If I’m Happy and I Know It, I Don’t Write (But I know I should…)

(clap, clap)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

That title has been rolling around in my mind for the past few days; and I’ve been waiting to have enough time and focus to park myself and write.  Part of the reason I’ve kind of slacked off is that I’ve been feeling better about several things lately.  I don’t think I’ve had as many strongly HSP moments as I had been having.  So, it seems that I’ve been subconsciously believing that I don’t have anything of worth to say, if it’s not about being a Highly Sensitive Person.

Hopefully, that is not the case!

It is also helpful to remember that, although the HSP trait is a huge part of who I am, it does not define me.  Though I often feel like an exposed nerve walking around, my life is not meant to consist of merely existing from one HSP “event” to the next. And neither is yours, fellow HSP!

Since the last time I posted, the number of views to this blog exceeded 1,000.  It took nearly a year, but I’m still pleased.  Many people have ended up here by way of search terms such as “Christian HSP,” or “sensitive Christian.”

As a matter of fact, this blog was birthed from my doing the same types of searches.  When I couldn’t find much biblical information on being an HSP, someone suggested that I write something.  So, here we are.

As always, it is my prayer that whoever finds their way here – HSP or not – will find some sort of encouragement, will be able to relate.  (I really hope someone will relate, so that I won’t so feel crazy!)   Hopefully, in some way, the Lord will be glorified, too.

My greatest and only hope is in the Lord Jesus.  And to be sure, I would be a completely broken-down wreck, if it weren’t for Him and a desire to live as He did.  Though the high sensitivity is still very present, having an increasingly biblical perspective on life and circumstances definitely takes the edge off.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

Perhaps that’s why I have felt that I didn’t have anything to say.  On second thought, I think that this hope and joy should provide even more to say.

How have you sought the Lord in dealing with a highly sensitive personality?  

Advertisements

Thinking and More Thinking

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭3-5‬ NASB)

Taking thoughts captive.

Not exactly my strongpoint. I imagine that it’s not the strongpoint of too many other HSPs out there. However, as a Christian, I have the power of the Holy Spirit, by which I can overcome.

Tonight, I had started on a downward spiral. Really, it’s been a spiraling kind of weekend, because of a few pieces of bad news that I had received.

I recognize that my tendency to overthink often gets my brain tied in so many knots. Those knots are so difficult to undo! Not only do I retrace my steps and consider sins that the Lord may be now disciplining me for, but I also spend time thinking about how He might be allowing my current difficult circumstances to take my life into further despair.

This is not how God has called me to live my life!

He has said that I can do all things through Christ’s strength. Philippians 4:13

He has said that I should not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow has enough worries of its own. Matthew 6:34

He has said that I must forget what is behind and press on toward the goal – that is, eternal life and Christlikeness. Philippians 3:14

I don’t mean to say that I will never have trouble. Or that I must not learn from my mistakes. However, I must not get bogged down in trying to figure out God’s mind and his plans.

God gives us what we need for each day. He gives us a lamp for our path, not a floodlight. There is such a level of trust required! Second-guessing and trying to become omniscient is not really a display of trust.

Again, it is a real struggle for me not to overthink. But knowing that my thoughts are more than likely irrational is a definite help in digging myself out of the pit of obsessive thinking.

Sometimes, I do need the help of a friend – as I did tonight. I needed someone to tell me, “Hey, these thoughts are not from God. You do need to work on some circumstances in your life, but the nighttime is not the time to do it.” She mentioned that our thoughts tend to take us more into a frenzy at night. How I can attest to that!

She reminded me that God’s mercies are new every morning. At that time, I will hopefully be able to see more clearly.

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?

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.

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!

Torn: Highly Sensitive and Highly Self-Centered

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

 Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker…  Does the clay say to the potter: ‘What are you making?’ Isaiah 45:9

While reading and learning more about HSP, I have noticed that it is considered to be a gift to be grateful for.  After all, the Lord made us this way. Just days into starting this blog, however, I composed an entry in which I expressed doubt that there could possibly be anything positive about being an HSP.  The only use I could see for this trait was to make me cry or become very angry and tense at what would appear to be inopportune moments.

Much of the literature I’ve read on Highly Sensitive Persons mentions that HSPs are very in tune with other people’s feelings and thoughts.    Intuition and insight into others’ feelings and thoughts are part of the gift.  This is why HSPs often find themselves in helping/human services, I’d imagine.

In all my reading about HSP, my life has basically been flashing before my eyes.  So many aspects of my life started to make sense through the lens of my Highly Sensitive Personality.  Hurts, heartaches, mistakes, embarrassments…

There was a glaring exception, though:

The bits about being sensitive to what others felt and needed did not resonate with me.  At all.

How could this be possible?!  I am a model HSP in so many ways!  How on earth did I miss out the empathy part?

