UK Council for Psychotherapy

UKCP

Accredited Psychotherapist

British Association for
Counselling & Psychotherapy

BACP

Accredited Counsellor

Counselling & Psychotherapy
Central London, Camden, Kings Cross, London NW1
Glen Gibson - Dip. Counselling, MA Psychotherapy, Dip. Psychotherapy
UKCP & mBACP Accredited male Therapist, Counsellor & Psychotherapist

therapy@counselling-london.org.uk 020 7916 1342

Our Sensitivities - Pushing Each Other's Buttons

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HSP Counselling For Hyper Emotional, Sensitive People

Valuing Our Sensitivities Some of us may struggle to value our sensitive side - our consciousness and the qualities that our sensitivities, intuition bring in us, with the potential to open us up to depths of feeling, the qualities of our inner child experiences of vivid images, empathy, tenderness, vulnerability, creativity and somatic reactions. Our sensitivities and senses can also help anchor us. Counselling for sensitivities explores this further with you.

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Sensitive People or HSP Our highly sensitive nature is usually viewed as innate - hardwired (see also Our sense of identity & who we are). Our tenderness, vulnerability - wearing our heart on our sleeve, can at times be a delight and quality we value, and other times too much for us and others, especially if we overshare our feelings. Highly sensitive people may have a gift of feeling things deeply or become emotionally charged (hyper-emotional), easily moved to tears, and we may be easily affected by what others say or do, picking up on little details, sometimes to our detriment. (And sometimes we may also misinterpret things.) We may often feel overwhelmed as things get too much, sometimes reacting by numbing our feelings as if at times we "crash and burn". For the highly sensitive person, others around us, or we, may end up walking on eggshells. Some of us may want to stop walking on eggshells, being such a sensitive person, so things aren't so intense, serious, that we can also see the bigger picture.

Needing Stimulus, Overstimulating Ourselves We may need, crave for stimulation, yet being highly sensitive to stimulus. Responding to this well (so it doesn't become self-sabotage) may be a challenge supported by our boundaries as we notice and regulate our energy so our emotions don't bounce all over the place. Some of us may over-share our feelings. Hyper-emotional at times, we may want to regulate and manage some of our feelings so we are not so emotionally overwhelmed (see also Emotional Responsibility; Emotional Energy, Emotional Health, Emotional Wellbeing, Emotional Evaluation, Emotional Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Growth, Emotional Maturity - Being Emotionally Connected). For some of us our need for stimulus may also point to our need for attention, which can be explored in the counselling for HSP. (See also Oversharing Our Feelings In Stressful Situations)

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Highly Sensitive People (HSP) - What We May Be Experiencing Inside Our sensitivities may have been pointed out to us a long time ago. We may struggle with everyday things and want to enjoy life more. When hyper emotional, things can easily overwhelm us, whether it's loud noises, e.g. sirens, strong smells or tastes (certain tastes may affect us more, like caffeine, alcohol), rough fabrics, bright lights or seeing things we'd not rather see (we may for example make a point of avoiding violent films). (We may struggle to moderate the amount of sensory information that our body picks up, which for some may also point to symptoms of dyspraxia.) We may worry a lot or get very stressed (or panicky when overwhelmed) when we have a lot to do in a short period of time. Inside we may feel depressed at times. We may try to avoid overwhelming, upsetting situations, maybe withdraw at times in the cocoon of our own safety, privacy, to relieve us from overwhelming situations. Yet also we may have a rich and complex inner life, enjoying (at the right time and mood) subtle, delicate or fine tastes, scents, sounds, works of art, things of beauty, tactileness, sensuality. We may not only sense ours but others' energies and intimacy may be particularly sensitive for us.

