HSP High and Praise Report

I can’t sleep! I am full of energy and wide awake. I’m in bed, but not the slightest bit inclined to fall asleep.

There is a wonderful reason for this, though! This evening, I went to a bible study within a particular immigrant community that I spend time with. There was a guy there, who the last time I saw him was at a community event. He was beyond drunk and was hitting on me. It was creepy, not just annoying.

Tonight, however, he was there as a brand new, baby Christian! I had heard there had been someone to come to faith in Christ recently, but didn’t know who it was. Since I knew the story behind it, I easily put two and two together.

He had such a peaceful countenance tonight. He seemed to be listening attentively. Actually, he used to be in religious service in a different religion. Someone else from that religion, who became a Christian a couple of years ago, brought him tonight; his first time to ever be in a church setting.

Secondly, there was a girl that sat beside me who seemed to have a kind of breakthrough. Not a breakthrough driven by loud, emotional music. But a breakthrough of the mirror of the Word of God held up to her and her seeing her reflection.

The talk was on different types of “Christians,” from nominal to truly born-again. He divided them into four groups. As he described the groups, she said to me, “I think I’m in the wrong group.”

Oh, this blessed me! This was a statement of contrition. I pray that this evening ends up being a turning point for her! Please pray for me to have grace and wisdom to guide her, as the Lord would see fit.

What does that have to do with my sleeping? Well, in true HSP fashion, I’m just totally overwrought right now. I can’t calm myself down and just go to sleep. This happens somewhat regularly, if I’m excited or nervous. The physical response lingers long after the information has been processed.

Why can’t we just put a lid on these responses, once they have served their purpose?!

I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be another day of seeing God’s work in people’s hearts and lives. At this rate, I just don’t feel close to falling asleep at all.*

Do any of my fellow HSPs ever experience this?

A Letter to My Face

Dear Face,
I am really trying to rejoice in the Lord, even in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Heart can praise Him and make music to Him. Even Voice can speak of His wonderful works. To be fair, Voice is not doing a great job either. With every word, Voice pushes a few more tears over the brink.

So, Face: I really need you to get on board with everyone else! Your drooping eyes and frown are not doing much to conceal my pain, nor bring glory to my God. And you already know that when people ask how I am doing, I’m inclined to tell the truth. Please, for the sake of everyone involved, could you make some sort of effort to look cheerful, without coming across as totally fake?

I thank you in advance for your prompt cooperation.
Sincerely,
Highly Sensitive Christian

My Prayer

Last night, I prayed that God would let me not be an HSP anymore.

I know he made this way for a purpose, but to me, it just feels like I can’t have a productive life:

Feeling exhausted, because I lying awake all night from sheer excitement over who knows what.

Not being able to eat, because my stomach is tied into a knot. Again, for no reason that deserves that much stress.

Not being able to hide or turn off emotions in public places. This is fine when the emotion is a good one; but being in heart-wrenching pain does not wear well on the face, I’m realizing.

How am I supposed to work, feeling like this? What kind of job allows you to come in earlier or later, depending on your previous night’s sleep? Which job allows for interaction with others, but gives enough space for unwanted tear leakage?

The Lord will give me strength to get through this. The Lord has an answer to all of my questions.

I must trust Him more.

Job Questionnaires

In the past, I’ve had jobs where I taught people skills they need to search for and get a job. One thing that we always taught:

Leave your personal problems at home when you go to work.

Although this was before I’d ever heard of HSP, I felt like a complete sham when teaching that to my students!!

I mean, really. You’re asking me to compartmentalize my feelings? If something is bothering me, it magically stops bothering me, just because I’ve changed my geographical coordinates?!

You’ve got the wrong person.

To be clear, I understand that a level of professionalism is needed, particularly when a job requires interaction with coworkers and/or the public. I understand that you can’t spend your working hours on the phone arguing with a boyfriend, family member, or whomever. I get it.

The problem for me is that what is in my heart and mind is also plastered across my face. There is not a lot I can do to change that – try as I might. I can (and started to) avoid discussing problems with coworkers. However, my face will reveal my problems, whether I want it to or not.

