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I recently came across an article about HSP while researching information about coping with narcissism - I've noticed a LOT of people on this site are dealing with narcissistic parents and/or siblings. I myself have two SILs that (unfortunately) fit that same bill.

After reading this article I concluded three things about this so-called Highly Sensitive Personality:
1) the characteristics fit me to a "T"
2) matched with caregiving it's a two-edged sword - because of an increased ability to empathize it lends itself very well to the task; it also makes one far more vulnerable to the demands of caregiving (especially if caring for a very difficult and demanding person!!)
3) it is the POLAR OPPOSITE of narcissism!!!

According to author and psychologist Elaine Aron, PhD. this is an innate personality trait (NOT a disorder) that apparently exists in about 15-20% of the human population. It's also found in many animals, including dogs and primates. It results from having a "sensitive nervous system that makes it harder to filter out stimuli and easier to get overwhelmed by our environment."

You may be a Highly Sensitive Person if you...
- are highly curious, imaginative, intellectual, and/or creative
- are intuitive, caring, and spiritual
- are a good problem solver
- are especially conscientious and compassionate
- harbor an exceptionally deep fondness for art, music and nature
- were considered "shy" or "timid" as a child

You may also...
-be more acutely aware of your environment; loud noises, bright lights, big crowds overwhelm you more than the average person
- get rattled when there's a lot to do in a short period of time
- prefer to avoid confrontation (also violent movies, TV)
- tend to "sense" an uncomfortable situation more readily than most people, and then feel driven or obligated to "fix" it
- be more sensitive than most to certain smells, tastes, and/or textures

Another "expert", Jeffrey E. Young (who wrote "Schema Therapy: A Practitioner's Guide") states "if these individuals don't learn to handle their high sensitivity they may suffer greatly...when it comes to a self-sacrifice schema, which always lends itself to emotional deprivation"...."these people need to learn to focus on themselves instead of or before focusing on others, and to learn to get their own needs met first, needs they are typically not aware of."

Any of this sound familiar???

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Sounds just like me. OMG. Is there one of us for every narcissist? Ya ya that was true enlightment. I have always been ultra sensitive. If things arent right or a person i feel it. I feel the turmoil and I feel the ugly. And yes I do try and fix things and so many people cant stand the truth so hate me because it comes out around me. I put on a tough front but deep in side I was or am I still a cry baby.
I know when my landlord sold her house to not lose everything I had to move back in my mothers house. It was the only place I had to go outside of a shelter. Rent is high in new your and I was drawing unemploymet after a severe illness. So being treated as an intruder and see them take every moment possilbe to kick dirt in my face had me crying just walking the street. I put the strong on for them but it broke my heart to see the joy it was for my mother and sister to see me down and to be ignorant to think it wwould stay that way.

Well anyways its good to know it has a name. Now what to do about it. I think we learn as we go. I am certainly not the person to mess with but I dont wear that well so some people take the kindness for weakness and learn the hard way if I have enough energy to waste because people who use people dont do the live and learn thing cant see their wrong, just wont (maybe) come for you again..