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Giving Our Power Away? Taking in a lot, sometimes we can allow others to get under our skin, permeating us, so much so that it can disempower us. We may be sensitive to criticism or emotionally sensitive (see also Emotional Responsibility; Emotional Energy, Emotional Health, Emotional Wellbeing, Emotional Evaluation, Emotional Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Growth, Emotional Maturity - Being Emotionally Connected). It may be important to develop a thick skin when we need to. Giving our power away, we can be overly affected by the opinions, choices & actions of others, including negativity and we may become disappointed at times. We may become easily blown off track and our mind can be like a sponge absorbing unnecessary thoughts. We may be over-tuned emotionally, become needy or clingy or become like a sponge for everything around us, absorbing others' energies, emotions or wanting others to absorb, feel ours (see also Enmeshment). This can put us under pressure and be tiring. Counselling for sensitivity can explore what happens to us, how settled we are in ourself, centred in our own ground and sense of empowerment, so we are less like an emotional sponge, in reaction to anything anyone thinks or says about us (see also Our Need For Validation, Approval, Affirmation, Reassurance, Confirmation, Permission, Recognition, To Be Valued, Appreciation, Praise, Attention, Adoration, Admiration, Adulation, Acceptance), and we are able to protect ourselves, take responsibility for our own behaviour & responses, strengthening our own positive emotions and any loose or porous boundaries. (See also Confidence Building - Empowering Us)

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Our Struggles We may at times feeI as sensitive or insignificant, like a grain of sand, subject to life's elements. Experiences we feel may seem much more to us - which can be a blessing, because we sense so much, that our creativity can flourish, or almost a curse, because the impact of these can be too overwhelming. We can live as if powerful feelings, which happened a long time ago, are present in us now (see also Our Painbody). We may struggle to participate in the world, as it unfolds & changes, be resilient and part of something larger than ourselves. Feeling inadequate, perfectionism and procrastination may be concerns for some. For others being self absorbed, living as if only we (and our own precious feelings) count, may work against us, tiring us out. Courageously choosing the longer, unfamiliar way home may be a need for others.

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Our Own Sensitivities Our sensitivities, hyper-emotionality colour our perceptions & can cause us to react strongly, affecting our vitality. All men & women have emotional sensitivities (especially when we are stressed or tired) which stem from our needs & experiences in the world. Usually these needs are very basic. Those of us who are especially sensitive to being:

  • Disrespected - tend to respond well when the feedback we receive is largely positive, as opposed to destructive comments & criticism. We feeI better when others seek & value our opinions. People around us need to be especially careful to look & sound respectful. Those of us who have a strong psychological need for respect, can be easily put down or deeply hurt by others (including hurt in our relationship), having misinterpreted their behaviour as disrespectful or controlling.
  • Controlled - tend to respond antagonistically to directives, but better to requests, thrive on being given choices. It is important for us to be allowed to make decisions & be in charge wherever possible, and at the same time take others into consideration. Those of us who are sensitive to being controlled may misinterpret people's intentions & motivations. We may experience being controlled in our relationship, or indeed try to be the controlling one.
  • Abandoned - tend to respond better when we are being heard, kept informed, included in social situations & appreciate affection & closeness in our relationship or marriage. Those of us who are sensitive to being abandoned may misread the behaviour of others as rejection.
  • Invaded - tend to respond with anger or withdrawal. Those of us who are sensitive to our own space can get uncomfortable, claustrophobic or fear getting engulfed. It is as if our very self is constricted. We can feel unsafe, with too much closeness, yet paradoxically want companionship & intimacy, which may be at a different pace to our partner. However, some of us may find difficult to let love in, putting up walls of protection, finding it hard to truly experience love.

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Scale Of Sensitivities - How Our Buttons May Get Pressed Sometimes (especially if we are feeling stressed, unwell, low) we may take things (someones behaviour, looks, remarks, criticism, etc. - see also Receiving Criticism) so personally (especially in our relationship, as if all & everything is only about us) and become over-defensive as part of our protective pattern. Preoccupied, we may easily take things to heart, feel angry, hurt, upset, yet overlook that it is often about others - them. Our sensitivities for some of us can be so very important, and precious to us that the way we perceive others in the world can lead us to misinterpret things, become hyper-critical and over-react in irrational, disproportionate ways, setting off a chain of events (see also Creating Dramas, Causing A Drama). The narcissistic part of us may demand things are done in a certain way - our way. If we are not careful we can get caught in a victim, persecutor or rescuer mode or want others to take responsibility for our own feelings. For some, our sensitivities, buttons pressed, may also point to something unhealed when younger (and some of us may struggle to grow up). Easily wounded, punctured, hurt or shamed to our very core (often dating back from our past), we in turn may react to other people's reactions and get stuck in this pattern, as each others buttons are pushed. This is especially true in our relationship with our partner, who seems to have the ability to push our buttons, triggers, as we get hooked into something we find difficult to unhook ourselves from. We can feel lost, stuck at times and we all have our own personal hooks & triggers. We may want to simply observe what we, others see when giving, receiving feedback. It can be a challenge for us to:

