As a highly sensitive person, I have always felt suffocated by practically any kind of conflict. The intensity and negativity of a conflict-ridden situation would darken my mood, and I would feel paralyzed.
For example, many years ago, one of my co-workers seemed to be on a mission to make my life a living hell. This person knew exactly what to say to push my buttons. As a result, I was riddled with self-doubt, and I dreaded coming to work each day. I wish I could say that I handled the situation successfully, but the truth is that I eventually quit the job. Although walking away is sometimes the healthiest thing to do, it seemed an extreme measure at the time. Perhaps if I had known about my HSP nature and had better strategies to resolve the conflict, I would have dealt with the situation differently.
The following are some tips that I have learned:
- Self-care is the foundation of conflict resolution. Taking care of yourself provides you with the armor to shield yourself from harm. Eating healthy foods, getting consistent rest and relaxation, exercising, journaling, listening to music, being in nature, and meditating are just some of the many methods that can soothe your soul and give you energy for dealing with draining situations.
- Knowing and respecting your boundaries is the ultimate way to signal to others that you are worthy of respect. It’s a natural extension of self-care to communicate to others when a critical line has been crossed. Speaking in a calm and assertive manner can be challenging at first, but gets easier with practice. When you don’t respect your boundaries, other people won’t respect them either.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it. Discuss your situation with other HSPs, family, friends, or a mental health professional. Never feel like you have to “go it alone”. When you are in the midst of a difficult situation, having a support network is critical for maintaining a healthy perspective.
- Accepting yourself and embracing your HSP traits are powerful antidotes to bullies, including the one within us all. Valuing your sensitivity can take time, especially when you are in the midst of a draining conflict. However, reading and learning about your HSP nature can be very powerful. This self-awareness gives you the tools to leverage your strengths and minimize your limitations, which is especially helpful during conflict situations.
Connecting with other HSPs is also very important. It not only gives you friendship and support, but also a robust community to be part of. Instead of feeling isolated and different, you feel validated and empowered, which makes it much easier to accept yourself. Rather than engaging your inner bully and beating yourself up, you see that being a HSP is actually an incredible gift. HSPs are the artists, teachers, healers, and philosophers of society.
Understand that resolving a conflict is an opportunity for growth. The presence of conflict is a clear indication that there is something for you to learn. Conflict is often needed to break us open and force us to change so that we can see the world differently. Although I still struggle with conflict, I do the best I can to appreciate the role it plays in my life and to embrace it for all of the important lessons I have learned.
I found this to be a well-written, thought-provoking article by fellow HSP, Marina Brink. What lessons have you learned by dealing with conflict? I’ve learned that I become stronger with every conflict that I overcome. I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.
This Post Has 2 Comments
Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and insight to make this site. Just discovering that I’m a highly sensitive person has been a great gift to me, but I find I need to constantly remind myself of this and am always a work in progress. Dealing with conflict seems to be a constant theme in my life, and this blog is just what I needed to hear. I have trouble letting go, I usually blame myself and feel hurt, and don’t know how to set boundaries. Your insights are just what I needed to not feel alone on these matters, and I’ve saved this site to constantly refer back to ( which will more than likely be many times) so again I can feel not so alone on these matters, and remind myself how I can deal with these issues. Just wanted to say thank you, and let you know how much this site can help others.
Hi. I’m not an HSP but I believe my girlfriend is / was. We were together for three months. We had a couple of really minor conflicts. (I didn’t realize that a small conflict may really impact her in such a significant way) I sensed that she was highly sensitive as she said she was shaking and got exhausted when we discussed them through. I had no idea what HSP entailed. I’m not certain if she knew she may be one who sees and feels the world more deeply. She was awesome. One day everything was great and the next day she called me and broke up. She said she had fear and ended our relationship abruptly. I am very sad about this and feel helpless that I didn’t have any idea. I’m learning about HSP. They are wonderful people. A non-HSP may have a difficult time in a relationship if they do not know or understand like myself. It’s tough to lose a relationship when you do things that you have no idea affect the HSP so intensely.