HSP Field Notes on Driving

As a highly sensitive person, you don’t want to take everything personally, but you do.

Everything includes driving, or more specifically, the other drivers.

You take it personally because you know the cars are not simply cars – inanimate objects operating independently of emotion and feeling.

There’s a driver inside … and that driver is making decisions that affects not only the vehicles, but everyone in and outside of vehicles nearby.

You Are a Highly Sensitive Driver When …

As an HSP, you might have begun driving later than most.

Or if you began driving as soon as you could get a license, you likely feel the heavy responsibility that driving is.

The fact that you’re steering a vehicle capable of murder – or at the very least, manslaughter. It might sound morbid, but it’s true. And a highly sensitive person has pictured what this might mean .. probably more than once.

About a year after I began driving, I was taking a free right turn on a street I often travel. The street’s sidewalk is bordered by a tall hedge, beyond which I couldn’t see anything.

I’d driven this route repeatedly on the way to my parents’ house, so I simply slowed to a rolling stop, ready to keep on driving.

And I almost hit a man on a bicycle who sped into sight from behind the hedge.

I stopped quickly, he passed, and nothing bad happened.

But I replayed that in my mind time and again, playing the “What if” game again and again.

I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t stop it.

  • What if he had been going faster?
  • How would it have turned out if I hadn’t stopped in time?
  • What if I hadn’t seen him until it was too late?

A non-HSP might just breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Phew, close call. Lucky for him.”

I pictured the guy’s family, the hospital, or worse, the morgue, the police officers … the undying guilt.

I don’t like driving, and if you’re a highly sensitive person, you probably don’t like it either. The responsibility is simply too great. You drive because you have to, not because you like to.

Dealing with Non-HSP Drivers

That was a tangent. The main point of these field notes on driving involve other people – the driver behind the wheel of the other car.

As mentioned above, you know there’s a person in the other car, a person just like you – except that by their choices, they are clearly not a highly sensitive person.

In short, their aggression grieves you or brings you anxiety, sometimes both.

Example:

You’re driving a two-lane road and see the sign ahead … you know, the sign that brings you sudden anxiety because when you turned onto that road, you turned into the lane you need to be in, in preparation for the next turn.

  • You hate having to veer into another lane last minute.
  • You don’t want to inconvenience the drivers in that lane.

So, you’re in the left lane, for instance, and you see the sign:

“Road work. Left lane closed ahead.”

Within half a second, you’ve turned on your blinker, even if you don’t yet see the place where the road narrows into a one-lane. You check your rear-view and your side-view mirrors (although you already know from frequent checking and heightened awareness what is behind and near you).

Within ten seconds – if at all possible – you’ve turned into the right lane and you breathe a sigh of relief. You’re safe. You’re in the proper lane. You didn’t crash into anyone.

And there it is ahead – the road narrowing into a single lane and cars filing toward that.

In your mind, it’s like a line leading toward an amusement part ride. Or a line in a cafeteria.

No cutting allowed.

You wouldn’t want someone to cut in front of you, and you wouldn’t dare cut in front of someone else.

It’s the basic Golden Rule at work, which Jesus so aptly coined by stating, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

So, you’re driving in the right lane, and traffic is slowing down. It’s slowing down more than it should be.

Why?

It’s easy to see, but it bothers you … Every. Single. Time.

Vehicle after vehicle speeds ahead in the left lane, passing dozens of cars, and swerving into the right lane at the very last minute before it becomes one lane.

Most of the time, they don’t even use their turning signal.

It’s not necessarily the inconvenience it causes you and the other cars.

After all, you didn’t end up late to work because of the choice of one driver.

It’s just one car length.

And that’s the core of why it bothers you – not just in the above example, but pretty much every time you’re behind the wheel.

It’s not that you drive slowly. You keep up with traffic, but invariably every time you’re behind the wheel, someone speeds up, cuts in front of you, and then often slows down (and slows you down) so they can turn into some lane or other road.