Nobody has the right to make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt
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Walking On Eggshells "Why do I easily react to situations?" may be something we ask. Many of us become prickly at times. Having to live up to our expectations, people may complain that they have to be so careful, not wanting to upset us - being with us can be like walking on egg shells. We may have become highly critical of others and ourselves. This may at times be connected to our unhealed wounds, some of which we can see in others, yet are in us. Easily bruised we too may feel sensitive, be oversensitive, walking on eggshells around others. In our relationships it may be important to be heard, seen & met, and we may want to consider how we connect, disconnect ourselves, so we also don't feel frequently worried we will upset our partner, yet they too may feel they can't upset us or be angry.

All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again. Nursery Rhyme

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Our Inner-Outer World How we experience the world may not be how others do and this may be frustrating for us. We may struggle between what is happening inside and outside of us and being in touch with our own personal boundaries may support us (see also Creating & Being In Touch With Our Inner Sanctuary, Our Anchor Points). Especially if we needed to be hyper-alert as a child, we may continue to be anxious now. We may continue to be good at sending our antennae outwards so we can read, absorb a whole room, atmospheres, others. Yet this can be overwhelming or a burden for us at times (e.g. seeing the beauty and ugliness of everything). Acutely sensitive of others' needs - our own feelings needs may go unnoticed and we may struggle to receive, ask for what we need. Sending our antennae also inwards, filtering out any overwhelming sensitivities may support us.

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Managing Sensitivities None of us are saints and sometimes others may say they have to walk on eggshells around us. We may have been called a highly sensitive person, over-sensitive, too sensitive. When we are fragile or overly sensitive, we too can choose to see other people as difficult. So when buttons are pressed, there are many factors in play, including our own inadvertent contribution, especially if our sensitivities are so precious to us, or we struggle to take care of our own needs, be safe inside, in spite of external factors. Letting go of the tight grip our sensitivities have on us, adjusting our filters in what we let in and out, yet being resilient, so we don't deplete our energy, may be our challenge. We may be caught in our own narcissism tending to be more covert, introvert. Learning to tolerate things we need to tolerate may be a further challenge. We can become sensitive to anxiety. The counselling for sensitive people can help us take into account and manage our own sensitivities, tenderness, vulnerabilities, shyness, confidence, esteem, insecurities & responses to other people's sensitivities. Therapy also examines what else is being unconsciously communicated, how we can soothe ourself, create space inside our head, take charge and have some control over our emotional security, protect ourself, any fragilities, ride & manage setbacks with our resilience, hardiness & healthy boundaries, flexibility, negotiate our preferences and not lose our self to our sensitivities. Having peace of mind, balancing our heart with our head may also support some of us. Being in touch with our self-worth and feeling safe enough may also be important for us.

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create - so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating. Pearl S. Buck

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Counselling For HSP - Questions About Being Overly Sensitive, Counselling For Being Hyper Emotional We may have been described as, or believe to be, too sensitive or highly sensitive person, and have questions about how to control sensitivity, e.g:

  • Highly sensitive people - is it possible to be too sensitive? If so, how to control sensitivity?
  • Overly sensitive - what does oversensitive means?
  • Oversensitivity - why am I too sensitive? How to stop being sensitive?
  • Am I too sensitive? Why do I have a highly sensitive personality? How to stop being so sensitive and how the counselling for sensitive people work?
  • Highly sensitive people traits - what are the traits of highly sensitive people?
  • I have a boyfriend too sensitive, girlfriend too sensitive - how can I best respond?
  • HSP - I have been described as a highly sensitive person (HSP) - what does this mean?
  • Dealing with sensitive people - how can I best respond to highly sensitive people, a highly sensitive personality?
  • Stop walking on egg shells - both me, and others around me, wonder how to stop walking on eggshells
  • I'm seeking counselling for sensitivity, how does counselling for sensitivities help?
  • Dealing with hyper-emotionality - does counselling for being hyper emotional help?

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