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What High Sensitivity is NOT

Hi there, highly sensitive person.

In today's episode, I want to talk about what high sensitivity is not. It turns out there are a lot of misconceptions about high sensitivity. So in today's episode, I'm going to dispel three of the biggest myths about being a highly sensitive person or an HSB. High sensitivity means that your mind and your body are more receptive to information from the world around you.

and that you probably have a very dynamic and vivid inner world. You're more sensitive physically in your nervous system, you're more sensitive emotionally with big feels, and you're more sensitive in your thoughts. That's it! I like the phrase neuro -spicy to describe the umbrella that covers what you have probably heard of as neurodivergence. HSPs definitely have a different neurological and nervous system makeup than the average person,

So that does kind of put them in the category of not quite typical, not quite average. NeuroSpicy kind of covers that with a little bit of playfulness, which I like. The main thing I want you to take away from today's episode is that there is nothing wrong with you if you're highly sensitive. Let me repeat, there's nothing wrong with you for being highly sensitive. That's the main takeaway. It's just a trait.

It's like the color of your hair or the color of your eyes or how tall you are. It's just a way that you process things. So now we're going to talk about our three myths. Now that we know what high sensitivity is, it's a little recap. First, let's go to Dr. Google for our first myth. I was really shocked and disappointed when I did this Google search for a highly sensitive person.

and it really lit a fire under my butt to share this podcast episode and to continue to contribute to this conversation because again there's nothing wrong with you for being highly sensitive. Here are the top eight results. So if you search highly sensitive person and you scroll down on Google it'll give you the other test or the other um word results that people have searched for in conjunction with highly sensitive person. Test is number one, two,

is symptoms. Three is treatment. Four is child. Five is characteristics. Six is problems. Seven is NHS, which I think in this context refers to the National Health Service. Health service. And eight is coping strategies. Test, symptoms, treatment, child characteristic, problems, NHS.

coping strategies. Wow! Myth number one is that high sensitivity is a problem. I see at least three of these searches as problematic because they tell me that people think highly sensitive people have something bad going on, that there's something wrong with them, that they have symptoms and problems that require treatment.

Coping strategies? Well, that's kind of neutral. It could be debatable whether coping strategies are helpful or unhelpful. If you are wondering, a mental health professional would be a good person to ask, or a coach who's trained to help you with your mindset so that you can think about things like your high sensitivity differently. Such as me! I would love to help you! Detangle all of this nonsense that there's something wrong with you for being highly sensitive if that's what you think. I hope that in future...

we get to see top HSP searches include things like highly sensitive person gifts, or highly sensitive person strengths, or even more neutral terms like highly sensitive person traits. Thankfully, at least testing characteristics are among the top searches for now. So that tells me that at least there's a little bit of neutrality around this, and people are just curious about what does this look like for me? I have dropped some additional episodes, including the three stages of high sensitivity.

and what exactly high sensitivity is. So if you're curious for more information, go check out those episodes. Myth number two, high sensitivity is a condition, a mental health condition. This is a myth. High sensitivity is not a mental health condition and it doesn't require diagnosis or treatment. If you're being treated for a mental health condition or disorder, which is wonderful if you are, please do that. Mental health is really important.

Those treatments are for other issues, such as chronic anxiety or chronic depression, for example. They're not for high sensitivity. There's nothing wrong with being highly sensitive. I'm going to be a broken record about this today. There's nothing wrong with being highly sensitive. It's not a bad thing. In other words, your problems are not caused by being highly sensitive, even if you didn't know how to handle your sensitivity when building coping skills.

If you go back and listen to the three stages of high sensitivity that I talked about in a previous episode, you will be able to hear my story of how I had some pretty unhealthy coping mechanisms because that was just what I learned with what I had at the time. And you can learn other more healthy coping skills instead. You can have high sensitivity and another condition though. So even though high sensitivity is not a cause for concern, it's not a cause of issues,

Sometimes it does overlap with other conditions that may create some more neuro spiciness, some more flavor to your life. Someone can, for instance, be on the autism spectrum and have high sensitivity, but high sensitivity is not a spectrum disorder. It would be more like a Venn diagram where they might overlap, but they're not the same thing. A lot of people ask me, so is high sensitivity an autism thing? It's not. I have high sensitivity as a trait.

I don't have any other neurodivergent conditions and a lot of other people are just like me. We have high sensitivity, our bodies and our brains function a little bit differently, but that doesn't mean that we need any kind of treatment or mental health. That's the word I want.

