Therese. I’d like to think that the world benefited much (and continues to benefit) from highly sensitive people, for without them the field of arts and the humanities would’ve not existed.

  23. This is me

  24. I lost my job of 12 years 4 years ago. I now work 4 part time jobs just to get by. I would give anything to go back to my old job! I worked at home painting for a local artist and did not have to deal with people. Now I have to deal with people daily and all day long seven days a week. I am totally drained and stressed all the time anymore. It does not make a difference to whom I am dealing with, mean or nice. My doctor has been watching my heath decline because of the stress. My blood pressure shoots up as soon as I leave the house. I feel all these vibes or moods from everyone I am around. And can not shake them off afterwards, I can no longer block them. I am too tired maybe thats why? My sister, a narcassitic 47 year old woman had to move in with me because of Rheumetoid Arthritis. She can no longer live alone. I took care of my father till he passed. Then my mom. And now my sister….
    Going through all of this and being highly sensitive…. it does not feel so good right now. I have no time at all for myself. In fact… it may put me in an early grave!

    • Hi. I’ve just recently discovered what has been “off” about me my whole life. I actually have high functioning autism, which makes me very sensitive, but not necessarily people-focused. In researching natural remedies and practices for “inner stillness” I discovered that my husband is an empath, and have been researching that now! Anyway, I just read that a daily sea salt soak in the tub, especially right after work, can cleanse you of others’ negative energies that you pick up at work. It’s worth a try, but can’t say yet to if it works cause haven’t tried it. Good luck to you. Also, it’s Ok to say no. ;)

  25. Great article and it fits me well. I feel that I am exceptional with my sense of smell and hearing. Though I wish my eyes (sight) were better. But I am very sensitive with myself – with what people say to me, situations that people go through, and how I feel about myself after talking to someone. If I get into a conversation with someone I like, I very often worry that I may have said the wrong things. Also, I can get hurt easily or take things the wrong way with what people say to me.

    I am shy and introverted. Lately I have come across a couple of people that have told me that it’s not a bad thing. That makes me feel good because I’ve been told that being as I am is wrong.
    I would like to live in place where my introvertedness would be welcomed or embraced.

    One big curse of me being sensitive is that I can lose relationships pretty easily. It’s because I get hurt easily.

  26. Geez, someone else understands what my life has been like. I have always been told that I am too emotionally involved, and too sensitive, I didn’t realize that I some wonderful gifts up until a few years ago. It is nice to have someone else confirm my views, I have always thought that I don’t belong in this world. I have fought myself for years, with the wrong thinking which therapists have forced me to accept, they just did not get it. Thank goodness others finally, finally do. Thank you for this article, it makes me feel so much better, that I am not alone in my little world. I have never felt like I belong anywhere, that seems to be the only problem, finding a place to belong, do you have any answers for that question, I am still trying to find an answer? Vicki willothewispl@yahoo.com.

    • I think the people who say we are “too sensitive” or “too emotional” are people who just don’t know how to deal with raw emotion very well, so they feel uncomfortable around us. I try to remember that’s just where they are, but yes, those words can be VERY hurtful.

      In high school I dated a lot, but I didn’t date any one guy for very long because they would dump me because they didn’t quite know how to deal with my intensity. We’d remain friends and I would often go on to date one of the guy’s friends, but when it kept happening, I told my mom I thought there was something wrong with me. She told me things would be better when I got older. (*snickers* I’m 33 and just NOW have found a man who can understand this part of me- because HE’S highly sensitive!) I just remember it hurting a lot because I was “too much.”

  27. I relate to a song by Dinosour Jr., “I feel the pain of everyone, then I feel nothing.” I get so overwhelmed by this world and then I shut down. There is no compassion only judgement.

  28. I would give ANYTHING not to have this “gift”.

  29. Another one with this — and it’s goddamned exhausting. I wish it came with an off switch, and it’s incredibly depressing to come to the realization that one will always be out of sync with one’s own species, one has no “own kind,” and the best one can do for oneself is to sequester oneself away from the world, that contact with the entire outside world has to be titrated in small, controlled doses. I am going to die surrounded by aliens to whom I cannot relate. I sometimes feel like I’m living in an airlock, but going outside SUCKS. After a lifetime of not realizing what the hell was up with me, I’ve finally released even trying and have consequently lost the ability to be social outside of a work context. I simply cannot tolerate contact with others; it’s like brushing against a bare nerve.

    Thankfully, there is art, there are handcrafts, there are animals, and there is piano and music. And I do love the things I can do with my hyper-brain; I’m very, very good at all of these things. But sometimes I just wish I could turn the world DOWN so it’s not emotionally shrieking at me all the time. And I admit I wonder why I can write or play music if I cannot stomach the idea of sharing it with anyone.

    HSPs pretty much live our entire lives with PTSD.

