HSP (Highly Sensitive People)
and Empaths have a lot in common.
I am both a Highly Sensitive Person and an Empath. This article is specific to me trying to explain to my friends and family what I am really like. We are all different. We need to embrace it.
HSP – Highly Sensitive Person – (Defined)
A highly sensitive person is a person having the innate trait of high sensory processing sensitivity. Some common signs are sensitivity to loud noises, bright or fluorescent lights, and strong smells. HSP’s often describe themselves as having a rich and complex inner life. They may startle easily and get rattled when required to accomplish a lot in a short time.(Wikipedia HSP)
Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, ie, the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.(Wikipedia Emapthy). An Empath is a person basically with the ability to feel what others around them are feeling. Some do not believe it exists. They think it’s some fairy tale supernatural power. I am here to tell you it’s absolutely real. It is simply the ability to see yourself within others. You know how you feel, so in turn you know how they feel. You know what they are thinking…
Those are basic definitions. I am going to explain exactly how I am and in turn how to deal with some of it. Because people like me are viewed as different, it can be hard for us to get along with certain types of people or certain situations. I am telling you how I feel hoping that if you recognize my behavior as being similar to someone you love, someone you are having a tough time with, you may be able to see through me how to win, and in turn how to repair the relationship.
How I View The World
I am a 38 year old empath. I at all times know (Or believe I know) almost everything that the people around me are feeling. Because I know how you feel, I also know what you are thinking. This ability at times can feel like a blessing, but there are also times it feels like a curse. I can not always block it, so if I am pulling in too many emotions from the people around me I feel overwhelmed. I at those moments feel attacked, I at times feel I have no choice but to defend myself because the people around me are forcing their feelings and beliefs down my throat. That is where the family fights happen. They could be avoided with a little understanding and respect. Here are a few things we all need to understand.
Give Us Space
If I have a dozen people at my house, I am feeling everything they are feeling. A lot of the time that is OK, but it can go bad quickly. If I feel overwhelmed I will leave. I will go outside and smoke a cig. Or I will find an excuse to run to the store. I just need a moment alone. I can push all of those emotions out with a little space and a moment to concentrate.
If you do not give me that space, I will feel trapped. It feels like I am backed into a corner, attacked. As I understand empathy very well, I will lash out and hurt your feelings. I will get you to back off. Then, with the space I just created, I will push passed those feelings. I will come back and apologize. Truth is that situation is easily fixed, simply by allowing a little more space.
Understand Who We Are
My moral compass is very strong. I live by a code. There are things I would never consider doing, and others that I would only do under extreme conditions. I wear my heart on my sleeve. It is obvious what I am feeling at all times, and my feelings can be hurt dramatically. One thing you have to understand is because I can’t always stop myself from absorbing your feelings, I can send out mixed signals. If you are angry, and you catch me off guard, I will pull it in and show anger back, mimicking your emotion. If we argue you will feel like it is my fault, even though alls I did was act like you for a moment.
Empaths are Intelligent and Creative
I am very smart and creative. For me to be happy I have to be building. I have to be creating. I started off skateboarding. It was my passion for years. Then I moved on to music. I started doing graphic design and building websites to promote music. At 30 I decided music wasn’t doing it for me (along with factory work) and just went to strictly building websites. I am a Full-Time Contracted Web Dev now. My job is all about thinking and problem solving. I am lucky. I get to make money being creative. I work for myself. I am good.
I have friends who do not feel like that. I can tell what is bothering them. They are not really being given the opportunity to do what they love. I see a lot of people that do not understand that if you do not really like the way you are making money you are going to have a tough time being happy. It’s dramatically worse for an empath or an HSP. Their drive, their need to help is engrained in every part of who they are. They can not be happy in a mindless rat race. I did factory work (C/NC Grinding) for 13 years. By the end I was pretty much loosing it. I needed a purpose, something more.
We Are Not As Weird As You Think
I see myself thinking the worse case scenario a lot. If you think deep enough some of those crazy government conspiracy theories start looking like the truth. I see how you could get caught in that cycle. It actually makes sense.
I can almost always tell when a person is telling the truth or when they are lying. I am very good at reading body language, I can always mimic or feel what you are feeling, I think very quickly and I remember almost everything. So if I know you, and you are lying, you can pretty much guarantee that I know it. What’s really weird is it feels like almost everyone is lying or embellishing the truth at all times. It messes with my head. I start thinking that everyone is a liar which makes me feel alone and isolated.
I think to an extent everyone knows that, but have you ever thought about it really? A person telling a lie always has an agenda. They do it because they need something perceived in a certain light. It takes empathy to understand a persons agenda. Everyone has an agenda, we all know that. It’s easy for me to think the majority of people’s agenda is controlling people like myself. An empath understands things that others never think about. That they can not begin to understand. We are the type of people that change the world.
I believe subconsciously most people fear change and will attempt to stop it. It’s what makes them call us weird or crazy. They are attempting to control the way we think. You can see how that leads to some negative thoughts.
We really want to help
I have a huge heart. I love to help and give myself to a cause. I have in my past taken that too far. I have bitten off more than I can chew more than once. Taking on too much is counterproductive. It’s easy to loose focus of what is truly important when you are being pulled in a million different directions. I came to a point in my life where I needed to cut some dead weight. In the long run I realize I can not help everyone.
To Sum It Up, We Need Each Other
My favorite Modern Family episode “Punkin Chunkin” perfectly sums up what I am trying to tell you here. You can kinda break the world into two groups. The Dreamers and the realists. The dreamers need the realists to keep them from flying to close to the sun. And the realists, without the dreamers they may never get off the ground.
It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. – Audre Lorde