The real reason highly sensitive people get bullied.

It was time to pull this one out of the archives!

Lucky Otters Haven

authenticity

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.

narcissist_face

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…

View original post 1,304 more words

Advertisements

Why empaths and narcissists seem to need each other.

narcissist-and-empath
Credit: Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

The concept of narcissism and HSP (highly sensitive person) or empathic traits coexisting in the same person is a matter that has very little research behind it, but I definitely think there is a strong case to be made for it. Hear me out before you hit the backspace key. I actually think it’s at the core of why empaths and narcissists are so uncannily drawn to each other.

In my article A Match Made in Hell: Narcissists and HSPs, I wrote about the tendency for narcissists and HSPs to form trauma-bonds with each other–that’s really just a fancy way of saying these two seemingly opposite types of people are often attracted to each other and form codependent relationships.

The trauma bond.

The narcissist is both attracted to and envious of the empath’s vulnerability and high empathy. They are attracted to it for a very simple reason:  they need it badly. As children, narcissists failed to be mirrored or loved unconditionally by their parents, and are love-starved, even though they’d rather die than ever admit it.   The empath, in turn, is able to love the narcissist without condition, to the point of allowing themselves to be sucked dry.

Narcissists also envy the empath’s ability to love unconditionally because on some level, usually unconsciously but sometimes consciously, they know they jettisoned their own ability to love and feel empathy a long time ago in order to survive.  Most were highly sensitive children but shamed for it.  Many were bullied.   So they learned to bury their emotions behind an invulnerable facade because continuing to be so vulnerable hurt too much. Empathy may be a gift, and I think most narcissists were born with that gift, but were never shown how to use it and were punished for having it.  It became a curse instead of a blessing, so they sent the gift into exile and shored up a false self to make sure it never saw the light of day again.

Knowing they jettisoned their ability to access their own vulnerability, combined with a continued starvation for unconditional love and acceptance, is what draws narcissists to empaths. They abuse the empath, either consciously or unconsciously, because they hate the fact they need their love so badly, and the empath’s sensitivity also unconsciously reminds them of their own sensitivity that caused them so much pain. It’s a constant reminder of the shame they felt as children for being so sensitive, but they also can’t live without it. So they punish the empath for reminding them of their own “weakness” and making them feel so needy.

The narcissist, in their neediness and simultaneous resentment of being so needy, feeds off the empath like a vampire. If they are malignant, they don’t care that they’re destroying the very person who gives them a reason to live. They may even get some satisfaction in knowing they are punishing them. If the narcissist is not malignant, they may feel some guilt over what they do to  the person who gives them so much love, but be unable to stop doing it. Or more often, they aren’t even aware they are doing it. They just seem like a bottomless well that can’t get enough and keeps on demanding more.

Of course such a relationship is extremely unhealthy, even deadly, for the empath, who will eventually either leave the narcissist or be completely sucked dry or in the worst cases even destroyed. But the empath does gets something important out of the relationship too. They truly believe that through their unconditional love, they are saving the narcissist from him or herself.

Common roots.

Empaths and narcissists often both come from abusive or dysfunctional families. Both started life as highly sensitive children. But at some point they diverged. While the empath embraced their own vulnerability and learned how to use their gift to help others and find joy and authentic connection with others, the narcissist rejected it because it seemed more like a curse and made them feel too much pain. If they were never shown any empathy or were shamed for being too sensitive, it’s understandable why they might have rejected their own empathy and covered it over with a facade of toughness.

Why are empaths drawn to narcissists?

Empaths, like narcissists, often have narcissistic parents, and are unconsciously drawn to those who remind them of their parents or perhaps a sibling or other close family member.  They are naturally drawn to those who seem to need healing, and in embarking on a relationship with a narcissist, they are unconsciously attempting to heal their parent or other family member. This is why empaths so often become codependent to narcissists.

Empaths are able to see through the facade the narcissist presents to the world, to their hidden true self. They can see the hurt, abandoned child that lives inside every narcissist. They truly believe they can “fix” them and transform them into authentic, feeling humans capable of returning what they have been given. Of course, this belief is almost guaranteed to end in disappointment (if the empath is lucky), and possibly much worse. For a narcissist to change and stop the pattern of abuse, the desire to do so must come from inside of them. They must be willing to drop their mask of invulnerability and do the hard work of reclaiming the vulnerability they were born with and gave up a long time ago. The empath can’t make a narcissist want to change. Just because they can see through to the sensitive true self doesn’t mean they will be able to draw him or her out. They can die trying, but it probably won’t work. The unwilling, un-self-aware (or malignant) narcissist is likely to punish them for trying.

