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Highly Sensitive People: Should You Try To Change Yourself In These Difficult Times?

As a highly sensitive person, should you try to change yourself? I’ve been asked this question countless times and have seen on various online forums that people want to get rid of their high sensitivity. They seem to feel that their high sensitivity puts them at a disadvantage in life.

I’ve never felt that way. I’ll admit that I always felt “different” from others, but I could never pinpoint exactly why. When I first learned the term “highly sensitive person,” it was a profound experience. Everything came into focus, and I finally had answers to questions I had been asking myself my whole life. Why do I take things so personally? Why do I always feel so overwhelmed? Why am I so much more anxious than everyone else? In time, I learned to accept who I am and how to take advantage of my natural HSP characteristics, rather than let them work against me.

I recently read an “ask the doctor” article that offered some wise advice. One of the questioners, an 84 year-old man, complained of anxiety problems whenever he read or saw distressing events in the news. He asked for advice on how he could alleviate his angst and desensitize himself.

First, the doctor challenged the reasoning of an octogenarian wanting to change the way he naturally was. He mentioned that his reactions were common, but unless they were disrupting his mental equilibrium or having a major impact on his life, he really shouldn’t try to change himself. Instead, it would be better for him to honor his feelings and sensitivities. To do that, he could choose to limit his exposure to distressing events, or if that wasn’t possible, then he could find ways to soothe himself afterward.

How many of you want to desensitize yourselves? The fact of the matter is that you can’t. We are who we are and the best gift is you! The more we understand ourselves, the better we can appreciate our unique characteristics and adapt to life’s challenges. We can also be a comfort to others in times of need and distress. Don’t people come to us for advice? Aren’t some of us natural care givers?

Of course, I’m upset about the current problems in the world! I’m 70 years old and have never seen the turmoil that we’re experiencing now! I refuse to make myself sick over things that I can’t control. The best thing that I can do is to take care of myself, both physically and emotionally, and be a positive influence on others.

Have you ever tried to deny your high sensitivity? Do you think it’s possible to “desensitize” yourself? Are you able to embrace your high sensitivity? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Janet

    Hi, I am so glad I just discovered there is a thing called HSP! I’ve always felt different. I have an extreme response to sad, and horribly bad things. I take everything to heart and personally which often leaves me hurt wondering why people do what they do?!?! I do fell like I want to “ fix it” because I often feel overwhelmed by it and stays with me for long periods of time. I don’t want to feel sad, ashamed and left out anymore. Can you suggest some documentaries, books, resources on how to help me? I just turned 50 and I am tired of feeling hurt by everyone and everything. It’s exhausting! I want to not care but I just can’t. I guess I need to find a way to use it positively. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you!

  2. Cliff Harwin

    Hi Janet,

    I have written over 300 blog posts on many topics for highly sensitive people. Go to my website

    You can also go to the audio section of my website and hear the interviews and teleconferences that I’ve done. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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