Are You Overly Sensitive, Don’t Like Crowds and Don’t Know Why?

 

Hello lovely lady. Time for a heart to heart.

Do you ever feel like you just don’t GET yourself? And others don’t GET you either? Like you’re misunderstood. Surrounded by people who appear to behave differently and who interpret the world in a much more light-hearted way than you do?

 

You see…

 

I’ve spent some years of my life thinking I might be mildly bipolar, (I now know I’m not), due to the fact that I could get very distressed about things for no apparent reason, including situations that were beyond my control, and I would have to make an effort to calm down.

Being so sensitive wormed a way into so many aspects of my life, and even though I came to accept it, I also resented it with a passion!

I’ve spent years wondering why I get sooo upset over what’s happening in the world. Over why humans can be so greedy, mean, cruel, dictatorial, or warmongering, and at times it’s driven me to question whether life is worth it.

 

Now…I consider myself to be a sane, positive person.

Upset Woman with hands over face standing near the sea

So why is it that I sometimes feel there’s no hope for humanity, and that the planet and animals would be far better off without humankind messing up the oceans, forests, atmosphere, and just about anything else we touch?

Of cause, while these things are true and I know many people feel the same way, I now know there’s a reason why I get so incensed by it all, sometimes to the point of despair. Whereas most other people care about it, they can be upset over it and have it as a part of their life but without the mental anguish I experience.

 

If You Feel the Same Way, Guess What, You’re Not Crazy

Does any of this strike a chord with you?

I’ve finally come to understand that We Are Normal and that there are many more ‘normal’ people like us. There’s an official name for us. Never thought there would be one but now that I know what it is, I’m rather proud of it!…drum roll please!

 

We Are Highly Sensitive Introverts

Being highly sensitive is also the same as being highly intuitive. Women are naturally intuitive but HSI’s can become over-run by the emotion.

Our rational side is aware that we are letting things get to us more than is sensible, particularly if the situation is beyond our control, but the sense of despair can be overwhelming at times.

 

People like us feel things more deeply than others.

 

That’s not to demean how others feel, it’s just that Highly Sensitive Introverts internalize things, dwell on them, and often lose themselves in the problem whereas others are less prone to fall into the ‘Life as we know it is over’ black hole.

This can be made much worse by severe situations like the current devastating Covid-19 pandemic. Not to mention a host of other really scary stuff going on in the world lately.

It’s important to make the effort to keep the sensitivity under control and be rational about things.

 

We Have Skills to Be Proud Of

We also have other skills that I used to think were just plain strange but now I accept them as a normal part of my life.  Like noticing subtle changes in a person’s mood or behavior when everyone else around them appears to be completely unaware.

 

Does this happen to you?

 

Can you sense the mood of a group of people in a meeting when something is brewing even before a word has been spoken?

Do you often feel compelled to turn in a certain direction just as something takes place and everyone around you misses it?

There have been many occasions where out of the blue I’ll think of a friend I should call on the phone when it suddenly rings and it’s her jokingly admonishing me for being so slack about not staying in touch.

 

And no, it’s unlikely we have ESP.

 

No, we’re not clairvoyant and can’t help the police with investigations. Would be fun…but no!

We just pick up on things that other people are probably not tuned into because they’re focusing on more extroverted aspects of life. And, in my case with the phone calls, maybe I was tapping into my own guilt for not having called sooner.

 

It’s Nice to Know We’re Normal!

The more I investigate my new name tag, the more I realize that it’s incredibly common. So many of us, men and women alike share this personality trait, and yet it’s not discussed. Probably because we misunderstand it (cue my thoughts of being bipolar) or just feel worried that we may be a little strange.

Men are particularly susceptible as they are likely to be very reluctant discussing these feelings with other men, or members of their family for fear of appearing weak or overly feminine.

HSI women can come across as snooty, anti-social, and aloof due to their reluctance to socialize and the inability to make small talk. But here’s the weird part, I’m not shy!

But guess what! Despite what we may have believed for years…our reluctance to socialize is also very normal.

 

I Can’t Easily Do Light-Hearted Chit Chat…Can You?

3 beautiful middle aged women shopping

Let’s set the stage for the differences between introverted and extroverted personality types.

I have some totally extroverted friends who truly can’t function in life without going on girlie shopping trips and rounding the day off with a few drinks in a crowded bar talking drivel with some businessman, who’s hoping to score after a busy day at the office.

No chance with my happily married friends, but they’re extroverts so they thoroughly relish playing the light-hearted flirting game.

Whilst it’s just verbal banter to my friends, it’s my worst nightmare. Firstly, I don’t like crowded places. Secondly, I hate idle chit-chat (give me a D & M any day), and thirdly, although I cover it well, I’m socially awkward. 

 

Extroverts Crave Attention.

