HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON (HSP)
Several years ago I posted something to my Facebook page about how I don’t like going to big shopping centres anymore. I explained that as I’ve gotten older I like crowds and noise much less and find shopping centres can be quite overwhelming and cause me anxiety and energy drain. Someone commented that it sounded very much that I was a HSP which is a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’. I was a bit taken aback until I realised this wasn’t a personal label put on me by this person but rather, a way of being that was well known of. She suggested I watch ‘Sensitive The Movie‘, a groundbreaking documentary about the temperament trait of high sensitivity found in 20% of the population in both women and men. It’s based on the findings of author-psychologist Dr Elaine Aron (“The Highly Sensitive Person”). I watched that documentary intently and knew instantly that yes, I am a HSP. I also learned a little about Empaths and my intrigue was piqued at that time because I had a sneaking suspicion that I could also be an Empath. However, I thought it all sounded a bit woo woo and people would think me crazy so I dismissed it, but the wonder about it lingered.
AM I AN EMPATH?
Following the passing of my Dad nearly five years ago, I was seeing a Psychologist for a while to help me navigate my way through my grief. I’d seen her before years earlier after I had left my corporate workplace so she knows me well. I spoke with her about this wonder I had about my being Empath. She told me that she most definitely believes me to be an Empath and that I needed to learn how to protect myself from absorbing all the emotions of others. So I was another step closer to accepting I was an Empath but still had some reservations and concerns about what others would think if I were declare myself an Empath!
I AM AN EMPATH
Time ticked on and now and then I’d read a bit more about empaths. I followed some empath pages on Instagram. I related to so much of what I read and saw. I noticed things about myself that were so very empath. Recently while I was having a brief holiday up at Mount Tamborine I was having a facial at the spa at place where we stayed. The lady who did my facial (which included glorious foot and hand and arm massages too) and I talked now and then about many interesting topics which all stemmed from the beautiful background music that I commented on. Somehow our conversation lead to me saying that I suspected I was an Empath. She knew a lot on the topic and suggested I get hold of this book: The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD. I ordered the book and read it. It included self assessments which confirmed that I’m a full blown Empath and much more about the type of Empath I am, but I’ll go more into that another time. There’s no denying it anymore. I am ready now to accept, embrace and declare the fact that I AM AN EMPATH!
WHAT IS AN EMPATH:?
In Dr Judith Orloff’s words:
Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualise feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners.
Other definitions I’ve come across:
Empaths are people who have a lot of empathy for others and good intuition, but who may have difficulty setting boundaries.
An empath is a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. Empaths feel what another person is feeling at a deep emotional level.
Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. Psychologists may use the term empath to describe a person that experiences a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.
I’M A DISEMPOWERED EMPATH WHO IS ENDEAVOURING TO BECOME AN EMPOWERED EMPATH
Dr Judith Orloff explains . . .
SOME THINGS I’VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY
- I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore.
- As we reach and traverse these mid-life years we seek to understand, accept and love ourselves so that we can live our best and most authentic lives for the time we have remaining, and that is what I am doing.
- I have learnt that I am an Empath and I embrace this knowledge as it explains a lot and allows me to better understand why I am like I am.
- I now have the understanding, resources and means to find the tools to enable me to become an empowered empath which means I will have a much better quality of life.
I’ll continue to post on a diverse range of subjects, but in addition to what I already post about, I’ve created a new category on the blog called ‘Empath Corner’. You’ll see it visible now to the right in the menu at the top of the blog. This is where you’ll find any empath related posts. I plan on sharing much more about my discoveries of being an empath and what it means. There’s a lot to take in, so small bits of information in a series of posts will be good for me and will be good for anyone else out there who might identify as a HSP and/or as an Empath and of course for anyone who is interested to understand the subject.
My blog has always been fluid as to what subjects I post on and mostly they have reflected where I am in life and my interests. Whatever the subject, there are usually readers that resonate and readers that don’t. That’s only natural. If the subject of being an Empath and what that means doesn’t interest you, please no negative comments, just don’t bother reading or commenting. Please come back again though when a subject that does resonate for you is posted!
Keep watch for next posts coming for ‘Empath Corner’ on what symptoms I’ve had that led me to believe I was an empath; the difference between HSP and Empath; what kind of empath am I, and more!
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics‘
I found this very interesting. At first, I thought that being an empath must be only positive, but the more I read the more I realised it must be quite draining… and that I’m probably an empath too. I’ve always had a way of caring too much about other people, and to sort of “feel” the emotions in a group of people. Not sure if this makes me an empath. On the other hand, sometimes I really dislike people! I’m not happy about putting labels on people (including myself) – but it depends on whether the reason for doing so leads to something good and helpful. If your discovery of being one has helped you make decisions that make your life better, then it’s a great thing.
Hi Susanne, thanks so much for commenting. I think that there are many positives about being an empath (gifts actually) but it can be super exhausting. I’ll write examples of why I say that in future posts. You may well be an empath. There’s varying degrees of it. I’m a full blown empath but you can be mildly or moderately empath. Doing the self assessment in Judith’s book would tell you where you sit. I’m grateful for understanding why I am like I am because now I can read about ways to protect myself from absorbing emotions and being overwhelmed and zapped of my energy which are problems I suffer with a lot.
Hi Min, Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned about HSP and Empaths. To feel everything, sometimes to the extreme, sounds really hard on the empath’s well-being. I’m glad you’ve found ways to become an empowered empath to have better life quality. #WW&P
Hi Natalie, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I think being an empath is a gift in many ways but boundaries are needed to try and protect ourselves from overwhelm and energy drain. I haven’t learnt how to do that yet but look forward to mastering it because it would mean far less time out needed to rest and restore.
