HSP and the Feeling of Not Belonging

by Caroline van Kimmenade

Ok, so here’s a little scenario. You’re born, and you’re this little bundle full of just being you. There’s no complicated conditioning, no rules, no restraints, just you being you. Then what, you grow up, and you get taught how you’re supposed to be.

Now, depending on where, when and how your growing up happened, you might have been encouraged to continue to be a bigger bundle of (mostly) just being you, or you might have been shut down to the max- or anywhere and everywhere in between.

When it comes to being an HSP, whatever happened, you probably got a lot of messages somehow that being sensitive was being TOO sensitive. Even if your parents were all for it, you still live in a society where sensitivity isn’t considered the norm, or even sane. So even if things were pretty great growing up, you’ll likely have some negative conditioning around this anyway.

Now, for those of us who very early on got the message that being who you are isn’t ok, something profound and traumatic will have happened: you learned that you weren’t supposed to be who you are. Since, all we can do is be who we are (there really is nobody else we can be), that all would have translated to “I – as in: the real me- is not welcome here”.

That’s a pretty dramatic message to get, and you receive it without anyone having to necessarily say anything. It’s all about how people responded to you when you were simply being yourself.

So you might have this nagging sense of feeling unwelcome, like you don’t belong. The thing is, as long as you do not heal this inner conditioning, you’ll continue to feel like the odd one out everywhere. You’ll experience over and over again that being you isn’t ok, that you’re not wanted as you are.


I’m from a different planet, that’s why

The “feeling like I don’t belong” is a big theme in many HSP communities. Unfortunately, quite a number of HSP’s, instead of burrowing down to the root of this feeling and healing it, instead look for a kind of spiritual validation of it. There are oodles of stories and theories out there that boil down to “having been dropped off on the prisoner planet [earth]” or “belonging to a different galaxy and different star group” etc.

Now, the world is a much bigger place than anyone can encompass, so logically proving or disproving these ideas is completely impossible and beside the point. However, generally speaking, they only enhance the feeling and the trauma of “being unwanted and unwelcome”. Hanging on to the idea that you are actually a purple urchin rainbow being from galaxy Z, trapped on earth in a human body, may provide some SciFi escapist solace (especially when you’ve got the poster above your bed and spend a lot of time imagining being on different planets) but it doesn’t change your experience right here, right now.

Hence my point is not that such a line of thinking is necessarily wrong. Rather, it’s not really that helpful. Regardless of who you are and what your spiritual lineage is or isn’t, you are right here, right now, and to enjoy your life, it’s important to foster an inner sense of “I am exactly where I need to be”.


Not belonging and finding your exact tribe

Similar – and less exotic- things happen with a “label obsession” that is another common phenomenon. In different personality systems, you’d be administered different labels. Some sensitive people seem to have taken all the tests and carry around a long list of abbreviations that describe the tribe they are a part of.

The only problem is, the longer the specific list of labels that describe you, the smaller the chance that you’ll find someone who has exactly that combination of labels too. Again, while you might have set out finding people “just like you” by figuring out your personality box(es), you can well end up feeling like a freak (again). None of this addresses the underlying pain, instead, it fortifies the “truth” of the pain and does nothing to heal it.

Again, I’m not argueing against labeling. Getting a sense of what type most resembles you can be very helpful. However, as a strategy to ease the pain of feeling like you don’t belong, it’s not that helpful necessarily. You might find a community with people “just like you”, yet when you spend enough time there, you’ll slowly start to sense all the ways that these people are different from you, and the sense of not belonging will creep in again.

In the end, there are usually some inner beliefs, emotions and blocks that dictate a sense of not belonging. The important thing to realize though that there is no external community that will make that pain disappear. You need to deal with the pain inside directly, or else it will follow you around.


I’m different, so I don’t belong

The thing is, in the end we’re all different, we’re all unique. Fostering a sense of belonging, will only work if you include your uniqueness in that sense of belonging. In other words, you won’t feel like you belong by finding people “exactly like you”, simply because there are none. You will however start to feel like you belong, when you accept that you were meant to be different.

How about practicing “being you no matter what”?

Need some help with that? I’d be happy to give you some specific pointers, just for you. Just set up a Clarity Call with me here.



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1 Joy December 22, 2013

I appreciate this article for validating how I have felt my whole life. Being an HSP and the sensitivity that goes along with it has made me feel like an outsider to everyone who says, “You’re too sensitive.” You mention the internal blocks and inner beliefs that may contribute to this sense of not belonging. I believe this is true, and these blocks and beliefs have been deeply ingrained or hardwired into one’s sense of self. My question is how do we unblock these inner beliefs and feel like we belong when everyone is telling us we are too sensitive? We can tell ourselves we are ok and being sensitive is ok, but deep down inside we are made to feel like we are not ok and that there is something wrong with us. Can you recommend a course of action, healing modality, or program to rewire our subconscious or conscious beliefs about ourselves? I believe the first step is acceptance of this sensitivity.

2 Caroline van Kimmenade December 26, 2013

Hi Joy,

In answer to your question: the most important thing is to find a healing tool that works for you personally. In other words, don’t try to make yourself use a process that feels off to you, there’s enough tools out there. Identifying a good personal healing too is part of the work I do with people. Some popular options are EFT and The Sedona Method. You’re absolutely right, a big part of healing is reframing how we look at ourselves. When we become aware of the judgements from others that trigger us, then that’s usually a good indication of which beliefs we’ve internalized deeply. As you say, trying to overwrite those beliefs with positive self-talk doesn’t really address the issue. Being aware of when we feel hurt and then doing the work to address that hurt internally is key. Postive self-talk does let us see the discrepancy between how we feel inside, versus how we want to feel inside. It’s hard to heal when we believe that everything we feel about ourselves is absolutely true, so the trick is to use the positve self talk as a tool, not as an end-goal.

3 Mia February 12, 2014

I really like your website. I can totally relate. I am psychologist, and I’ve finally found my place: as listening is my job :)

4 Caroline van Kimmenade February 12, 2014

welcome Mia :)

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