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.
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.