Updated: Oct 17, 2020
I've never been very fond of labels that attempt to place us into concrete boxes, and I also don’t like to over-identify with the labels that tells us there is something wrong with us.
The danger is, if we overidentify with those labels, they can start to limit our potential and cause us to get stuck in a mindset that tell us what we are, or are not, capable of.
Yet, we all have incredibly unique ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. For this reason, I also value the use of labels, and think they are important when used as a reference point — rather than a way to restrict ourselves.
It’s so important to know that the label of the Highly Sensitivity Person (HSP) is not indicative of a disease or a condition, and it doesn’t attempt to place the HSP into the role of a victim.
We can instead use this information to make sense of the way that HSP experience and process information in the world. We can also empower those who resonate with the traits to celebrate their authentic gifts rather than to become a victim to those traits.
For this reason, I want to dispel some of those myths surround the HSP.
Myth №1: Being highly sensitive is a disease or a disorder.
Being a HSP is not a disease or a disorder and it shouldn’t be confused with other things like autism, ADHD or even introversion. There are many HSP who are extraverted, in fact it appears around 30% of HSP are extraverted!
If you’re a HSP you have specific genes that mean you process information differently. This doesn’t imply that there is something wrong with you. Instead, these traits should be acknowledged and valued as real.
Myth №2: Being sensitive means you’re weak
Unfortunately, the word sensitive is loaded with so many negative connotations such as being weak, soft or even broken. I used to worry about being ‘sensitive’ because I didn’t associate it with being empowered or resilient at all!
This myth is often ingrained into us when we are young children. Society teaches us that being resilient is about having this tough and strong exterior and if someone is ‘too emotional’ or sensitive then this is a problem–they need to ‘toughen up!’
The truth is, sensitivity and being highly sensitive is not a weakness — it is actually a strength.
The qualities of the HSP such as being highly intuitive, empathetic and compassionate are beautiful gifts in this world, which need to be nurtured and encouraged.
This is the exact message I want highly sensitive people to hear. Yes, sometimes being highly sensitive can feel overwhelming or we may encounter struggles, but if we learn to nurture and engage in practices to support our needs then we can share our strengths and feel more resilient at the same time.
Myth No.3: If you’re a highly sensitive person you need to’ fix’ yourself
I’ve been there myself and I have seen time and time again that trying to ‘fix’ ourselves is not the solution.
This idea of ‘fixing’ ourselves suggests that we are broken. Unfortunately, this belief isn’t just a problem with HSP but it is a global mindset that needs to be eradicated!
If we try to hide our traits or fit into a specific way of being, then we’re not being authentic or honest with ourselves. This can lead to the experience of even more stress, anxiety or burnout.
When we connect with our core self and celebrate our unique way of experiencing the world, then we will start to feel more empowered. We will realize there is nothing we need to fix, but we just need to connect with the truth of who we already are and priortise our needs and self-care.
Everything we need is already in us, it’s just that sometimes we become disconnected from our authentic, core self.
Eradicating these myths and reframing what it means to be highly sensitive is so important because we can empower highly sensitive people to be authentic and build resilience without denying their gifts.
This might mean saying ‘no’, setting boundaries and knowing this is OK. It might mean needing to sleep more than the average person, taking more breaks or having time to process your busy day alone.
If you can respect your needs and prioritize your self-care then you’re more likely to feel balance and energized for your other commitments.
I hope this helped to clarify some common misconceptions around the highly sensitive person and can empower highly sensitive people to value their authentic way of being in the world.