Being Highly Sensitive is often presented as being shy, introverted and easily overwhelmed. Often, high sensitivity is even conflated with introversion.
But what if you tick the HSP boxes, but don’t really identify with being an introvert?
What if you’re not shy at all, but often the life of the party? Could you still be HSP too?Click to tweet
The answer is yes. There is a percentage of Highly Sensitive People who are what Elaine Aron terms “High Sensation Seeking”.
Being a Highly Sensitive Sensation Seeker means that you’re walking a fine line between feeling bored, and feeling overstimulated. You have an introverted side that needs peace and quiet and alone time. You also have an extroverted side that wants to have adventures, learn new things, meet people, go out etc.
As a sensation-seeking HSP you may feel like you don’t really fit anywhere. You like hanging out with the extroverts, but they don’t understand when you need time alone. You might be active, party and be super social for a while, but if you don’t also take time off, then you will inevitably crash. Now it looks like you are depressed, or something is wrong.
Your extroverted friends may tell you to get over it and go and do something with them. They think that you’re sitting at home moping, and that going out will make you feel better. They don’t understand that you simply need time to recharge, because you’ve been ignoring your introverted side, and need time to rebalance.
Worse, if you don’t understand this trait yourself, then you may believe that you are “supposed” to be completely extroverted and that there IS something wrong with you for needing time alone. After all, if that were normal, wouldn’t your friends need time alone too?
The truth is, we’re all different and being Highly Senstitive + a High Sensation Seeker places you between groups. You can relate to the extroverts and the introverts. You like adventure and you also like spending time at home, alone.
Typical HSP tips to avoid overwhelm may not work well for you, because they seem to suggest that just doing less overal is what will make you feel better. Yet, you know that when you spend too much time being calm and quiet, you get really bored and frustrated.
As a Highly Sensitive Sensation Seeker you can end up with an inner conflict between your introverted and extroverted side. Your extroverted side hates your introverted side for being a party pooper. Your introverted side hates your extroverted side for creating stress and chaos. As your inner parts are fighting like Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, you get pulled in two opposite directions. It can feel like you need to choose, that you need to be either or but can’t be both.
Yet, as long as you are pulled apart like this and trying to choose for introversion or extroversion, you don’t have all your natural energy available and can easily self-sabotage the best of plans. You take a few introverted steps and your extroverted side yells “no way!”. Then your extroverted side takes a few different steps, and your introverted side just blocks everything.
The thing is, if this is who you are then you need to know how to integrate these two different sides of you and get them to work together. Your inner introvert and extrovert are fighting because they don’t know that it’s possible to both get their needs met. They don’t know what a win-win feels like, so they are sabotaging each other.
Integrating these opposing sides and getting them to work together means walking a very narrow path: too much excitement and your introverted side gets stressed, too much calm and quiet and your extroverted side feels lifeless.
Getting these sides to work together takes skill, practice and a plan.
You need to mediate between these parts of you, consciously. This means understanding what each side wants and needs. It also means acknowledging real fears that both of these parts have.
Your extroverted side is afraid of living a boring suburban life and whittling away your potential by listening to the “shoulds” and doing what is “normal”. Your introverted side on the other hand is worried that when you rock the boat and go your own way, that this will be too stressful and you’ll never get the peace you crave.
There is a way to keep both inner parties happy. The Ultimate You needs to be in charge of the masterplan. The Ultimate You is not either introverted or extroverted, but both. The Ultimate You can oversee both sides of your personality.
You need to understand your true needs and limits to predict what will and will not work for you.Click to tweet
Instead of taking down-time when you crash, and then going all out when your energy perks up again, you can learn to balance these ups and downs on a smaller, daily scale. That way, you avoid the huge highs and lows that come from spending too much time in either extreme.
Your personal balance is unique, but there is a way to map it out and hone your ability to walk your own narrow path. Narrow may sound restrictive, but it’s actually the the perfect balance that gives you what you most want.
Walking this narrow path gives you both freedom to do what you most want, and the inner peace that comes with getting the rest you need.
As an HSP you have the natural ability to fine-tune and walk the narrow. You’re like a mountain goat able to balance on a narrow ridge and being totally at ease there. Your true path of ease doesn’t feel restrictive, it’s where you are most alive and free.
Since you can’t technically occupy that much space anyway, a narrow personal path will actually work just fine. You can’t be everywhere, and you can’t do everything, so you’ll need to make choices either way.
Knowing where your introverted and extroverted side meet will help you to make better and easier choices.
Restriction is not a bad thing, it can actually help make moving forward a lot easier.
Yet, if your introverted Will E. Coyote side is constantly trying to get smarter and faster in order to “catch up” with your roadrunner extroverted side, then there will be constant accidents, hurts and disappointments.
And if your roadrunner extroverted side feels unsafe to rest, because it knows your introverted side will try to blow it up to finally have some peace and food, then you will keep running and rushing and not want to ease up once you’re out and about, for fear of never having fun again.
It’s time Will and Roadrunner sat down and worked through this logically. They’ve proven by now that the chasing and blaming and constant sabotage is pointless. They’re different, and they can’t destroy each other.
How can you start to honour and accept both?
P.S. I’m a Highly Sensitive Sensation Seeker myself. It’s part of what led to my complete and utter burn-out once upon a time. In the end, my body just pulled the plug on me to make me rest and figure myself out (but doing so was excruciatingly boring!).
In the end, your body will force you to balance both sides, one way or another. However, what I want for you is for you to take the reigns, for you to actively balance both sides of you in advance, daily, instead of waiting for balance to be forced upon you through chronic stress and overwhelm or sickness and isolation.
If you’re interested in taking charge, check out my Happy Sensitive Foundations Programme. It’s all about understanding your own needs and creating a practical approach that lets both sides of you get what they need, without crashing and burning. In this programme I can teach you how to learn to balance both sides of you pro-actively, instead of falling into either overwhelm or boredom and feeling out of control. These are skills for life. Having them means you get to live on that narrow ledge that is both exciting and peaceful.