Highly Sensitive People Often Feel Misunderstood
As a child, I grew up feeling so sensitive but constantly heard messages that sensitivity was a weakness. All around me I heard things like this: “Why are you so sensitive?” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” “What’s wrong with you?” “Why are you reacting that way?”
As a kid, I remember sitting in the classroom and being so concerned about the mood of the teacher or another student that my focus was on that rather than listening to the lecture. My heart would race if I was called on and anything that was timed gave me an instant jolt of panic. I spent so much time trying to please others and worrying about what everyone thought of me that I didn’t even know what I thought of me.
I didn’t understand why everything felt harder. There was always concern about my energy level. Why was I so tired all the time? It seemed every event I attended I needed so much down time afterward. If I was around a crowd or a busy event, I would end up feeling incredibly irritable, and my senses were so maxed out it was as if I almost physically hurt. I didn’t understand what it meant to have a sensitive nervous system. I loved to be alone in my own inner world and I often spent a lot of time with animals and away from people, but sometimes, if I spent too much time alone, I felt lonely because it was hard to connect with people that seemed to experience life differently than I did. Finding that balance was difficult.
The word sensitive was definitely not a positive and felt like a liability. I did not understand that there were gifts attached to being sensitive. I only saw that it was a challenge, and I felt I was too raw and exposed. I was determined to find balance, and the more I learned about the trait of high sensitivity the more I understood myself and why I was the way I was in the world. There wasn’t something wrong with me—I was just a highly sensitive person! Finding out I had a tribe of people just like me was so wonderful! By changing my narrative, I began to recognize that if I took care of myself in the right ways I could be balanced and centered and even empowered. I want that for you, too!
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~Julie Bjelland is a psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, and leader in the field of high sensitivity and has helped thousands of highly sensitive people around the world. As an HSP herself, Julie understands what it is like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions. Julie teaches an online course for HSPs and is the author of several books. www.juliebjelland.com.