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Are Highly Sensitive People Prone To PPOS?

After having been accused of and later diagnosed with PPOS, I wonder if highly sensitive people are predisposed to this affliction. You haven’t heard of it? It’s called Perpetually Pissed Off Syndrome. It can strike anyone at any time. It’s not fatal, but it can shorten your lifespan. The primary symptoms are unrelenting cynicism and little patience for anyone or anything. PPOS will make your life miserable!

I’ve often pondered why life isn’t easier. Wouldn’t you think that, as you get older, life would get simpler? Your wisdom, experience, and sense of perspective would inoculate you from the problems of your youth. Not necessarily! With each passing year, there are new challenges and all kinds of changes that come your way. Just when I think I have myself together, and things are going well, something seems to upset my apple cart! The last several weeks are a perfect example of what I am talking about.

About a month ago, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking while entering my doctor’s office. I missed one of the steps and came crashing down with a thud, landing sharply on my right arm. The pain was immediate and intense! I rushed over to Urgent Care to get it checked out. As it turned out, I didn’t break any bones (thank goodness), but I did break blood vessel in my arm. My arm, from the palm of my hand to my shoulder, was swollen and black and blue. It looked truly awful!

Not only was I in pain, but I was also mad at myself for making such a “stupid” mistake. Right on cue, that nagging, little voice in my head showed up to “should shame” me. It told me that I should have known better and that I should have watched where I was going. Can you relate to this negative thinking?

Fast forward several weeks, my arm was still swollen and difficult to deal with, but at least it was getting better. I was hopeful that my PPOS would start to subside, but another few “arrows” were headed my way…and in short succession. The first one came in the form of a really bad cold. Like many men (so I’ve been told), I handle “feeling sick” with about as much grace and poise as a cranky five-year old. So, of course, the cold did NOT improve my disposition!

The next arrow to hit came in the form of car problems. When I had trouble starting my car, I took it to my mechanic. He informed me that I need a new ignition starter. This is an expensive repair, but the worst news is that he can’t get the part for at least four months! I now have to fight with the manufacturer to see if I can get the part sooner. Otherwise, I may have to get a new car! My car is a bit older, but it still has plenty of life left in it. It seems crazy to me that I would have to invest in a new vehicle just because of the unavailability of a $400.00 automotive part! Ugh!

After all that, you would think that my PPOS would be here to stay, but fortunately, I’ve finally realized the toll it is taking on me. I have been feeling off kilter for weeks, and my attitude is increasing my stress level, lowering my immune response, and driving everyone crazy! In the long run, PPOS wreaks havoc on your relationships and does nothing to promote your mood and well-being.

The cure for PPOS is the awareness that you’re sabotaging yourself and the realization that NOW is the time to surrender the fantasy that “life should be easy.” As much as it would be nice if it were true, it’s just not a realistic belief to have. Life is a series of highs and lows. The trick is to keep yourself on an even keel, whether you’re at high or low point in your life.

The best way to maintain your equilibrium is to have a strong support system, and then having the strength and confidence to believe that you can handle anything that comes your way. You develop that strength by overcoming obstacles and learning lessons from them. The more “victories” you have, the more you’re able to withstand the “slings and arrows” of life that we all face.

I’m getting better at accepting the ups and downs, but I get off track sometimes, which results in a relapse of my PPOS. What about you? How do you maintain your equilibrium? Do you ever get PPOS? If so, what are your triggers? Do you find yourself constantly wishing that life was easier? Do you accept the hard times and try to learn as much as you can from them. I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. guto

    There is a Buddhist teaching found in the Sallatha Sutta, known as The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit; and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain will not be only double, it will become at least ten times more intense.

    The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life—being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident—are analogous to the first arrow. They cause some pain. The second arrow, fired by our own selves, is our reaction, our storyline, and our anxiety. All these things magnify the suffering. Many times, the ultimate disaster we’re ruminating upon hasn’t even happened.

    We may worry, for example, that we have cancer and that we’re going to die soon. We don’t know, and our fear of the unknown makes the pain grow even bigger.

    The second arrow may take the form of judgment (“how could I have been so stupid?”), fear (“what if the pain doesn’t go away?”), or anger (“I hate that I’m in pain. I don’t deserve this!”). We can quickly conjure up a hell realm of negativity in our minds that multiplies the stress of the actual event, by ten times or even more.

    Part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger, and despair. We build and maintain our energy reserves to handle the big sufferings; the little sufferings we can let go.

    1. Amy McNeil

      Thank you for sharing that Guto! I had not heard of the The Arrow teaching before, but it makes so much sense! It’s a good reminder of the power of our own minds and the danger of listening to that nasty little voice in our head. We all have that inner critic / doomsayer within in us, and it is always pulling us toward pain and suffering. Awareness is the key, along with the understanding that just because we have a thought doesn’t make it true!

  2. Cliff Harwin

    Hi Guto,

    Thank you so much for your insight! It gives me a lot to think about!

    I LOVE THIS! “Part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger, and despair. We build and maintain our energy reserves to handle the big sufferings; the little sufferings we can let go.” These ARE words to remember!

  3. Jack

    I am gaining a lot from this writing; thank u Guto and Cliff

  4. Cliff Harwin

    Hi Jack,

    I really appreciate your comment! I’m really enjoying getting back to my writing. It motivates me more when I know it’s helping others.

    Wasn’t Guto’s comment powerful and inspirational? I gained a lot from it myself. It put my post in a better perspective than I could have imagined! Good stuff. It makes you think!

  5. Spencer

    Hi Cliff, thank you for your writings. I am also a highly sensitive person, in fact, I just found that out a day ago. It explains so much in my life. I’m going through a really tough time now and finding ways to cope is hard, but I’m working on it. I have a friend who’s also a very sensitive person, possibly an HSP though she’s never used that term to me. Anyway, I hurt her feelings. I took some things out of context and lashed out at her. I feel HORRIBLE! I’ve written her an apology letter and explained why I lashed out. She told me she needed some time to pass before we talk again. I’m so hurt. This friend was also my teacher. And because of my reaction, I have been booted from her class. The pain is REAL. But we’re both very sensitive people. I hope she can forgive me. We often spend time together at a plant nursery in Southern California. We both love nature. I only hope her heart will be softened toward me and we will have a stronger friendship because of our trials.

  6. Cliff Harwin

    Hi Spencer,

    Thank you for reaching out to me. Being a highly sensitive person is a positive trait if you understand and know how to utilize it. Keep reading this blog and check my website for further information.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself for lashing out to your friend. Everyone makes mistakes! You did the right thing by writing an apology letter and gave an explanation of what happened.

    It’s understandable that your friend needs time to sort things out. Hopefully time will heal her hurt. You’ve done all that you can do.

    1. Spencer

      Oh my goodness. Thank you so much Cliff. This brought tears to my eyes! I will continue reading your blog. It’s so good and I understand myself so much better now thanks to you!

  7. Cliff Harwin

    You’re going to be fine Spencer! Again you did the right thing by explaining yourself to your friend. You showed a lot of character by admitting your mistake. Please let me know what happens. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    1. Spencer

      Thank you so much Cliff! I will let you know for sure.

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