Failed empaths?

There may even be a genetic connection between narcissism and those who become empaths. I’ll go out on a limb and even speculate that they might even be the same thing–the narcissist being a “failed empath.  It’s ironic but I definitely think there’s a connection.

But how can that be? Narcissists are incapable of empathy, have problems feeling and expressing deep emotions, and are incapable of loving anyone but themselves. Isn’t that the opposite of being an empath?

Well, yes and no. The explanation is complicated, so I hope you stay with me here.

As I’ve explained before, I think most narcissists began life as highly sensitive people who at an early age suffered trauma due to abuse. This caused them to shut off their too-vulnerable true (authentic) selves from the world and in its place construct an elaborate defense mechanism–the false self–initially meant to protect the vulnerable true self from further harm, which has no defenses at all. Even empaths who are not narcissists have some protective psychological armor, so they did not need to construct a false self to take the place of the true one. Healthy empaths are truly authentic people who feel deeply and are emotionally honest with themselves and others. Narcissists were born with no emotional defenses at all; the false self replaces the true one and appears invulnerable. But this is only an illusion. When you face a narcissist, you will never know who that person really is because all they will show you is the protective mask they have created. They are so terrified of being hurt again that they will attack with vicious ferocity if they think you pose any threat to its flimsy underpinnings. It must be a terrifying way to live.

The high sensitivity of a narcissist is retained in the way they react to personal insults or slights. They overreact when they feel like they are being attacked, ignored, or they perceive their source of narcissistic supply may be in danger. They are paranoid, touchy, and often lack a sense of humor about themselves. They may try to appear as if they don’t care, but if you know narcissism, it’s usually not too hard to see the emotional fragility behind their defenses and acts of false bravado. When it comes to other people, they can seem incredibly insensitive.

Narcissists who aren’t high on the spectrum and become self aware may be able to reclaim emotional empathy toward others, because empathy is a skill that can be learned.  A forum member on the NPD board I read (who has NPD) described something that happened with her husband that warmed my heart.  She said he had hurt her feelings, and she caught herself about to attack him.  She felt her defenses go up, but instead of acting out, she decided to NOT act out and just allow herself to feel the hurt.  Instead of attacking him as she normally would have, she cried.   He put his arms around her and she allowed herself to be held and comforted, to feel vulnerable and cared for.   She said at first she felt awkward and uncomfortable, but the next time it happened, she felt less uncomfortable.  Now allowing herself to be loved is becoming second nature and she says she is starting to feel some tenderness toward him too, and even moments of a new feeling that she thinks is real love, a warm feeling not based on getting supply from him or bolstering her ego.   So I think empathy takes practice.  If you were born with it, you don’t lose it, but it may be hard to access and takes a conscious effort to learn to reclaim and use.

But before a narcissist can really get better and feel empathy toward others, they first need to develop self-compassion (this is NOT the same as self-pity, but is actually empathy for the rejected child-self). They must also be courageous enough to stay in treatment and confront and release the traumatic feelings that lie hidden beneath the mask.

This usually only happens when the narcissist hits rock bottom and suffers a massive loss of supply, sending them into a depression.  At that point they may enter therapy or realize the problems they have are because of themselves.   The problem with this is once things begin to improve or they begin to feel better again, they are likely to leave therapy because the work to get to their authentic self is too painful.    It takes an enormous amount of motivation, courage and positive thinking for a narcissist to stay in therapy long enough to begin to access their true self and embrace their own vulnerability.  It can be done, but it’s not easy.

For malignant narcissists though, things are very different.  Stay with me here because things are about to get complicated.

The connection between malignant narcissism and high sensitivity.

warm_cold_empathy
Warm and cold empathy.

In my research about NPD, there has been a lot of discussion about a concept called “cold” empathy.   Most of us associate narcissism with a lack of empathy, but this isn’t exactly the case. Most narcissists–especially malignant ones–do have empathy, but it’s not emotional or affective empathy; it’s cognitive or “cold” empathy. What this means is that a narcissist KNOWS what you are feeling, and may use what they know you are feeling against you. Cold empathy is “felt” on the cognitive (thinking) level, but not as an emotion, and that is why the narcissist can feel no compunctions about turning your feelings against you in order to punish or hurt you.

