During this week, I came across a wonderful podcast on HSPs. It was really great to have a wider perspective on sensitivity and also realise that we are not alone in feeling this way. You can visit the website and listen to the podcasts here. I previously did a similar post on common misconceptions, however it was in regards to INFJs. If you just so happen to be an INFJ HSP, many of the points may be relatable over there. Highly sensitive people are often faced with stereotypes, common beliefs and the hearing of repeated phrases such as “Don’t be so sensitive” or “Don’t take it personally.” A better understanding of sensitivity in general, will remind us that it is something that is indeed very much needed in the world.
Highly sensitive people are all introverts. It’s a common thought that HSPs are all introverts, however 30% of HSPs are actually extroverts. There are more highly sensitive people than one may assume and around 15-20% of people have traits of high sensitivity. This means roughly 1 in 5 people may be a highly sensitive person. I believe that it is assumed that all HSPs are introverts because there are the following stereotypes of all introverts being shy and quiet.
We are weak and unable to stand up for ourselves. High sensitivity doesn’t mean one is unable to speak up for themselves. We are very aware of others feelings and use that awareness to go about how to communicate to each individual. It’s interesting that sensitivity is so often tied with weakness, when it is something far stronger, but perhaps this could be talked more in depth some other time. We need sensitivity in order to truly, truly connect with other human beings.
Being a HSP is connected with low self esteem. Growing up, many HSPs may have heard the words toughen up, get over it, don’t take it personally or don’t be so sensitive. Those words tend to cause us to feel a sense of negativity. We question is there something wrong with me being the way that I am? But as most of us grow up into adults, we realise that it’s simply a part of ourselves. HSP is not connected with having low self esteem – self esteem depends entirely on the individual.
It is mostly women who are HSPs. This sort of comes down to the stereotype that men can’t be emotional, sensitive or feel too much in the eyes of others. It’s a societal expectation for men to not cry as it is associated with weakness. However, sensitivity is not necessarily something that can be seen on the surface. There are just as many men who have high sensitivity, but perhaps women are more likely open to showing their sensitivity.
Sensitivity is something that can be seen. As previously mentioned, sensitivity is not something that may be visually seen. Very much of the time it is internalised, and feelings and thoughts are less known to others than someone who does not have high sensitivity. If I feel over whelmed by something, but am in a situation where I am not surrounded by people I am close to, I generally try to hide the fact that I am feeling uncomfortable. Whether it’s walking in a crowded area or having a meeting with someone.
Most things people say are taken to heart. This is true for the most part, for myself. However, there’s a difference between what a random individual (eg. stranger) may say and a loved one may say. It depends entirely on the individual, but I tend to take it more personally if it is from someone I love, rather than say, a stranger or someone I’m not close to. I think it comes down to how much we value others feelings.
HSPs are shy and socially anxious individuals. Shyness, introversion and social anxiety are three separate things with different meanings. The truth of the matter is that some people have a mixture of each, some people may experience a little and others may not at all. High sensitivity is something a person has when they have a sensitive nervous system. It means the person has a heightened awareness of ones surroundings, and if over stimulated it can cause one to want to remove themselves from the situation.
They are likely to have a mental illness. Many HSPs may be sensitive to stressful environments, people and situations which can cause a higher chance of having anxiety and depression. However, mental illnesses have many factors, which may come from their childhood upbringing, addictions, genetics, bad experiences or any other factors. Mental illnesses can affect anyone, regardless of if you have high sensitivity. Not everyone may experience a mental illness.
Are there any other misconceptions or interesting stories you have experienced as an HSP? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments below :)