So, today, I was completing an online job application for a seasonal retail job. The application included a questionnaire that asked the same questions about 3 times each.

Easy, right? I used to teach people how to complete these questionnaires!

The difference is that I was teaching them how to answer with their personalities, not my own. So, when the questionnaire repeatedly states things like

My coworkers cannot tell what I am feeling;

I hide my feelings;

I do not become emotional at work,

What on earth am I supposed to say, to avoid looking like a lunatic?! In the interest of being honest, I put “disagree.”

Unfortunately, “disagree” is not actually honest, either. There were also options for “strongly disagree” and “completely disagree.”

So, I don’t look like a lunatic, but I did withhold the truth a bit. I did misrepresent myself.

In addition to being an HSP, I’m also pathologically honest. I don’t know too many people who are as honest as I am. I mean, I even read skim the Terms and Conditions before I check the box that says “I have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.” This may be a bit obsessive, but it is a misrepresentation, if I assert that I read something, but didn’t even look at it.

By the same token, how can I say that I disagree that I am emotional, when I truly know that I completely, unequivocally, adamantly disagree?!

I pray that the Lord will point me to jobs that don’t ask that question!

I tried to go back into the questionnaire to change my answers, but it wouldn’t allow me to do so.

So…in order to prevent lying, what am I going to do?

I’m not going to submit the application at all.

I suppose another alternative would be to delete what I have completed of the application so far and start a fresh one. Then, they can make an informed decision as to whether or not to hire me.

Recently, I’d started writing a post about my job search. It’s been pretty limited, because I am looking for a job for which I am qualified and that won’t exacerbate my HSP tendencies. Those are few and far between, let me tell you. By “few and far between”, I mean “non-existent.”

I came upon an administrative assistant job yesterday, too. It’s not something I’d be terribly interested in, but I really need the income. There was a section that described the type of supervision this position received. It said:

Responsibilities do not usually require using independent judgement.
Requires direct supervision.

Um. To me, that basically says, “Check your brain at the door.” Honestly, I don’t see how any job doesn’t require some sort of decision making.

Job search is not easy; and being a pathologically honest, HSP extrovert, who does not do well in jobs that don’t require thought, is making it that much more difficult!

I need to trust the Lord to provide.

What Happened Today?

Looking back over the past several days, I’ve realized that I haven’t been quite as emotionally susceptible or raw lately. I’m not sure why that is.

Maybe taking care of myself has become more habitual. I’m also glad to note that I don’t think about HSP quite as much as I had been. I really didn’t think that day would come.

Today, however, I’m feeling that familiar, icky susceptibility again. I feel like I could burst out crying at any moment. I feel particularly low-spirited.

This morning, I was really wrestling with something that I wasn’t sure whether God wanted me to do. Then, when I got to Bible study, someone was sharing a very sad, but encouraging, testimony.

After those, I came home to find out that a friend had been in the hospital recently. She will be okay, but it was still upsetting.

So, here I am. Time to go to work. Feeling on edge. Still confused about God in this particular decision, which, trust me, is very minor.

I pray that the Lord will strengthen me and heal me enough to make it through my shift at work without falling apart emotionally.

HSP Problem #237: Small Talk

I’m currently thankful to have the WordPress app on my phone, so I can sneak in an entry while waiting for my butter biscuit at Chick-Fil-A. This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for over a week, but just now am getting time.

Recently, I got involved in a discussion in the comment section of a fellow-HSP’s blog. She mentioned that she went to an HSP event, and people started talking and sharing at the outset. Then, they moved on to the “small talk” of their conversations. She talked about the HSP tendency to over share in conversation. Small talk is uncomfortable. Let’s cut to the meat of the conversation.

At that point, the caged tiger that is the HSP’s mind is unleashed. Once that door is opened, the mental tiger goes on a rampage. And it is very, I repeat: VERY, difficult to coax it back into the cage.