An extreme example of this would be the sadistic, psychopathic rapist. The rapist “smells” your fear and uses that against you to become even more sadistic. It *is* empathy, but it’s “cold”–the rapist understands exactly what you are feeling and your fear makes him feel powerful, so he increases the level of torment. He feeds off your fear like a vulture feeds on carrion. You don’t need to tell him you’re afraid; he KNOWS. He just doesn’t care and even derives pleasure from it.

Cold empathy is the twisted mirror image of warm empathy, which non-pathological people are capable of feeling on an emotional, not just a cognitive level. HSPs and empaths have an excess of warm empathy.  Here’s where things get complicated. If a narcissist is also a failed empath, their high sensitivity could morph into a quality that seems almost supernatural and is utterly chilling–a cold, sadistic form of “empathy” where they seem to be able to see into your mind. A non-sensitive person would not be able to detect your emotions without you telling them how you feel, and therefore not have that creepy, unsettling way of “seeing into your soul” that the malignant narcissist does. So, the higher the sensitivity a narcissist has (and the more the “warm” empathy has been shut out or turned “cold”), the more malignant they will be.

narcautism_spectrum
Malignant narcissism is high on the HSP spectrum.
Credit: http://dondepresso.rujic.net/post/116940034025/manic-chart-narcautism-spectrum

This idea was actually illustrated in the humorous-but-true graph (shown above), where initially I wondered why malignant narcissism was showing so high in empathic/HSP traits. But actually it makes perfect sense. An empath who adopts narcissism as a way to cope and whose warm empathy all turns cold will become malignant. A less sensitive person (or a highly sensitive person who still retains some warm empathy) may still become a narcissist, but they won’t become malignant. Of course, at their core, all narcissists are highly sensitive. They just don’t want you to know.

In summary, then, empaths and HSPs can be the most kind and caring people you can ever hope to meet–or the most dangerous. A narcissistic empath is definitely someone you’d want to avoid.

They are two sides of the same coin. The tragedy is that a malignant narcissist can destroy a previously healthy empath, but it doesn’t work the other way around: a non-narcissistic empath can’t change a malignant narcissist into a good person.

*****

Further reading:

Narcissists and Empaths: The Ego Dynamic

Are HSPs really targets for bullies?

authenticity

(Edited from the original 3/25/15 post)

People who are highly sensitive are often targets for bullies, but it’s not high sensitivity itself that leads to the bullying. It’s because of the dismally low self esteem that tends to go along with being an HSP, especially if we were raised by narcissists. Sadly, for such victimized children, they often find more of the same at school and this only exacerbates their already low self esteem, leaving them open to further abuse.

Narcissists envy and fear high sensitivity.

narcissist_face

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.

narc_repellent

I was thinking about a woman I used to know named Sharon.  She was an empathetic 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?

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.

scare_narcs

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.

dancing

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.

23 signs you’re secretly a narcissist masquerading as a “sensitive introvert”

covert_narcissism

Ruji posted a link to this article from Scientific American and I thought it was so interesting it deserves a blog post of its own. (It’s also quite funny.)

Ever known anyone like this? Of course you have. He’s the nerdy bookworm you know who always talks (proudly) about what an introvert, INFP, or HSP he is, but always changes the subject when you have a problem you want to talk about or is suddenly “too busy” when you need help moving.

She’s your long-suffering, martyred mother who constantly whines about how much she does for you and how unappreciated she is.

She’s your quiet coworker who cries at the drop of a hat but complains loudly when others are given credit, rewards or praise and she isn’t.

He’s the sensitive songwriting hipster who writes confessional ballads about heartbreak and rejection but treats his girlfriend like a piece of furniture or sometimes a punching bag.

All narcissists are highly sensitive about themselves and cannot tolerate criticism, rejection, or being ignored. They are all very easily hurt and cannot laugh at themselves. But all narcissists–whether covert or grandiose/aggressive (the more traditional type recognized by the DSM)–lack empathy, which means they are highly insensitive to the needs of anyone else. The difference between an grandiose/aggressive (traditional) narcissist and a covert one is a matter of, well, grandiosity and aggressive behavior. An aggressive or grandiose narcissist believes they are special, unique, better than everyone else and demand to be treated as such (and will rage and attack if they are not), while a covert narcissist believes they are beneath contempt and expect everyone to give their problems #1 priority (and are more likely to sulk and whine than overtly attack). But make no mistake–both types of narcissists are emotional vampires because both think they are the most important human beings on the planet and manipulate and abuse others to get what they want, even though one advertises their emotional vulnerability and low self-esteem and the other masks it behind a facade of stoic invulnerability. Covert narcissism has been referred to elsewhere as “vulnerable narcissism.”

