5 Things on High Sensitivity #6


In this edition:  The highly sensitive people in charts and graphs, the inevitable backlash, someone hates a HSP (can you believe it?), a celebrity HSP?, and my favorite highly sensitive person, Ane Axford.


  1. I love information relayed in chart form and this collection by Shannon Rosenberg at Buzzfeed about HSP is funny and pretty accurate. A few of my favorites:

hspmakingamistake hsphavingdifficultconversations hsppriorites hspmakingdecisions

Check out the rest of Shannon’s charts here.

2.  It’s great that sites like Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post are increasing the exposure and understanding of high sensitivity. But with more exposure, especially on these general interest sites that are more interested in clicks than complexity, there’s a possibility that people won’t understand. Or don’t want to. Or are opportunistic.

Case in point: this article at Thought Catalog “7 Struggles of Having a Straightforward Personality in a World of Highly Sensitive People” by Heidi Priebe. “In a world of highly sensitive people”? Seriously?

I read it three times. I don’t understand what she’s trying to say. Hordes of HSP are stopping her from being awesome? She says what she means, she assumes problems don’t exist if not raised, she has a one track mind, refuses to feed into passive aggressiveness, and doesn’t feel sorry for taking what’s hers. How are you struggling with highly sensitive people? Seems like Heidi does what she wants whether the people around her are sensitive or not. And I advocate doing what you want. Some people (probably like two) make you feel self-conscious about being so straightforwardly, awesomely yourself? Welcome to the human race.

3.  I wrote a post last year titled “Why Do You Hate Sensitive People?” in which I wondered why people hate sensitive people so much? This sums up my theory:

Feelings and emotions scare them or are a foreign language to them and sensitive people remind them of their deficiency. Aren’t the haters of sensitive people really saying with their hate:  “Your feelings, reactions, and lack of toughness BOTHER ME”? Doesn’t that mean they’re the sensitive ones?

A guy named Mike left this comment on the post a few days ago:

HSP can also be very self-centered and difficult to deal with. When someone googles I hate HSP it is mostly likely the sheer frustration of years of trying to tip toe around them and make them happy. It kinda sucks.

My response:

PEOPLE can be self-centered and difficult to deal with. I don’t know if it’s her/his sensitivity that’s the problem.
Maybe the problem is she isn’t getting what she needs. Maybe you’re not either. Maybe hating HSP doesn’t help. Maybe stop tiptoeing around her and see what happens.

I’ve tiptoed around people in my life who aren’t sensitive. I think tiptoeing happens when you’re close to people, living in close quarters. My point is the problem isn’t high sensitivity and it’s so easy and a mistake to blame sensitivity for why a relationship is fraught. And as I said earlier about Heidi, I believe in people doing what they want without tiptoeing. But sometimes tiptoeing can be the most caring thing you can do. Relationships are complicated. Life is complicated. Hating that person’s sensitivity will not help the situation. Asking her what she needs might.

Heidi thinks HSP have problems with her straightforward personality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jerks? Major problems.

4. Is Sia Furler, singer/songwriter of songs like “Breathe Me” and a ton of other hits, highly sensitive? I was scrolling through Twitter and this photo popped up in my feed:


I thought it was weird. Then I wondered why? Went back to so, so weird. Why is she hiding? Whenever I see or read about an artist who is hiding (or what looks like hiding), I immediately think “highly sensitive”. More proof: Sia is unbelievably creative with an ability to get deep and close with people. She also has an addictive personality. I gained all of this knowledge from a profile of her in the New York Times “Sia Furler, the Socially Phobic Pop Star”. How is she socially phobic? She’s described in the article arranging a pizza party at her home. Do social phobics throw parties? I don’t know. The wig, the fact that she doesn’t want her photo taken is not social phobia but a statement about fame and protecting something dear to her: her sanity.

I might be wrong. Or not: “Furler’s defensiveness or anti-fameness, however omnipresent, belies the fact that she is reflexively intimate.”

I wonder whether a lot of celebrities are highly sensitive not because I think they’re cool and want them to be like me or me like them. I write about it here because when the New York Times writes something about you, that’s what the story about you becomes. They are “the paper of record”. If someone searches “Sia Fuller” in 50 years (if the internet is the same) they might find my site telling a different story about her, having a different take.

Also, understanding Sia’s possible high sensitivity and the way she deals with it is a way of understanding my own. It’s an exercise in seeing through the weirdness and having compassion.

5. If you’re highly sensitive or moderately sensitive and want to understand the trait, please read the words of Ane Axford:

I have mixed feelings about the fact that this Marie Claire article that came out in 2010 is now included in WebMD. Talking about this trait is so tricky because of who you are talking to and from what perspective. Also, it depends on where they are in their own process of understanding their sensitivity.

When I tell people that I work with sensitivity, most have no idea what that means or what sensitivity is itself. THAT is why I do this work. This article describes “suffering” from the trait. And I used to get really irritated that from the hardy perspective, we are ALL suffering if we are highly sensitive. No account of the culture we live in as being aggressive or toxic in any way.


…perhaps this language of suffering with sensitivity is currently useful for the majority of people to start to understand this trait. And maybe that is useful, to even have any light on this as something we are born with. But, I also have concerns that it makes a disorder of the trait…and therefore a disorder of all sensitivity and all feeling. We all have nervous systems and hormones and all the things that make use adapt and react and respond to our environments.


If we reinforce the idea that it is possible to be “too sensitive” in general, then we are basically saying that you know too much…and that knowledge is bad. YIKES! That is the deepest mistrust of our bodies and the way we are set up. All of us, not just the highly sensitive.


I have learned that there are some situations in which I am too sensitive FOR THAT SITUATION, where I will break it with what I know or it will try to break me simply because I do not fit. That does not mean I am too sensitive for life. It means I am too sensitive to my self to be used in any way that asks me to be less than I am. I am here to be me, not a person. Not someone like me, but actually ME. And that means listening all the time and responding all the time because there is no other me to tell me how to be me. I am me in each moment being me.

Our culture needs to change. And I think our culture changes the more we strengthen our sensitivity. Being you can sometimes seem like an act of rebellion. Being kind can seem too selfish or like you’re doing something wrong. I have found, for my self, that sometimes I want things around me to break and that they do when I refuse to break.

I could copy the whole thing because it’s everything. I love that she mentions our toxic culture. None of these self-help-y, life coach-y articles that purport to want to help HSP thrive mention our toxic culture. All they see is the response, the irritation, the suffering. It’s easier (and more money can be made) to see the highly sensitive person as the problem than to acknowledge and change our stifling and unworkable culture. Everyone is suffering. Sensitive people just do it sooner.

If you read this whole post, thank you. Here’s a picture of a dog as a reward for reading to the end.



3 thoughts on “5 Things on High Sensitivity #6

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