Ever since I can remember I worried what others thought or said about me. I would lie in bed and recall every part of a conversation, wondering how I had been perceived. When I mentioned that I felt hurt or attacked by someone’s comments I often heard:” Don’t take it personal, it was just a joke.” Yet it didn’t feel like a joke. It felt very personal.

Like other Highly Sensitive People, HSP’s, I notice subtle clues, like a tone of voice, facial expression, body language or specific words. Often I read between the lines, when nothing is written. I had a big mental folder of real and imagined hurtful comments, insensitive jokes and stupid, thoughtless remarks.

Because I remembered all those incidences I started to expect being laughed at or made fun of. I felt uncomfortable around other people, worried too much and put too much weight on the opinions of others.
I became too sensitive, too emotional and took everything too serious. I was ready to defend myself and often overreacted. Soon many handled me with kids gloves afraid of hurting my feelings, afraid of my strong reactions.

I started to doubt my perceptions. I became more and more quiet, retreating to the safety of books.
I never felt comfortable just asking someone what they meant. I dislike confrontation just as many other HSP’s do. Fear of looking stupid held me back of finding out what I didn’t understand.

Again and again I jumped to wrong conclusions, based on old hurts, wrong beliefs I had formed over time. I didn’t know how to give someone the benefit of the doubt.
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed most of the time when in company, it never occured to me that those who I considered rude and thoughtless might be as worried, afraid or insecure as I was.

It took me a long time to change those ingrained behaviours and reactions. Through awareness, consistent stress reduction and using EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques I feel more comfortable to question someone’s comments and making sure we are talking about the same thing.
I am now gentler and more forgiving with myself and others.

Text and Photo by Karin Goldgruber

Karin Goldgruber writes about life as a Highly Sensitive Person HSP, how to reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm and how to find authentic answers to your life questions.
She is a Certified Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner who specializes in working with HSPs who experience problems in their relationship and life because of this innate trait.
As a Highly Sensitive Person herself she has overcome many challenges and obstacles and encourages and empowers others to do the same.