Reading this, a question formed in my mind. The items on the test for covert narcissism seem suspiciously similar to many of the characteristics of BPD (except for the introversion, but borderlines can be introverted too). In reading about covert narcissism and BPD in general, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference. Covert narcissism is not recognized as a disorder by the DSM but BPD is. Are covert narcissism and BPD the same thing? I seem to have a lot of these traits. Guess I’ll have to take the test at the end of this article.

23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert.
By Scott Barry Kaufman

If I see one more listicle about introversion, I’m going to cry.

It started out with the fairly reasonable “31 Unmistakable Signs That You’re An Introvert.” Sure, many of the items on the list offered an exaggerated version of introversion, but there were some real gems that had a large grain of truth. Like this one:

covert_narcissist

But then this happened:

22 Signs Your Dog’s An Introvert

“He often wears headphones with no music playing, in the hopes no one will try and talk to him.”

You’d think that’d be enough for a lifetime of listicles. But no… they kept coming, mixing together many different traits under the general umbrella “introversion.” For instance, some lists include shyness-related behaviors, but it’s well documented that shyness is not the same thing as introversion. Shyness is more related to being anxious and neurotic. There are plenty of introverts who prefer alone time but really aren’t anxious or shy when interacting with other people.

Another common misconception perpetuated by these listicles is that introversion and sensory processing sensitivity are the same thing. From “23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert”:

“While extroverts tend to get bored easily when they don’t have enough to do, introverts have the opposite problem — they get easily distracted and overwhelmed in environments with an excess of stimulation.”

Actually, sensory processing sensitivity is not the same thing as introversion. There are plenty of socially introverted folks who can deal with loud sounds and bright lights, even though they may get emotionally drained from too many superficial social interactions. Vice versa, there are plenty of socially extroverted individuals who get overstimulated by sensory input. A number of studies support that idea that sensory processing sensitivity is much more strongly linked to anxiety (neuroticism) and openness to experience than introversion.

But when I saw this listicle, I just about flipped my lid:

7 Signs Kanye West Is Secretly An Introvert

Really? Let’s clarify something here: Narcissism is definitely not the same thing as introversion.

Have you ever met someone who constantly tells you how “sensitive” and “introverted” they are, but all you actually see is selfishness and egocentricity? I’m sure you have, because these people exist in spades.

When most people think of narcissism, they think of the public face of narcissism: extroversion, aggression, self-assuredness, grandiosity, vanity, and the need to be admired by others (see “How to Spot a Narcissist”). But as far back as 1938, Harvard psychologist Henry Murray noticed another breed of narcissist among his undergraduates: the covert narcissist. While the “overt” narcissists tended to be aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and have extreme delusions of grandeur and a need for attention, “covert” narcissists were more prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, hypersensitivity, anxiety, and delusions of persecution.

In the 90s, psychologist Paul Wink analyzed a variety of narcissism scales and confirmed that there are indeed two distinct faces of narcissism, which they labeled “Grandiosity-Exhibitonism” and “Vulnerability-Sensitivity”. He found that both shades of narcissism shared a common core of conceit, arrogance, and the tendency to give in to one’s own needs and disregard others. But that’s where the similarities ended.

While Grandiosity-Exhibitionism was associated with extraversion, aggressiveness, self-assuredness, and the need to be admired by others, Vulnerability-Sensitivity was associated with introversion, hypersensitivity, defensiveness, anxiety, and vulnerability. Further research by Jonathan Cheek and Jennifer Odessa Grimes at Wellesley College found a moderate correlation between covert narcissism and the Highly Sensitive Person Scale developed by Elaine Aron.

In other words, while introversion, sensitivity, and narcissism are all partially separate traits, hypersensitive covert narcissists are more likely to report that they are introverted and sensitive.

Are You a Covert Narcissist?