I am going to go back and read other posts just had to shout out because this fit me to the tee.
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I'm an HSP as well. Thank you for talking about it here. I'm struggling with helping my mom. She has what I recently learned an "oppositional" conversational style. I have had to work on that myself. I can't win with her. She has an answer--and often a twist--for everything. Now she's an exaggeration of her former self so I have not yet been able to separate her nastiness from her dementia. I don't think I said that correctly. What I'm trying to say is that I would like to not be hurt by all of the things that she says because she now has dementia and I would like to help her feel better, but I get so caught up in defending myself, or trying to correct her, or some other idiotic move. I just feel so lost and out of control of my surroundings--as if I'm just bouncing around in all of this. I HATE that I'm hurt by her stuff since she got sick, and that I haven't yet been able to be extra kind to her instead of fighting off the hurt I feel.
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HSP.... that sure sounds like me.... and let's throw in some mild OCD while we are at it.
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LivingSouth, I thought when you said, "I'm an HSP" that you were saying that you're a nurse for HSP. So I popped in to take a look. Read Yaya's introduction. Most of it sounds like me. I will need to come back and start from page 1.
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I'm an HSP - and also a INJF, if you know about the Meyers Briggs test. I have had to contend with people thinking that I am stuck up because I wait and see what type of person I am dealing with first, and I have problems with absorbing other peoples emotions. I also grew up in a family where everyone else is 'tough' and wanted to know what was wrong with 'that kid who bawls at every sad movie'! Unfortunately I also have a lot of self absorbed people in my family too. You know, the kind you give every little detail of every thing they did this week, but then when you say that you have a cold and are worn out, they suddenly 'hear the doorbell'?
I'm beginning to think we must have a sign that is only visible to others because I had had people in my family, who rarely had time for me when growing up, suddenly decide that I would be the 'perfect caregiver' for them. I don't think that people understand that most HSP people may appear weak, but really are not - and can stand up for themselves ( of course I've also been bullied for that, also)
It does make it hard to be a caregiver because you can feel the frustration that older people feel, and the constant negativity and complaints really do get to you - like the drip, drip, of a faucet....
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I just want to add, for the benefit of the other commenters, that being an HSP can mean that you "appear" to be extremely self-absorbed... this is not at all the same as narcissism, though our society may see it as such. As children, HSPs often stand back from the crowd to observe and absorb behaviour, and they do a lot of reflecting on what's going on around them. Also, in crowded or over-stimulated environments, we have a greater need to protect ourselves, which can be seen as selfish or needy to others. Narcissists generally do not take into consideration the feelings of others when they make choices/life decisions; that's a strong differing factor. HSPs, on the other hand, consider others first when making a choice, and will feel extremes of guilt, sorrow, regret, etc.
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THANK YOU for bringing up HSP in connection with caregiving. I bought Dr. Aron's book years ago, and felt it explained so many things in my life that didn't make sense. I can now relate to myself better, understanding that I am an HSP and part of a minority who have a slightly different perspective on life. As caregiver for my two parents (both with Alzheimer's), I wondered at first why the activity was so draining. Thanks to HSP research, I've learned to carefully guard my alone-time and my down-time, so that I can replenish my depleted energy and be more there for them. Good post, now I'll go read the other comments! Just so happy that you brought this up, Yaya51.
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Wow. This is me. So maybe im not bipolar after all.
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Holy moly, ALL of these apply to me! I somehow feel vindicated in that its all real and there is a term for it. I'm sharing this with my husband so he can better understand me as we're beginning on the path of my role as his caregiver. I totally get it with him but he doesn't have a clue about me.
Most important about this list for me is it proves my mom was wrong about me. I'm the way I am for a reason. I feel free today!
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16 for me.This site makes me feel normal. Thanks.
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It's so great to read all these wonderful posts! I got so excited when I ran across this HSP thing I just had to share, and it's really gratifying to see it struck a chord with so many others. Sixty-two years on this planet thinking there must be something "weird" about me because I could feel things like a subtle undercurrent of tension in a room like it was a weight pressing down on me!

Since this thread popped back up again I thought I'd share some more stuff I've found out....such as "what a highly sensitive person is NOT". According to Eline Aron a HSP is not weak, over-reactive, neurotic, or anti-social....nor is s/he emotionally immature/unstable, self-centered, unpredictable, over-dependent, demanding or attention seeking. So if any of you HSP's have ever thought of yourselves in these ways, or have ever been accused by others of being some of these things, close your eyes, take a deep breath, SMILE knowingly, and blow out all those negative self-images!