    • Janis, you have articulated so well how I feel as an extremely introverted HSP. I sometimes wonder how we manage to stay alive in this mainly insensitive world. Even though we are very fragile, we also must surely have some sort of superhuman inner strength in us also to be able to survive in this cruel, harsh world. It’s so painful though to have to ‘endure’ most of our life rather than ‘enjoy’ it. The only saving grace is our busy brains, which can give us so much joy. But of course there is the negative flip-side to this also. Being highly sensitive is the very definition of a blessing and a curse. I wish you the most peaceful, stress-free life possible.

    • Wow. Janis and Wil really summed me up. I could have written both of their posts myself. I can definitely relate, Janis. I almost didn’t post this because I’m so shy and introverted, but what the heck. Hit that submit button…

    • I only recently found out I was an HSP, and it’s been a gift to actually get to know that I’m not going absolutely bonkers at fifteen. Between my inability to socialize even though I love people and the fact that I know things that I shouldn’t really know, I thought I was crazy.

      On top of the high sensitivity, I have suffered some traumas to say the least. Trauma and the highly sensitive brain don’t play well together. I agree that it is very much like living your entire life with PTSD, complete with anxiety, panick, and night terrors

  30. Being a very sensitive person ( male) , has been a blessing and also a curse in my life. I care more about how others feel than I do about myself. I’ve been walked over my whole life and when I try to assert myself it always leads to an argument or disagreement with someone. sometimes I’d rather hug a tree than a person. To me an extrovert is someone with an ego.Personally I like being MOSTLY an introvert but it has led me mostly down a destructive past and a ” nowhere man” now with an unforeseeable future.

    • Good god you’re singing my song. Thanks for sharing.

  31. What do you do when everything in life has come easy? As a HSP, there is rarely anything I can’t do. Perfect grades in school; can play any instrument easily; successful business; know exactly how to make anything work; and I’m a man who can have any woman he wants – and have only found the slightest bit of comfort in learning how to give women exactly what they want (at least sexually).

    And yet nothing – none of it – brings me happiness.

    I can spend hours in nature, feeling the energy pulses from the trees and ground radiate through me, dogs will strain on their leash to come over to me and be petted, because we relate on a deeper, energetic level. When I hold a crystal I can feel my entire body pulse. I can mediate any conversation, know exactly what to say to comfort someone.

    And yet I can’t get close to people. I can’t ever be happy with what I have; I’m way more emotional than any woman I’ve ever been with, and every day I wish for just once I could relax and live a normal, social life. Up and down, everything has to mean something, nothing is ever, ever good enough. I push people away, looking for a deeper meaning to all this, and there just isn’t one.

    Turning 37 next week; i cannot stand the thought of going through life like this.

    • Perhaps you would benefit from looking for what your gift could bring to the rest of the world rather than yourself? Try reading “A Purpose Driven Life.”

    • You’re like the male version of me, including our ages. I too share your fear of going through the rest of my life feeling like this.

    • How can you have any woman you want?

  32. I found out I have fantastic color sensitivity while working at a printing factory. We all had to take a color test by positioning 100 color swatches in perfect order with the slightest variations in tone and hue. Out of over 300 people, I was the only one who passed with 100%! But the curse of extra sensitivity is there as well with extreme mood changes due to bipolar and even physical oversensitivity where sensations that wouldn’t bother someone else drive me crazy!

  33. Loved the gist of the article, wept at some of the posts, and agree that the lives of HSPs are complex and delicate balancing acts. What I didn’t care for was the main interview/article’s heavy reliance on “celebrity” quotes as evidence and confirmation. It would be far more helpful and inspiring to read quotes from or anecdotes about successful members of the other 99.9% of HSPs, those who live and work in regular lives and jobs… rather than the rare & fickle world of entertainment.

  34. Thanks for writing this. It’s really interesting, and I really relate to this! I love being sensitive to textures, colours, smells and sounds, feelings and meaning, etc., etc.. It gives such a depth to the world…. I have to guard against being too melancholy though, or letting things get me down. Usually people don’t mean to be hurtful but I can take it that way sometimes… so I need to watch that. I realised recently that many people feel that others are judging them, and it’s not just me. I don’t think it’s just HSPs either! Anyway I appreciate the stuff you wrote here, thanks for it! Peace to you.

