I feel as though our trait of high sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) affects our close relationships as much as we are affected in general.
Being able to be empathetic lets you understand how people feel. Heck, even how we (ourselves) make other people feel. But we never ask how our trait affects them.
It feels to me like we fall within a spectrum. A continuum that has apathetic on one end and empathetic on the other. Everything else that falls in between is what we normally have to deal with when it comes to our close relationships.
Empathy can be understood and can be felt, cognitively and affectively, respectively. It’s important that people have both. Sometimes we will get into very unhealthy relationships in which the person we are with cannot empathize effectively.
Next, there are degrees of empathy, high and low.
Of course we will meet a few people through all walks, extroverted and introverted. We know the very empathetic, social friend, that is very perceptive of people. Or the sensitive one that is not as gregarious, but just as empathetic.
We also meet those not as high on empathy, the care-free socialites, and the indifferent homebodies.
HSP’s make up for 20% of the population, you may have heard this statistic. You may have read many of the traits, the sensitivities that make an HSP. You’ve probably shared it with family, loved ones, friends, even strangers. Sometimes you get tired of explaining it.
Now imagine how they must feel when you do explain it and they cannot understand. Although they may not be as sensitive to stimuli and emotions like you does not mean they don’t also feel through emotional contagion, the triggering of similar emotions.
To most people we feel pain and pleasure. And we live and die. Pretty simple. But anyone that is HSP knows there is more than meets the eye, there is more emotion than pain and pleasure.
Think of two people, one color blinded the other not. There will be things that people can try to relate, but just will never understand. And will only get frustrated if you point out any competencies or blind spots.
This is where the conflicts sometimes comes in and you begin to see fights and miscommunication.
So what do we do?
The healthy response is to start creating standards. You must do it with everyone. It will allow you to create healthy relationships. As HSP’s we have empathy at the center of our traits. Along with affection, support, and communication connecting altogether
Ask that your close relationships establish the dynamic with “empathy” being at the core of relationship. This allows the other person to know when to practice empathy when interacting with you, without the conscious effort empathy will only be incidental.
And unfortunately, HSP’s do not have tough skin when it comes to insensitivity.
HSP’s need affection to know what it feels like to be loved. Together with empathy and support, affection can be very nurturing. Affection along with communication and empathy creates relatability. While communication with support and empathy creates understanding.
Having these standards allow of all walks people to understand you.
So, how does your trait affect your close relationships? Have you created standards for yourself?