I also found this interesting - "22 signs you're a HSP", posted by Edward Mills (evolvingtimes) I answered yes to 14 of them...
1. Can you hear things others can't, especially high pitched sounds? (eg. hum of a dimmed light fixture)
2. Do you notice smells other don't?
3. Do you notice flickers on an old computer screen or fluorescent light fixtures?
4. Do you know what other people need before they ask?
5. Do you get "overwhelmed" by joy when you experience great beauty? (Eg. A beautiful sunset or the laugh of a baby)
6. Feel threatened or uneasy in crowds, big cities?
7. Have n "emotional radar" that picks up on what others are feeling?
8. Pick up physical symptoms from other people? (eg. headaches)
9. Does reading or hearing about bad news have a dramatic impact on your mood?
10. Have you been diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and/or do you experience a noticeable drop in your energy and mood during winter?
11. Have you ever had a transcendental or mystical experience?
12. Do you have a strong reaction when you drink coffee, or try to stop?
13. Do you have food sensitive allergies?
14. Are you a "lightweight", ie. get buzzed on one glass of wine?
15. Do you have allergies or asthma?
16. Are you sensitive to over the counter, prescribed, or illegal drugs?
17. If you ever had surgery did it take longer to recover from the effects of the anesthesia than from the surgery itself?
18. Is being in a calm, peaceful environment very important to you?
19. Do you get claustrophobic when you spend too much time indoors?
20. Is it important to you to spend time alone?
21. Do you experience dramatic mood swings, sometimes for no apparent reason?
22. Do you know when people are lying to you?

Question: how does being a highly sensitive person affect your role as a caregiver?
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I have known that I fit this profile for a long time, as I was always the one who got emotional about sad movies, treated sick animals, and seem to have an invisible sonar system for picking up feelings from other people. I cannot be in a crowd, because it just wears me out. The problem of course, is that there are always people who will take advantage of your helpful nature. I don't mind the strangers who tell you their life story as much as family members who will try and get you to do things that they are supposed to take care of themselves. I don't think that anyone was put on this planet to make someone happy - the person is responsible for their own happiness. My family never had any boundaries so I am still learning.
I have found that taking Golden Yarrow flower remedy helps to protect you from absorbing everyone's energy. Not sure how it works, but it does.
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WOW.... that's me too. This gives me a lot to think about. No wonder I hurt so much! And it really hits the nail on the head as to why I took on caregiving. I think about all those people, all my life, who wrote me off and called me "too emotional..." and really it's just how God made me. What a relief. Thanks for sharing this.
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Finally! A set of initials by which I can label myself...although...lol...I try to avoid labels as much as possible.

But, yeah...gotta set boundaries...gotta know that even though it hurts...it is the part of being human that might possibly redeem a self-centered world-at-large.
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Hi just found this site. I feel that the HSP profile fits me also. I am the main caregiver to my mother, she's 86 who is also highly sensitive. When I hear her worry, worry, worry about everything it drives me almost crazy and it has affected my life so profoundly! At times I also feel no one else cares, like when I text my siblings about my stress they pretty much ignore me... it may be that I am overreacting, but it is so real also. My mom has gotten so stressed over situations I am now insisting she see a counselor or psychiatrist to help her look at the world in a different way instead of worry. I will now try to take a good look at my thoughts and try to refocus and take better care of me. We are looking for an assisted living facility and that can't come soon enough. Thanks and God bless.
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I have known this for a long time,having been in business for 35 years and forgiven 3 to$ 400000 plus in losses to people with their hand in the cash ,getting a few out of jail,re-hiring some I knew were corrupt but would partially starve should I not, buying lunch and snacks daily etc. Looking back I would do it all over again for anyone in need .In those years I developed another side that can cut to the core if someone is being unreasonable to my family or to a person less able than the attacker ,the business years were spent with oil companies,not the model of kindness,basically the kind person is much like a pendulum it swings both ways ! In my case I went from work to full time sole caregiver for my wife who is suffering with PSP,much like ALS but long lasting,it has been almost 10 years...you can likely figure out the rest but being a caregiver to someone you have been with since high school that is as much a part of you as you are to yourself with a personality that tries to solve the problems of the world is terribly demanding ,some days it is very hard to ties the ends together.
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We get used to hearing we love, but don't like, our loved ones. But only we know that. ;)
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Thank you so much. This is me in a nutshell. My husband has been telling me for years that my mom and sister look to me to see how I am going to "fix" things for them, but they don't usually follow my advice. I always thought he was exaggerating but I've been seeing this more and more. I am overly empathizing and always put myself in others' shoes. Dang, I'm glad there is a term for it. It won't change who I am, but it will make me aware and maybe be able to change my reactions and behaviors to my narcissistic mom and sister. On another thread they used the acronym FOG - fear, obligation and guilt. Man, those are my triggers and mom has used those on me from the word go. My sister does, too, but I am learning that they have to be responsible for their own messes they've created. I have mom in my home and she is driving me crazy. My husband tells me, "If you have to live with a dram queen, you might as well enjoy the show". I find that funny, but I am trying very hard to do just that.

