The real reason highly sensitive people get bullied.


I had an “Aha” moment today.

The reason highly sensitive people get bullied so often isn’t because of our sensitivity. It’s because of the dismally low self esteem that tends to go along with being that sensitive, especially if we were victimized by malignant narcissists and bullies when young.

Narcissists envy and fear high sensitivity.


Narcissists hate high sensitivity in others for two reasons: 1. They envy it because it’s something they can’t have or may have lost as children and it’s a sign of an authentic person, which is something they aren’t but wish they were; and 2. they fear it, because they know this quality makes it possible for to zero in on the emptiness hiding under the narcissist’s guise.

Their hatred and fear is expressed through love bombing followed by bullying and other forms of abuse meant to weaken the HSP. An HSP’s fragile ego can be destroyed or greatly diminished after years of bullying and abuse.

Sharon: an HSP who carried a can of Narc Repellent.


I was thinking about a woman I used to know named Sharon.  She was an empathic young woman who felt everything so deeply–but mostly joy and love.  She’s exquisitely sensitive but is also self confident (she was raised by very loving parents). She is comfortable enough with herself to show her vulnerability openly, allowing herself the liberty to feel all her emotions as well as share the emotions of her friends.

You might think Sharon is a magnet for bullies, but she’s not.  She makes friends easily because she has such a loving and positive presence and and people feel like she cares about them, and she likes herself too (without being at all narcissistic). They are right.

Narcissists avoid Sharon like the plague. Why? They would probably love to get their hooks into her if they could, but Sharon’s confidence in herself and easygoing comfort around all kinds of people scares them right off. While still being emotionally vulnerable, Sharon is invulnerable to narcissists because they sense her strength. She’s indestructible and they know it. As a result Sharon is never victimized and tends to attract other loving people as her friends, people who just want to be around her because she’s a lot of fun but can also cry with you if that’s what you need.

If you’re a highly sensitive adult whose self esteem has been destroyed by narcissistic abuse or a sensitive kid who has become insecure and fearful because of bullying, your high sensitivity will be expressed very differently than someone like Sharon.

Sensitive children do get tested by school bullies, and it’s harder to not let that damage your self image when you’re so young, especially if your parents are also bullies and have already done a number on your self esteem. But for an adult, most people will admire emotional openness and vulnerability or at least respect it–as long as they also know you respect and love yourself. People can sense when you’re comfortable in your own skin and narcs will stay far away, because they’re only attracted to codependent types who are unsure of themselves or their place in the world.

Being highly sensitive: a curse or a blessing?


A sensitive person who hates herself will tend to act in ways that attract mean people and bullies to them. They are unsure of themselves, fearful, easily depressed or discouraged, easily hurt, easily frustrated, paranoid, hypervigilant, and insecure. They are afraid of everything, and like ravenous wolves, narcissists can smell their fear. They see this–not the underlying sensitivity–as weakness, and they will horn in on such a person for narcissistic supply or bullying because they’re an easy mark who will be too afraid to call them out on their abuse.

Things are very different for a sensitive person with high self esteem. Such a person will be appreciative, insightful, observant, compassionate, forgiving (but not stupidly forgiving), affectionate, creative, a good listener, empathetic, and with a well developed (but never mean or sarcastic) sense of humor. They are not fearful and they know their place in the world. They have a clear sense of their own boundaries (and those of others) and know how to enforce them if they think they’re being violated. They attract people like themselves as friends and lovers and these relationships tend to be self-reinforcing for both parties.

Narcissists know a strong HSP is powerful and dangerous to them.


Malignant narcissists stay away from self-confident HSPs, because they know they’re much stronger than they are. They know they’re dealing with an authentic person who is happy with themselves and with life, while they are anything but. They know a confident HSP (not the same thing as narcissism) has a laser-like ability to see through their mask without fear and won’t hesitate to call them out when it’s necessary. To a malignant narcissist, a self-confident HSP is a very dangerous and powerful person. That’s why they work so hard to destroy our self confidence and make us hate and doubt ourselves. If we’re crippled by abuse, they can still get what they need from us (supply), without running the risk of having any damage done to them.

As my confidence has grown over these past two years, I’m noticing a transformation of my lifelong high sensitivity from something that made me feel weak and helpless for most of my life into something that makes me feel strong and authentic. I know now that this “curse” and “weakness” I was born with is really a blessing and a strength. I just needed to develop enough confidence to be able to use it effectively.

Learning to love your high sensitivity.


Here’ a few things I have learned.

1. If you have a talent or skill in one of the arts, use it to express what you’re really feeling. Painting, singing, dancing, writing, poetry–can all be ways we can release our deepest emotions in a “safe” way that’s socially acceptable. Don’t hold anything back when creating art, performing or writing. Allow yourself to be vulnerable even if it feels weird and awkward at first.

2. If you don’t have an artistic talent, take up a hobby that speaks to you or get involved in a sport such as running or take a martial arts class, which can build confidence. Activities that center you and build both inner and outer strength, such as yoga, can be helpful too.