  35. Fantastic show in Lyon.. Pity it was so short, but I’ll keeps my eyes open for long run gigs.

  36. I’d rather have Lin Dans WC-final T-shirt!!!

  37. I believe that there are times(mostly around other people) when you have to capture and bottle your emotions.It is very true that we need breaks from it all, we can be perfectly comfortable being alone; thinking(maybe sometimes worrying), appreciating the things we have to cherish and love, just letting go, winding down and be in our own world. I don’t think this is unhealthy but I have to hand it to you that we do need more time alone than others.However, to progress we need to find out for ourselves how to take care of ourselves(and not always others even if that really is what we love to do and what makes us happy), be a bit selfish(read the books by the author of Atlas Shrugged-Ayn Rand), a good selfish and only then can we care for others-what a great paradox!Yes, we have to accept, and also forgive and reconcile with ourselves and others!Make use of your talents, invest your time in productive(to you) activities, and when the world gives way too many reasons to be sad show them the most important reasons why you should be happy. And when those moments of overwhelming emotions enrapture and captivate you,……you can and should relish them because it is due to your sensitive personality that your (outlook on) life is all the more richer and vivid.So go out there into the world, make the most of it and make what you want of it, the world is your oyster. Because your life is worth living!Carpe Diem!Every moment is invaluable so live life embracing it. Relish and cherish what memories and experiences you have because they are unique to you(and they will be all you need!

  38. Hello,This article is very informative and enlightening. I am a very highly sensitive person. I am grateful that this is being acknowledged as a positive trait to have. We need more sensitivity in society today.

  39. Reading some of these comments was truly a wonderful experience. I have always known that I am highly sensitive, and it manifests itself as unpredictable emotions and internalizing conflict until it explodes. My marriage has extreme ups and downs, I think my husband is reaching his breaking point because he doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand why sn’t understand. I have lost so many many friendships because I am hurt so easily. I grew up in a household where extreme criticism was the norm. Compound that with being sensitive and you can imagine how bad life can get. I only feel really good consistently when I feel like my presence matters, when I’m making a difference, or when I’m outside by myself with my own thoughts. My introversion has gotten worse over the years. I just don’t want to end up alone.

  40. I have to say that “sensory detail” is as much of a curse as it is a gift. People are constantly driving me nuts with humming and tapping of feet, shouting in restaurants, running their bathroom fan all night, ventilation systems that run all day and click off for short periods randomly. It can really be borderline torture.

  41. Very interesting. I always wondered why sometimes I can be very social and then later in the day just want to hide in my office because loud chatter and “goings on” would get on my nerves. Crave solitude as well.

  42. I feel that I have exceptionally good hearing. On top of that I am very sensitive; especially I feel that I hurt when others hurt. Even if I’m not crazy about them.

    My hearing is so good, that at 30 ft. away I can hear the clock ticking very clearly (provided that there’s no other noise). I have a friend who is hard of hearing and wears a hearing aid. He envys me for having such great hearing. I envy him for being able to take his hearing aid out. If that were me, I could sleep much better.

    One time during a weekend, I had downstairs neighbors that talked all night. It kept me awake. I confronted one of them saying that they were making a lot of noise. She acted surprised that I can hear them. She told me that her mother passed away and she got very emotional about it. I told her I was sorry and I’ll do what I can to help. Well, that wasn’t good for them. Her husband later on told me to “not to talk to him and his wife because I was being disrespectful to her”. This happened about a year ago and they are still holding a grudge.

  43. I thought I was alone on this! I have been diagnosed as Bipolar II (mood disorder) but EVERY medication bothers me I can’t hardly take even a children’s dose. This makes me feel so much better. This explains me so well. I have always loved art and have been great at it… but people ask me why I don’t do it more often and its because of my perfectionism and it overwhelms me. Thank you for this article! I would love to read more and maybe how to manage it. I also get a lot of migraines due to the over-stimulation of my environment. I need to move to the woods :)

  44. Wow this was such a great article! Thank you so much for writing it! I’ve also gotten a lot out of reading all the comments. :)

    I’m the quintessential HSP! A few things I’ve noticed that I feel definitely affect my relationships with others is that the need to spend a lot of time on my own and my razor sharp introspection has instilled the belief in my mind that I’m very egocentric, judgmental and lacking compassion. Those faulty beliefs led me down a dark road of OCD and self blame for things going wrong.

    As it turns out, my introspection is a gift in allowing me to parse all of the “programming” in my head and work on fixing the glitches. :) The fact I want to work on those glitches and my fearfulness of not being compassionate means… guess what, I’m compassionate! If I weren’t, why would I CARE whether or not I was compassionate so much? Pretty much all the negative beliefs I’ve created about myself are simply due to the fact I’m so sensitive to pretty much all stimulus. That in and of itself is not a gift, a curse or anything.. it’s just a matter of fact that I was built that way. In turn, when other people do things that set off that pain inside me, I hurt. Naturally if someone is doing something that causes you pain, you will react accordingly. It’s NOT your fault and you are NOT a bad person. Once your realize it’s just a simple reaction, you can let yourself go from any guilt. Remember if you are truly worried and sick that your hypersensitive make you a broken social being, you can relax because you’re not simply for the reason the worry about it plagues you. Chances are you ARE very, very compassionate. However, your compassion is SO high that you feel the pain of others to the point you have to shut them out because it HURTS. That’s ok, that’s a natural reaction. You can just let yourself accept it. I think I’ve found as I’ve let go of the guilt and obsession about being a good person or not and understanding that I am a very good and super compassionate person, that alone has made the focus on my issues with HSP (and co-existing ADHD, OCD perfectionism, etc) so much easier! My creativity has allowed me to find ways I can do a lot to help people without having to be in the proximity of many people where I will be in a position that the discomfort will be an issue.