Group of nicely dressed woman at a party

I don’t mean in a bad way. They wouldn’t get much pleasure from spending a quiet day just gardening or sitting on the couch with the cat and a good book. They need to be off doing something now…with something planned for this evening, and for tomorrow, and maybe even next weekend!

I love them, they’re uplifting, gregarious, and highly engaging. BUT, they also wear me out! After an evening with them, I feel like I’ve just done 5 rounds with Mike Tyson…totally spent.

 

Implications For A Highly Sensitive Personality

What are some of the implications in life for a Highly Sensitive Introvert (HSI)?

Personally, it totally dominated how I behaved in my career as well as my personal life.

I spent 20 years as a very successful sales consultant in the corporate world, helping clients choose their new home design to be constructed. It’s a very emotive job because people are committing a lot of money towards something they can only see on a blueprint, therefore their expectations and emotions run high.

I used to get comments from my colleagues and clients, about how confident I was and that’s one of the reasons why they said I did so well. My clients felt I had great empathy and understanding for their anxiety, allowing them to feel comfortable with me.

 

Trouble Is, Confidence Wasn’t In My Skill-Set, I Faked It!

Computer keyboard with sticky not saying "You Can Do It"

Little did my clients and colleagues know that I was the opposite of confident. I was frequently nervous, usually felt nauseous before a client presentation, and going into meetings with colleagues and management freaked me out.

I absolutely loathed our bi-annual company events even though I was with people I knew well. But I don’t like making idle chatter, so I would spend most of the evening helping with the canapes, getting drinks for others, and wondering what time I could safely escape without offending management.

 

I hid all my feelings well but at a huge cost…STRESS!

 

The Cost of Not Understanding Who You Are

If you don’t understand that the way you feel and react is perfectly normal due to the fact that you don’t understand your personality type, then you can suffer as a result.

It wasn’t until I finally accepted that the stress of everything was building up. The constant meetings and corporate events made me realize that I really hated my job enough to quit and make some ‘life’ changes.

 

But here’s how ironic life can be…

 

2 weeks after quitting and deciding to live a more meaningful and less stressful life I found out I had kidney cancer. No doom and gloom story here. I was lucky, it was caught very early, removed quickly and I’m cancer-free.

But here’s the thing.

My surgeon asked me how my cancer had been picked up so early as there often aren’t any symptoms of kidney cancer until it’s quite advanced.

 

My answer… I sensed something wasn’t quite right.

 

So, I asked my doctor to run the usual blood tests, cholesterol, diabetes, and a urine sample. My urine contained some blood, so an ultrasound was ordered, and Voila!

BTW, most women are much better at tapping into their ‘Gut Feelings’ than men, and we don’t have to be highly sensitive to do it. We are prepared to listen to our intuition but don’t always take it seriously enough to actually ACT on it. 

Maybe, if I wasn’t so sensitive and hadn’t trusted my intuition (or had I been a man and refused to discuss it) I may not have listened to the little voice in my head. Instead, I may have been out partying with my extroverted friends (which I still do by BTW only not as often as they would like), and totally dismissed any feeling of misgiving, maybe putting it down to too many Mai Tai’s or not enough water!

 

Embracing Who You Are

There’s a sliding scale between Introvert and Extrovert and we are all somewhere on that scale.  

Needless-to-say, I now fully embrace my personality type. I feel empowered knowing that I can and should trust my sensitivity and intuition.

 

I no longer view it as an affliction or defect.

 

Looking back, I can clearly see that it helped me be very good at selling. I picked up on subtle cues from my clients allowing me to empathize with their decisions and respond with thoughtful solutions to assist their buying process. As a result, I always maintained happy clients.

One woman listening to another woman's problems

More lately I’ve come to understand why my friends, and sometimes even people I’ve only recently met, open up to me and trust me with personal information that they’re apparently even reluctant to share with family members.

I understand now that the sensitivity and empathy I feel may be why they are comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts.

I don’t seek this out and in the past I resented it.

 

Maybe you have experienced this.

 

Do you sometimes question why you always became the sounding board for everyone else’s issues, but no one really knows about You?

Sometimes I felt used because know-one asked how I was.  But now I understand that I gave the outward impression that I had it all together. My supposed strength helped bring out their vulnerability.

Now I See It As A Blessing Rather Than A Curse.

Understanding our different personality types has been a game-changer for me. I now know that I’m not a nutcase overreacting to everything; people, events, possibilities even before they’ve happened…and hopefully, you feel the same way.

Our sensitivity is a strength. What’s more, its complemented by the traits of other personality types. We can be emotionally uplifted by being around an extrovert, while they may feel calmer around us.

We can have fun in their company enjoying their exuberance and spontaneity, and they feel confident in our loyalty if they want to discuss something that’s bothering them. We can be empathetic and a good friend…then we can go home and chill out on the sofa with the cat.

It’s a win-win.