Posts Tagged ‘highly sensitive person’

HSP Games

I discovered I was an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) back in 2001. I blogged about it first in 2008. I occasionally have blogged about it since.

I have – over time – developed a number of defenses. I didn’t even know I fit into the HSP category until 2001 and I discovered Elaine Aron’s book on the subject (and realized how well I have used defensive techniques to protect myself). Knowing who I am and why I react the way I do has often been a lifesaver for me.

For instance: after 3 weeks sorting out my father’s possessions, putting him to rest and saying good-bye in a memorial service, and driving 5 long nighttime hours back to Reno, my brother wanted to go out to dinner with his daughter in a popular kid-friendly place. It was great, except that I just want to crawl into a box and hide. Lights, noise, casino-like setting, crowds. UGH. Last.Thing.I.Need.

I couldn’t exactly refuse. Everyone (except me, the HSP Introvert) needed that kind of “break”. My ex-sister-in-law wanted to see me. I wanted to see my brother’s grandkids. So, there I was, in a place of noise, lights, and everything that sets the teeth on edge in an HSP. I breathed in. I realized that 1) I could survive because I have so many times before and 2) I knew *why* it bothered me so much. I understood that I am an HSP and an Introvert, and that everything that was happening went against my very soul – but I could survive because it was temporary and it was what “normal” people do.

The next day, I drove 11 hours home and crashed.

Sometimes, I cannot handle the situations life throws at me. I find myself in the hallway at work, playing a game with the lights in the public hallway. I wind my way down the hall: light on the left, light on the right, light on the left. Or I walk directly under the lights, straight down the hall. Or maybe I walk on the left for two lights and on the right for two lights. I hope noone sees me. The lights are my calming center: whatever pattern I choose is my choice and the use of it calms me. I can center myself.

My closest coworker is totally oblivious to the subtleties of body language and office politics. I want to bang my head into my desk when I try to explain to her what I just observed. How freaking oblivious do you have to be? Then I remind myself: I read people intuitively. I read the situation by sensitivity. I just know.

The funny thing is: my brother – the one who dragged me out to that horrid kid-friendly, loud, lit-up, night spot? He took one look at a photo I posted and he read the body language of the people in it. He’s trained to do that.

Everything he guessed was spot on. I know it intuitively.

Today, no one had “time” to go on break with me, so I went for my 3:00 walk by myself. It’s not that I have “time”, but that the LAW gives me the time, and I took it. I prefer my walks by myself. I had time to think about everything, breathe in, and calm my inner center.

It helps that it was a clam day in November, and I love November.

I know that my work situation is aggravated by my HSP tendencies (or, my work situation aggravates my HSP tendencies). Knowing that helps me cope. I know how I react and why. I know that I am not intuiting the situation incorrectly. I know I am spot on. I am not intimidated. My self-esteem is not threatened.

I have power.

It would help a little if I had power to change the situation, but right now, it is enough that I have the power to understand my reaction to the situation and to trust my intuition. I know I am not wrong. I never have been, in situations like this. Not ever.

It’s a gift.

Sometimes, it is a gift I wish I had not been given. Most of the time, I realize it is a gift that I have and most people do not have. It makes me different and special. I like being different. I have enough self-esteem that being different is a blessing. I’m not intimidated by “normal” people. They drive me nuts, but they do not lessen my value as a person because they are “normal”.

I don’t always feel strong, but when I feel weak, I walk the halls at work and play “dodge ball” with the lights in the ceiling. Or I go for a long walk outside by myself, hugging the canopy of leaves and walking slalom through the small maples. I don’t step on cracks in the sidewalk or I step on them all.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I don’t meditate because that’s not how I roll. I do pray and read Scripture. I remind myself that I am not alone. I am an Introvert and an HSP. A lot of successful people have been Introverts. I don’t know about HSPs because it is a recent discovery about human nature.

I hope to prove that HSPs can also be successful.

I hope to be the poster child of Introversion.

I’m a fighter. Not physically, but spiritually and emotionally. I’m fighting. SEE ME? I HAVE VALUE.


Yeah. I want to be the forerunner of HSP/Introvert freedom. We exist. We have value. We rock the corporate world when you aren’t looking.


Read Full Post »

I have posted before about being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I usually cope fairly well, but sometimes there are days when I just feel overwhelmed and I want to shut down completely. Today is/was one of them.

I am an introvert and I draw my energy from being alone. I never took my children to places like Chuck E Cheese because I can’t stand the overwhelming sensory stimulation of the lights, noise, and crowds. I take my lunch break out in my car rather than in the office break room, simply because I need the little bit of down time that it provides. I have always been like this: when I was in elementary school, I was mistaken for a shy child (being an introvert is not synonymous with being shy) because I found school with all the bells, other children, and the noisy playground and lunch room overwhelming so I shut down and became quiet.

The past few years have been kind to my personality. I moved to an accounting position (I know: math and me! Never my strong point!) where few people bothered me throughout the day. Later, I gained a private office where I could simply close the door to shut out the noise and fend off the interruptions. Last year, however, my senior partner retired and a new person was hired to replace her: a highly extroverted person from a different culture. Now, I adore my new supervisor. She’s funny, we walk together twice a day, we go out to eat together sometimes, and we share some of our world with each other. She’s great, but she’s an extrovert who needs people and draws her energy from people.