Truthfully, the tiger realizes at some point that the public can only handle a certain amount of exposure to this wild animal. It wants to return to the cage, but it’s got too much pent-up energy.

For clarification, this is a kind-hearted tiger, who doesn’t want to actually maim anyone. This is a playful tiger, who wants to be friends, but goes about it in all the wrong ways. This scares the public off.

Translation: non-HSPs can be easily put off by this tendency to over-share. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who has ever talked to me about…anything.

I’ve been told that this makes it seem as if I don’t want to hear about the other person’s life. Unfortunately, this is far from true!!! (Or maybe, that’s fortunate?) Actually, that exactly what I want: for people to also open up and share.

There’s a vicious cycle that occurs here. HSP starts sharing. HSP over-shares. Non-HSP feels put off and decides not that HSP is not interested in non-HSP’s life. Non-HSP declines to share. HSP fills the sharing void with more information. Non-HSP feels more put off…and on and on it goes.

It makes me so sad to say that this tendency of mine, and other HSPs, I’d imagine – which I’m only recently grasping – has led to the weakening and/or demise of many a friendship.

(“Go, go Gadget: Tears!” Yes, I’m still in Chick-Fil-A.)

Now that I see the sharing thing in this light, I realize that, no, I can’t stand small talk. I go completely awkward, until the point where the conversation might turn to some actual heart-informational exchange.

Usually, that heart-informational exchange isn’t going to happen in a passing conversation. So, I try to avoid the whole mess. Many times have I ducked past someone whom I only know very casually while out grocery shopping, or whatever. I guess it’s in order to escape the dread of the pint-sized, kiddie pool-depth
conversation that would inevitably occur.

In cases where avoidance is impossible, I do end up looking and feeling like an idiot.  I guess the problem is that I don’t want to say all of the small talk things, so I just don’t know what to say.  And I feel like I should have something profound to say.  It seems that the other person is expecting that.

I’m starting to realize that, in all likelihood, they aren’t waiting for me to ask them about their deepest-felt emotions.  Nor are they waiting for me to share mine.  But because that’s the kind of talk I want to have, I’m supposing that everyone else is wanting the same.  At a loss for words, my face betrays me.  My facial expression becomes one of bewilderment and discomfort.

I do have in mind a couple of ways to combat this issue.  I will share those with you soon!

Friends, can any of you relate to what I’m talking about here?  I hope this isn’t just me!

Down the Twisty Slide – and Up Again

Yesterday was a highly emotionally charged day.  I like to say that I had what I call an “HSP flare-up” yesterday.  It began the night before, with someone telling me what a group of people whom I serve in ministry thought of me.  I admit, I did solicit this information. The answer was what I had expected, but not at all what I actually wanted to hear. *steps onto the spiral slide*

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling miserable; questioning my whole reason for being.  I resolved that I wanted nothing more to do with this people group.  Ever.  *sits down on the spiral slide* This would be a tall order, considering that I have been involved with this group for seven years.  They are my community.  Cultural differences and misunderstandings abound.  But they are my community, and I love them.  And I can’t stand them at times.

I spent the morning questioning the Lord:

  Why did you put me with them? 

        Or did I really put myself with them, and you didn’t want me with them in the first place?  

        Have I wasted my time with them?  Learning their language? 

        If I’m not working with them, what purpose will I have in my life? 

    Is there anyone is this community whom I can still trust? 

        Where will I find community?  

        Who? What? Why? When? Where? How!?!!! 

Suffice it to say…this is not an exhaustive list of questions and thoughts racing through my mind.

*pushes off and begins descent down the spiral slide*

There was a catch to all of this:  A woman from this particular people group had invited me over for my favorite meal from their country.  I’d have to put my resolve on pause long enough for me to enjoy the delicious lunch.  (Don’t judge me!)

When I got to my friend’s home, a woman whom I (most likely unfairly) suspected of being one of my “most-(un)wanted” list was also there.  She spoke to me in their language, and I informed her that I would only be speaking English on that day.  I never have English-only days, even if I’m alone all day! In any case, seeing her started priming the pump on my tear ducts and got my heart all twisted up in knots. Fortunately, she left after just a few minutes.

