As Highly Sensitive people it’s so easy to pick up on other people’s feelings. Our strong perception and awareness of the smallest detail in behaviours, facial expression or tone of voice and then deeply thinking and analyzing it has given us the impression that we know exactly what another person feels.
To a certain degree this is true, as we see the behaviours, we can even guess what they might do next, because we are good at observing patterns.
Yet despite all of this we can’t, nobody can, know how another person feels. It’s an illusion, and we shouldn’t assume that we can.
I hate when someone in an attempt to make me feel better says:” I know how you feel”. No, they don’t.
They may have had a similar experience but they don’t know how I am feeling. They don’t even have to know or understand how I feel, in order to help. Listening, being there for someone, and trusting in them, that they will find the right solution are actions that empower the other person.
Why do we want to help? Is it because we feel uncomfortable with their feelings and what they stir in us? Do we need to be needed because we had needed someone and nobody was there for us?
There are so many reasons why we want to help. We either learned them from our parents or it’s expected in our society.
Just because something is the norm, doesn’t make it helpful or good. It’s difficult to admit that one needs others to need one.
Yet talking and sharing our perceived shortcomings connects us on a deeper level to others. This society has such a problem of asking for help. We expect others to help us without asking, then we resent them for interfering or telling us what to do.
We need to trust that we got this, that the other person has got it. That they are responsible for their lives and that we can’t fix it.
I am not saying not to help anyone ever again. But to observe why we want to help. To ask how we can help instead of assuming we know what is best for them.
As I am learning to ask myself what help I need, I am taking steps to ask for help. That’s a scary thing. I recently asked several of my friends for help, offering them help in return. Each and every one said: I am glad to help you. I am good right now. You were here for me when I needed help. I am here for you now.
And I thought that I was completely alone, that I had to tackle this all by myself.
I felt ashamed of having to ask for help.
My whole life I didn’t share my struggles with most of my family and friends because of several reasons. I thought being strong meant never having to ask for help.
I didn’t want to worry them. I assumed that they wouldn’t be strong enough to handle this. What arrogance and ignorance. I didn’t even give them the chance to determine for themselves if they wanted to help me or not.
I didn’t ask because subconsciously I was afraid that they would say no” I can’t help you”. I was so afraid of rejection that I isolated myself. I was so afraid to be hurt that I didn’t even ask.
I chose to hurt myself instead of taking the risk of being rejected. This way I got hurt every time. In hindsight it’s really stupid, but that’s how it was. I was taught that in order to be strong I had to be tough.
I didn’t know that true strength is to be open, vulnerable and sensitive. I am discovering this gentle strength within me and at the same time I am embracing my strong sensitivity.
It has been quite an adventure and I am so happy to share my struggle with you, so you don’t feel like the only one who thinks and feels this way.
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 Highly Sensitive People who experience problems in their relationship and work because of this innate trait.
As an HSP herself she has overcome many challenges and obstacles and encourages and empowers others to do the same.