I am so glad I found this forum. I have learned so much about myself and my mom. I do not like her. I love, evidently or do I feel obligated and guilty? Hmmm...
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Yes, YaYa...thank you for sharing this info.I bet a high percentage of us caregivers see ourselves here.
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I find this interesting, have never heard of it but I clearly see how I fit in with the profile. Thanks for sharing it with us Yaya!!
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frsutrated3 = hope you will make some changes so your mum is not taking complete advantage of you. It is possible, even for a highly sensitive person. (((((((hugs)))))
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I guess this throws me right into that category as I am every single thing on that definition. As a result, I'm letting my mother take complete advantage of me. Or, it just feels that way. See, I'm backtracking aren't I?
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This is me too! WoW!
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thanks Jessie - I forgave him right away - it is a choice, and according to my beliefs - and life is better for me that I did. I think I was more angry at the justice system for in the end for their ineptitude. The young man got off despite the fact that Gordie never touched him and he assaulted Gordie, but that didn't bother me so much as I don't think going to jail would have done him any good, It was the courts calling it self defence which was ridiculous -and this after all witnesses testified that Gordie didn't raise a hand. I am still angry about that and the press who jumped on the verdict.
Like you I don't remember much of a childhood. My sister teased me mercilessly and mother never helped - in fact she always had to be dealt with due to anger spilling out of her all the time. Yes, we developed a sixth sense in self protection.

Christina - fave hymn - "It is well with my soul"
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Yaya, you are the Hostess with the Mostest for starting this thread for all these Precious Ones:))) Blessings to you all and Peace be with your Souls:) xo
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yaya, thank you for your kind words. I do believe being sensitive is inborn in part, but I have a feeling it is sharpened by what we face as children. My own childhood was filled with "dangers." My parents were neglectful and my brother was very cruel. I learned to watch for signs that let me know things were going south. The abuse was both verbal and physical with him -- he hated me for some reason.-- and there was no one that would stop him. I quickly learned to navigate the world of people I had to be tuned in, because I was on my own. I was very old by the time I was four. I really can't remember being a child. I was always an adult in a little body. The only time I felt safe was when no one was at home. Maybe it is why I am so comfortable being alone now.

My mother later admitted that she ignored what my brother was doing to me because at least it kept him from going at her. Sometimes I read the things about what we owe our parents and this comes to mind. What I am doing now is not so much different. I am again keeping bad things away from her. Sometimes I hear of role reversals and I know it doesn't really apply to my situation. My mother has always been like the child.

When we have a unstable home I believe that we hone survival skills to get needs met. We sensitive types have long antennae that have probably served us well, IMO. If we weren't so darned nervous, we would probably be great poker players.
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Roni and Joan, I can't think of anything worse than losing a child at the hands of someone else. I don't think my anger would ever fade. And I don't know if there is anything the Justice system could do to make it better. I am glad that you are both here, because you share such a big thing that most can't really understand. Hugs to both of you.
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((((((yaya)))))) thx. I pray you never have to endure such a loss too.

strength and fortitude - I don't know about that - what choice do you have? Life goes on though at times you might wish otherwise.

I like your quote :) - Hamlet Act 1.
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Emjo - we must have been posting at the same time!....so very sorry for your loss too. I can't imagine losing a child, and pray I never have to endure such a loss. I admire your and Boni's strength and fortitude.
And I agree.."there are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy" ...
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BoniC- so sorry for your terrible loss! Yes, one day at a time...it's all we can do, right?((hugs))
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