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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently found out I am an HSP. It's taking me a while to understand what I can perhaps learn and use from this discovery. I know when I learned my mbti and enneagram, it took me a while to understand how to use this knowledge.

So I just wanna know, are there any other HSP 4's out there and how does being HSP affect you? And do you think one can learn to avoid some of the pitfalls to being an HSP or is it something we just gotta live with?

For example, I get really tense and anxious when I'm being harshly criticized or talked down to. It is a split second automatic reaction/feeling and I really just want to run away and find some calm/peace. I have been driven to tears and can sometimes mope around for days/weeks because of what someone said to me. I just feel really bad, like I have been stabbed and its pain fills my entire thoughts/spirit. And it is like I can't control this bad feeling, nor can I ignore it either. Anyways, I used to think that I should just accept that this will ALWAYS be my reaction to such situations and that it is the result of being an Fe-dom and a type 4 together...but now I am wondering if it is more an HSP thing?

And if it is, does anyone here believe that there is a way to alleviate this reaction? Like, is it possible to "desensitize" myself to others' "insensitivity"??? What I am hoping is that perhaps the older I get, the more likely some harsh words can just roll off of me, as a result of my past experience with them. For any HSP's here, do you think it possible for an HSP to get thicker skin?

Cuz so far, the advice I find is more about how to accomodate yourself being an HSP, but I haven't found out much hope that says you can actually learn to make yourself less of an HSP. Perhaps, it does exist, but I haven't read it yet. Or it is impossible to make yourself less HSP...

I believe that ultimately I will never "outgrow" being an HSP. I know there are some words/phrases that if said at the wrong time would really devastate me and that I wouldn't be able to protect myself from the blow and that will be okay. I will just have to do my best to recover fully. But my hope is to be "less" of an HSP, to find a way to be less sensitive to some things that have really bothered me in the past.

I hope that I can develop a thicker skin for some of the minor harsh words/blunt criticisms that I usually encounter when I am out in the "real world". Because just thinking about the kinds of reactions I had to such experiences in the past, really makes me want to stay indoors at all times and become a hermit (though I am an extrovert and I need to have contact with others). It actually makes me wish I was a "thinker" who doesn't feel as threatened or hurt by harsh words (which is what I erroneously assume, but don't really know...I bet there are thinkers who have their feelings hurt all the time, too).

It's a fear that I haven't really acknowledged before, but I want to overcome and hoping PerC can help by offering their experiences and thoughts.







(I know there is an old thread about it, but for the sake of keep things more fresh, I started a new one.)
 

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I'm a 4w5, INFP. I've read about the HSP concept and have been told by my 7w6 ENFP friend, who has a strong 4 side, that I, like him, am an HSP.

Personally, the HSP concept does not appeal to me very much, and less as I grow older (28 now). I find that the enneagram, and the Jungian type descriptions by Jung, van der Hoop, and others (although not MBTI descriptions) give me a deeper understanding of myself. HSP seems more on the surface.

About your question regarding being easily hurt - I've been there. Many of us 4s would qualify as HSP. The kinds of things that hurt you would vary depending on whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, and what your typology is. Being an introvert, sometimes I couldn't be less bothered about certain things that extroverts are affected by, and vice-versa.

Most probably, you will develop a shell with age, where the things that sting you now will sting less. You will learn to care less about the opinions of those who don't matter.

But being HSP shouldn't be a justification for suffering. Activities that make you a stronger, inwardly richer, more purposeful person would be great, especially for HSPs. I have in mind depth-oriented psychotherapy (not really CBT) and vipassana meditation.

Lastly - being HSP comes with its own gifts, so I hope you will not try to become less HSP but an HSP who knows how to manage and thrive in his HSP-ness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
@faizafaiz Thank you for your post!

At first, when I took the test about HSP and found out I was one, I brushed it off. I didn't think it could reveal anything more useful than what is already revealed by the other personality theories. But lately, I have been trying to extrapolate its usefulness.

I think it helps explain why I can feel "overwhelmed" more easily despite being an extrovert. And why I feel like I can be a slow learner when it comes to working at new, hectic work environments. I feel so overwhelmed and like every detail of the place stands out that I find that its hard to concentrate and sometimes the task itself seems enormous...but after a couple of days/weeks...it is a piece of cake. I learn that HSPs process a lot, so they may need more time than others AT FIRST to complete the tasks at hand. So learning that stuff alone helps explain some new things about myself that I sort of knew, but never really could articulate. It gives me a kind of validation and helps me replace negative thoughts that I had in the past about my learning ability such as saying "I'm dumb because Ti is my inferior function" to "I need a little more time because I'm processing so much more." Well, I hope that is the reason. lol.

