I Bounce Back Like a Ton of Bricks

The Lord has helped me become more even-tempered lately, with these verses coming to mind quite often:

[a]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [b]Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures.  James 4:1-3

Keeping that truth in mind helps me not get to the point where others’ words or actions bother me to the point of that I plunge into the quicksand of my emotions.

That’s how it’s been going lately.

That is not at all how it went today.

When I woke up, I looked at my email on my phone.  (I should have had prayer time before checking my phone, but that’s not what happened.)   The first email I saw was an unnecessarily condescending work email.  An innocent bystander would not view the words in the email as condescending. The innocent bystander is also not aware of the subtext.

After reading the email, my heart immediately started beating quickly.  I was mad.  For the rest of the morning, I did not stop thinking about that email.  Instead, I chose to stew on it and nurture my anger at the person who sent it.

At work, the same person had a conversation with me – about a different topic – that was much more condescending than the email from this morning.  The tone of voice was actually on the pleasant side, but again, subtext ruled.  There was nothing I could do, except meekly acknowledge that I was in the wrong.  (I wasn’t, but it’s often best to just go with it.)

Just writing about today’s happenings brought on a much-needed cry.  It was more of a half-cry, because I got distracted.

This evening, the bulk of my mental space was used on crying out to the Lord that I hate this person.  Again, probably not the best thing to do; but I figure it’s better than saying it to the person or talking behind their back.  The rest of my mental space was used on crying out to the Lord to help me not to hate the person.

19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Romans 7:19

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from [r]the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25 

This is what makes being an HSP so frustrating to me. There is absolutely no reason why I should still be upset about the email or the conversation.  These incidents are just par for the course, and are not a true reflection on me as a worker or as a human being, in general.  Yet, they still cut so deeply when they do happen. It is a longstanding battle for me not to sin in my anger or self-pity at the toxicity of this situation.

PS: I have changed the settings, so that work emails don’t come through on my phone anymore.

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?  

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.

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!

Turnaround

I’ve had lots of great days of embracing my HSP traits lately. Today is not one of them.

Today is a day in which I’m grateful to work alone in a small, locked room where very few people enter or exit during the day.

My nerves are poking through my skin like a 5 o’clock shadow right now. Cannot handle anymore stimuli.

I need the Lord so much. And I repent of having looked everywhere except to Him for comfort, reassurance, and healing this morning.

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?