By this point, you’re probably wondering if you’re secretly a hypersensitive covert narcissist masquerading as a sensitive introvert. Without further ado, here are 23 items that will allow you to gain greater insight into your personality. In a recent study conducted on a group of 420 undergraduates, Jonathan Cheek and colleagues found that higher scorers on this “Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale” tended to also score higher on tests of entitlement, shame, and neuroticism, and tended to display lower levels of self esteem, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. In contrast, maladaptive overt narcissism wasn’t related to shame, self esteem, or neuroticism, even though overt narcissists reported feeling just as entitled as covert narcissists. It seems if you have to be a narcissist, it’s better to be an overt narcissist than a covert narcissist!

So here’s the test. Be honest with yourself!

Take the test and read the rest of the article here:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/23-signs-youe28099re-secretly-a-narcissist-masquerading-as-a-sensitive-introvert/

So tired of always feeling on the defensive.

Judge-Less1

Sigh.

Maybe I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started blogging publicly. Someone who used to be active here but disagreed with me about several points is calling me out on their blog again. This person is obviously still reading this blog, because if they weren’t they wouldn’t have known about my “psychopath” post the other day.

This person once again completely misunderstood what I was trying to say (which I ranted about earlier today and will not rehash again) and assumed things about me that are not true. Worse yet, this person has proven to be incredibly judgmental of me, and appears to be using me and this blog as target practice. If they hate this blog so much, why not simply ignore it? Just stop reading it! Wouldn’t that make their life–and mine–easier? But no, things just don’t work that way. People are so quick to judge someone else based on nothing. Some people just like to act like assholes.

But that isn’t really the problem. The problem is me. As a blogger, having critics and haters is inevitable. Even if I was writing about something as benign as cake decorating, someone would have a problem with it. Maybe someone is diabetic and can’t eat sugar, and my posting cake recipes that use sugar could be taken as discrimination against diabetics. If I wrote about flower arranging, someone might think it’s wrong to kill plants for ornamental purposes and attack me for it.

I write about narcissism. Narcissism by nature is a controversial topic. It’s not a pretty topic. It’s a topic that is very triggering to many people, and there are many different theories about it. It’s not an exact science either, so it can’t be backed up with “facts,” only theories. Nothing anyone ever said about narcissism is a fact. All of it is theory, conjecture, and opinion.

I have my own opinions and theories. Sometimes people agree with them and sometimes they don’t. Whenever you have a theory about something, people might misunderstand it or they might disagree with you. When I decided to blog about narcissism, I didn’t realize how emotionally strong I had to be. I didn’t think about the fact there would be those who would judge me based on an opinion, or project bad intentions onto me because they didn’t understand something I was trying to say.

defensiveness-judy-nelson1

All my life I’ve tried too hard to people-please, due to the way I was raised. I wasn’t allowed to have my own thoughts and feelings or to speak up for myself. So when I’m unfairly attacked, I feel very hurt and go on the defensive. In a real life situation, when I’m attacked, I’m likely to clam up and say nothing (but I seethe inside). Online, I feel more comfortable speaking up for myself, but I try not to make waves or be confrontational. But why not? Why do I feel like I have to make peace with everyone? Why do I feel like everyone has to like me? That’s unrealistic and childish. Some people just cannot be pleased. Some people are not going to like you, and it’s pointless trying to get them to. Blogging means you are going to have haters and critics. It means some people will judge you unfairly and make unkind remarks. It takes a bold person to write a blog about dark and controversial subject matter and an even bolder one to not allow negative remarks or blog posts by others to ruin their day.

Being an HSP I take everything to heart. I let destructive criticism bother me too much. My skin is too thin and I brood when someone says something unkind about me or something I wrote. I hate being misunderstood and I hate being judged. Being judged unfairly is very triggering for me. But it happens. It will continue to happen, because that’s what happens when you have a public blog. I need to stop feeling like I’m on the defensive all the time and like I have to apologize for my existence. I am not a bad or stupid person just because someone else says (or implies) I am.

So from now on, as hard as it is for me to do this, I am going to stop reading destructive criticism on other sites. I know it’s out there but I’m just not going to look at it. Because when I do look at it, it inhibits me and turns me back into a fearful child terrified of my mother’s wagging disapproving finger. I know I have far more friends and supporters than enemies and detractors. Unfortunately I focus too much on the detractors. There isn’t much I can do about them. If they have decided to hate, they are going to find something to hate no matter what. So I need to simply ignore them because they don’t matter, and focus on my supporters instead.

It’s just a matter of seeing the glass a three-quarters full instead of one quarter empty. Focusing on and ruminating about the few haters I have is just stupid. Going to their sites to look when I know there are unkind remarks there is just going out of my way to be hurt and that’s incredibly stupid. Why is it so hard to resist doing it though?