Anyways, I would be happy if I could develop a thicker skin (not meaning like criticisms are no longer a big deal...but that I don't feel this instant sense of tension and pain when it happens) whether that makes me an HSP who knows how to thrive and manage or if it makes me a little less sensitive...I know I would be happy. I was wondering if for my next birthday party I should have a ROAST and let everyone make fun of me to start toughening me up. j/k.

Perhaps, I should let time reveal the answer of how useful learning about HSP will be...I need patience and other people's input...even though, I am getting obsessed and want to know everything now. haha.

Part of me is still kind of skeptical about HSP...I guess I agree with you that it seems more on the surface of things...

I mean, is it really so different than what a type 4 is like (cuz many HSP sites say micheal jackson, johnny depp, and wynnona rider are HSPs) or what certain mbti types are like? Or is it different from the self-preservation instinct? Because sometimes when I read about "traits" for HSP, there are many traits that sound like they are describing certain personality types. It makes me wonder which "traits" are caused by being HSP and which traits are simply common in the most common HSP's mbti/enneagram type/instinctual variant. Like I wonder if the researcher's are observing mbti/enneagram/instinctual variant traits and are just naively including it as HSP traits.

The proponents also really stress that there are genetic differences to explain HSPs from non-HSPs...but could that be due to personality type, which is genetic too? Maybe I don't need to spend so much time on HSP stuff, if its material is just another way of wording stuff I may already know.

But I guess it does a good job in pointing out some physiological things like why I'm sensitive to caffeine, why it's hard for me to fall asleep, why I avoid violent movies, why I at first feel overwhelmed when working in new environments or learning new skills, and why I feel overwhelmed by "demanding" people, etc. That stuff isn't really spoken about in mbti or enneagram. But perhaps that physiological reaction is all it can describe. Once it starts talking about how HSPs love fine music, love nature and animals...and cry to 'The Notebook'...I kind of get hesitant. Are those really HSP traits?

I hope to find out more about the distinction and how its useful for others.
 
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I recently found out I am an HSP. It's taking me a while to understand what I can perhaps learn and use from this discovery. I know when I learned my mbti and enneagram, it took me a while to understand how to use this knowledge.

So I just wanna know, are there any other HSP 4's out there and how does being HSP affect you? And do you think one can learn to avoid some of the pitfalls to being an HSP or is it something we just gotta live with?

For example, I get really tense and anxious when I'm being harshly criticized or talked down to. It is a split second automatic reaction/feeling and I really just want to run away and find some calm/peace. I have been driven to tears and can sometimes mope around for days/weeks because of what someone said to me. I just feel really bad, like I have been stabbed and its pain fills my entire thoughts/spirit. And it is like I can't control this bad feeling, nor can I ignore it either. Anyways, I used to think that I should just accept that this will ALWAYS be my reaction to such situations and that it is the result of being an Fe-dom and a type 4 together...but now I am wondering if it is more an HSP thing?

And if it is, does anyone here believe that there is a way to alleviate this reaction? Like, is it possible to "desensitize" myself to others' "insensitivity"??? What I am hoping is that perhaps the older I get, the more likely some harsh words can just roll off of me, as a result of my past experience with them. For any HSP's here, do you think it possible for an HSP to get thicker skin?

Cuz so far, the advice I find is more about how to accomodate yourself being an HSP, but I haven't found out much hope that says you can actually learn to make yourself less of an HSP. Perhaps, it does exist, but I haven't read it yet. Or it is impossible to make yourself less HSP...

I believe that ultimately I will never "outgrow" being an HSP. I know there are some words/phrases that if said at the wrong time would really devastate me and that I wouldn't be able to protect myself from the blow and that will be okay. I will just have to do my best to recover fully. But my hope is to be "less" of an HSP, to find a way to be less sensitive to some things that have really bothered me in the past.
Is it weird that I'm an 8 and I can relate to this? I was outrageously sensitive as a child. In fact I probably could have received such a diagnosis as a kid, easily.