Really, friends, if you saw this woman, you would never-ever-ever believe that she was on the list.  I don’t even believe it myself.  

The meal itself was straight out of an HSP food nightmare for me.  You see, there are two ways of making this soup.  The kind I like is the clear broth. This one had a generous amount of rice flour, which added a creamy, slippery feel to the noodles in the soup.  In textural anguish, I ate half of the bowl.  The hostess was very understanding, a fact of which I am very grateful.

She could see that I was not okay, so while making all efforts not to bawl in front of her, I explained what had triggered my emotional state.  I didn’t go into the spiraling details, though.  She was understanding and attempted to offer some insight.  Earlier, I’d received some other helpful insight, but I was still upset.

At this point, the “most (un)wanted” lady returned.  Since I had least allowed a few tear droplets to escape, I managed to act somewhat normally with her for the rest of my quick visit.  She actually needed me to help with something; and I was able to suggest to her next steps to take in solving the issue.  *pause mid-spiral*

Feeling a little better, but not completely cathartically satisfied (yes, I just made that up) and definitely gastronomically dissatisfied, I rushed off to work; with no time remaining to grab something a bit palatable on the way.  In the parking lot, I hastily dashed out yesterday’s post on my phone app.  Then, I read some of the blogs I follow.  One of the blogs had a particularly touching post, which I could not even read all the way through for fear of, ummm, catharting (made that up, too) too much right before work.  *resume sliding*

On the way into the building, I got stopped in my tracks by an intriguing – but dead – group of flower blossoms.  This resulted in an impromptu pre-work photo session.  *pause again*

During work, I usually listen to Christian songs in the (un)wanted language.  Yesterday was not an exception, and I continued to listen on my drive back home.  As I approached my neighborhood, I started singing one of the songs that I’ve sung in church before.  The next song is a song about looking back on the mistakes one has made, in the interest of building friendships.  Then, it implores God to lead back onto the straight path.  This song perfectly fit the situation that had me so upset.  I envisioned myself singing the song and giving a testimony in church – sort of a confession and an apology. *sliding mode: on*

Singing this song with all of my heart, I pulled into my driveway.  And the dam was broken.  The tears flowed.  All of the pain that had been imprisoned in my heart all day finally made its escape.   *destination end of spiral:  reached*

Following this much-needed catharsis, I somewhat expected to retreat into a state of self-pity on the sofa.  I did.  And I finally also did what I had needed to do from the very beginning of this awful day:  I took some time with the Lord.  I read from the Bible study I’m doing now.  Ironically, we’re going through the book of Job right now.

In a complete contrast to yesterday, I felt a renewed sense of joy and purpose today – even with regards to that community.  Yesterday’s despair hardly seems reasonable, or even real, anymore.  How does this happen?  How could I spend a night and an entire day in complete mental torment, and then have it dissolve the next day?

To be clear:  I much prefer this renewed state.  I prefer to be at the top of the slide, but not even planning to go step onto it.

How can I stay here?  And if I happen to start down, how can I prevent myself from reaching the bottom?

That remains to be seen.  I want to learn how to, at least, shorten these rides.  While I’m in the midst of them, I can’t even conceive of there being any other way to look at the world.  Afterward, I have no idea how I possible allowed myself to sink so low – even if only for one day.

The Lord.

The Lord is with me.

The Lord knows that I am an HSP.

The Lord is unchanging, even though I am ever-changing.

The Lord is faithful, and He always does the following:

 

      3He restores my soul;
       He guides me in the paths of righteousness
            For His name’s sake.

      4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
            I fear no evil, for You are with me;
            Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4

HSP? Or not?

As I’ve been learning more about what it means to be an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I’ve started examining pretty much all of my little quirks under a highly-sensitve microscope.  Everything I do, I think, “That must be because I’m an HSP.”

