Why do I feel so much? Why do I get overwhelmed so easily? Why can’t I be like everybody else? Why can’t I be normal? Have you ever asked yourself these questions?
Growing up, you might have been told “You feel too much,” or “You need to toughen up.” I know how that feels. Like you, I am a highly sensitive person.
The term Highly Sensitive Person was popularized by Dr. Elaine Aron’s groundbreaking book The Highly Sensitive Person. The “official” name for this trait is Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), and it comes from Dr.Elaine Aron and her husband Arthur Aron’s work.
Because only 15-20% of the population are HSPs, you might have struggled to find your place in the world, like I did. Being highly sensitive is not a “condition,” just a different way of being. When I try to describe this trait in metaphors, I think of the example of being left-handed in a world where being right-handed is the norm.
There was a time when left-handed children were forcibly told to adapt and write with the “Correct” hand, even though being left-handed was correct and natural for them. It is the same with being a person who is wired to be highly responsive. You can’t not be startled by noises. You can’t not process things deeply. You can’t not be aware of the subtleties in your environment. This is who you are!
Understanding that being a Highly Sensitive Person was a real thing, based on differences in how our nervous system processes information has helped me understand my sensitivity better.
I understand that this is a package deal. The same thing that makes me creative, deeply impressed by beauty, capable of feeling deeply is also the same thing that causes problems for me when I am overwhelmed.
What I have been learning to do is separate the cultural beliefs of “not okayness” about being “sensitive” and see the trait for what it really is – a way of relating to the world that has its advantages and disadvantages and pros and cons, just like every other trait or quality in this world.
Hi. I am Ritu, a writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I started this website many years ago after I moved from India to the United States.
(Check out the beginnings of this website here: walkingthroughtransitions.blogspot.com.)
Because change can be such a hard thing for highly sensitive people and moving countries is such a life-changing experience, the move became a catalyst for writing about sensitivity. It was also during this time that I came across Dr. Elaine Aron’s book and realized that I needed to start re-framing sensitivity.
On this website, I share my own experiences as a sensitive person. For me, emotional sensitivity is the heart of my struggles with sensitivity, so you will find a lot of information on boundaries, emotions and ways to deal with overwhelm here. I am also an artiste in the broadest sense – a writer, photographer and dancer – so, a lot of pieces are also about being sensitive and creative and what that means. I am an introvert, an INFP (MBTI type) and an empath who often absorbs people’s feelings like a sponge, and many of my recent posts talk about these identities.
If you are a highly sensitive person looking for answers, I hope you realize that you are not alone and that what might have caused some of your struggles is also what makes up the best part of you.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are just a little different, and like all differences, sometimes that can leave us misunderstood. On this website, I share some parts of my journey as an introverted HSP in the hope that you might find a believing mirror, or that you might find pieces for your own puzzle. I know none of our journeys is the same, but if you have found your way here, it might be because we share similarities or maybe we are even kindred spirits.
Because words are so important to me personally, I hope the words on this website can provide you with some comfort. There is a beautiful quote by the Sufi poet Hafiz where he says: “A poet is someone who can pour light into a cup, and then raise it to nourish your beautiful parched, holy mouth.”
If your beautiful, holy mouth is thirsty and longing, I hope that you find something on this website and many things out there in the world to help you. You belong. You are here because you are needed. You have something unique to offer to the world. Here’s to your beautiful, soaring spirit.
If you are still wondering whether you are a Highly Sensitive Person, take Elaine Aron’s self-test here.
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