How often as an adult do you hear someone say “my high school years were some of the best years of my life”? Perhaps they replace ‘high school’ with ‘college’ and you’re over here thinking what the heck is wrong with me that – everyone else seems to have had this amazing – life changing – experience and I remember those years as the most miserable years of my life!
If you can relate – you may be a highly sensitive person (often referred to as an HSP!).
Being a HSP is a superpower in some ways and also a real challenge in others. Growing up, I was overly sensitive to – what felt like – just about everything. I chalked it up to being an introvert while living in a household full of extroverts. Really I was constantly overstimulated by my environment and what felt like forced interactions with people and I thought I was somehow broken. NOPE – not broken. Just a highly sensitive person.
It wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that I realized that being a HSP was just part of who I was. I realized that going out to social events wasn’t actually enjoyable, I realized why graduation ceremonies and parties were so insanely draining, I realized why I never wanted to go to the bars with my roommates. It’s because I get easily overwhelmed/overstimulated with loud noises, pungent smells, and being around lots of people…. You get the idea!
I would always get frustrated when I felt forced to hug someone or visit a relative that didn’t honor my boundaries. And now I get why. For years I tried to bury my sensitive feelings and pretend they didn’t exist but in doing so I taught myself my feelings were ‘wrong’ and I would let them well up inside of me until they exploded externally. I would have a ‘meltdown’ which felt like a release to me but came off as very over-the-top to any bystander and that’s where the ‘too emotional’ label starts to surface. Plus by never releasing those emotions there was just constant chaos within my body.
Maybe you can relate to something I’ve shared? If so, I 10/10 recommend picking up a copy of the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person – How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You’ by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. There are plenty of solid resources out there that talk about being a HSP and truthfully that’s not what this blog post is intended to be but let’s dive into how to use this as a superpower to find your path in life.
When I started to see my hyper-sensitivity as a superpower a few things changed:
I could keep going with that list but here’s what I want you to take away from this article – full acceptance of the trait will bring you clarity. When you accept that this is just part of what makes you uniquely you – it stops being something you try to hide. When you stop trying to hide it, your vulnerability inspires others to not hide that they are also a HSP. When we talk about this kind of stuff openly, it allows us to set better boundaries to support our unique needs. When we are better supported, things become more clear. Clarity helps us find our path and walk that path with courage and confidence.
There are of course challenges to being a HSP but we’ll save that for another today. Today we’re owning the fact that this is our unique superpower.
Alyson Pallanck is an Intuitive Life Coach & a meditation and breathwork facilitator as well as co-host of the 'But, What if You Did?' Podcast - a podcast where we talk about the ebbs & flows of being human. Alyson is on a mission to support our millennial communities in learning to energetically connect to their own inner wisdom in order to be seen for who they truly are. She does this through personalized one on one life coaching, through individual & group breathwork facilitations & through sharing raw conversations with podcast co-host Khloe, thought leaders in the personal development space, and holistic wellness advocates.