I hope that I can develop a thicker skin for some of the minor harsh words/blunt criticisms that I usually encounter when I am out in the "real world". Because just thinking about the kinds of reactions I had to such experiences in the past, really makes me want to stay indoors at all times and become a hermit (though I am an extrovert and I need to have contact with others). It actually makes me wish I was a "thinker" who doesn't feel as threatened or hurt by harsh words (which is what I erroneously assume, but don't really know...I bet there are thinkers who have their feelings hurt all the time, too).

It's a fear that I haven't really acknowledged before, but I want to overcome and hoping PerC can help by offering their experiences and thoughts.
I developed a thick skin at a pretty early age. By the time I got to middle school I was far from 'over-sensitive' but I did cry in one instance. I was a trained singer and really wanted the lead role in the school play, but my friend got it. I congratulated her, but then some people caught me crying. She happened to be half-black and people made up the rumor that I was racist. Then, being that my school was very mixed-race and affirmative-action type school, the whole school turned on me and kids started chasing me through the hallways with hockey sticks. The only person who stood up for me was my friend, who told people I could not be racist given that she and I were close friends.... but nobody listened to her. My life-long best friend, who was Indian, also went along with this rumor to try to get into the cool-crowd. I was being chased, ridiculed and mocked, and even the teachers wouldn't help me. The principle said, when I told him about the kids chasing me with hockey sticks, "They don't mean it, they come from bad families." I ended up leaving the school and vowed never to cry in front of anyone again. Since then I've only cried publicly on stage (I'm a musician & songwriter so I really succumb to the music) and maybe once or twice at a movie. Boyfriends have seen me cry but that's it. I don't even do it in front of my parents who I am very close to.

But I developed an attitude like "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me." When I was 16 I was struck with a chronic illness, and I'm only 5'4, but I value strength and I worked my way up to being pretty strong, even though when I was sick, I could not walk or move or feed myself for a year. The illness took my voice and I speak in a whisper now, so I cannot scream. I go to the gym and try to stay in shape, take long walks instead of taking the car, etc. I still go in and out of minor bouts of arthritis. A few years ago a big guy attacked me on the street in Brooklyn, NYC , probably intending to rape me, and I could not possibly have beaten him in a fistfight, but he knew I would put up a fight and he ran away. It comes from an attitude of FEELING like you can't lose a fight. That same mentality, in the physical world, has applied to me with words too. More and more, I feel like, I've endured so many losses in my life - one more criticism, rejection, or punch won't kill me. I write letters to the world, or to my illness, saying things like: Take my voice, take my hair, take my job, take my brain.. but if you want my passion, you're gonna have to kill me.

The world is fucked up, and that's all there is to it. People will criticize you, life will take away much of what you work for, trials and tribulations and illness and death will happen. There is no avoiding that. But to make the most of life, it has to start from within. Life will have meaning if you choose to give it meaning, and once you give it that meaning, and believe in it, those who stand in your way are powerless. They can take your things, they can punch and kick, but they can't touch your spirit. Because you believe in something. You have a purpose and a passion. That is power, and that is something no one can take away.
 

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Refocus:

If you find you are highly sensitive, or your child is, you need to begin by knowing the following:
  • Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population--too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
  • It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others'.
  • You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
  • You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
  • This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called "shy." But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
  • Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told "don't be so sensitive" so that they feel abnormal.
The Highly Sensitive Person


HSP is not "I get hurt easily." or "I'm emotional."

Personally, I'm very body-sensitive. If I pay attention to my body, I know exactly what's going on in the environment. Lighting and sound are intensely stimulating.
 
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Refocus:


The Highly Sensitive Person


HSP is not "I get hurt easily." or "I'm emotional."

Personally, I'm very body-sensitive. If I pay attention to my body, I know exactly what's going on in the environment. Lighting and sound are intensely stimulating.
me too!

I checked 20 of the boxes. It says if you check 14 you're HSP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Being an HSP - Blogs - PersonalityCafe

The day after I started this thread, I wrote all this in my blog. I think I am starting to believe that HSP exists now. I also am seeing its merits and the different things it reveals about me that mbti/enneagram haven't shown. Basically, I understand it more because I read some excerpts from "The Highly Sensitive Person" book. There was a lot to preview on Amazon! I'm planning on buying the book soon.
 

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@IluvHSJ I thought your posts were so interesting I decided to buy a couple the highly sensitive person and the highly sensitive person in love on kindle to see if I could get any help for myself with them. I definitely relate to being highly sensitive emotionally. Interesting that you attributed your sensitivity to your Fe and being an enfj. I always thought mine was from being an isfp.
So far I think the book kind of gives conflicting messages that being sensitive doesn't have to do with fear and it does.

