I UNDERSTAND YOU.
I'm a HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON, too.
Empath, Introverts, and HSPs. I get it, because I live it.
I realized I was a Highly Sensitive Person when I was a junior in college. I was sitting in the library cafe reading an article in the UTNE Reader about a woman who identified as an HSP sharing her tools for living a balanced life. I remember the writer described how healing nature was for her---and how taking mini mindfulness breaks away from people and electronics daily was vital for her mental and physical health. I remember an Aha! light off in my mind---one I couldn't quite process in the moment---but the process would find me when I had gathered the tools needed to understand my sensitive nature with compassion and empathy.
I've felt so much for so long, I had a hard time delineating what belonged to me and what belonged to whomever I was spending time around. Family was a different story. Growing up, I seemed to absorb family issues like a sponge. I was the depressed one (the oldest of four children), who seemed to take on everyones dysfunctions and throw them into a growing sack on my back that made my life heavier and others lighter (or maybe there was not change at all---but my perception told me I'd lighted my loved one's loads).
I was lonely and craving connection, yet in the presence of others I often went into sensory overload and shut down for days afterwards. Thus, I chose not to have many friends. In high school cliques were the death of me. I felt like I was treading water (doing all that I could to keep from drowning) in a gaggle of girls. I kept a sense of self by putting up walls. Very few people could get behind those outer layers to know the free-spirited, kind-hearted, silly, imaginative me.
I still fight with walls. They protect. They create an illusory boundary of safety. And they are needed with some people---but not with all people. My own therapuetic and healing journey has made me trust my feelings---all of them. My feelings are valid. I have gained a sharp sense of what's mine and what's not mine. But sometimes I still get confused---especially when it's someone super close, like my daughter.
I've learned that feeling deeply is a blessing and not a curse. It's about loving life. It's about being who you are in the highly sensitive, empathic skin you were born into.
I write regularly on being an HSP/empath. Checkout my latest piece, What All Highly Senstive , Empathic People Need to Know.
How do I know if I'm a highly sensitive person?
Take this test to find out if you're an HSP: click here*
How do I know if I'm an empathic person?
We are all empathic. Sentient beings have the innate ability to feel what others are feeling.
What makes you an "empath" is the ability to feel others so intensely that it can throw you off your center. You can take this test to find out if you're an empath: click here*
*These "tests" are not psychological assessments . Any information they reveal is for entertainment purposes. For further evaluation, it is recommended you meet with a mental health professional.