Hello! My name is Heidi and I am a HSP! Like my fellow co-blogger Jen-Jaw, I too have a lot of emotions.
Remember that weird three-year old that was afraid of certain television shows for the noise or the bright lights? Or that girl in high-school who shut down completely when she saw someone give a dirty look to another student? After college, I had an “exit plan” in case if I got too tired from a social gathering or get-together (don’t take it personally!) Just recently, my boyfriend and I had to get rid of our Christmas tree and I was hugging it and telling it how much I missed it. That’s me! I am a HSP.
What is a HSP?
According to Dr. Aron…
“Highly Sensitive People have an uncommonly sensitive nervous system – a normal occurrence, according to Aron. “About 15 to 20 percent of the population have this trait. It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.” An HSP herself, Aron reassures other Highly Sensitives that they are quite normal. Their trait is not a flaw or a syndrome, nor is it a reason to brag. It is an asset they can learn to use and protect.”
How did I discover that I was a HSP?
During college, my parents were going through a divorce and I was a little “lost” as most young college students are. Rather I decided to see the school’s counseling center. I told the counselor how I grew up always a little nervous, in high-school hating certain social setting likes clubs or dances because of the tightness of space. I simply said, “I do not know what was going on but there was too much at once!” The counselor nodded and smiled saying, “Those kind of situations have a lot going on. Smells, sounds, sights. It must have been overwhelming?” The counselor asked me, “Do you think you are just wired differently?” My heart stopped, “Do you think I have a disability or something?”
“Oh no,” she responded. “But I do think you are a HSP.”
And, that was the first time I heard the term HSP. I have been called many things that have hit a nerve to me and regarded my emotions. Overwhleming. Anxious. Intense. Passive. Shy. Sensitive. Weird. Different. Hermit. But, never a HSP. I taught myself to hide many of my overwhelming emotions. And, even found theatre, performing, singing, and drama as my only outlet to express those emotions as I was masked as a different person. It helped me when my emotions seemed to overeat me.
“A lot of people who are HSP are often misdiagnosed with internalized ADHD or a social disorder. And people who are HSP usually misdiagnose themselves.”
The HSP Counselor Discovering Her Gift
And, then I stared researching about HSP. Not knowing how it would really impact on my talent or career.
Let’s fast forward to me at my internship now. I was currently entrusted to fill in for a professional guidance counselor, even before I had my license and the full training. I find myself loving the work but after some days so exhausted. Like I just finished the Boston Marathon. I had to meet with my practice coordinator at school to cover some information. During this meeting she said, “You can emotionally see the whole picture and not just the little things? I’m amazed. And, I see it in your journals.” I responded, without thinking, “I think it’s my sociology major from undergrad that taught me that…”
“No Heidi. I think you have a gift.”
A gift? Being a HSP is a gift? I later told my good friend about this story and she said, “I always saw you as intellectually sensitive.”
Is my HSP a “superpower” that makes me do the incredible? Like Sailor Moon discovering that she can throw a tiara to defeat the villain or Superman discovering his strength? At that moment I found that my HSP-ness has directed me to my calling as a school guidance counselor. It’s not something to define myself, but it is nice to know.
Don’t let the “HSP” label limit you
I think sometimes these “labels” are like a Swiss Army Knife (like social networking). It’s a tool that could help or hurt. Knowing that I am a HSP and using coping skills to it helps me. However, if I use the label to define myself or prevent myself from doing certain things then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that could later prevent me to grow. HSPs need to learn how to work with their emotions and use them for the better. And, they need to use coping skills to grow, not just as a HSP, but as an overall individual. HSP’s are gifted and special people and are often very emotional intellectual.
If you think “emotional intelligence” is hogwash please read this article.
A Message To Society
Wait! Wait! Wait! Doesn’t our society think that emotions and sensitivity is NOT intellectual? Doesn’t Freud tell us to repress our id with an ego or super-ego? Shouldn’t reason take the driver seat while emotion is tied up in the trunk? Believe it or not society there is emotional intelligence. And, even though I knew this, I never really gave myself credit for it. I knew that emotions were important to pay attention to and mental health. After all, physical pain can only heart at one place at a time because our brain’s limitation to only send one signal at a time for pain. On the other hand, mental pain could hurt at multiple zones all at once. Mental health, emotional management, and emotional awareness is important. It is important to teach parents how to work with sensitive children because it is innate, just like their eye color or hair color.