I guess a way being highly sensitive affects me if that I have bad boundaries. A lot of times over the years I've been very accepting and patient with people at first but then somehow they misinterpret me and I feel taken advantage of in lots of small ways which only makes me more sensitive. Recently I've had a therapist that I felt very taken advantage of by when I wanted to get help from her. I grew up as the only feeling type person in the family with an abusive narcissistic dad who does not like sensitive people or sensitive children. So I've always struggled with feeling like most people hated the way I was.

I recently found this advice for setting boundaries online. I've been thinking about how to apply it. Sorry if I have gone off topic. I guess struggling with being over accommodating than feeling bad about it or poor boundaries is one of the biggest issues that comes from my sensitivity.


The Steps Of Setting Boundaries

Pain of discomfort occurs.
This signals a boundary violation.

Be prepared to observe and feel the feeling without reacting.
This is the creation of the ‘gap’ in order not to revert to previous reactions and previous wounds. Then you are capable of dealing with the issue in a mature and empowered space in the present moment.

Realise no-one else is responsible for fixing your bad feeling. It’s your job.
This is an essential part of the steps that keep you connected to your own power.

Connect to who you are (principle-centered identity) and what your truth is on the matter.
Be prepared to calmly and clearly state and walk this truth. DO COURAGE!! State your truth as an ‘I’ statement – not a ‘You’ statement. Example: “I feel uncomfortable about doing that, so the answer is 'No'”, rather than saying “I can’t believe you’d expect me to do that.”

Detach from being connected to an individual or group validating your feelings or ‘getting’ where you are coming from.
If you are reliant on another person for validating your feelings and understanding your point of view, your emotions and mental state will be dictated by this person. They don’t need to ‘get’ you. YOU need to ‘get’ you.

Detach from being connected to a particular outcome being created with that person or that situation.
This is true identity assertion. It means you’re aware you have the power to create your truth (even if it takes time) regardless of what life deals you. This is the philosophy of aligning with durable long-lasting results. This point (number 6) grants you ultimate freedom, because you no longer give into quick-fix solutions that don’t stand the test of time.

If certain situations and people aren’t matching your truth, they will either adjust their behaviour or depart from your reality. What you can be assured of is that your life will fill with the details, events and people that are the truth of you. Think about it… your life has always worked to this formula, whether you are conscious of it or not!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@IluvHSJ I thought your posts were so interesting I decided to buy a couple the highly sensitive person and the highly sensitive person in love on kindle to see if I could get any help for myself with them. I definitely relate to being highly sensitive emotionally. Interesting that you attributed your sensitivity to your Fe and being an enfj. I always thought mine was from being an isfp.
So far I think the book kind of gives conflicting messages that being sensitive doesn't have to do with fear and it does.

I guess a way being highly sensitive affects me if that I have bad boundaries. A lot of times over the years I've been very accepting and patient with people at first but then somehow they misinterpret me and I feel taken advantage of in lots of small ways which only makes me more sensitive. Recently I've had a therapist that I felt very taken advantage of by when I wanted to get help from her. I grew up as the only feeling type person in the family with an abusive narcissistic dad who does not like sensitive people or sensitive children. So I've always struggled with feeling like most people hated the way I was.

I recently found this advice for setting boundaries online. I've been thinking about how to apply it. Sorry if I have gone off topic. I guess struggling with being over accommodating than feeling bad about it or poor boundaries is one of the biggest issues that comes from my sensitivity.


The Steps Of Setting Boundaries

Pain of discomfort occurs.
This signals a boundary violation.

Be prepared to observe and feel the feeling without reacting.
This is the creation of the ‘gap’ in order not to revert to previous reactions and previous wounds. Then you are capable of dealing with the issue in a mature and empowered space in the present moment.

Realise no-one else is responsible for fixing your bad feeling. It’s your job.
This is an essential part of the steps that keep you connected to your own power.

Connect to who you are (principle-centered identity) and what your truth is on the matter.
Be prepared to calmly and clearly state and walk this truth. DO COURAGE!! State your truth as an ‘I’ statement – not a ‘You’ statement. Example: “I feel uncomfortable about doing that, so the answer is 'No'”, rather than saying “I can’t believe you’d expect me to do that.”

Detach from being connected to an individual or group validating your feelings or ‘getting’ where you are coming from.
If you are reliant on another person for validating your feelings and understanding your point of view, your emotions and mental state will be dictated by this person. They don’t need to ‘get’ you. YOU need to ‘get’ you.

