The saying “wear the world like a loose garment” is a mantra of sorts that has been passed around my family for as long as I can remember. Ironically though, as a family full of highly sensitive people, our overstimulating, sometimes overwhelming world fit more like a skin-tight wool bodysuit several sizes too small.
As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I admit that I sometimes take myself a little too seriously — but it’s hard not to when all the outside noise comes flooding into my senses each and every day. As it overloads me, it really does seem all-consuming. It’s like HSPs start out each day with a bright white, whole sheet of paper; as each sensation, sound, word, look, or comment gets thrown at us, a piece of that paper is ripped away until we’re drained and left with a torn up mess.
It’s days like these where I start to wonder where I left my comfy moomoo and why I have to be stuck with this ill-fitting sweater of a too-much world. Why can’t I take things as they come, let them go, and move on with my day? Why do all these stimuli that I’m forced to process build onto each other, leaving me wanting nothing more than to cower under the covers? Why do I have to feel so deeply?
For me, this pattern of thinking can easily become ingrained when I’m overwhelmed, and the self-doubt, often automatic. It’s like I’m hungover from the overstimulation.
And that’s when I find I need to take stock of myself and really be mindful of what makes us who we are. Amidst the mundane chaos of everyday life, we as HSPs need to take a moment each day to remind ourselves just how awesome we really are. Here are six affirmations I use to do just that — that I suspect other HSPs need to hear, too.
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6 Affirmations for HSPs
1. You are worthy.
We will inevitably be bombarded with the usual “You worry too much” or “Stop being so sensitive” at some point in our lives. It just goes with the territory. Having these comments repeated to us over time can lead us to feel like maybe there really is something wrong with us; that we need to be a certain way to fit in and be worthy of love or acceptance. But that’s not true.
As actress Viola Davis says, “There is no prerequisite to worthiness. We are born being worthy.” Whether it’s love, affection, acceptance, or simply validation, there are no predetermined criteria we need to meet in order to be worthy of these things. We are all worthy by just existing and being ourselves.
2. You are safe.
This one is especially for the anxious and the overthinkers among us. Feeling everything so deeply and intensely can feel like an assault that is often hard to escape. Sylvia Plath understood this: in her poem “Apprehensions,” she asks, “Is there no way out of the mind?” and describes its walls as tall, gray, and scratched with claw marks. I can relate: We all feel trapped in our thoughts sometimes, overwhelmed by outside stimuli, and all but consumed by our anxieties and insecurities.
(Personally, this state of mind can leave me feeling extremely vulnerable to not only what happens on the outside, but what also goes on inside my thoughts. I’m left wondering what’s going to happen next, and how I’m going to react to it.)
This is where we have to be mindful of our immediate surroundings in that moment — and then take note of our thoughts and simply let them float on by. We always have control over our own thoughts. Believe me, easier said than done sometimes! But by acknowledging them and letting them pass on, we can bring ourselves back to the present, recognize that we are secure both physically and mentally, and allow ourselves to come back down. (Here are three strategies you can use to do that.)
3. You make a difference.
As HSPs, we have the opportunity to impact the lives of others in ways a lot of other people might not. Highly sensitive people tend to be quite empathetic and very open-minded to differing viewpoints, cultures, and lifestyles. We are loyal friends, kind and curious, and exceptionally good listeners. As friends, we can make someone feel validated and heard on a deep level. In the workforce, our emotional intelligence can make us effective leaders as we are aware and responsive to others’ needs. We are generally inclusive and open to working with others to achieve a mutual goal.
In other words: Our sensitivity does not always have to feel like a curse. This gift can also be a catalyst for positive change.
4. You are unique — and that’s a beautiful thing.
With a mere 20% of the population estimated to be highly sensitive, we are indeed a minority, but our uniqueness adds to humanity’s rich diversity. Even among our fellow HSPs, we are all different. Not one person is like us.
If that isn’t enough, simply think about how your sensitivity enriches your own life. For me, cerebral and thought-provoking stories are that much more stirring (and, at times, tear-jerking). Visual art and scenes of natural beauty are that much more vivid. We feel things deeply and thoroughly and are keenly aware of others’ emotions. We pick up on things that so many other people would easily miss. As a result, we can potentially get more out of each moment and experience them in a completely unique way.
It’s a beautiful and rare thing.
5. You are strong and resilient.
Our HSP senses are constantly working overtime, so there is a lot to put up with in any given day. The world around us is just a generally noisy place that’s bright, fast-paced, and very, very social. There is a lot to take in, and not always enough mental and emotional stamina to accomplish that. Even as a small child, I had hard limits on too much stimulation — by the end of most days, I was so overstimulated that a crying and screaming fit was a common occurrence before bedtime.
I still have those days to some degree, and sometimes, I wish I had a sensory deprivation tank. Failing that, we must develop our own coping strategies (you can find some suggestions here).
But I also think we deserve credit for how much we overcome every day. We are strong, even tough, in a way that less sensitive people never will be: We take on more than they do, and continue to process it long after their minds have wandered on. Sensitive people are their own kind of warrior.
6. HSP, you are enough.
This one, more than any other, you need to hear. Even now, there are days when I have such crippling feelings of inadequacy. With my slow mental processing speed, my tendency to overthink, and my social anxiety (just to name a few!), I often feel like I just don’t fit in; that I will never develop enough, mature enough, whatever-enough to fully get to where I need to be to become a sane and thriving adult.
This is totally normal, though, and perfectly okay. We are perfectly okay as we are. We are enough.
Despite us feeling like we are going crazy and just over-the-top sensitive, we are normal. We have the capacity to live a rich and fulfilling life just like anyone else. If we were perfect from the beginning — if anyone was — life would not only be boring but it would be utterly pointless. What would we have to look forward to and feel accomplished about?
You are and always will be enough, worthy, strong, and unique just as you are. Right here, right now. In my opinion, that’s something you should never trade.