Saturday, December 04, 2010

Perceptions, Reality and Who We REALLY Are

On my "travels" through the HSP community, I have run into various misconceptions about what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person. For example, a particularly common misconception is that HSPs are (by definition) "nice" people. In fact, I'd submit that many HSPs are actually attached to the idea that they are "nice," like being sensitive somehow makes them members of a clan of Nice People.

This idea is actually not true, at all. HSPs can be just as unpleasant and ornery as any other people out there. When I point this out, many get rather angry with me.

"You've GOT to be kidding! I'm offended!"

No, I'm not kidding.

I don't like the term "nice," at the best of times... after all, just who gets to decide what constitutes "nice" and "not-nice?"

But I digress...

When I thought about this issue, I realize that it's really just a small part of a greater issue HSPs often face: namely that there's often a huge gap between how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us. And I am talking about perceptions that extend far beyond the common complaint... that the world perceives HSPs as "too sensitive."

I'm talking about the overall issue of who we really are... and how we present ourselves to the world.

On the surface, that may look like a pretty straightforward exercise... but I can assure you it's not. Do you know who you are? I mean... who you really are? Do you (objectively) know how others perceive you? Do you know how people perceived you, as a child? Does who you feel you really are match the way you present yourself in the world? How is that working for you... or not? What kinds of toxic behaviors are you hanging on to-- even if subconsciously-- because you believe they somehow serve you... even if they keep you from living an authentic life?

In the coming weeks (or months) I am planning to explore these issues. One of the things I really like about blogging (aside from writing) is that a blog is an interactive forum... a place where issues can be presented and discussed. With that in mind, I'm hoping to make this a somewhat "interactive" series of explorations...


  1. i do agree. i can't hide my emotions and when i get angry it's like a bolt of lightning shooting from the sky. i used to be passive aggressive and the nice one, but oh so seething inside. i do feel that repressing the aggressive part will lead a person to depressive episodes, at least that is how i have personally experienced it. i'm in the expressing stage at the moment, getting it all out of my system and hopefully some time soon i will be in the smoother expressive zone. i'm not angry at your post at all. it's honest. thank you.

  2. As always, great and insightful. Thank you again.

    Yes, I agree with you. The difference between a very non-sensitive person and a highly sensitive person is like the difference between a woodsman's axe and a surgeon's scalpel.

    Within their respective spheres of activity, both can be used for good or for ill, for kindness or for cruelty.

    The most dangerous person in the world is the one who feels he is a victim. When he harms others it may be without awareness and thus without remorse. It's important that HSPs do not view ourselves as 'nice people/victims'. That would just blind us the more to the harms we can and do cause.

    Nevertheless, alot of us are in great need of spaces of social acceptance and healing. We need this in order to release the trauma of having felt out of place and rejected for so long.

    I know I'm still attempting to find and to create the spaces of healing that I want and need. It's a quest and a war that I gladly wage. Not for someone else's hurt, but for my own healing.


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