“How Highly Sensitive People Interact with the World Differently”

I saw this article about HSPs on Huffington Post today and wanted to share it on this blog.

How Highly Sensitive People Interact With The World Differently
The Huffington Post | By Lindsay Holmes

hsps
Photo: ballyscanlon via Getty Images

Highly sensitive people have been labeled a lot of ways in the past, like fragile, over-emotional and intense. But there’s more to a highly sensitive person than just excess crying and a whole ton of feelings.

Those with an empathetic personality are actually biologically wired to behave the way that they do. As a result, they also have an entirely different approach to to their physical environment — and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Below are just a few ways highly sensitive people interact differently with the world around them than their “thick-skinned” counterparts.

They’re easily overstimulated by their surroundings.
Loud noises, big decisions and large crowds don’t bode well for HSPs without a little downtime to balance them out. This is because they have a very active emotional response, according to Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person and one of the original scientific researchers of the personality trait.

“The reason this happens is because they’re processing everything around them so thoroughly,” Aron told The Huffington Post. HSPs process their surroundings or life events based on emotions. In other words, the more overwhelming their circumstances get, the more deeply they feel.

They pick up on the subtleties in a room.
Did you rearrange your living room? Did your spouse make you upset at a dinner party? Sensitive folks can sense many subtle shifts, whether they’re tangible items or emotional moods, Aron says. “There’s just this intuition they have about their environment that other people generally aren’t aware of,” she explained.

That intuition also guides them in their own relationships as well. HSPs notice different attitudes that may not be picked up on by other people. So if you’re using different language or texting more abrasively than normal (think periods instead of exclamation points), chances are a HSP is going to take note.

They’re more emotional in their relationships.
HSPs crave deep connections. According to Aron’s research, sensitive people tend to get more bored in marriages than non-HSP couples, mostly due to the lack of meaningful interaction that naturally occurs as time goes on. However, this isn’t necessarily bad news. Aron says that the lack of meaning doesn’t mean an HSP is going to abandon ship — it’s only going to motivate them to have more stimulating conversations.

The key to a successful relationship for an HSP is communicating what they want out of a relationship and finding a partner that understands their emotions are part of their nature. “Sensitive people can’t help but expressing what they’re feeling,” she said. “They show their anger, they show their happiness. Appreciating that is really important.”

Sometimes they prefer to fly solo.
HSPs function best when they’re in quieter environments — particularly in the workplace, according to Aron. “Open office plans aren’t productive for them in most cases,” she says. This preference to operate alone may even go for leisure activities outside of the office. HSPs may also avoid group sports or physical activities because they feel like their every move is scrutinized, Ted Zeff, a researcher and author of several books on highly sensitive personality traits, previously told HuffPost.

They might be more sensitive to caffeine or alcohol.
This certainly isn’t always the case, but Aron says on average HSPs may have more of a sensitivity to stimulants like caffeine or substances like alcohol, based on self-tests she’s conducted for her research. HSPs are also more easily bothered by hunger, she said.

They get anxious around conflict.
Conflict is a tough road to navigate for HSPs, according to Aron. They have two approaches to dealing with it, and those ideas are often at war with each other. “Sensitive people get torn between speaking up for what they feel is right or sitting back because they don’t want a violent type of reaction [from others],” Aron said. “They’re very sensitive to environments where they’re being judged for their sensitivity or for anything else.”

On the other hand, HSPs have a way of managing disagreements in a rational way. Because of their high levels of empathy, sensitive folks can often put themselves in the other person’s position and see their side of the argument, Aron explained.

When it comes down to it, Aron says the key for sensitive people is to embrace their personality trait rather than work against it. “Highly sensitive people make excellent leaders, friends and partners,” she said. In other words? Keep on experiencing those emotions, HSPs — even if they do make you cry.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/09/highly-sensitive-person-behaviors_n_7543140.html?ncid=edlinkushpmg00000039

“The Sensitive Gene: Why Some People Are Born To Feel Emotions Harder”

The Sensitive Gene: Why Some People Are Born to Feel Emotions Harder
By Alexia LaFata for Elite Daily: http://elitedaily.com

teary_eye

Scientists have long debated what exactly makes us who we are. Are our qualities more influenced by our social environment, or are we naturally inclined to be a certain way? Or — to complicate things even further — does our environment affect the way these natural tendencies display themselves?