Here are a couple of the suspects:

1. Soggy food:  I absolutely cannot eat soggy cereal or waffles (or any other soggy thing) without feeling ill.  Even as I type this, I feel a little creepy.  Once, when I was young, I put too much syrup on my waffles.  As a punishment, my mom made me finish them anyway.  It probably took a half hour.  It was awful.

2.  Oatmeal and grits:  I think it’s safe to say that I have issues about food texture.  Oatmeal and grits just feel awful in my mouth.  Can’t eat them.  Can’t be near someone eating them.  Can’t think about them for too long. Oatmeal more so than grits, but grits are yucky, too.  They’re all grainy, and then they get hard and flat if they start to cool off.

My dad recently told me that he also can’t be around people eating oatmeal.  I didn’t grow up with my dad, and I only see him once or twice a year.  So, making that little discovery was fun.

3.  Nuts or fruit chunks in food:  Okay, this one might not be as legit, but it still bothers me.  Aside from the fact that I don’t like the taste of nuts, I can’t bear to be eating a nice chewy (NOT soggy) muffin, or something, and “crunch!”  There’s a nut.  If you’re going to be crunchy, be crunchy.  If you’re going to be cake, be cake.  You can’t be both!!!

As for the fruit chunks…when I make a smoothie, I use mango and peach pieces, along with yogurt, ice and some other fruit.  On occasion, the fruit will not get thoroughly blended.  When I drink my smoothie, then, there will be slimy surprise-chunks of fruit, destroying my ability to enjoy.  I can’t just eat them.  Oh no… those things get thrown out.  Blah.

4.  My cat:  I love my cat.  I have always been a cat person.  Even so, I do not appreciate when she rubs all up against me, trying to force me to pet her.  For that matter, I don’t even like to see her rub all over the side of the sofa, the door, or any other object that she deems worthy of petting her.

There are a few others, but I’ll just keep those to myself.

Seeing these in writing kind of makes me aware of how silly they are. I’m curious, though:  do any other HSPs out there get bothered by the same types of stimuli?

HSP ENFP/J ISO: Balance

Now that you’ve had your alphabet review for the day.  haha.

The further I go on this journey of understanding this part of me that is a Highly Sensitive Personality, the more paradox I discover.  As we know, only about 20% of the world’s population is HSP.  Then, about 30% of that 20% is extroverted.

Guess who falls into that teeny, tiny, imperceptible crack in the personality pavement?

I’ll give you a hint:

It’s me.

I fall into the crack.

The first time I took a Myers Briggs type test was in high school, over 20 years ago.  (Oops!  Just told on myself.)  Since that time, I have consistently scored as Extrovert iNtuitive Feeling, usually Perceiving, sometimes Judging.  Hence, ENFP/J.  Of course, I have never needed any old personality test to tell me that I thrive off of being around people, socializing, and talking.

For the most part, I spent my childhood years as an only child, so I always wanted to be out, playing with friends.  In college and afterward, I remember very few spans of time where I was alone, without plans of going somewhere or hanging out with friends.  That is, unless I was sleeping or studying.

Once, as a young Christian, I decided to offer to God a fast of my social life for several weeks.  I only participated in church activities and bible studies during that time.

To this day, I get much more done around the house when I have a guest or am talking on the phone.  To be sure, no one rushes over here to watch (not even help! just watch) me clean, but if they would, my house would be a lot cleaner.  🙂

In the past several years, I do feel that I’ve become more of an introvert.  I can’t imagine that I will even completely “convert, ” but I appreciate more and more the need for some alone time.  Some quiet time.

Loving One’s Enemy: HSP Style

This is what the Bible has to say about loving one’s enemy:

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”e 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21

The Lord is very clear in his Word about how He expects us to respond to those who would try to harm us, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  As someone who is – by the strength of the Holy Spirit – trying to conform my life to the Word of God, I do not see this passage as an area of exception.  I know that this instruction is one that I must follow, and thus, want to follow.

A few months ago, I was uninvited to an event, at which my presence had previously been expected.  There were two guests of honor; and one of them did not want me there.  End of story.  I got crossed off the list.

