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Interested in this topic? Read Should Highly Sensitive People Hide Their Sensitivity?
Thomas: Hi and welcome to the HSP world podcast. With each episode, we invite a guest with the HSP trait who has a burning HSP-related question to have a conversation about it. We’re not coaches or therapists. We’re HSPs holding space with you. I’m one of your hosts, Thomas, and your other hosts are.
Rayne: and Rayne.
Robyn: So today is actually our first invited guest episode, so I’m very pleased to introduce our guest, Dylan,
Dylan: Hi, thank you for having me.
Robyn: Thanks for joining us. How are you doing today?
Dylan: Very well. How are you?
Robyn: I’m pretty good. Thanks. I’d actually like to thank Dylan for something, very specific, um, before our conversation.
He was the one who pointed out that I didn’t know this, but apparently Kanye West has dropped the term HSP in an interview.
Robyn: Yeah. I didn’t really, I don’t know how I missed out on that, and I don’t know. I mean. You know, it remains to be seen if he really is one, but I didn’t know that he had used it so.
Dylan: It’s interesting too when I see like a lot of people I look up to, I’m starting to notice they kind of, they have the trait, or at least the way they talk seems like they do. It’s kind of interesting that I feel like we’re attracted to other HSPs.
Dylan: Yeah. But anyway, thank you.
Robyn: So I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the question that you had.
Dylan: Okay, so a question I have, I just recently learned about the HSP trait and I’ve started researching it. And I started to see some similarities between the HSP trait and what people would like label as being an introvert of kind of wanting to be alone sometimes or when they want a friendship or a relationship.
It’s usually a deeper connection. And I was just wondering what your thoughts are on how those two relate, how the HSP trait relates to extroversion and introversion and what your thoughts are on that?
Rayne: That’s a great question.
Thomas: Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s a lot there. Who wants to start?
Robyn: I should probably just start by, uh, just so we get this, you know, confirmed right off the bat. I’m the resident extrovert at the podcast here. So there is a proportion of about 30% of people who identify as highly sensitive people, who also identify as extroverts. I guess it depends a little bit on your definition of what an extrovert or an introvert is.
Actually, I don’t know, Dylan, if you, if you have a particular definition that you’re working with when you ask your a question.
Dylan: And that’s probably something I should look more into. It was more just like what I think the world says about it. I think sometimes when, somebody’s quiet, they’ll say that’s an introvert.
And someone who’s like very loud and social environments is an extrovert. But maybe it’s, I mean, it’s more complex than that. I was just wondering because when I’m around people who I feel like I can relate to or somebody who I want to be friends with, I’m like willing to talk about anything, like very, almost extroverted.
And then if I’m in a situation where I feel like the people aren’t very sensitive or wouldn’t kind of understand me or relate to me, I tend to like not share anything. So I was wondering what you think about that.
Rayne: Okay, well, Dylan it’s Rayne here. I am an introvert. So for me, introversion means I get energized by spending time in my own company. So you know, I don’t mind going out and whatever, doing things that are extroverted, but I can tell when it’s getting to be too much and when my energy level is coming down.
And if I extrovert too much, I usually get like, I don’t know, it’s like a hangover takes me like a day to recover or something. You know what I mean? So. I’m just, I’m a lot more, mindful now about when and for how long I’m willing to put myself in, like where there’s going to be a big crowd or whatever kind of, it doesn’t mean I can’t go to a concert or something, you know what I mean?
But the same kind of thing, like big, loud groups, you know, that kind of thing. It’s, there’s only so much I’m willing to kind of do, with regard to that. So I totally understand what you’re saying though and I think for me it’s about in groups or around individuals that are extroverts and maybe not HSPs, I think as an HSP, I pick up on a lot more that’s going on. And I don’t really know how to put it, but it’s not like I try to, you know, it’s – it’s just the way it is. Not doing it on purpose or anything.
It’s just you just pick up on a bunch of stuff. Right? And I think people who are non-HSPs, what people don’t know they fear. Right? And when they get a sense that somebody is kind of, you know, there’s a lot more to them or, you know, that kind of thing. Or they’re being quieter, I think it’s a natural reaction for them to be like, well, Hey, you know, what do you think? And try to, you know, pull you in or get you to, you know, get you to talk more and do whatever. Right? But for me, it comes down to a trust issue, and for me, trust is earned.
You know? And basically if I’m not feeling okay to share what I think or how I feel or whatever it is in a certain situation, then that’s the way it is. You know? It’s not my job to make them not feel that way. You know, if they’re feeling that way, then that’s maybe something for them to figure out.
And there’s a difference between shyness because just because you’re an HSP doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy.
Thomas: Yeah. I agree with that.
