We all need support. As humans, we’re social creatures. This means, biologically, we're wired to live in groups, work together and connect with other people. How we do this and how much we do this certainly varies based on our individual preferences, life experience, personality traits and so on. This need for positive encouraging support can be even more crucial for HSPs (highly sensitive people).
First, we make up only about 15-20% of the populous. While studies have shown this percentage remains true across cultures, that still means in any given society, only about 1/5 of its people have these characteristics of depth of processing, overwhelm, empathy and emotional awareness and sensory sensitivity. Evolutionarily, this is true for a reason—societies need people who are deep thinkers and processors, more aware of their surroundings, kind and compassionate toward others. Historically, HSPs tended to be teachers and doctors and shamans and lawyers—the thoughtful leaders of society.
However, societies also need people of all types in order to be healthy and well-functioning. It’s just as necessary to have people who are highly sensitive as it is to have people who think and act quickly. The catch can be how different people are viewed and treated by the society in which they live. For instance, some Eastern cultures tend to honor and look up to the sensitive people in their midst. Unfortunately (in my eyes anyway) mainstream U.S. culture does not have this same sort of appreciation. Instead, values of quick-thinking, decisive-acting, aggressiveness (sometimes or often masked as assertiveness), multi-tasking (even though that’s not really possible), drive for success—which can mean putting financial success above everything else, prioritizing one’s own needs far above the needs of the group and being on the go-go-go are highly prized.
Does most of this sound like hell to any HSPs out there? (My hand shot straight up!)
Hence the importance for HSPs to have social support, but I don’t mean just any support—we desperately need to be around and connected with other HSPs. Since we live in a world—that in many ways can be our antithesis—it’s so important that we have people and places in our lives where we’re valued and appreciated exactly for who we are. We even need to create spaces that cater to our sensory sensitivity (which might mean lots of natural light, no strong scents, comfy fabrics, etc.) Because we are be different from the mainstream, many HSPs can feel like there’s something inherently wrong with them. And that’s understandable, given the messages we get about being “too sensitive” and needing to “toughen up.” How much more important, then, is it to have a place where we can be appreciated just for who we are?
For, we are not broken.
We do not need to be fixed.
Being sensitive is a personality trait, akin to being Type A or to being extroverted.
It’s a part of who we are. No more and no less.
Like any personality trait, it includes strengths and weaknesses. And, being connected with other HSPs can help us value and embrace the strengths and support one another through the challenges.
So, I invite you to find a space with other HSPs. You can create this organically by finding people in your life already who are dear sensitive souls. Or, you can take a more structured approach by seeking out groups like HSP Meetups on meetup.com. You might choose to take one of Elaine Aaron’s HSP workshops. Or, you might be interested in the Online HSP Support Group I’m starting in 2018.
Whatever fits for you, may you find and hold onto the support of souls who help you be your best, who lift you up and who appreciate you, exactly as you are.
Drop me a line if you’d like to talk more about finding support!