Detach from being connected to a particular outcome being created with that person or that situation.
This is true identity assertion. It means you’re aware you have the power to create your truth (even if it takes time) regardless of what life deals you. This is the philosophy of aligning with durable long-lasting results. This point (number 6) grants you ultimate freedom, because you no longer give into quick-fix solutions that don’t stand the test of time.

If certain situations and people aren’t matching your truth, they will either adjust their behaviour or depart from your reality. What you can be assured of is that your life will fill with the details, events and people that are the truth of you. Think about it… your life has always worked to this formula, whether you are conscious of it or not!
Thank you for reading my posts and for sharing this advice that you found. I bolded parts that really stood out to me. I really feel discomfort over many things that people say. It is good to realize that this feeling means that they have violated a boundary. It's also good advice to tell you to pause for a moment and not react, but still feel the feeling. I like that versus ignoring/stifling/bottling up those feelings which is often the advice for fours.

And then the part of it saying to not to get too dependent on a person/group to validate your feelings was very interesting. I had been learning that last part very well lately. I used to ALWAYS depend on others to validate what I am feeling. I didn't know how to do it myself. I would seek people out so quickly. It was like I couldn't trust myself. But then when others couldn't validate it the way I wanted them to, I would get so confused, angry, hurt and feel more lost. Now, I realize that sometimes there is a real healing that happens when others validate your feelings. You get a sense that you are not alone. That other people share your pain and therefore, the pain is lessened because it is as if they are helping to carry the burden with you. This is why I treasure those who can do it and I put effort into finding/keeping friends who are caring and supportive. It is also why I am on PerC a lot. I love reading stories/opinions from "like-minded" people. And perhaps it is why I like personality theories a lot too (there is a source of validation for how I am). But I am also realizing that there is another healing that comes when you can validate your own feelings. You realize your own inner strength and persevere even when you are alone and have no one to talk to about your troubles.

Like you, I also have trouble setting good boundaries. I sometimes fear what the consequences will be if I assert myself. I am also curious when you mentioned HSP has something to do with fear. Because recently, since finding out I am an HSP, I am more and more aware of what a cautious person I am. I am also aware of how fearful I can be. I am not a 6 like my mom, but I can understand her anxieties most of the time (she might be an HSP too though). Also, there are even some things that I fear, that she does not understand. One place that fear shows up is in my current career choice. After a bad year of internships that were full of not-so-good-for-HSP-experiences, I fear that the career is NOT for me and that its only going to drain me. I promised my mom that I would at least take my board exams and get a license. But this requires me going back to doing more internships. And I am afraid. I'm afraid that I will be seen as stupid or incompetent or slow again. I'm afraid that my boss/co-workers will take advantage of me again. I'm afraid I will lose all energy and zest for life again and become depressed again. So many fears.

So I have been trying to find advice. What I want is a boost in true confidence and self-esteem, so I recently found this place online that had very unique and good advice (at least for me anyway). I posted some of the "quotes" on my wall, just to help remind me of what I need to head towards. It has actually been helping me a lot, but in subtle ways.

http://thecodeofextraordinarychange.com/wp-content/download/TheCOEC.pdf

I like "the code of extraordinary change" quotes. It reminds me of the time when I went to my school counselor in high school and she helped fill me with appreciation for myself. It helped me more than seeing a psychologist. I am sorry to hear that your experiences with a therapist weren't good either. I like it when the health professional "guides" their patients to the answers, allowing the patients to make their own choices, versus feeling like they are bombarding you with advice. In my limited experience, I left my psychologist because I didn't feel like she was guiding me enough (but I was super depressed and such a low level 4 that it was difficult to connect with me anyways).

Anyways, thanks for your post! Oh, one more thing, is "the highly sensitive person in love" a good read?
 
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I really like "The Highly Sensitive Person in Love." To me it was seeming more helpful and interesting than the main book. I'm appreciating the main book a little more after feeling a a little disappointed at first. I guess the biggest thing I wanted from the books was helpful advice about what to do if you take things too hard emotionally and how to survive with other people, so the relationship one was more helpful. The author says even though the book is written for romantic relationships a lot can be applied to other relationships.

Thanks so much for giving me this idea. The books are helping me already, not everything I needed, but I was feeling like nothing has been helping me. It's helping in a way that is more reachable and realistic to my personality.
 
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