How to Treat a HSP(Highly-Sensitive Person)
From the Heart of a HSP
I have been thoroughly disappointed in the fact that most articles about HSPs describe us as weak people that need to be sheltered from the real world. There is an abundance of ignorance about what HSP actually is and how we think or act. As an HSP, I wanted to provide more information on what it's truly like to be a sensitive person in a very insensitive world. I want people to understand that HSP is a real thing that deserves as much respect as being right-handed or having blue eyes-it's not something we can just change. That it's both a blessing and a curse. Empathy isn't a choice for us-it's in our DNA. We're not asking for trophies or pats on the back- we just want people to treat us with respect and give us the benefit of the doubt when we act or think differently from most "normal" people. So whether you are an HSP trying to find new ways to describe our worldview to others,or you're someone who wants to love a HSP in your life better, or if you're just simply trying to learn more about what HSP truly is,read on.
1. Learn As Much as you Can about HSP
The more you understand about us, the more you will be able to sympathize with us and forgive us for our differences. HSP is a physical,research-proven condition. Notice I did not say disability or defect-just simply a genetic disposition. I cannot stress how important that differentiation is. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 people has a heightened central nervous system. This means that all our senses are intensified. Our brains don't cancel out extra "noise" like most people do. Loud sounds startle us. Bright lights give us headaches. Violent films bother us because we empathize so deeply that we literally feel the pain of others as our own. We are extremely intuitive to the emotions/energy of others and constantly feel the need to help everyone. EVERYONE. And yes,we feel emotions much more intensely than others do. A simple joke or criticism may cut us very deeply even if we don't want it to. And sometimes, we react before we have time to process these things and remind ourselves that he/she didn't mean to hurt us. The more you put yourself in the shoes of an HSP, the better you'll understand what we need from you.
2. Be Patient.
This is SO important. You're not always going to understand everything we do because our brains are literally different from yours. Sometimes, you'll 'poke fun' at us and we'll take it personally. Sometimes we might get quiet and shut down without much warning. Sometimes, we just need to regroup from all the stimuli we've been processing. Imagine feeling every sound,smell, touch, and emotion with 10 times the intensity. Imagine being hurt at least once during each and every conversation you have. Imagine feeling helpless when you logically know that you shouldn't be offended but your heart feels it anyway. Imagine feeling the weight of everyone else's problems as if they're your own. I read somewhere that the comparison is like have 50 fingers instead of ten. We take in more. We hurt more. We feel more. A lot of the time, this is against our will. Because we're going through so much internally, we might need alone time or avoid social settings for awhile. It's not that we hate people,it's just that we need a break in order to maintain our sanity. Also, we might "freak out" when we have a lot of things to do at once because we feel extra-overwhelmed. And because we have to keep so many hurt feelings inside all the time, we might react very strongly to something small. This is most likely because of a bunch of built-up past hurts and not because we're "crazy". Most of our 'overreactions' have a reason if you'd just ask us.
3. Create a Safe Place for Us
It's unfortunate but true that sensitivity is viewed as a weakness in this society. Whatever you do, don't make us feel like we're a mistake. Don't tell us we're too sensitive- trust me, WE KNOW. It frustrates us more than it frustrates you and constantly pointing it out isn't going to make it better. It will just make us feel isolated and unloved. Most of the time, we are doing the best we can to act as "normal" as possible so don't tell us to "stop taking things personally" or "you're overreacting". No,sometimes we can't just 'take a joke'. Keep in mind that it's something we're born with and though it can be somewhat controlled, it can never be fully reversed. Please allow us to be ourselves and feel safe telling you our likes and dislikes. Just because we're very sensitive to certain things doesn't mean we're sensitive to everything. If you create a judgment-free zone, we will tell you what specific things hurt us the most and what environments make us uncomfortable. That way you won't have to constantly feel like you're walking on eggshells around us. It is a possibility that something might come up that we didn't know we were sensitive to so bear with us. We're learning right along with you. Oh, and don't rush us. We take longer to make decisions sometimes because if it turns out to be a mistake, it will make us feel responsible for whatever negative consequences follow. It will bother us for days long after you've forgot about it. So please don't yell at us for being 'indecisive'. We're simply weighing all the options.
4.Love Us just the Way We Are
Our condition is difficult to live with at times, but the pros still outweigh the cons. Because we're able to empathize and care so deeply, we make really good listeners. We will do whatever we can to make sure the people around us feel loved and happy. We also experience happy emotions more intensely than the average person so we get extra excited about little things and bring a cheerful attitude to our loved ones. We will always be able to tell when something is even slightly bothering you and will make sure you feel comfortable venting to us if you want to. We're super observant and notice subtle things like your new glasses or pretty dress. We live to make other people feel loved and will do little things to show that love(i.e. buying little gifts, writing heartfelt letters, spontaneous hugs). We truly understand what it is to sacrifice for the good of others. When we say we'll be there for you when you need us,we mean it- like REALLY mean it.Whenever. Wherever. If we know that someone needs us, we will be there. Also, we're loyal. Once we've chosen you and feel safe with you, good luck getting rid of us. Basically, if you're willing to cut us some slack, we will do our best to make sure your life is as happy and love-filled as possible. GIve us a chance-I promise you won't be disappointed.