Then, it came to me.  My greatest downfall in life has been self-focus, or self-centeredness.  Let me be clear:  I never, ever had the thought, “I’m more important than everyone around me.  Therefore, I will put all my needs first and expect them to do the same.”  That may have seemed to be the case, but it simply is not true.

Looking back at my childhood, I can see some ways in which I could have become this way.  Though I am not an only child, I was one for several years before my mother had a second child.  As an only child, and after my brother was born, I was given most of what I wanted.  I was taught to think highly of myself from a very early age, with regard to physical appearance and intellect.

(side note:  if I ever have an academically gifted child, this child will not be made aware of high standardized test scores and percentiles.)

These circumstances are a breeding ground for conceit and self-centeredness.  Let’s also not forget that every, single person living on the planet is a sinful human being who, to some extent, is inherently selfish.  It’s just that some of those humans grow up in situations that teach them to think more highly of the needs of others.

I didn’t.

But can God redeem that time?  Of course, he can!

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten….”  Joel 2:25

In hindsight, I only remember very few situations in which I was very open to sense another person’s feelings.  Mostly, I remember being so wrapped up in my feelings and needs that I (unknowingly) built a wall between myself and the other person.  This wall prevented me from recognizing their needs and/or intentions on deeper levels, and possibly prevented me from being able to speak life to a person who may have needed encouragement.

Again, God can and does redeem our lost time!  Even before I began to learn about HSP, I’d been working to be less self-centered and to focus more on others.  It is a work in progress, let me tell you!  Still, God has been changing me step-by-dying-to-self-step.

How can I make the most of this part of my HSP “gift”? And if you also experience the sensitive/self-centered dichotomy, how can you? 

I’ve actually composed a list in answer to that question, but I’m going to take my own advice and pray before posting it.  It just doesn’t read right; and I want to step back and think it over.  Maybe even rewrite.  Let’s see.

 

A Sliver of Hope: I’ll take it!

The other day, I was in an unfavorable situation that has made me cry a few times in the recent past.  I was with a group of people, who, because of some cultural differences, make me feel left out when I am with them.  What I mean to say is that the cultural differences make it appear as if they are trying to leave me out, but that’s not their actual sentiment.  However, I still have to be in this situation from time to time.

On this recent day, some of the cultural differences were in play, and I noticed their behaviors were pretty much the same as usual.  But something was different:

It didn’t make me cry.

My heart didn’t feel like it was being ripped out and stomped on, by an evil group of me-haters.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!! 

I don’t take this to mean that I am no longer an HSP.  But I do take it to mean that I can have victory in situations that seem hopeless.

It was several weeks ago that I learned how this particular cultural difference meant that this social distance would exist with this group.  It just took me a while for my mind, heart and nervous system to come to terms with this fact – and also not to be angry or resentful in light of it.

This little milestone gives me so much hope!

Have you had any similar milestones? 

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.”

Depression and HSP: Any Kinship?

I don’t know how much of a stigma still surrounds clinical depression.  I do know, however, how it feels to go through it.  I know how it feels not to be able to envision ever being anything other than in a state of depression.

Upcoming posts about depression will be a bit of a deviation from our regularly scheduled Highly-Sensitive programming, but I didn’t want to start a whole new blog for this topic.  I wouldn’t be surprised to know that other HSPs have also experienced depression at some time or another.

One thing I’d be curious to know:  if you, as an HSP, have ever experienced a period of depression, was it before or after you recognized that you are a Highly Sensitive Person?  

It’s barely been two months that I’ve acknowledged being an HSP.  My period of depression was about 7 years ago.  This is making me wonder whether the depression would have been so strong, if I had already been aware of the HSP and had been taking emotionally-protective measures.

 

 

Like White on Rice

Recently, an acquaintance engaged me in a conversation that left me feeling very uncomfortable. Nothing was said that was blatantly out of line, but he was dancing dangerously close to the line.

I was already in a weird place emotionally, so his comments certainly didn’t do anything to ameliorate the situation.

Also, because of where we were, I ended up being somewhat of a captive audience. At the beginning of the conversation, I was working on something. This gave me an excuse not to engage too deeply. When I finished, I unconsciously stacked and re-stacked my belongings a few times. I suppose that was my way of prolonging my disengagement.

You may be wondering why I didn’t just state that the discussion was making me uncomfortable? If you find out, please tell me, because I still don’t know.

When he finally left from where I was, I felt relieved, but also quite wretched. Soon after, another friend came by, and we went to eat. Even when I was with that friend, the icky feeling would not go away.

It subsided slightly as that day progressed, but remnants lingered.

To what can I liken the way my emotions cling to me, long after the fact:

Like white on rice
Like flies to flypaper
Like chewing gum in hair
Like Linus to his blanket
Like a gel manicure to fingernails

Like me to Jesus – except I didn’t do a great job on that in this situation.