How Highly Sensitives Can Avoid Over-Identifying With Our HSP Trait

Highly Sensitives need to be aware of over-identifying with our HSP Trait.

Because if and when we do this, we can seriously limit ourselves.

It is such a wonderful moment when we find out we have the Highly Sensitive Person Trait (or Sensory Processing Sensitivity).

We can look back at some of our life experiences, and it all makes a lot more sense to us why we acted and felt the way we did.

But we can easily fall into the trap of using our HSP Trait as a way to explain away our future behavior.

When we over-identify with something, we can run the risk of using our Trait as an excuse.

Yes, it is beneficial to know you have the HSP Trait, but be careful not to allow it to be the reason why you are unwilling to do something.

It’s easy to hinder our growth if we get caught up in the Trait nuances.

It’s often manipulated by our feelings and needs at the time, which can be unreliable depending on your current situation.

Let’s look at what over-identifying with our HSP Trait is, how we can recognize if we’re doing it, and if we are, how to deal with our HSP Trait in a healthy way.


What are signs you’re placing unrealistic expectations on yourself? 

Some Highly Sensitives can have perfectionist tendencies and place unrealistic expectations on themselves.

Perfectionism and unrealistic expectations can become an issue.

We can push ourselves to try to meet those unrealistic expectations and sabotage ourselves.

We need to be sure we are setting realistic expectations for ourselves and others.

In addition to having unrealistic expectations, we can feel unsupported in our goals. The people who make up our support system may not be the best due to our sensitivity.

People may not understand that, making it hard to connect.

Sometimes we don’t even feel that support from ourselves.

Recognizing if your parents or caregivers placed unrealistic expectations on you in your childhood is essential.

As adults, this can affect our confidence.

Look back, check your childhood—were unrealistic expectations placed on you?

You may not have known they were unrealistic at the time, and then you grew up thinking those expectations were realistic, when in fact, they were not.

Recognizing if you dealt with unrealistic expectations as a child will make it easier for you to notice if you’re now putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.

Sometimes we aim so high that we can’t reach our goal, and then we can feel like a failure.

Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself or others by setting unrealistic goals can cause burnout, depression, and anxiety.

You’ll find yourself becoming frustrated, and you start criticizing yourself. You become pushy and impatient.

Of course, these things are not specific only to high expectations, but if you find yourself doing or experiencing any of these, take a look at what you expect of yourself and others.

The answer you find may explain the fatigue and frustration that comes with having high expectations.


What goes on when we over-identify with our HSP Trait?

We can use the Trait as an excuse and blame it for whatever is going wrong in our life.

If we can’t grasp the situation or understand what is going on, we can use the Trait as an excuse, and instead of taking responsibility, we blame the Trait.

There is the possibility that we could manipulate the meaning of what “Highly Sensitive” is to fit our needs at the time.

When we manipulate the meaning of what being Highly Sensitive is, we run the risk of not dealing with our issues in a healthy way.

We don’t want to make it a term that enables us to stay stuck in patterns that aren’t healthy.

There may be the tendency to see situations as only black and white, but High Sensitivity is far too diverse.

For example, if you are an HSP introvert, that doesn’t mean you can’t become an accomplished, confident public speaker.

That is just one example of how we overcome our fears and reach a goal we’ve set for ourselves.

When you find yourself outside of your comfort zone, it’s easy to use the Trait as a reason you can’t do something. As if it were the deciding factor.

It gives you a sense of validity when, in truth, you’re just blaming or using the Trait to get out of something you find unpleasant or uncomfortable.

Growth is typically uncomfortable.

To avoid growth, we can place limits on ourselves. Using the Trait as the reason you can’t go too far or do too much keeps you from fully living life.

Yes, we may avoid some painful moments, but we also miss out on a lot of joy by using our sensitivity as a reason not to do something.

We do, however, need to recognize our limits, practice self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and avoid comparing ourselves to others.

But growth opportunities are more beneficial for us when they include those uncomfortable moments.

We develop strength of character, persistence and taking small steps to reach a goal.

Reaching goals gives us the confidence we can attain the next goal we set for ourselves.

With each goal we achieve, we’re building self-confidence and self-esteem.


What does over-identifying look like?

By blaming the Trait for our shortcomings, we can give ourselves a false sense of peace. It provides us with a scapegoat.

When blaming the Trait, we don’t take responsibility for our actions.

We pass it off as if it were a side effect of the Trait.

It can feel peaceful because you can explain away your flaws.

If we don’t take responsibility, then we miss the opportunity to grow with our Trait.

We have to understand that there is no growth without some failure, and we only fail if we stop trying.


Solutions to over-identifying

We need to practice self-compassion and forgiveness for our limits.

Be sure you are giving yourself credit for trying.

When you realize that you persevered and reached your goal, you took the steps needed to get there, use that knowledge and experience to encourage you to set more goals.

Set small goals and reward yourself for reaching each small goal so you’ll build self-esteem and self-confidence.

Engage in positive self-talk every day to raise your vibration.

Know and believe you are strong enough to overcome what you perceive as your limitations. Strong enough to overcome your weaknesses.

Get in the habit of practicing gratitude daily. It benefits us and those we care for. Having gratitude for the gifts of our HSP Trait, like being detail-oriented, empathetic and creative to name a few.

The energy of gratitude is a high vibration energy and can help to give you a sense of control and peace.

Be humble but know your strength. Take the chance.

Have you ever found yourself over-identifying with your HSP Trait?

Shannon is a Highly Sensitive Person and an Introvert. She is a coach for Highly Sensitive People. She is an advocate for breaking the stigma on mental health. She loves laughter, kittens and helping people live their best lives.

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