Rayne: What are your feelings, Thomas?
Thomas: Well there’s a wonderful book by Susan Cain. She wrote Quiet, The Power of Introverts and her definition is pretty much spot on with what you said Rayne. Introverts gain energy by being by themselves and they often feel that their energy is drained when they’re around a lot of people.
I know that for myself, I certainly feel that way. Sometimes, you know, when I go dancing, I really enjoy dancing. I enjoy being out there, but boy, at like the hour and a half mark, it’s like, oh, there it goes. My energy, I’m done! And my wife knows that and she can sense that and she says, okay, looks like it’s time to head out now.
That said, I’m very attracted to extroverts because there’s just something about the energy that extroverts have that I like, you know? So there’s, there’s that too. The way that I perceive sensitivity at least as it’s defined by Elaine Aron and her books, is that we sensitives pick up more of everything.
And that can be, that can be tiring sometimes, and what we’d like to do is to have sort of a moderation of input wherever it’s coming in, whether it’s, you know, physical, or whether it’s sound or visual or whatever it might be. We want to seek that balance so that we’re not overwhelmed.
And I also agree with you about that feeling of comfort, you just find people that it’s nice to feel comfortable to be around people, to listen to, and they listen to you. I think listening is a large component of that. And you know, listening is a skill. Extroverts can have it just as much as introverts have it.
I don’t think it goes either way. I find that some people are more skilled and listening than others.
Robyn: So, so this is very interesting. I’m listening to you guys talk and, I think as a highly sensitive extrovert, I have a few things to say here. I think what Dylan is bringing up for us, I think it’s an essentially highly sensitive… like it’s essentially a question for highly sensitives.
I’m sure there are people who are introverts but not highly sensitive. They might feel some of this as well. But when you were talking about deep connection, showing parts of yourself, showing your sensitive side, that’s something that’s really very much a concern for highly sensitive extroverts.
Thomas, you mentioned Susan Cain. That’s very interesting because I was actually reading something that Elaine Aron wrote, well, she, I think she was quoting another psychologist called Jacqueline Strickland who writes a lot about highly sensitive extroverts. And they were both kind of saying that what Susan Cain says in her book about introverts is actually mixed with high sensitivity.
So basically what she’s describing is highly sensitive introverts, meaning that people who are introverts but not highly sensitive might not recognize themselves in that book and people who are extroverted but highly sensitive may recognize themselves in that book.
Because just like you guys, the quality of an interaction counts for a lot. I pick up on all sorts of things that other people are feeling or expressing or like radiating. I pick up on that and it affects me.
I also do social dance like Thomas and you know, depending on what’s happening, I might also be drained when I go out for an evening, right? If it’s a small casual evening or if it’s an evening with lots of people that I’m happy to see, I could probably stay fairly late. But if it’s a night where there’s a competition or a really big event, or you know, a lot of very intense things happening, I find that kind of drains my energy.
So I may be out there early with the introverts as well. So it’s interesting because. In some ways, you could say that this problem that you’re discussing, or this situation that you’re noticing, Dylan, it could actually be even more represented for the extroverted highly sensitive.
What makes us extroverted is that we have a slightly higher preference for seeking other’s companies. So we do enjoy our me time. We do need our me time to recover from overstimulation. But we get a little bit more restless alone. So let’s say, you know, after a weekend alone, typical HSP extrovert is going to say, okay, it’s time to be with other people.
Whereas the introverted HSP might say, no, no, no, I’m okay being alone for awhile.
Dylan: Yeah. Now that you describe it I feel like more of an extrovert about like when I’m with people, I’m definitely a lot more energized. And I do need time alone, but I usually like to see people and I enjoy people’s company more.
So it’s very interesting that you said like extroverted HSPs could feel that same way because, yeah, this is interesting.
And now that I’m learning more about the trait, it definitely like changes how I feel about it because now I’m starting to appreciate high sensitivity a lot more. Rather than trying to like mask it or like at least not know what it is.
Now that I am learning about it, it’s very interesting.
Robyn: Well, I think the cool thing is that it’s, like you said, the quality, right? Like of the interaction is so important for all, for all highly sensitives. It’s really important to think like, what is the quality of the connection that I’m getting here.
Like Rayne said, it also does come down to trust. Do I, do I have a good intuition about this person? Am I ready to divulge things? Some HSPs do jump in, especially if they are the extroverted or high sensation seeking types. They may jump into, try to quickly, you know, form a friendship with someone.
But then, afterwards, their intuition will start picking up on things and show them, uh oh, you know, maybe you’ve trusted too quickly. So whether you’re quick to trust or slow to trust at the end of the day – I think every kind of HSP has to choose carefully who they surround themselves with.