    We’re very fortunate to have the technology we do. Take this one post you may have just stumbled across by accident. It made you feel better to read it. You felt understood. That in turn prompted you to write something about your own experiences and feelings. Those in turn may have really resonated with another person and helped them. Many people have been helped in just the few moments they read this article and read and/or wrote comments without anyone having to be in a position that noise, smells, people touching you by accident ever had to come into it. :)

    Sorry to write such a tl;dr book response to this article but it really compelled me to write what I did to augment all the wonderful stuff that has already been written!

    Remember, it’s absolutely OK to live in a more circumscribed world. There is no “law” that says you have to exist and live ANY particular way despite the fact you may feel as if societal norms are “laws.” You may be an outlier, a maverick, a lone being that is totally comforted by the company of themselves. I think it can truly threaten those who are the opposite and who do crave the company and interaction with others just as we sometimes feel threatened when confronted with people in groups or packs. They are just two sides of a coin. Some are on the edges and some fall right in the middle but all are right in the end. It’s very important to comfort and love yourself because to love and comfort others is truly impossible without the other.

    • I’m pissing through my eyes reading your comments. You spoke directly from my soul … just far better able to express those feelings. Thank you, thank you thank you!

  45. Empathy is the key to the “highly sensitive” person, as far as I can describe it. Some people can really transport themselves into the emotions that someone else is feeling or thinking. The highly sensitive soul really feels the pain or delight that another is living through. It’s a blessing and a curse! But, empathy is what makes us human. Once I read a book where the author said, “If you have not developed into an empathetic person by the time you are six years old, you are in trouble…” or something to that nature. I have seen this lack of empathy (sensitivity) and it scares the hell out of me. Because the lack of it, often means that the person is socially backwards, and this trend is becoming more and more common in the messed-up culture in which we live.

  46. Oh what a relief it is to realize that the sensitivity to others I’ve struggled with all my life is something special rather than something that is wrong with me or for that matter them, (them being the other 80% of the people). it’s always been a fight within myself &/or fighting with others that either I have to change & be less sensitive (which I’ve failed at) or my insisting they have to change & be empathetic to me…this site frees me from that because I see that it’s impossible for me not to be too sensitive just as its impossible for them to be empathetic to me… Yes it causes a frequent need to escape into quiet but I’m suddenly free to understand & take the responsibility of this thing, this curse/gift, & take a kinder attitude too myself, this quality & essence of my being can’t change while realizing my expectation & demands that others in my life can’t change either to be empathetic to me, they cannot be as I am & I can’t be like most people… the trick is to be empathetic with myself & the others, the 80%’ers. I feel such a sense of freedom reading this & know with it comes responsibility to myself & the others. Ive felt so guilty for needing to escape at times be it friends or family particularly my children. Ive come a long way thru the years from many addictions drugs, sex, work, fame to finally allowing myself to take care of myself enough to buy a farm so I can have my times of peace. we are here in this world of woe that were feel so deeply to be a beckon for the others… I now see my responsibility to myself & them…because truth is while needing that peace & alone time I also equally need other people in my life… for the pain of lonliness is worse than the pain of feeling overwhelmed by others I/we just need to take care

  47. I wish there was another world so that the sensitives and non-sensitives could separate.

  48. I find being highly sensitive can be torturous!

  49. I am an EXTREMELY extroverted sensitive. I worked with a really good psychiatrist to determine if I had bi-polar or a mood disorder. No, I do however have ADD and PTSD. When she told my what she thought my diagnosis was, I agreed. She said “You’re emotionally intense.” I laughed and said, “No shit!” do however get emotionally overwhelmed and need to “retreat.” I get up at 5 am, before everyone, that’s my time to “re-group.” I am 55 years old and am finally beginning to realize having a filter for my mouth might be a good idea! If anyone has any suggestion or is like this too, please say something :) I am so sensitive I can feel emotional energy in empty houses and that’s just minor. Thanks and bright blessings to you all…

  50. I am in love with a guy since 4 years , he too loves me alot . But now he said he dont love me just for me only coz he found we dont have future . But i cant live without him. And he is not even talking to me . Everytime just finding bullshit reasons for breakup. And we are in long distance relationship from past two years . Please help me to make him fall in love with me again.

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