Being Wired to Feel Deeply Is the Greatest Gift I Can Give as an HSP

IntrovertDear.com HSP gift

I’ve been on a quest to feel known and understood for as long as I can remember, because I’ve always felt different.

I feel things deeply. I’m in my head, lost in my thoughts, more often than not. When I’m in a group setting, I’m completely engaged but prefer to listen and observe. It’s amazing how much nonverbal information people are constantly revealing if you’re paying attention.

And I get overwhelmed easily. By too much newness, too many people, beauty, sadness, or injustice. Especially injustice.

The Difference, In Percentages

When I was in fourth grade, I learned that I’m an introvert — in an extrovert’s world. Two years ago, I discovered that I’m a part of 20 percent of the population who are highly sensitive, and that my Myers-Briggs personality type, INFJ, is the rarest of all the 16 types, shared by only 1-3 percent of the population.

So it turns out that I don’t just feel different. I am different.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)

This has led me to extensively research my wiring, and to be completely honest, that has held its share of discouraging moments. I’ve had it confirmed over and over again that introverts, highly sensitive people (HSPs), and INFJs all tend to feel profoundly misunderstood. Profoundly!

While this is validating and makes me feel less alone, it doesn’t change anything. It seems to suggest that I may as well abandon my pursuit of being fully known, and accept that I’ll only experience the deep connections I crave when I find fellow HSPs and INFJs.

But there’s another way to look at this.

The Purpose Driven Perspective

I believe that we’re all perfectly and intentionally wired for a purpose. The world needs the beautiful blend of personalities and preferences that make us all unique and creates the dissonance that challenges each one of us daily, allowing us to grow.

I believe we’re all specifically wired for the people in our lives right now, and they have as much to teach us as we do to teach them.

It’s easier to acknowledge more widely researched differences like introversion and extroversion. But when it comes to the finely-tuned elements of the way we perceive the world, the way we think and process, our sensitivities and insensitivities, our ability to empathize and experience emotions — those are subtleties we don’t often consider, because we’re too busy overvaluing our own experiences and perception.

As soon as we recognize that we’re all looking through a distinctly different lens that shapes the way we see the world — and each other — everything changes. This carves out space for each one of us to fulfill the purpose we were created for.

Because if my lens is different than your lens, we’re both going to bring different perspectives to the table. And that difference is invaluable because it can expand our worldview, helping us see something we otherwise wouldn’t have.

More often than we may realize, this is how we learn exactly what that situation was meant to teach us.

Being Wired Differently Is a Gift

Being wired to feel deeply is one of the greatest gifts I have to give to the world. And I know that it’s an integral part of my purpose. But it’s hard for me to always see it this way because it’s also one of the most challenging parts of my personality.

When I’m with others, I feel every intense emotion they’re feeling, and I’m constantly sorting through my emotions to determine what’s actually mine and what isn’t.

There are so many TV shows and movies I can’t watch because of the violence that rocks me to my core and haunts me at night, because it felt like it happened to me. I’m even affected by the previews for those shows, always showing the most violent and sensationalized moments to draw in the viewers that are bored by anything less.

A Trade That’s Not Worth Making

I’ve spent so much of my life wishing I was “normal.” Wishing I could handle what “everyone else” seems to be able to handle, watch what “everyone else” is watching and then talking about in casual conversation.

But that would mean trading my ability to empathize with any situation, regardless of whether I’ve gone through anything even remotely similar, and understand how the other person is feeling at the deepest level.

I would have to surrender my compassion for those who are hurting, and my ability to know when something is wrong without being told.

I wouldn’t pick up on the things that no one else notices, or have the ability to sit with someone else inside their pain.

If introverts and HSPs were tougher and more “normal,” the world would lose what it so desperately needs: highly intuitive, complex, empathic individuals who care deeply and feel even more deeply.

It’s not easy for us, and it never will be, but we have the opportunity to impact everyone who crosses our path with our unique gifts.

If you’re interested in learning more about your wiring, I highly recommend taking the free Genius Personality Test. The results are based on the Myers-Briggs system, and you’ll receive podcasts specific to your personality type to help you dive into how your mind works.

Finally, here are my favorite resources for introverts, HSPs, and INFJs:

What do you bring to the world because of the way you’re wired? What is your purpose based on your unique gifts?

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Read this: 27 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re an HSP  retina_favicon1

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  • Chris LaPree

    Shannon, I love, love, love your article. I am an INFJ and HSP. Everything you said resonates with me. I also spent my life trying to be “normal”. As a child I would watch in awe as other kids (i.e. extroverts) would be so happy and skip through their childhood as if they didn’t have a care in the world, while I was afraid of my own shadow and was living in a world where no one understood me, or believed me when I noticed something obvious to myself but oblivious to them. As I got older, I saw that yes, I took things very hard when life was difficult. But, we need to remind ourselves we experience the highs in life the non-HSPs can’t come close to feeling. I am 60 years old and still get elated at beautiful clouds and baby rabbits and birthdays. And to hear a child’s belly laugh and children singing brings me to happy tears!!! I wouldn’t trade the positive emotions I have been feeling my whole life for anything…

    • Shannon Arnold

      Hi Chris! I completely understand what you’re saying. It always seems like life is so easy for extroverts, especially because it’s easier – and less important – for them to feel understood. We’re complex and have this rich inner world that is so often unappreciated by those who just don’t get our wiring. Including ourselves! But as you said, the highs we experience from the simplest things in life, and the ways in which we can enter into the pain of others on such a deep level, so they can feel a little less alone – those are the greatest gifts.

  • Wendy

    Hi Shannon, I have been trying for a long time to embrace being an HSP as a blessing. I have always wanted to be normal, and not feel so much. Even though I believe in what you have said, I just can’t get past feeling cursed most of the time.

  • Tracy, from Bliss This Home

    Not just INFJ… this INFP understands, too. And it’s definitely a gift — one we’ve received and one we share with others. I wouldn’t trade it either. Well written, though mostly introverts and HSP will understand, as you know. Cheers!

    • Shannon Arnold

      Thank you for sharing this, Tracy, and for your kind words. I’ve recently made the connection between HSP and INFJs, and it’s great to know that there are INFPs who are HSPs as well!