Well, when it comes to the reasons why we do the things we do, the most complicated answer is usually the correct one.

In recent decades, the government has spent billions of dollars on gene research with the goal of trying to explain how the genes we were born with express themselves in our everyday lives.

Psychologists are optimistic — though cautiously — these advancements in gene research will help us understand ourselves better.

We haven’t even scratched the surface of the full potential of genetic research, but what we have seen so far looks promising.

One human quality that genetics has attempted to help explain is sensitivity. People who are highly sensitive tend to respond more emotionally to their environments.

They are more inclined to cry during sad movies, jump to use social media to share something that moved them and feel heightened levels of sympathy for poor people and their friends who just got dumped.

Most notably, they are also more inclined to have a negative attention bias, which means they focus more on the negative things in their environment than the positive things.

This bias causes sensitive people great anxiety, especially if the environment they’re responding to is new.

Where do these traits come from? Why are some people more likely than others to respond more powerfully to their environment? In other words, why are some people so damn sensitive?

If this sounds like you, fear not: It turns out the answers to those questions do, indeed, have something to do with the way you were born.

Researchers from the University of California, Monmouth University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that being sensitive is an innate trait that’s identifiable by physiological reactions, patterns of brain behavior and genes.

In their study, 18 participants viewed photos of either frowning or smiling faces. The researchers then scanned the participants’ brain activity while they looked at the photos to assess how emotional their responses were.

They found that people, who were considered to have sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) had greater blood flow to areas of the brain involved with emotion, awareness and empathy — indicating physical evidence of the presence of the sensitivity trait. This occurred regardless of whether they were looking at the sad or happy photo.

Another 2012 study examined biological proof of sensitivity even further. In the study, researchers Rachael Grazioplene, Colin DeYoung, Fred Rogosch and Dante Cicchetti studied the cholinergic system, a system in our bodies that determines how we respond to new environments and how sensitive we are to stimuli.

The cholinergic system becomes activated when we experience “expected uncertainty,” which happens when we’re placed in situations where we predict we will learn something new.

For example, when you were a freshman in college, you probably knew you’d be confronted with new experiences.

You experienced those feelings of “expected uncertainty” — of not knowing who your friends would be, what you wanted to major in, what clubs you wanted to join, how you would handle living away from home and so on.

Some of your peers might have perceived those new experiences as anxiety-inducing, meaning they would have proceeded with caution. Others might have seen them as intriguing, causing them to have been more inclined to explore.

sensitive_jason

The way both of these groups of people responded to those new environments was influenced by genetic variants in their cholinergic systems.

In her study, Grazioplene and her colleagues studied variations in the CHRNA4 gene, a key cholinergic receptor and determinant of whether you see the aforementioned kinds of “expected uncertainty” as threatening or exciting.

It wouldn’t be enough to say this genetic variant was the sole determinant, though, so the study also examined how, in conjunction with the variation in the CHRNA4 gene, an individual’s upbringing and social environment affected how he or she perceived uncertainty.

To study the functions of this variation, the researchers set up a week-long camp for 614 children, ages 8 through 13, all of whom came from the same socioeconomic background, but had different upbringings: Half of the children had an upbringing in which they had been maltreated with neglect or emotional, sexual or physical abuse, and the other half had an upbringing in which they had not been maltreated.

The children with the genetic variation who grew up in an abusive environment were more likely to perceive the new camp environment as threatening, and the children with the same genetic variation who had grown up in a normal environment were more likely to perceive the new environment as intriguing. Even more interestingly, these results were true regardless of age, sex or race.

Now, what does this mean? It means that, yes, there is certainly a genetic variant that makes you more inclined to be anxious or curious in new environments, but your upbringing and social environment play a role in determining which one of those two it will be.

And while this specific genetic variant is rare — only one percent of the population actually have it — it gives valuable insight into the way psychologists and scientists study behavioral patterns in relation to both genetics and environment.

So, if you’ve sobbed during “The Notebook,” impulsively shared a video on Facebook of a kitten rolling around in a patch of grass that made you tear up or found yourself crying with your best friend when her boyfriend dumped her, take comfort in the fact that you were probably born this way — feels and all.

Alexia LaFata is a Writer covering culture and lifestyle for Elite Daily. She’s a proud New Jersey native and soon-to-be Boston College graduate, and her work is featured on Thought Catalog and VentureBeat. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.
alexia_lafata