3. Always be 100% honest about your emotions. If you’re very shy or fearful, write down your thoughts and feelings in a private journal. Don’t worry about the quality of writing–that’s all just gravy. The main point is to get your feelings down on paper. Seeing your thoughts on paper (or a computer screen) will give you clarity. If you choose to blog publicly instead, you will gain confidence from expressing your most private feelings to the whole world and from the feedback from others you will get. It can be very scary to publicly post something you wouldn’t tell your next door neighbor (as I have now twice this week!), but believe me, it’s worth it. You’ll be amazed at how much doing such a thing will increase your confidence and sense of inner strength. At first you’ll feel like you’re running around naked in public, but you’ll be amazed by the sense of freedom and liberation running around naked can give you! 🙂

4. Every day, try to do one nice thing for someone other than yourself. If you’re really ambitious, you can try volunteer work to help the poor, homeless, children, animals, or anyone more vulnerable or less fortunate than yourself. In doing so, you will feel like you have a purpose, and that you can help others. Knowing you have made someone happier will raise your self esteem.

5. Listen to music whenever you can.  It’s second only to writing and blogging in my healing journey.

6. Surround yourself with positive people (not the same thing as positive-thinking nazis, who are often narcissists themselves) but authentic, happy people who accept you for who you are and don’t judge you.

7. Get narcissists away from you. No Contact is best, but is not always possible. If you can’t separate from your narcissist, read as much about their disorder as you can, and read about PTSD and complex PTSD and the devastating effects these character disordered people can have on the rest of us. Read books about highly sensitive people. Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person is probably the best known (and an excellent book) but there are other books about HSPs too. Write down your feelings in a journal your narcissist cannot access.

8. Try prayer. It does work.


15 thoughts on “The real reason highly sensitive people get bullied.

  1. Great post. There’s this thing called a trauma bond, it’s an almost psychic connection between narcs and potential victims. They’re like homing pigeons, they seek out those they think they can play.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard of trauma bonds–I didn’t know it referred to the attraction narcissists have to highly sensitive, insecure, codependent types. Thanks for clearing that up. It’s like they want what we have but hate and envy what we have at the same time. By trying to take it from us (which will never work), they can destroy souls or even turn you into one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so profound and very true. I have attracted so many narcissists in my life, and it all started with my mother. Years of therapy and my faith in God have given me such a confidence that I never thought possible years ago. It so different how narcissists respond to me now. I have a neighbor who moved in last year who’s a narcissist. Oh, she hates our happy family. My first conversation with her was so odd. She flipped personalities in the middle of it and became hyper arrogant and highly uncomfortable. She started being mean to her kids and husband right in front of me and my husband, and they acted as if this was normal. My thinking is that she was so uncomfortable that she had to focus on her regular targets to make her feel superior, cause she couldn’t feel superior to me. I feel so bad for her children, because I know exactly what they’re up against. The great thing about those of us who’ve dealt with this in our lives and have gained confidence is that we now know how to properly deal with these people. I no longer take it personal when people treat me like this, because now I realize they’re nuts. 🙂

    This is a great post with some profound thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your neighbor is typical of a malignant narcissist. Their behavior is very odd. They almost seem like they have dissicociative identity disorder (DID) at times because of the way they switch masks so rapidly. It is very creepy to see.

      I’m not afraid of narcs any more. I know I’m stronger than they are now. So I call them out when they need to be called out and no longer worry about repercussions. I have faith in God and know in the end, good will prevail.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I have often wondered about the self-esteam part of myself. I too have noticed that my life is harder & unhappier when my self-esteam is lower. Which I feel was damaged by one narcissists after another. I have gone no contact with one, which has helped tons. The other one is a landlord, that I still struggle with.
    So I will try raising my self confidence in myself, to help me deal with this nasty narcissists.
    Again, thank you so much for you post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I learned to hide sensitivity to survive. I worry Aspie me went too aloof and became a semi-hermit with a dash of avoidance. I asked my husband if I appear cold to people but he said no way! My narc parents literally wanted to just about beat any sensitivity out of me. I realize many of the narcs see “feelings” as weak and dive in on the prey. I do think codependent behaviors and shame which I posted about this week brings out more abuse.

    When I was young I used to try to get people to like me, and went running after folks. I realized to my horror I had kept some very toxic friendships and other relationships where everything was one-sided. I was anxious too–some of that was medically related and it brought out the toxics. If one has a subservient approach to the world, the world is going to kick your butt. There is a part of me that hates that I have to hide so many emotions, but it did drop down the amount of abuse. Remember I walk around with hearing aid, two wrapped legs, over 500lbs and on a walker, any display of “weakness” and the wolves would chew me up.

    I am noticing narcs are leaving me alone more now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really sucks the world doesn’t accept us for who we are. The gentle people always suffer the most.

      I had/have the same problem with showing emotions for the same reasons as you. I was TOO emotional as a child and got it beat and bullied out of me and by mid to late adolescence I learned it was safest to hide them. Now they’re so hidden they’re hard to access sometimes. I hardly ever show my true feelings except online, and yes, I have been accused of being cold, aloof or unfriendly. Or sometimes, just stupid because I guess extreme reservedness combined with the Aspie tendency to daydream or not seeming to be “there” makes me look a little dumb :/

      If they only could see inside my head. They would be very surprised to see what a smart and highly emotional person I really am. I know that sounds so narcissistic but it’s true.

      I read the link you posted by the way. Great article! I could really relate, as I can to most of what you write about. I try to keep up with your blog but sometimes it’s so hard to find the time.

      It’s getting easier to be myself.

      Liked by 1 person

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