Why, you want to ask the driver?

“Why not just remain at the same speed you were instead of cutting in front of one more car? It’s just one car length, after all. What does it matter?”

As an HSP, you wonder why it matters to you. Why it bothers you. But it does.

It bothers you because you know that’s a person behind the wheel. A person who probably wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, push in front of you in a line without saying a word.

They wouldn’t do that in person, so why do that in a vehicle?

It’s all the same in your mind, after all.

Whether in or outside of a two-ton hunk of metal capable of murder, the person is a person.

So, what kind of person allows the vehicle to change who they are and how they would otherwise act and react?

Road Rage and HSP Anxiety

You’ve heard of road rage, and if you drive, you’ve likely experienced it too. You know you’re not insusceptible to behaving rudely just because you’re safe behind the wheel.

But in the rare occasions you do attempt it, your heart races and you feel guilty just for speeding up to catch up with that person who cut you off.

The anxiety and trembling, the racing pulse, just aren’t worth it.

So, you let them pass, but you still want to understand.

If you could, you would step outside of your vehicle and knock on their driver’s window.

You’d say, “Hey, I was the one you cut off on the road a minute ago without using your blinkers. I’m just curious, why would you cut in front of someone without indicating?”

After all, to you, the blinkers are like “Please” and “thank you.” They’re manners on the road.

You’d want to know why the person was in a hurry.

This is what you want to ask:

“Are you late for work? Did you have a stressful day and you just aren’t thinking about the drive? Are you listening to hyped up music and is it affecting your mood?

Do you play a lot of driving video games so that, when you get behind the wheel, you’re just in that mode? Did you even think about it? Did you even think about me?”

As a highly sensitive person, that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it?

You’re so highly attuned to people, to what they do and how they act, to what they feel and how they respond to those feelings. If you could, you would try to make a connection.

If you could, you would try to make a friend.

But you can’t, so you just stay in your lane and leave a few car spaces between you and the vehicle in front of you.

It’s your way of saying, “If getting ahead one more car length is that important to you, go ahead. You’re welcome to it.”

You don’t understand this aggressive mindset, but you try to navigate as best you can among and around them … because as a highly sensitive person, that’s just what you do.


Photo on Foter.com

10 Highly Sensitive Disney Characters

Not every Disney character is a princess seeking freedom from the perfect life laid out for her or a beggar boy hoping to be a prince. If you look closely, you’ll find that some much-loved Disney characters manifest highly sensitive personalities. A few of them also have introverted characters.

Highly sensitive Disney characters are often the sidekicks, the shy and unobtrusive ones. But sometimes you’ll find them playing lead roles.

These highly sensitive Disney characters are some of the most complex personalities. Some might be a little crusty and some more than a little cute … but all are unforgettable.

Which of these highly sensitive Disney characters to you empathize most with?

1. Flower (Bambi)

Flower No one who’s watched the classic Disney cartoon Bambi can forget the iconic character who didn’t even have the nerve to introduce himself correctly.

Instead, he simply stated, “You can call me Flower if you want to … I don’t mind.”

In fact, we never even discover his real name. We know the blue-eyed skunk from Bambi is bashful and seems to hate attention. But this highly sensitive character proves himself as a faithful friend … except when he wants to sleep (all winter long). 

And yes, we know how much HSPs need their sleep!

2. Bailey (Finding Dory)

BaileyThis highly sensitive Disney character has a keen (and probably overwhelming) sense of hearing (any HSPs out there relate?) and lacks confidence in himself.

It takes a close friend (Destiney) and a crazy newcomer (Dory) to convince Bailey that maybe there is life beyond his safe spaces.

But we’re pretty sure he’ll always be on the shy and sensitive side, no matter where he might end up in the big, wide world.

3. Sadness (Inside Out)

Sadness First of all, raise your hand (or just nod slightly) if you cried more than once while watching this movie.

