If you’re like me, you want to feel proud of who you are and confident in being you. Sometimes, you do: you love your intuitiveness and appreciate the powerful and profound way in which you see the world.
But you still question yourself and everything around you, constantly turning over every stone in your mind. It seems like you're bombarded with so many more feelings than others, and that you feel them more deeply.
Sometimes we wonder if something is wrong with us.
The Isolation of being an HSP
Those of us with highly sensitive nervous systems make up a small minority of the population, and most of us don’t even know about the trait. So, finding someone to talk to who understands us isn't easy.
If you do open up, others may say something unhelpful like, “don’t let it bother you,” or “don't worry so much,” leaving you to feel even more alone, misunderstood and different.
This loneliness probably started long ago
If we’re honest with ourselves, this isn’t something new; we’ve been feeling like this since childhood.
Many Highly Sensitive People were shamed, criticized, or judged by parents. Some of us were told to “toughen up,” while others were being discouraged from taking risks because we were deemed “too fragile.”
Outside the family, we sometimes experienced rejection from our friends, teachers and coaches. Fearing public criticism or humiliation, we retreated from activities that felt overwhelming.
I still remember being 10 years old at a volleyball camp. The coach told our team to yell a cheer at the top of our lungs. Not one for loud noises, I softly chanted the words. She somehow saw this and proceeded to “encourage” me to yell the cheer by myself in front of about 100 other kids and parents. I was humiliated and never forgot it.
Most people just don’t understand HSPs
In many instances, like the case of my volleyball coach, people don’t realize the damage they’re doing with a “tough love” approach. Not only is it not helpful, it often creates emotional scars that take a lifetime to shake.
As kids, we make assumptions about who we are based on the way people treat us. If you grew up receiving disdain, impatience or judgement from those around you, there’s a good chance you struggle with self-criticism.
What your heart is longing to hear
Healing from these wounds takes time and support. We often need someone safe to be a witness to what we’ve experienced. No matter how small it may seem to others, if it wounded our heart, it’s important.
I want to tell you some of the things your heart may be longing to hear:
You are valuable. Every human being has inherent value, you included.
You're exactly as you’re meant to be. You came out of the womb with a sensitive nervous system, just like 20% of the population. Perfect and complex, you bring unique perspective and emotional gifts to this world.
You never deserved to be treated that way. You've always deserved to be treated with unconditional love and respect. There is never any excuse for cruelty, and you deserve to treat those wounds that are still unhealed.
How you were viewed is partly based on culture. Different cultures have different ideas about sensitivity. If you were born in a culture that values competition and individualism, being conscientious and empathic are not likely societal values.
It’s okay to be you. No matter what kind of feedback you’ve gotten, it’s okay to be you. And to be you safely, you may need to learn to set boundaries and make changes to who you surround yourself with.
There’s so much that’s right about you. Being an HSP comes with staggering gifts: perception, intuition, creativity, passion, and empathy, just to name a few. Be thankful for those that recognize your value: they are lucky to have you in their lives.
I hope that speaks to your heart. If you've been hurt, keep these words nearby and say them to yourself often as you work towards peace with your feelings. And you don’t have to do this alone. Programs like Flourish: Live With Courage and Ease as an HSP are here to support you in healing old wounds and recognizing your sensitive superpowers.
P.S. If you’re identifying with this story of loneliness, I encourage you to check out my interactive group program, Flourish: Live with Courage and Ease as an HSP.
One of the most powerful parts of Flourish is the connection we'll have with each other. I'm bringing my whole heart to Flourish as an HSP and as a therapist. I'm ready to see, hear and understand you in our live calls. We'll get to have conversations you aren’t having anywhere else in your life.
You’ll also have a community of other kind, growth-minded HSPs ready to support each other.
If you’ve felt lonely as an HSP and long for a supportive community of others who “get it,” check out Flourish here.
Brooke Nielsen, LMFT
Brooke Nielsen, LMFT has dedicated over 10,000 hours to supporting Highly Sensitive People as a psychotherapist and global HSP consultant. She practices psychotherapy in Boulder, CO and specializes in working with sensitivity and healing of trauma (EMDR). She's also the founder of Intuitive Warrior, an online platform offering resources and support to Highly Sensitive People worldwide. An HSP herself, Brooke went years feeling overwhelmed and anxious before learning how to support her finely-tuned nervous system. She considers it a joy and an honor to get to pass that knowledge and support on to others.
You are a gift to the world. You aren't alone. We need you here.