Rayne: Yeah. And, and that, that’s, to me, it’s almost like, it’s like a dance, now that we’re talking about Thomas and Robyn dancing.
Robyn: Very nice.
Rayne: You know, the forming of relationships and trust, I do think, HSPs are more slow to open up and show their sensitive side because it is a matter of trust and that’s a process and it takes a bit of time.
You know, it takes a little bit of time to get to know the other person and you get to know them a little bit, and then you got them get to know you a little bit, and then you see how things go, and then, you know, and then so do they. And then, so it’s a, it’s like a dance of trust.
Right? And I think that’s great. I think it’s wonderful because of if somebody’s not, in a place where perhaps they don’t deserve your trust or vice versa. Then it kind of gives you some, it gives you some understanding, before you invest a lot of time into it. Right? Yeah.
Dylan: A hundred percent. Yeah, yeah,
Rayne: Yeah. But I do, I do think HSPs are more slow to open up and show their sensitive side. I do. But I also, I, to me, it feels like it’s, it’s also because, there’s a lot of depth and there’s a lot of paradoxes that HSP experiences and notices, and a lot of people might not get that.
They just might not get it, you know? And it is thought that they wouldn’t want to, or whatever it is, but they just might not get it. And that’s a thing in our close relationships. You know, we want to feel like we’re being understood, you know, that our intention is being understood, so that we can have that close connection cause that’s what we’re here for – right?
Dylan: Do you think it’s possible for an non HSP to understand an HSP at like the same level that another HSP would be able to? Cause I feel like there’s just like, like you mentioned, there’s just like so much like depth and complexity that if someone isn’t picking up on all that, it’s very hard for them to understand. And they kind of fear it in a way.
Robyn: Great question.
Thomas: That is a good question. I mean, I think what you’re speaking to is empathy and certainly, people have different levels of empathy and the empathy is, it is also a skill that you practice, you know, and you learn from, from the people around you, from your family.
Yeah. I mean, I would say it’s possible, but I, I would also say that I think sensitive people, we’ll get there quicker and a good way to put it. Just because of the shared experiences, you know, the shared experiences of stimulation, fatigue and overthinking things. And, and I mean, gosh, I overthink things all the time and I’ll say something to somebody and then you know, that night or the next morning, I’m still thinking about it like, Oh, did I say it right? Or, you know, whatever it might be.
Dylan: Is that related to the trait?
Rayne: Yeah, it absolutely does.
Dylan: Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Everything just starts to make sense now that I’ve learned about.
Rayne: And there’s also some really positive things. You know, HSP’s tend to be pretty creative. And we process things differently. So music, you know, music can just be a phenomenal thing for an HSP, it can be a really healing thing or really uplifting. You know, it’s just, it’s such a beautiful way to express yourself, and the arts, anything to do, you know, if you like writing or whatever, crafting or doing whatever things you like to do.
I mean, it’s a genetic trait and you’re just, your nervous system’s highly developed, basically. So I think it’s really difficult for a non-HSP to try to – bless the ones that do try to – understand, and, you know, but I don’t really think they, they could, unless they actually were in an HSPs skin.
Robyn: Okay. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and disagree a little bit.
Rayne: Good. Good.
Robyn: So it’s fun to have a debate. So there’s a few things I want to say that. So first of all, yes, there is some research pointing to it being, partly innate, inherited trait as Rayne mentioned.
But it’s not completely genetically conditioned, even if it is, there are environmental factors too. So everyone can develop their sensitivity with time. Which is the other point, right? That sensitivity as such is a generic human trait. Just like what Thomas was saying about empathy, that empathy and sensitivity are not the sole domain of highly sensitive people.
It’s just that we get it to a degree that is so much more intense that it does become a bit of a qualitatively different experience. However, there are some people who even if they don’t consider themselves highly sensitive people as such, they still have a great deal of emotional sensitivity that they could have developed.
And I find that those people in particular are really in a good position to understand HSPs because they have enough of it. That they can kind of recognize and say, Oh, okay, yeah, sometimes I get that. I feel like that too. Sometimes music moves me that way. They may not get it quite as widespread, but people who are kind of in that zone, they can, they can, they kind of have enough to understand and extrapolate for the rest.
Could be people as well who have been with HSP partners who have HSP children that will give them some background as well to better understand, of course, maybe not firsthand experience. But give them a chance to kind of understand a little bit better. And then the last thing that I would say, there are some moments where an HSP may not understand another HSP.
And I’m specifically thinking about HSPs who are self-rejecting. That part of them, that part of their personality. If someone is denying it or calling it something else, yeah. Or just not, just not embracing that part of themselves, then they might actually reject it or criticize it in you and so those people would actually be less supportive of your sensitivity than a slightly less sensitive but empathetic person.
