Have you noticed that the modern world isn’t built for highly sensitive people?
I’m thinking about loud, hectic coffee shops where people go to “focus and get work done,” jobs where “fast-paced multi-tasking” and being “capable of handling multiple priorities at once” are listed in job descriptions, and industries where “ASAP” is the timeline for every task, not something that’s reserved for emergencies.
We live in a world where reading the news every single day and staying informed up to the minute feels like it’s required to be a good person. Tuning out, even for a day, feels like a cop-out.
Where shedding tears in public is embarrassing and unprofessional, and we feel we have to apologize if we show any emotion.
Where we are consistently rewarded and praised – even admired – at work and in life for doing more, getting it done faster, pushing harder, working longer. For being everything for everybody, no matter what it’s costing us.
We know, deep down, that this isn’t healthy or sustainable for us – especially as HSPs. But we can feel ashamed that we feel the way we do, and so we unconsciously overcompensate by doing things like ignoring our bodies, working to exhaustion, and telling ourselves things like “you just need to toughen up.” Does this sound like you?
Here are 8 common ways that you might be compensating for your sensitivity:
- Working yourself to exhaustion
- Stuffing down your emotions or pretending nothing gets to you
- Ignoring your needs or pretending to play it cool
- Trying to convince yourself (and others) that you’re not hurt by something that you are
- Taking on the hardest tasks at home or work, even if you don’t like them or they take a big toll on you
- Trying *really* hard not to cry in public settings
- Telling yourself to “toughen up,” “just do it anyway,” “this is how the world works”
- Ignoring your body when it’s telling you it needs a break
Years ago, I ended up in a total burnout situation after heavily depending on these types of compensation strategies to get me through my day. My body was giving me all the signs through physical illness, panic attacks, and complete physical and mental exhaustion. But I was so deeply trained to believe that this was just the reality of the world that I kept pushing through.
I truly couldn’t imagine another way of being, and I remember feeling so helpless and hopeless.
If you’ve been in this situation before, you know how hard it can feel to change your behavior. It feels like “I have to do this. There’s just no other way.”
Now, I’m on the other side of a massive shift, part of which was learning that I was an HSP. It has rekindled my sense of hope into a strong conviction that there is another way.
Here’s my word of hope to you.
Even though the world isn’t built for us HSPs, know that you aren’t alone in it. We make up a whole 20% of the world’s population – that means there’s something like 1.5 billion HSPs in the world! And today, there are more ways than ever to engage with other HSPs and find support in your shared experiences. It is possible to break out of the patterns that we’ve been taught are the only way.
Together, we can help each other find new ways of being that are healthier, more authentic to our true needs, and more sustainable for navigating the world as highly sensitive people.
I’m here to tell you: the world needs your gifts, and it doesn’t always have to be “ASAP.”
Have you ever considered how you might be compensating for being highly sensitive in today’s world? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Written by Julianne Merry, HSP Coach, Intuitive Warrior