Friday, December 25, 2009

The Effects of Negative Energy and Overstimulation

Growing up, I often found myself overwhelmed with a swirl of emotions that stirred inside me. My younger version never gave a second thought as to whether those emotions were actually hers. She simply assumed that they were. Feeling the intensity was the easy part; figuring out how to handle those emotions was quite another story.

Spinning out of control on the inside is the closest description I can come up with to communicate what it feels like. You think you might be going crazy, that you're about to burst from the pressure of having to control yourself, and that it would somehow be better if you could self-destruct. The act of being destructive is a way of attempting to eradicate your present existence and its obligations. It's an escape mechanism that yearns to wipe the slate clean by extinguishing what we currently know, with no consideration for what we might consider to be valuable.

What I didn't know then was that having the trait of sensitivity means that you literally absorb the energy of what's around you. You instantly feel it so deeply that you become that energy. This "becoming" occurs not only in the moment of interaction, but long after the moment of absorbtion. The assumption, therefore, is that you are those feelings. When that energy is positive or inspirational, it can carry you into new worlds full of imagination, sunshine filled rainbows, vicarious experiences and childlike dreams full of possibilities.

The other side of transcension, of course, is that not all energy is positive. The nature of humanity includes inconsideration, jealousy, sabotage, closed-mindedness, intolerance, lies, cheating, pain, suffering, narcissim, and the pursuit of self-indulgent illusions. Sensitives can find themselves absorbing energy's darker side more readily, as we often feel the need to fix any problems we encounter. Negative energy also finds itself radiating from the fast-paced approach of today's world. Being exposed to the "let's get it done yesterday," "can't we do that better" philosophy is a source of demoralizing frustration for sensitives.

As a result, sensitives find themselves wondering if they're good enough, why they can't seem to catch their breath, why they're so irritated for no reason, and why they're running to a bathroom stall or some other reclusive place to let the tears start falling. There's also the standby of wanting to crawl into bed and sleep rather than be awake because our dreams seem more inviting than reality.

When I was an undergrad student, one of my roommates and best friends from high school, would comment on how she thought I would purposely avoid situations that involved groups of people because I was afraid of being around others. She was only half right. Many times I would decline invitations to go out with groups of friends, attend parties and gatherings not because I didn't want to connect and interact, but because I found them overstimulating and a source of mental exhaustion. The energy that I had to muster up to be "on" during my long days filled with classes and two part-time jobs was enough. When I was free of these obligations, I needed "me time," literally, to recoup. When it came time to socialize, I preferred one on one conversations, preferably in quieter settings, where I could actually listen, focus and have time and space to formulate what I wished to verbalize. Of course, trying to explain this to a non-HSP is at times daunting, if not fruitless.

Exploring the research on sensitivity has taught me that while I may still be absorbing all this energy around me, I can turn off my "I'm taking this personally" switch. You can still feel the sting, yet choose to realize that you have nothing to do with what those external forces are communicating. There's no reason to automatically go on a guilt trip, feel responsible for the world's problems, run away, or continue to watch your inner dynamite's fuse explode. There are times when sensitives will continue to do these things, but why not take a moment within these situations to let yourself breathe?

Once you stop to turn off the emotions for a brief second and call out the analytical advisor within, you'll begin to realize that there will always be people and situations that are better left to their own devices. They may not understand you or even want to. They may simply need someone to listen as some things in life require more than a band-aid. Remember that the world's negative energy and overstimulation aren't going away. What's important is that you understand yourself, know what you want and do it, regardless of what others may want you to do. And that negative energy and overstimulation? Smile as you make the decision to walk towards the world of sunshine filled rainbows.


  1. Gorgeous-wise post here!! Your description of absorbing energy resonated for me ALOT. Particularly loved: "a I can turn off my "I'm taking this personally" switch." Good trick - which I'm only JUST learning (and am quite a bit older than you - yea YOU!)

    I wonder how many INFP's (Myers Briggs) are HSP's??

  2. Thanks for your post - just encountered the term "compassion fatigue" and identifying with it

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  4. If I'm not mistaken, I think INFP is one of the Myers Briggs types that are in the "sensitive" category. It falls under the "Idealist" grouping and is considered to be the most sensitive. This is according to the Keirsey temperament test. =)

  5. So happy I discovered your blog last year! Happy New Year!

  6. Hi Helen :-) Strong reverb over here... thinking of how, not even a full hour ago, I was impacted by the feelings of a group of people who dashed in (holiday guests)... they were jittery and vexed, and of course I felt every piece of it... but this time, I could clearly identify it as NOT MINE. Not my jitters. Not my vexation. Theirs. Now, the empathic download helped me to be hospitable to them, but that hospitality did not include taking up *their stuff*. So liberating

    Love your space here, Helen, and excited to experience community with you.


  7. I was looking for answer. Thank you.

  8. Wow. This describes me so much. Even though it does not change me in anyway, I feel like I can see myself in a different light. I have always felt so negative for not wanting to go and do things...the mental tiredness makes so much sense to me.

  9. Your honesty and transparency are so appreciated. The description you give is accurate and one which I completely identified with. Thank you for sharing and letting so many know that there is value in our unique sensitivity. May we embrace this in ourselves and in so doing, perhaps collectively we can change the dialogue on the matter.