Help, we'll go with help, for the highly sensitive trait. I also know a number of highly sensitive people who also have ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. You can have both, just like if autism and high sensitivity overlap, it's just a Venn diagram. You can have both traits or you can have just high sensitivity as a trait and just an ADHD diagnosis and they're totally separate things.

They don't always combine, even though sometimes they do. Again, high sensitivity is simply a trait, like the color of your hair or your height. It's just the way your mind and nervous system take in information. You can also think of it even like a personality test. I love personality tests, and I know a lot about the Myers -Briggs test, for instance, and the 16 personality types. To say that you're introverted or extroverted,

doesn't mean that one is better than the other unless you're creating meaning and you have an opinion for yourself about which one is better. They're just descriptions of the way that people gain energy, whether that's by gaining energy by yourself as an introvert or gaining energy around other people as an extrovert. They're just descriptions. That's what high sensitivity is like as well. It just describes the way that you process things. Myth number three, and this is a little less concrete,

the myth is that high sensitivity means you get easily offended or easily hurt. This is a little bit more abstract and I want to debunk this myth that being sensitive or having high sensitivity means that you get upset or you get offended super easily when someone disagrees with you or says something that's offensive or hurtful. In fact, I have high sensitivity and even if someone says something offensive or

even intended to be mean or to hurt my feelings, it doesn't necessarily affect me that way. I choose in my own mind whether something's going to affect me or not. It is a bit of a cliche, but I like the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, people can only make you feel inferior with your consent. This is true. You get to choose whether someone is saying something that you are going to take on or if they're just saying something that says a lot more about them.

One of my favorite phrases is, what someone says is about them, what you hear is about you. So the meaning that you make out of what someone says is really about what's going on in your head and heart. What they said has everything to do with them. It really has nothing to do with you, what someone else says. And if you really want to take it a step further into neutrality, it's none of our business what other people's opinions are too.

I find that thought really helpful because then I'm less likely to want to go in and try and change someone's mind or fix something. There's nothing to fix. They're entitled to their opinion and they can think something else. And as Brooke Castillo, one of my passive heroes and mentors says, it's okay for people to be wrong about me. So the idea that just because you're highly sensitive means you have to be hurt easily or you have to be offended easily or that you take things personally more than the average person, it's just not true.

There are plenty of people who get super offended, who disown people who think differently than they do, who take things very personally and get very hurt and very upset about things. And that has more to do with their mind and the way that they're thinking about things and the meaning that they're creating rather than their trait. It has nothing to do with the trait. So just to recap those three myths, number one, high sensitivity is a problem. Totally not true.

It's just a simple neutral trait and it's a part of how you process and who you are. There's nothing wrong with it and there's nothing to fix. Myth number two, high sensitivity is a condition, a mental health condition. It's not. High sensitivity is simply a trait and it might overlap with other mental health conditions or it might overlap with something that you're seeking mental health and therapy for, such as depression or anxiety. They're not caused by each other. And number three,

High sensitivity means you get easily offended or hurt. This is not the case. You can get easily offended and hurt whether you're highly sensitive or not, and that's totally separate from having the trait. As a bonus, I would also like to share with you one additional myth, and the myth is that you can become a highly sensitive person. This is a myth because high sensitivity is a genetic trait. They've actually found nine genetic markers that are different in highly sensitive people.

than they are an average person. So this means that you can't suddenly become more sensitive in the neurological or nervous system sense. You can become more thoughtful or more emotionally sensitive to something based on your experiences. They're just a little bit different. The idea of sensitivity as an idea that you are thoughtful and conscientious and that you feel things deeply is a little bit different than being a highly sensitive person.

who thinks and feels deeply and also takes in more sensations physically and more information from the external world than the average person. So it is possible that you are sensitive to certain topics or you are sensitive to certain behaviors, but you can't become a highly sensitive person who processes things differently. That's just a part of who you are. It's an inborn trait, just like anything else, again, like your hair or your height, and it's a part of who you are.

So even if you don't know that you have high sensitivity, if you are highly sensitive, maybe that's something you encounter later in life and it helps you process things a little bit differently. And there we are with our bonus that makes four myths about highly sensitive people. And I hope that that dispelled any worries or anxieties or concerns that you have about this trait. The trait itself is neutral and you can survive with it. You can figure out how to manage it.

and you can use it as a superpower and thrive with it as well. You have all of those options at your disposal and none of these myths have to hold you back unless you let it. Thanks so much for listening today and I can't wait to see you on the next episode.

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