And another nod if you could totally relate to Sadness, a softspoken and sensitive character whose personality is the exact opposite to Joy.

Sadness is certain that she ruined things by affecting one of Riley’s core memories with … well … sadness. But her sensitive nature proves to be a vital part of Riley’s psyche.

Sometimes you just need someone to cry with, and Sadness, with her highly sensitive personality, knew how to do just that.

4. Kristoff (Frozen)

KristoffThis might seem like a stretch, but remember his song to Sven: “Reindeer are better than people …” even if people do smell better than reindeer.

If you’re a highly sensitive person, you’ve doubtless had moments (or long seasons) where you’ve preferred animal company to humans.

And when Olaf the snowman sang his famous song about summer, Kristoff was deeply concerned about Olaf’s innocence and repeated, “Someone needs to tell him.”

However, he was too sensitive to state outright, “Dude, you’re gonna melt.”

5. Bashful (Snow White)

bashfulIf you’re a highly sensitive person, Bashful is probably your favorite dwarf (though depending on your mood, Grumpy might be a close second).

Bashful has a secret crush on Snow White, but can rarely stammer out much more than “Oh, gosh,” when he finds himself the subject of her attention.

He loves sugar and flowers, plays an instrument, and appreciates beauty. Need we say more?

6. Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio)

Jiminy CricketSpeaking of appreciating beauty, Jiminy Cricket surely had a crush on the lovely Blue Fairy, who dubbed him Pinocchio’s conscience.

Although reserved and realistic, Jiminy Cricket still embraced the task wholeheartedly. 

As an HSP, you’ve likely held the uncomfortable position of serving as “conscience” to a friend or family member, whether you’ve wanted to or not.

If nothing else, you’ve probably thought it: That’s not the right way to go and they’ll end up disappointed or hurt. But you stayed true to your friend no matter what they chose. You can likely relate to Jiminy Cricket, who stuck by Pinocchio … even when he turned into a donkey.

7. Archimedes (The Sword in the Stone)

archimedesArchimedes might come across as a crusty old owl who wants nothing more than a bit more sleep … but if you’re a highly sensitive introvert, you’ve undoubtedly had those days where you were more than a little grumpy because you were tired.

He is easily offended, such as when he and Merlin are given the coldest, draftiest room in the castle.

However, when Arthur’s life is in danger, Archimedes risks his own safety to rescue the boy. When Merlin asks him about it though, he acts as though he did nothing of the sort.

Sometimes HSPs are unlikely heroes. 

8. Milo (Atlantis)

Milo ThatchThis Disney film from 2001 might not have been the most popular (possibly due to the lack of a Disney princess).

But Milo, the lead character, held his own as an awkward, highly sensitive genius.

A linguist and cartographer who finished high school at 11 and declined both Harvard and Princeton, Milo Thatch is a dream-chaser, reluctant to give up his hopes that the lost city of Atlantis really does exist.

Eventually, he leads a group of scientists to Atlantis, not knowing everyone but him is in it for the money. In spite of his awkwardness, his sensitivity and honesty bring all but the biggest villains to his side, and his courage helps to renew a dying land.

9. Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

Alice in WonderlandAny other HSPs love using their vivid imagination to escape the real world on a regular basis?

That’s Alice for you.

She loved reading, but not boring, visionless books. Alice wanted something that would capture her imagination and bring it to life … which is just what happens when she tumbles down the rabbit hole.

Alice cries a river … literally, and finds herself in adventure after adventure … all the while seeking a way to get back home.

Highly sensitive people are homebodies, after all.  

10. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

BelleAnd yes, sometimes the highly sensitive person is the Disney princess, as Belle, the dreamer who is rarely seen without a book in her hands.

Even though no one could deny the truth of her name, the townspeople still state, “I’m afraid she’s rather odd–very different from the rest of us.”

