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1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818


Thrive Therapy & Counseling provides high quality therapy to Highly Sensitive People and to kids, teens or adults struggling with anxiety, depression or self-esteem.

Why do I feel so different?


This blog is written by a therapist in midtown Sacramento and focuses on the concerns and struggles of highly sensitive people (HSPs) and of kids, teens and adults struggling with depression, anxiety or just trying to figure out what they want for themselves.  There's help and hope through counseling and therapy!

Why do I feel so different?

Ivy Griffin

Dear friend, the answer to this is that you ARE different AND you are not the only one. Highly sensitive people comprise about 15-20% of the population in any given culture or society. Wherever you live, with whomever you interact, roughly 1/5 of the people you encounter will also be sensitive.

Then, why does it feel so lonely?

Because in many Western cultures, we’re socialized to NOT be sensitive. We’re taught to make decisions quickly and decisively, even if we’re wrong. In fact, it often seems much less important to be “right” than it is to be confident and to never backtrack or reconsider. As sensitive souls, this approach just doesn’t work for us. (Plus, I think it’s arguable how helpful this strategy is anyway.) Because we think and process so deeply and explore the details so carefully, we may often find ourselves changing our minds. We HSPs need time to consider the possibilities, weigh the options, and explore our ideas before deciding. This slow and careful processing can actually lead to better, more useful decisions, but the approach is not applauded in our society, which can make us feel “less than” and wrong for needing to take our time.

In the individualistic nature of the U.S., we’re taught to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and do anything to “get ahead” because we’re supposed to put our individual needs far ahead of anyone else’s. However, our empathy and compassion makes us adept at putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, and our understanding drives us to focus on the needs of others and the greater, communal good. But society can tell us this is wrong and “weak.” In addition, we may care deeply about preserving the environment, supporting the arts, caring for animals, but others may look down on these values because they’re not about being successful at all costs.

No wonder then that we might hide our sensitive nature. If we grew up in a family that told us we were “too sensitive” or a “crybaby” or that we needed to “toughen up,” we learned to tuck away our sensitivities. Then, these messages may have been reinforced in our broader worlds at school, work, even among friends and loved ones.

And, because we’re aware of subtle clues, we listen.

“If I’m too much, I need to tone down my emotions.”
“If it’s weak to cry or show how much I care about others, I’ll keep that to myself.”
“If everyone else thinks I’m broken, then it must be true.”

So, we adapt. We learn to show more of what society values and to hide away our characteristics that are judged or belittled. This selective sharing further reinforces that we’re not good enough, and it makes us afraid to show our true selves to others.

Then, we feel lonely and isolated and different. And, it’s absolutely not true. We sensitive souls ARE a minority, but we still exist in significant numbers. There are about 7.7 billion people on this planet, and roughly twenty percent of that is still 1.5 billion people!! That’s a ton of other HSPs out there!

There are a LOT of other sensitive people in the world. People who think and feel and consider and notice and approach life in similar ways as you. They may also feel like they are inferior, so it can be harder to spot them at first glance. But you can use your intuition to notice others in your life who are aware like you are, and you can find meetup or facebook groups for HSPs or join a group or course to learn more about your sensitivity.

The key is to know that you are not alone. You are not different or broken. You’re just highly sensitive, and that can be a pretty amazing way to live.

Cheers to thriving with your sensitivity!

Need more support? Just reach out! We're here for you, friend.

Ivy Griffin, LMFT # 51714, HSP Coach, Director
Thrive Therapy & Counseling
1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818