Min, thank you for sharing your journey of discovery around HSP and being an empath. Your experience somewhat mirrors mine, though I have been this way since I was a small child. I think for me I was born feeling this way and it helped me survive the abuse at the hands of the priests and other Catholic Clergy. It made me hypersensitive to watching out for and protecting others, both humans and animals. You are right in saying that often empaths try to absorb others pain and take it away from them, we try hard to make others lives better. My psychologist has said that this has also made me minimise myself and my presence so that I am not singled out for any more abuse and pain. I do this to this very day. I have always had feelings of being overwhelmed and sensory overload when I am around too many people. As I have gotten older this has increased. I love music but I also just need quiet time to just sit and recharge. I am grateful for my quiet rural life with my creativity and my dogs. Being an empath is good, but at times its hard work and I’m so grateful for you sharing this. It helps me to know that I am not alone. You have made me consider some writing and reviving my blog on here called The Renaissance Man.
Hi Patrick, so nice to see you on the blog again after so long. Thanks for reading the post and for your comment. Sounds like you understand what I’ve said in this post very well! I’m pleased to hear I may have inspired you to revisit your blog again. Blogging provides me with so much great brain stimulation, opportunities to learn, and in particular the ability to gain so much insight into myself and who I am. It’s great therapy!
Hi Min – I think the whole point of blogging is to share our story and our journey – it’s a place to work through our thoughts and to own who we’re becoming. I would definitely agree that you fit all those definitions and having a label to put on how you relate to the world makes a lot of sense. I always assumed I was an extravert (being married to an introvert it just seemed like the right label for me) but as I’ve gotten older and actually figured out who I really am, I think there’s a lot of introvert in me – and I just put the extravert mask on when I need to be in a social situation.
I think it will be a really interesting process for you to figure out how being an empath helps and hinders your relationship with the world around you – and is a good reason to protect yourself with good boundaries (because there are a lot of self-interested, insensitive people out there who happily tread all over those who are less robust.) 🙂
Hi Leanne – thanks so much. I agree about our blogs being our place to share our story and journey. Blogging has allowed me to learn so much about myself! Most people that know me well would agree I fit the empath criteria. It doesn’t mean I need to be tiptoed around though – because I’m ‘sensitive’. It means I’m sensitive to the moods and emotions and energy of others and I absorb that. It can be exhausting. I’m hoping though to learn how to protect myself from that. It will make an enormous difference! Did you know you don’t have to be an introvert to be an empath. There are introvert and extrovert empaths! You’re right about the need for boundaries because empaths tend to attract a lot of what they call ‘energy vampires’ because we’re so kind and caring and good listeners. Interestingly though, we too can be energy vampires if drained and depressed from exposure to too much stimulation/emotions/etc etc. It’s all very interesting!
Hi Min. This is a very interesting subject, one I loved to read more about. I’m excited that you’ll be doing more posts about empaths. As for me, I don’t know where I stand, at 62. I’m still trying to figure that all out. I do know that I’ve been highly sensitive, my whole life. Now that I’m in my 60’s, and have gone through alot, I have this new -found confidence, that makes me feel a lot less sensitive, and a lot less concerned about what other people think. I’m looking forward to your future posts. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Christina, thank you for your interest and support. It means a lot to me. Most of my sensitivity is around feeling the emotions of others and absorbing them so that I often don’t know what is mine and what is not and I can get really overwhelmed and drained at times if a bit too much of that has been happening. I also have a high sensitivity to noise (can’t stand it and it can be like physical pain to me). I’m glad you care less about what people of think of you! I hope you find future posts I write on the topic interesting!
I remember some of your life challenges well and thought that you did have something within your makeup that was a way of sensing the world in a different way to say, I might. I have no idea of what that might be for me but I can see how knowing this about yourself Min has given you wings to be and act as you ARE not as you might think people want you to be. That is so freeing. I am in awe of your courage to share and think this will be a great way to share and connect!
Thank you for joining in this new weekly link up of mine. Looking forward to catching up with you when you next do so, for Wednesday’s Words & Pics. Warm wishes,
Thanks Denyse. I’m just a person who is sensitive to the emotions of others and who is highly intuitive. I can absorb the emotions of others which can be exhausting and overwhelming at times. I never used to understand why I could feel like a plug had been pulled on my energy when out at social events or why I’d need to lie down after a social event and have silence and peace and it could take me quite some time to recover. I thought it was just because I was an introvert but it’s more than that I have learned. There’s lots more I will share in future posts. I’m learning too! xo
This was very interesting Min and a topic I’d not heard much about before. It will be interesting to see how you go with this and I look forward to reading more.
Thanks Debbie. It might seem all a bit woo woo to you then if you’ve not heard much about it. I thought the same when I first heard the term empath. I hope I can change that for you and that you find any future posts I publish on the topic to be interesting.
I don’t know if I’m an empath but I started tearing up for a young L plater who was sobbing and sitting on the ground while her mother calmly chatted with the tow truck driver as they waited for the police at the 4 car pile up – no one was hurt and most of the damage looked like it was her car, so in some way, it was the best out come but that poor girl will probably never want to drive again….sooooo maybe I am!! #WordsAndPictures
Maybe you’ll learn where you sit on the empathy scale as you read more of my posts Lydia. There’s having empathy and then theres being an empath and there’s quite a big difference between the two. However, there is a bit of a sliding scale in between. I hope you can learn more about yourself from my posts on this subject. By the way – the poor L plater – what a terrible scare for (and her mother!). Sounds like she was ok physically but she will take some time to heal mentally from a trauma like that!
i certainly agree with you about shopping centres! way too much for my tiny brain to handle – all the noise and lights and people. Good luck with your empath life.
Thanks Sherry. My life will just be the same except I know this about myself now so can learn ways to make life a little easier for myself!