Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thoughts on and HSPs and "Overreacting"

I recently observed a discussion among HSPs, on the topic of "overreacting." Do we, in fact "overreact" in response to stimuli? Do we exaggerate the seriousness of an event or experience, when it happens, as a result of our more attuned nervous systems?

I have always felt that communication is really a small miracle.

As we wander through life, we run into so many problems because of miscommunication. Most often (and most confusing) trouble arises when we actually genuinely "hear" what someone is saying, but we filter the intended meaning through our individual lenses of perception. We might "hear" that someone is hurting, but we give them an aspirin when what they wanted was a hug.

I contend that one person's exaggeration is another's normal. What IS overreacting, anyway? If I find myself standing near a wasp's nest, I almost panic and have to get out of there. People look at me with puzzled expressions and say "Get a grip! They are just bugs!" But my reality is that I am extremely allegic to the stings and will end up in the hospital, if stung. Am I still "overreacting?" Or is it a "proportional response," given my particular sensitivities? Or is the underlying Truth that everyone responded appropriately to the situation?

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we try to clamp too narrow definitions on stuff like "how we should react" in a specific situation. As HSPs, we observe and perceive more deeply, and since most HSPs are also intuitive/empathic, we also respond to "things unseen" by most people. Yet, for us they are very real. I feel that sensitivity and the appearance of overracting (in the perception of non-HSPs, especially) are quite consistent... and thus neither something to feel concerned about, nor something to apologize for. We see the metaphorical 18-wheeler bearing down on us before others, and so our immediate "let's get out of the way" response is seen as "hysterical" by those who don't perceive the speeding truck till it's right in their face.

That doesn't make us wrong, merely different.


  1. i think others just over react to our over reacting! great post...everyone experiences the world in their unique way. nobody should judge our way of viewing and responding to the world.

  2. What really torques my boat is when someone says 'Calm down' instead of addressing what is disturbing me.


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