When the friend who wanted me there broke the news, I actually cried a little.  I felt hurt, humiliated, bitter, angry…lots of negative.  Truth be told, I did not feel very close to the other guest of honor, but being there for my other friend was important enough to me to be able to put that aside for a day.

I very much wanted to complain about this to anyone who would listen.  I did not keep this slight all to myself, but I was delicate in my discussion of it.  Tried to be, anyway.  However, I’m also trying to do a better job of following the Bible’s commands about gossip.

In the months leading up to the event, I grew more and more angry, all the while knowing that the right thing to do would be to forgive and move on.  This would be especially difficult, given the fact that we all have very similar social circles.

In spite of my anger and hurt, I did not want to address the situation until after the fact, because I didn’t want to spoil the happy mood of the event.  A few weeks following the event, I decided that enough time had passed, and our paths had crossed enough times.  It was now time to make my feelings known and somehow clear the air.

So, I contacted the person who had revoked my invitation.  I told them how I felt, and that I didn’t think it was necessarily fair to exclude me.  As a guest of honor, it is that person’s prerogative to invite or un-invite whomever; but it didn’t seem that the decision was well-grounded this time.

This person responded to me in a way that might not have been intended as condescending, but it definitely came across in that way.

“Angry” doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt.  “Hatred.”  That’s a more accurate, if not entirely biblical, word to use here.  My current job can be done without a great deal of thought.  This is a blessing and a curse.  It’s great when I need to obsess over process something that has happened.  I can just do my work and stew over my emotions.  It’s awful, well, for the very same reason:  too much time to think.

The day I got the response, while at work, I (inwardly) yelled out to God about how much I hate this person.  I know that God can handle my emotions and my honesty.  Between my mental yells, I was repenting and begging Him to help me not react so strongly.

Here would be a good moment to note that this episode was one of the catalysts that caused me to learn more about HSP.  

I still knew that I had to forgive.  I also knew that the time would come when we would be in the same setting, and that I’d have to be cordial, kind, and friendly.  Just the thought made my eyes start to fill with tears.  This seemed like an impossibility!!

Learning more about Highly Sensitive Personality has helped me feel less horrified by the intensity of my reactions in uncomfortable or harmful situations.

The problem is that this awareness does not actually diminish the intensity.

Though I’ve started to really heal from the hurt of that situation, something remains:

There will always be something that hurts me or makes me feel uncomfortable.

And my body will produce tears, which will roll down my face.

Whether I like it or not.

  (For the record, I don’t like it.)

Just yesterday evening, I was thinking of a change of scenery that I may need to make.  While there will be some positives associated with this change, there are still some unsettling, upsetting aspects.

Again, with the involuntary, unnecessary tears at the mere thought of putting myself in that situation, which would actually be quite innocuous…

Guess what, people? The shaky voice and tears streaming down your face do not do much in the way of winning friends and influencing people.  Actually, that’s only halfway accurate:  people are influenced – to stay away from you!

In moments where I feel uncomfortable, angry, lonely, unwanted (whether rationally or irrationally), the slightest “hello, how are you?” from a well-meaning person will bring on the tears.  This has happened many a time.

Trust and believe:  these tears are not a plea for attention, nor sympathy.  I now understand better that they are borne out of having a nervous system that’s cranked up a few notches higher, even on a normal day.

So, back to the original issue:  how can I love my enemy, when standing there with tears running down my face?  I guess the answer is just that:

Love my enemy while the tears are running down my face.

This is a terrifying prospect. Absolutely terrifying, particular for a person whose sun rises and sets according to what others think of her.  And people who are crying for no apparent reason don’t get held in very high esteem, it seems.

But back to God’s Word:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

He made me this way, though I cannot imagine why.  Therefore, He also knows that I can somehow honor and obey him, even with this unusual chemistry that He has built into me.

Will it be tough?  Yes.

Will it be embarrassing?  Definitely!!

But “His power is made perfect in my weakness.”