“If you haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes, it’s difficult to know the fit, so be kind and compassionate.” – Heather Wolf. This quote is so true and although I always try my best to be kind and compassionate and I am a very empathetic person, it is truly not possible to know exactly how a person feels until you have been in their shoes.
Earlier this year one of my friends was in a situation and she was describing what it felt like to be in that situation and how she reacted etc. I listened and empathized with her, she explained her feelings and at that time I remember being compassionate towards her, yet not understanding exactly how or why she felt that way. Everyone is different and responds to situations differently, I listened and supported her. After our conversation I found myself pondering how I would react and feel if I were in the same situation. It was not even close to how she felt, yet ironically a few months later I found myself in the same exact situation as her with the same exact feelings as she had described!
The takeaway from this post is that we cannot possibly know what it feels like to be in a situation if we are not actually in it. We can guess and think of how we would feel, but it is not possible to know until then. I was shocked that I reacted completely different than what I had imagined that I would. I am a very open-minded and non-judgmental person, yet this was very eye-opening for me!
Some of you may have heard of a trait that some people have, it’s known as HSP (Highly Sensitive Person.) I have this trait and have had it for most of my life and I can tell you one thing, it is for sure both a blessing and a curse. In some ways being an HSP helps in life and in other ways it makes life a lot more challenging.
I remember being a very sensitive person pretty much my entire life. I am not really sure how I got this way and I never really understood it until I was in college many years ago in a Psychology class and we took a fun quiz on empaths. I remember this day so clearly because I had scored the max possible points, which put me in the category of an HSP. I was the only one in the class that had an empath score so high. The quiz was almost like a personality test. I remember my professor encouraging me to research this topic further…and I did just that. It was then that I understood this trait that had been with me my entire life.
HSP’s have several distinct qualities that can help one recognize being an HSP in themselves, or others. People with the HSP trait are highly in tune with their surroundings. They pick up energy from their environment and from other people. HSP tend to be very deep thinkers and they feel emotions and thoughts very strongly, even sensing them from other people. These individuals require a lot of alone time and down time as they feel like they are always “on.”
The positives of being an HSP is that it really helps you relate to others. Often HSP’s can know how someone is feeling before they even say anything. Another positive is that it really helps you take in each experience and experience life as a whole, life seems to take on a deeper purpose and meaning. Being an HSP can also facilitate communication as they tend to pick up on what is and what is not being said, they absorb many non-verbal ques from others.
There are definitely downsides to being a Highly Sensitive Person. We often require down time and a quiet environment because being an HSP drains a lot of energy. HSP’s become overwhelmed easily and do not typically do well with a lot going on at one time. Having this trait makes you worry about other’s feelings and analyze more, it also means you feel emotions deeper, both good and bad.
For me, though there are positives, being an HSP is quite exhausting. I often feel overstimulated and exhausted. I wish that I was not so sensitive, it is a battlefield of the mind and heart, but it is part of who I am and I will embrace it. We all have traits about ourselves that we like and don’t particularly like, but we are who we are for a reason and the best solution is to work with what you have and just live the best life that you possibly can!