If I only had her to work around, I’d be fine. That isn’t how it went today.

Externally (outside the job), I have some adult issues I need to take care of: a case of identity theft, a past due bill that isn’t past due (I have the proof), and ongoing insurance-didn’t-pay-my-medical-bill-from-the-last-car-accident issues. The latter is getting taken care of by the other insurance, finally. But I still have to call my doctor’s office and let them know that I don’t know what is up with my insurance because they told me they were paying it back in January. The accident was clear back in October.

Internally (at work), it is first of the month, my very busiest time, and it is March, which means we are coming out of the normal winter slump that real estate hits every year. Today, I had my usual large stack of closings to do in a short period of time (I complete the Broker’s files and issue the Broker’s checks on a daily basis. Most of the time, the Brokers like me). We are also in the middle of a huge remodel job of our office space and this weekend is the accounting department’s weekend to be displaced into temporary quarters while the construction crews build our fancy new cubicles. (I’m losing my private office with the door, but I still have me “QUIET – I AM WORKING” and “DO NOT DISTURB – DEPOSIT IN PROGRESS” signs. I made those signs when I was last in a cubicle, before the big move to the new office space two years ago.)

Lastly, I am cross-training two people so that I can take a well-deserved vacation this summer without burdening my supervisor unduly.

Oh – and they hired a new Accounting Manager to replace the Controller who is leaving for a better job, the RAT. The new person was at the office early and needed to chat off her nervous energy. I needed to dole out assignments for my trainees. I fielded their questions (one asks more questions than the other, but that is fine: there is no stupid question except for the one you did NOT ask). I checked their work. My supervisor stopped in half a dozen times with one or another issue (did I mention we just changed accounting software? Yeah. We’re still learning, and it is a process for all of us). Then someone stopped by to explain the move to someone in the hall, but they had to stand inside my door and include me in the conversation. We had to go look at our new temporary space to make sure we’d fit. Someone else came by to see if any of my office equipment was going to be given away (my desk, but not until after 5 on Friday – I do have to work until then!). They measured things.

The insurance company (the Other Insurance) called to let me know they were close to settling on my claim. And my HR person received mail from them that required her to fill out forms and return, but she’s a new HR person and wasn’t even on the job in October when I was in the accident, so I had to stop and explain all of that to her and where to find my absent times on my time clock 9which is online, thank God).

Further complicating my day was a voice mail the receptionist received from my former supervisor (the one who retired). I did not get a call: my former boss probably dialed my old phone number. Turns out, she fell and broke her pelvis (!!!) and is recuperating in a rehab center. She’s in her mid 80’s and they are telling her that she will be in a walker the rest of her life!

I couldn’t close my door to shut out the constant interruptions because I am training two people and they have to know I am available to help them.

My deadline for printing checks was made, but my deadline for depositing checks was missed and I left the office with overtime (not much, but it’s still rather harrowing when you miss a deadline and you’re trying to focus).

I messed up someone’s check and I figured out what I did while I was sitting in traffic on Highway 217. Parked in traffic, more like it.

I pulled over for an ambulance on the way to work (rollover on Hwy 217, the direction I was going – I went around it on a back road but I saw the wreckage – awful!). I pulled over for an ambulance on my way home from work (I didn’t hear what happened there, but the lighted highway sign said I-5 had one lane blocked three miles south of my exit).

I was in such a bad mood, I didn’t put in my audio book (I’m listening to The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and I’m afraid I was a bit too intolerant to listen to the Puritan’s persecution of that poor sinner, Hester. I wanted to shoot the Puritans tonight).

The mood lightened (nothing like Led Zeppelin and 1970’s Rock on KGON to lift my spirits – thank God they didn’t play any Aerosmith or Rolling Stones), but the lingering effects of too many people and too much stimulation held on.

I managed to finish our taxes online, but when faced with the simple task of paying April bills, I shut down. You know what? I’ve had enough for today. the world won’t end if I don’t pay bills until the second day of April. Heck, I used to pay them the day before they were past-due. I know which ones I can skate on because I’ve been Down That Road more times than I care to think about. The fact that I have been able to pay them ahead of time and always on the first of the month for a few years has been a bonus.

I am taking April First off because I am tired of being an Adult (hey, we filed our taxes!) and I am feeling like I just want all the noise, interruptions, and stimulation to SHUT UP.


No television, no music, no bill paying, no dealing with issues that I need to deal with: I am tired. That’s how an HSP deals with TOO MUCH in one day. We shut down. I’m shut down.

Thankfully, Harvey understands. He’s snoring softly in the background, content and happy. I had to give him a treat to get him to lay down and leave me alone, but… whatever works.

May tomorrow be better, quieter, and less stimulating than today.

Friday, I have to pack my office. I don’t want to think about Monday and unpacking.

P.S. – I am sharing this just in case you are an HSP and you don’t know that it is OK to shut down, or you are an introvert and you don’t know it is OK to be overwhelmed. I’m both. I should be a basket case tonight. The only reason I am not is… I can blog. I can also breathe in and breathe out and know that there *is* a tomorrow. Thankfully, I am not fourteen with no vision for tomorrow. You know teenagers don’t know there is a tomorrow, right? Hug your teen.

I digress. I always digress. Thinking calming thoughts now: breathe in/breathe out. Harvey needs those nose thingies I bought my husband that keep him from snoring. Seriously, the dog snores.

Read Full Post »