When my son, Jonathon, was four, I enrolled him in a local preschool, sure he’d love it.
I was beyond wrong.
Day after day, he begged to stay home. Each time, I asked, “Why? What’s wrong?”
But he couldn’t put it into words. So I kept taking him. Finally, after weeks of me asking him, “What’s wrong?” my little guy sighed deeply and said,
“Oh Mama, it’s just so hard being me!”
It’s Just So Hard Being Me!
Oh, did I ever understand.
It can be “just so hard” being an HSP and for so many very different reasons.
If you’ve taken the “Am I an HSP?” self-quiz, you know that it includes a wide diversity of questions. If you are an HSP, you probably recognize that some types of sensitivity don’t apply to you at all, while you score off the scale in another type!
When I surveyed 100 HSPs, their self-reported sensitivities fell as follows:
What are your particular areas of sensitivity? Are you …
Sensitive to Hearing
I was recently a guest in the home of an acquaintance. When we arrived, the TV was on at high volume. A decorative clock next to the TV emitted a distinctive “tick-tick-tick.” Several people were talking at increasing volumes. Then, an old tape recorder was brought out and used to figure out what was on old audiotapes. I thought my head was going to explode!
Sensitive to Seeing
Just as I can’t screen out multiple auditory streams, Daniel can not overlook disorganized bookshelves, a layer of dust, and clumps of dog fur building up in the corners. (I blissfully notice none of these!)
Sensitive to Touching
One of our children removes the itchy tags from all clothes before wearing them. They also can’t stand: pants that restrict movement, sticky fingers, highly textured food, being too hot or too cold, lots of hugging, and shoes that “feel weird.”
Sensitive to Smelling
Scents, especially artificial ones, are also a major trigger for me. I get a headache (and often nausea) from room fresheners, scented candles, perfumes, Fabreeze, and fabric softener…for starters.
Sensitive to Tasting
Different brains interpret the exact same flavor stimuli in completely different ways. Cilantro is a great example because it has a genetic component. My daughter and I love the smell and taste of cilantro while my husband insists its bitterness ruins everything.
Sensitive to Scheduling
When he was little, Jonathon was a totally laid back kid…until we had a change of plans. Sudden schedule changes flipped his tantrum switch like nothing else! And while some people thrive on being busy, those who are highly schedule sensitive will overload when there’s too much to do in a short period of time.
Sensitive to Sleeping & Eating
Some of us absolutely must get sleep. My son and I are incapable of staying up late; we literally fall asleep. As long as I’ve known my husband, he’s been a napper. With one or two hours each afternoon, he’s good to go all day. (We won’t talk about what happens when he goes without!) He’s also highly sensitive to hunger; he used pride himself in going 8-10 hours without eating, but everyone around him paid the price…as did he, when the headache finally hit. He’s now learned to eat small meals every 3-4 hours and is amazed at how good he feels and how less difficult everyone else is to deal with!
Sensitive to Reflecting
Emotional sensitivity is what many people think of when they hear the term “Highly Sensitive Person,” but it’s just one aspect of being more-sensitive-than most. A reflective HSP is keenly aware of his or her own emotions.
Sensitive to Relating
An HSP who is relationally sensitive feels as though she absorbs the emotions and moods of those around her, even if those emotions are not being actively expressed.
Beyond “It’s Just So Hard…”
I took a risk by starting this blog post with my son’s “It’s just so hard being me!” story: that you’ll think I’m encouraging a “poor me” victim mentality.
I’ve spent more than enough years wallowing in victimhood.
Been there, done that, Tshirt was uuuuuugly!
What I do want is to develop a safe community in which each Highly Sensitive Christian woman can
- understand her own unique sensitivity;
- turn to her highly-sensitive Savior to meet her need every need;
- support her HSP sisters (without needing or trying to fix them!)
More about the more-sensitive-than-most woman’s relationship to self-care, Christ, and community tomorrow!
Which type of sensitivity do you relate the most to? How have you made adjustments in your life to allow for this sensitivity?