One major quality of a Highly Sensitive Person is that we tend to retreat when things get overwhelming. Others may interpret this as weakness or being a “quitter”. However, it’s crucial for the HSP to recognize a toxic situation, be it a job, hobby or relationship. We should also not feel guilty for removing ourselves from people or environments that drain our energy or rob us of peace. Learning to set boundaries is an important step to growing as an HSP. We will upset people and may receive criticism, but remember that we are not here to please everyone.
Our sensitive natures sometimes attract users, bullies and other negative personality types. We are not fit for a lot of environments that less sensitive people might thrive in. That makes things harder, but being a Highly Sensitive Person is not bad. Although it presents obstacles, we have much to offer in ways that non-HSP’s cannot.
Recognizing Red Flags
It takes some experience to recognize red flags. There are red flags that toxic people send off. For example, a toxic person will make overt or subtle remarks to make us feel inferior. They will use us without offering anything in return. And they will guilt trip us if we don’t give into their demands. Toxic people will drain our energy and rob us of peace. If you recognize these things in someone, get out immediately. The longer we interact with such an individual, the harder it will be to break away.
Toxic work environments may be more difficult to spot. Sometimes you have to spend time in the environment to know the problems. However, red flags sometimes present themselves during the job interview. Trust your instinct. Know your worth, be picky, and keep your standards high.
Setting boundaries and learning to say no are difficult for the HSP. We put all of ourselves into everything we do. We’re perfectionists and feel guilty if we aren’t constantly worried about our performance even with trivial things. That leads to burnout, depression, anxiety and the desire to retreat. As an HSP, I’ve found myself doing many things for free without support or guidance. I had to learn to say no and draw the line when I realized that I was sacrificing my mental and physical health for things that were not rewarding.
It’s okay to say no to things that are not of value. Yes, some people will not understand and that’s okay. It’s much more important to protect ourselves than to try to please everyone (which is impossible, anyway). I’ve learned to put myself first. Putting our own needs first sounds selfish, but by putting ourselves first we’ll be in a better position to help others.
Cultivating Your Best Environment
Cultivating a safe, peaceful environment is crucial for our success. Find a career that suits your personality. Look for hobbies that relieve stress. Stay away from toxic people and environments. When it comes to relationships, quality beats quantity. Others may judge us for our sensitivities, but we would be judged in any case for something.
Highly sensitive persons are misunderstood or not understood at all. But understanding ourselves is much more important than others understanding us. For more information on living as an HSP, read The Highly Sensitive Person