Monday, January 07, 2008

HSP Topics: Filling in Dangerous "Blanks"

For me-- as well as for many of the HSPs I have met-- one of the more rewarding parts of the trait is the deep empathy we seem capable of. I have heard many describe this as literally "feeling others." This can range from a simple "picking up someone else's mood," to a few very highly attuned empaths who literally can "see someone's story" in an almost psychic manner.

Of course, this can also be rather overstimulating-- many HSPs have trouble with crowds, simply because the "psychic clutter" of so many people assaults their senses, on top of which they often have to explain themselves to friends who insist that they are just "imagining things." Even when they choose to not talk about their empathic gifts, HSPs often get their reluctance around crowds mislabeled as "social anxiety" or "shyness."

Regardless of whether you see your tendency to pick up moods and feelings as a "gift" or a "curse," it is often wise to not become overconfident. Because there are times when the "message" we think we have picked up is just plain wrong. And we can get into a heap of trouble by either insisting to our friend (who's actually quite OK) that they share whatever (we thought) is "wrong," or we attribute one of our own moods to something outside ourselves. Sometimes we simply "fill in blanks" that we had no business filling in.

Most people think of empathy and intuition as something we either "have" or "don't have," and whereas that may be true in a simplistic sense, they can also be trained and directed. For example, at the 2004 HSP Gathering in Three Rivers, CA, one of the workshops offered was on "Developing your Intuition." A large part of the focus was on learning to actually "tune in" to our intuition, rather than just "shoot from the hip." Similarly, in her book "Empowered by Empathy," author and empath Rose Rosetree suggests that we can learn to "manage" our empathic gifts. Her book is in the recommended reading list in the right hand column.

As is true of the HSP trait in general, learning about your empathy and intuition is important. The more you know, the more it can help your life, and the life of others.

TALK BACK: Do you sometimes catch yourself relying excessively on your abilities as an empath? Have you sometimes "filled in blanks" about people you would have been better off leaving alone? Do you experience your ability to sense others' moods as a benefit, or a drawback? Leave a comment!


  1. hey you...just popping over to say hello. i will dive into your wonderful writing soon as i can. much love and peace to you!

  2. Peter, great topic. Empathy is often a benefit for me, even though it sure seems as if those who aren't distracted by the emotions of others move a lot more smoothly through life. I very much like what you say about empathy sometimes being wrong. Or even if the "impression" is real, one's interpretation could be wrong. Some months ago, I found an article that explains (at least to me) how that can be: Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll look for that.

  3. This was a very good post that I can identify with.

    I am super sensitive. I try to avoid large crowds but sometimes it is not possible. A shopping mall,even a doctors office will leave me drained and feeling like I have been beat up. I usually find that the best thing for me to do after a very rough day is to lie down in a dark room and crawl into my safe spot. I usually take a nap and wake up feeling energized.

    I have never been over confident because I found from trial and error that humans are very complex! But some "feelings" are tranferred me in such a strong way that I have no doubts. It is the people close to me, my family that I make too many assumptions with. I realize that they may be my own feelings or perceptions bouncing back at me. If that makes any sense?

    I would say that being empathic is both good and bad. I have helped strangers when I "sensed" the need to do so. Eg... in a store I was walking down and aisle and an elderly lady was alone and did not acknowledge me passing her. I decided to turn back around and as I walked by I smiled. She told me that she was glad I came back because she needed help in finding a product which was in another aisle. I suspect we shared an equal amount of sensitivity. These moments are wonderful. When that connection is in a positive loving way to another human being.

    I worked in the mental health field for only a year. I worked in the insurance billing part and had my own office but since the practice was very small I would sometimes have to help out with checking patients in or calling them in regards to their medication.

    The atmosphere was very toxic. So many strange scattered feelings. Also I was frequently given the suicidal calls or those with schizophrenia. These wer very difficult but my co-workers knew that I was good in helping. I did my best. I was very good at calming them down until I could get them the proper help. I had to quit because it was too much. That is another thing to address is that I found out that I do my best in working on my own. Do you think that other HSP's have difficulties in keeping jobs? I know I have personally. I think that most places of employment is too much for those who are super sensitive. I have physical sensitivies to go along with everything else such as lighting, perfumes, carpeting, and of course negtaive people and bosses. Trying to earn a living has been a literal hell for me. :O(

    I always knew I was over sensitive and so growing up I was incredibly shy until I started high school. I was more open but I had only a few chosen friends. I was by far a social butterfly. I would rather have my head in a book, drawing or listening to music. All these introverted hobbies always have been my sanctuaries.

    I too did not know until in my 30's that there was such a thing as an HSP/Empath.

    You have a great blog and it is very informative to those who are HSP's or those just figuring it all out.

    Well done. Keep up the great work.

    Oh and yes, thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting. Much appreciated.


  4. M, thanks for the link-- good article, and very relevant to this.


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