Dylan: That makes a lot of sense.
Rayne: Yeah. Yeah.
Dylan: I think I can agree that non HSPS can like still understand to some degree cause I feel like some of my closest friends and people that understand me best won’t necessarily think of the trait, but they have kind of learned, learn to understand it a little bit.
Robyn: What is something for you – I’m asking Dylan, but of course for everybody, what is something that makes you feel understood in a friendship or relationship? Makes it, makes you feel understood as an HSP?
Dylan: Well, one thing that one of my friends told me that’s like, the only, like example I can come up with right now is you’re sensitive, but in a good way. That’s what they told me.
Thomas: I like that.
Dylan: That was like, okay, like that person understands me.
Thomas: We all need friends like that.
Dylan: So that’s kind of just like verbatim saying it. It’s hard to kind of think of examples of what makes me feel understood. What about everyone else?
Thomas: I’m trying to think of examples.
Dylan: It’s difficult to come up with.
Rayne: Yeah. I think for me it’s just like if I share with a friend something that I’m experiencing and they know the circumstances around it, them just saying, Oh, okay, how are you doing? You know, because they know that could be challenging or, you know, they, they understand what the things are behind that I’m trying to do, in terms of dealing with overstimulation and dealing with empathy and, you know, is that a healthy boundary I need to enforce? You know, like there’s so many different things that can help me.
So it’s not just as simple as, Oh, just do this, you know? So I think that’s what I really appreciate is the understanding and just the willingness to acknowledge, okay, that’s where you are. How are you doing? Like I’m not looking for anybody to solve it or do anything you know what I mean?
But, but just to, to get, you know that, just to listen in hear that, Oh, okay, that’s what you’re experiencing and that’s okay. You know? That’s totally fine. And is there anything, is there anything I can do or just know that I’m here and I care for you and that’s it. That means a lot. Yeah.
Thomas: Yeah. The question that I really appreciate is when, when someone asks me, how are you feeling? And they actually want to know how you’re feeling and they want to listen to your feelings. I just I feel so appreciative that someone is asking me the question because for a long time I was never asking myself that question.
So it’s taken me quite awhile to just sit down and say, what am I feeling? You know, to, to actually sort of turn inward a little bit and say, what is it that I’m feeling right now? Because a lot of times I have feelings I can’t put words to, but I’m getting better at it, you know, now that I’ve had the practice to put vocabulary to what my feelings are. So I really appreciate that someone would ask me that question and then allow me to actually verbalize it.
Robyn: I would definitely agree with that. Like the emotional validation. I’m also thinking of examples where, in terms of the sensory sensitivity, some of the more positive responses that I’ve gotten are people really accepting it, and being willing to accommodate when they can.
So, for example, thinking of a boss who when I complained about like a fire alarm, but, basically some kind of systemic alarm that kept going off right next to my office, and really, you know, messing with my concentration. But it was on a different floor from everyone else. So I was the only one who could hear it.
And she totally took me seriously. And she helped to advocate to get me moved to another office as soon as it was possible. So that made me feel understood. I really appreciated that. I’m thinking of other examples.
So one of my sensitivities is where I’m sitting. For example, if I go to a restaurant or something like that, I really don’t like to have my back to a window. It’s just a little quirk, but I’m very sensitive to, okay, where am I sitting in this space? Right? And I remember one of my boyfriends being supportive of it in the sense that if I asked, Oh, can we ask the waiter to be moved?
He, he would say, sure, no problem. He might laugh, you know, kind of lovingly, but he would never say like, Oh, why? Right? Like, just basically anytime anyone says, okay, cool, I get it. It’s your thing. No problem. That. That makes me feel appreciated as well.
Rayne: Awesome. Well guys, I think we are just about out of time.
Thomas: Yes. I’m looking at the clock here and we are, Dylan, I’d like to thank you for today’s conversation.
Dylan: Thank you for having me.
Thomas: You’re quite welcome. I’m curious how you feel about the conversation.
Dylan: I loved it. I just started researching the trait. And it’s great to be able to talk to people who I know have the trait as well and have a conversation about it. So it’s been awesome.
Thomas: Well, thank you for joining us today.
Rayne: Awesome. Thank you Dylan, for having the courage to ask your question. I enjoyed and learned from our conversation and I know your question is going to help other HSPs too. Why Do I Get Intuitions About the People I Meet?n the Podcast: (at 58:46 is when he says HSP) https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5878&v=zxwfDlhJIpw&feature=emb_logo
To listen to the next Episode: Why Do I Get Intuitions About the People I Meet?
Music credit: Intro and Outro music from the YouTube Music Library. Song is Clover 3.