Different … but that’s not necessarily bad. After all, she had the sensitive nature needed to see the beauty hidden deep within a terrifying beast, enabling him to transform into his true self.

Closing thoughts

Which of these highly sensitive Disney characters is your favorite?

Or perhaps you can think of one that didn’t make the above list? 

If so, feel free to leave a comment below.

 

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Photo by dgbury on Foter.com / CC BY

HSP Field Notes on Loaning Books to Friends

Loaning BooksFirst of all, why would you be loaning books to friends?

Well, as a highly sensitive person, you consider your books some of your closest friends.

Your living and breathing friends are also your friends.

(Therein lies the problem.)

You love a good book and the thrill of emotion that stories can provide.

  • Books have healed you.
  • They’ve made you cry.
  • Books have made you smile and laugh.
  • Sometimes they’ve changed your life.

So, you want to share those joys with your friends (the human friends, not the friends that live between the pages).

So you loan your book to a friend.

The next time you see them, you eagerly ask what they thought of the book that you loaned.

They say something like this:

“Oh, I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but I can’t wait to find the time.”

You notice they post about a dozen times an hour on Facebook, but you don’t mention that.

You might ask the question once more, but you get another:

“Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.”

You don’t ask again about the book you loaned them.

Why?

As a highly sensitive person, here are three main reasons:

  1. You don’t want to seem like a burden or an irritation.
  2. You definitely don’t want to seem desperate.
  3. But you don’t want to make your friend feel uncomfortable about the fact that you loaned them a book three months ago (or six months ago or two years ago) and they still haven’t read it.

But you remember.

You remember every book that you’ve loaned.

Although you might not remember exactly when the book changed hands and was no longer in your possession, you know who is currently in possession of the book.

And sometimes, when you notice the place on your bookshelf where the book used to be, you imagine where it might be in your friend’s house.

  • Is it on one of their bookshelves?
  • Did it end up in a box and get stuffed in their garage?
  • Might it be on their bedside table, meaning they really do plan to read it soon?
  • Did they move it along while following Marie Kondo’s advice?

So, to protect your highly sensitive self from the nagging worry of where your book-friends might be suffering some horrible fate, you decide you’ll never loan a book again.

Then your friend stops by for a visit

And when they ask what’s new, you happen to mention, “I just read the most amazing book.”

Your friend expresses an interest and you decide you’ll try it … Just. One. Last. Time.

So you loan them your book … and it begins all over again.

_______

Photo by Theo Crazzolara on Foter.com / CC BY

10 Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

You might have heard the term “highly sensitive person” recently. Perhaps you even took the online test to find out if you are a highly sensitive person (HSP).

But even if you found a few things in common with the highly sensitive person test, you’re still not quite sure if you are one.

In this article, we want to make it easier for you to determine whether or not you really are an HSP.

“Never despise a person’s sensitivity. His sensitivity is his genius.” Charles Baudelaire

So, read on to discover 10 signs you’re a highly sensitive person …

1. You cry easily

Now, before you quickly write off this point and say, “No, that’s not me,” think about it more deeply.

Culture has a lot more bearing than we sometimes realize on some aspects of our nature.

For example, as a highly sensitive person, you might frequently blink back the tears or push them down just because “It’s not manly to cry,” or “Big girls don’t cry.”

But while growing up, perhaps you found yourself crying more easily than friends.

And these days, you still make sure you have a few tissues in your purse or back pocket when going to the movies … just in case.

2. You grew up hearing, “You’re too sensitive.”

About that crying … even though you couldn’t help it, did you still get reactions from people such as:

  • It’s not a big deal.
  • There’s nothing to cry about.
  • Why are you being so sensitive?
  • You’re just too sensitive.

If so, you’re likely a highly sensitive person … and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

3. You need alone time

It’s not that you don’t like people … you do. In fact, as a highly sensitive person, you likely empathize with people more deeply than non-HSPs.

Therein lies the issue.

