Many highly sensitive people have at some point in their lives wondered what the hell is wrong with them. Luckily, most of us come to understand that the answer to that is there is nothing wrong with us.
However, understanding yourself and your sensitivities is key to feeling more comfortable and happy in your own skin. Knowing yourself is key to eradicating the doubt that others make you feel about yourself.
Being introvert, being highly sensitive, can mean not matching up to society’s expectations. It can mean feeling lost in a world that is focussed on being busy, making noise and blowing your own trumpet to get higher and further. Square peg. Round hole.
Being the mother of highly sensitive children made me understand my own sensitivities more – and helped me accept them instead of see them as negative traits or see myself as fundamentally flawed. Motherhood made me realise there are some things I cannot change about how I am; other things I shouldn’t want to change because this is me, this is who I am. It helped me understand which parts of my personality are down to being highly sensitive.
Ponder for a minute what being highly sensitive means to you. What makes you highly sensitive?
I don’t like busy shopping streets and browsing around shops in busy periods. What environments do you not enjoy being in?
I don’t like being jostled by crowds. What makes you physically uncomfortable?
Music can easily bring tears to my eyes. A sad scene in a film can have me in floods of tears. What evokes emotion in you?
The start of a new school year makes me sob. It reminds me that the years go quickly and my children are another year older. What events make you think far deeper than you should?
I don’t like the feel of long sleeved thick jumpers on my arms. I hate the feel of sand on my wet feet, and particularly dislike when the sand dries and I can’t wipe it easily off my feet. It took me years to consciously realise these things and think about why. What makes you physically uncomfortable?
I don’t like horror films. Even all grown up I still sometimes conjure up the image of a Japanese girl crawling across the ceiling in the dead of night on my way to the bathroom. It makes me move that little bit quicker back to bed in the darkness. It took Gretchen Ruben’s book ‘The Happiness Project’ to make me realise that I just don’t enjoy horror movies and accept that this is the way it is. It may seem blindingly obvious to everyone but it took reading Ruben’s book to make it clear that I don’t have to watch movies that scare me – for the sake of my husband who enjoys a good scary film every now and then. What have you been doing because you feel that you should even though you actually don’t enjoy it?
The same book jolted me awake to realise that to feel comfortable in your own skin acceptance is key and I started giving myself permission to ‘be Amanda’. It was enlightening. Be Amanda. Be who you are.
I know now I am a highly sensitive person. I know now why I behave the way I do. I know now that it’s highly unlikely I will change my reactions and emotions in various circumstances. I know now that that is okay. I know now that I understand myself better now I am in my 40s than at any time in my past. It’s a liberating feeling.