Because you are more sensitive to attitudes, nonverbal language, and moods, it can be exhausting to hang out among people.

  • And this doesn’t just mean strangers.
  • Sometimes you need a break from your own family.

Highly sensitive people need time alone to recharge and process or decompress after spending time with people.

4. You find yourself calmed by nature

You’ve likely discovered that your environment greatly influences your mood.

Perhaps you also know by now that the simple act of stepping into a peaceful backyard or taking a walk in a park does something special to your psyche.

In fact, “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.” (Source)

How much more so for highly sensitive people who find themselves more susceptible to issues of stress and anxiety?

5. You take naps

Growing up, you might have been one of the few children who didn’t mind hearing a parent say, “It’s nap time!”

Even if you didn’t embrace the nap as a child, you likely consider it one of the best times of your day as an adult.

Why is this?

Now, taking regular naps might simply help you not feel as tired physically.

But napping offers a whole lot of other benefits, including:

  • Greater alertness
  • Higher levels of creativity
  • Less stress
  • Improved perception
  • Greater stamina 
  • Better accuracy with motor skills
  • Boosted mood 

These are improvement for the average person.

For the highly sensitive person, naps offer an added benefit: a simple mental break.

Let’s face it: perpetually processing high amounts of sensory input can feel exhausting.

A nap provides a daily break for your mind. 

6. Conflict upsets you

If conflict causes you higher levels of anxiety or stress than the average person, you’re likely a highly sensitive person.

This is not a “you problem.” 

In fact, clinical health psychologist Elizabeth Fox Butler explains it this way:

HSPs struggle with sensory processing sensitivity. Sensory processing sensitivity causes faster stimulation of an HSP’s nervous [system]. They go into fight or flight mode easier than you do, which triggers anxiety. (Source

Don’t consider yourself weak if you need to take steps to protect yourself from conflict.

7. You tend to avoid competition

Whether it’s competitiveness among family members or competition in the workplace, you try to stay far away from it.

It’s not that you’re afraid to compete, or that you think you’ll lose.

In fact, often, the opposite is the case.

For instance, when you win – whether it’s a board game, a sports competition, or the coveted corner office – you might wish you hadn’t.

Why?

Because you’re so attuned to the reactions and attitudes of the other person/people involved that you can’t simply enjoy the win.

You keenly feel the disappointment of the losers as if you had been the one who didn’t win.

8. You deeply appreciate beauty

  • Ever cry while listening to a song?
  • Have to wipe away tears when gazing at a painting?
  • Does a gorgeous sunset stun you into silence?
  • Do you feel like you could stay in a moment of beauty forever?

Although you feel deeply affected by the negative side of life, such as conflict and competition, the positive side influences you just as intensely.

This leads us directly to the next point. 

9. You gravitate toward the arts

So, what do you do when you can’t get a vision of beauty out of your head?

You express it through art.

Poetry, painting, blogging, sketching, dancing, crafting … the form doesn’t matter.

The expression does.

And the highly sensitive person must seek some form of expression for all that sensory input.

10. Social interaction tires you

This does not only mean face-to-face interaction.

It can apply to social media too.

Although a highly sensitive person often appreciates the medium of the Internet for social interaction, sometimes even that can prove too much.

Reading an insensitive or inflammatory comment on Facebook or Twitter can completely ruin an HSP’s whole day while the person who made the comment probably didn’t bat an eyelid (or forgot it an instant later).

If you are a highly sensitive person, your emotions require that you monitor all avenues of social interaction and input, even from social media.

Closing thoughts on signs you’re an HSP

So, are you a highly sensitive person?

Only you can really answer that question, but if most (or all) of the above signs apply, you just might be an HSP.

You live and love deeply.

You sometimes find it challenging to process the smallest things in life.

At the same time, your sensitivity often helps you develop an inner strength that enables you to withstand life’s greatest storms.

 

 

 

Photo by h.koppdelaney on Foter.com / CC BY-ND