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PHQ | QUESTIONS FROM COMMUNITY: In this episode Joel and Antonia answer a question about the personality of the Highly Sensitive Person.


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Showing 10 comments
  • O

    I’m highly sensitive to both environmental stimuli and emotional stimuli. I never realized that this is a “thing,” and it’s exciting that there could be a correlation with my Myers-Briggs type.

    Emotional – Sometimes when I’m taking the subway to work in the morning, I have to get up and move to a different seat, because the person next to me is radiating some sort of agitation or just seems like they’re off-centre in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on. If I stay and continue sitting next to them, I can feel my energy starting to drain and my body starting to get worked up. I try to remind myself that I might just be imagining what this other person is feeling, but sometimes it’s just easier to get up and sit somewhere else. That’s just a tiny example. All day long, I feel deeply affected by the people around me: any people, even if we’re not interacting directly. I wouldn’t say that I can accurately pinpoint what it is that they’re emanating and put a name to it (I don’t consider myself an empath in that sense), just that I can feel it acutely and it can very easily overwhelm me. I consider this to be a negative quality that impacts me whether I like it or not, rather than something that I can use to understand people better.

    Sensory – This too, but not to the same extent as emotions. When I was younger, my mother took great pains to make sure that I could study in an environment that was free of sound, movement, etc. because she knew that even the smallest thing would throw me off and I’d stop focusing. Right now, I work in a place where there is a constant stream of people passing by the front of my desk, and that alone is enough to agitate me. In times where I’ve had a little more privacy, I’ve had people step into my workspace and ask, “Why are you sitting in silence/in the dark? That seems miserable!” I used to think that I’m just not adept at creating a pleasurable atmosphere in my physical environment, but after listening to your podcasts, I have to wonder if I choose to do this because it’s actually serving my cognitive preference.

  • Jasnah Knolin

    This was interesting to me since I’m an INTJ HSP. It’s usually just type 1, and it fluctuates in intensity (I’ve nicknamed the most intense days of sensitivity Se days, because those are the days when I’m just too aware of my environment and I hate it so much. If you’ve never experienced it, it must be really difficult to understand–you notice that you hand is touching you other hand and it feels awful, and the fabric of your shirt is touching your arm and it’s extremely uncomfortable, and there is hair growing out of your head and there’s nothing you can do to get it all out of your head, and all the noises are too loud, and all the light is too bright, and your voice vibrating in your ears causes actual physical pain, and if another person happens to touch you it feels like a brand sinking five inches into your skin. But anyway, I digress). However, on rare days (or with people I really care about) it ventures into type 2. I can feel the emotions of the people in the room rolling off of them, like when you’re standing next to a cold window in winter and the coldness pours off the window onto you. This can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing, but it happens rarely. However, recently an even stranger thing happened to me, and if you have an explanation for this, please tell me, because I haven’t been able to explain it in the three weeks since it happened. I was in a meeting one morning, and the ESTJ group leader (who has a tendency toward Te-Ne loops) was going off on a tangent about something. So, since I saw that it was almost time to leave, I started packing up and thinking about the next thing on my to-do list. Suddenly, my inner monologue was interrupted by this new strand of thoughts, accompanied by a strong, all-consuming feeling of rage and hatred directed toward the ESTJ leader. This rage in itself puzzled me, because I have no particular strong feelings regarding the ESTJ, but the new monologue was even more confusing. One moment I had been completely chill, but the next I was raging against the ESTJ for not being able to stay on topic and do their freaking job. And since I have Perspectives, it was all “WHAT is tHIS, these are not my thoughts, these are not my emotions, WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM?” Because it really was an annoyed stream of thoughts accompanied by that fury, and I knew that wasn’t me. It certainly felt like it at first, though… anyway, I took a quick glance around the room and then it clicked: I was feeling the emotions of a different ESTJ in the room. This sounds fake but it literally felt like her mind was inside my mind. But the thing is I have no idea how it happened. I normally need to be concentrating very hard to feel someone’s emotions, but I wasn’t even thinking about this ESTJ at the time. I normally need to deeply care about someone before I can feel their emotions, but I don’t care about this ESTJ at all, which sounds callous, but I’m an INTJ, and sometimes my Te is too lazy to un-callous-ify my statements. Anyway, I managed to get her head out of my head by concentrating really hard on my own emotions. Then, later that day, I was in a building that was on lockdown for a tornado warning, and there was a panicking ESFJ. Now, i was sure that some of her fear was real, but it seemed that most of it was just her being a drama queen. So, I turned around to read a book and block out the overstimulating noise in the room. My Ni wasn’t actually worried about the tornado in the least–I knew for a fact that none of us was going to die. I was actually glad, in a twisted kind of way, because it meant I would have extra reading time. Then…guess what, the crazy emotions thing happened again. Yep. I was hit with a sudden wave of intense emotions, an awful overload of nervousness like I have never experienced before. I had this odd feeling in my eyes, and I remember thinking, “Oh dang, I’m going to cry in two or three minutes.” Then through the intense waves of fear I thought, “Wait a second, I don’t cry. Why am I scared about this anyway? Just a minute ago I was–OH NO ITS HAPPENING AGAIN!” But the fear was really frighteningly intense, and I knew for a fact that the owner of it was 100% going to cry in two or three minutes. All this went through my mind in about half a second, and in the next half second I’d deduced that it was probably the ESFJ. A quick look behind me confirmed that it was her. And yes, she did cry two minutes and forty-eight seconds later.
    So those two weird incidents happened to me, and I have no rational explanation for them. Can anyone help explain this? I usually don’t feel others’ emotions in this way, ever. I’ve never confused someone else’s emotion for my own before, especially without looking at them.

  • Jacqui Baxter

    I’m an INTJ and I am an HSP “Type 1” and “Type 2”. The emotional sensitivity is often almost subconscious for me. I would get physically ill or have a sudden mood change when I entered a room or space with certain people.
    I only after many years realized that I was picking up on the emotions (especially negative emotions of others).
    Example: If someone else had chronic pain issues, while with them I would experience all the symptoms of pain except that pain. Stomachache, dizziness, sweating, etc.

  • Kait

    All of these, yes.

    ENFP here, who is definitely an HSP of both types. I am terribly sensitive to light, to sounds, and to everyone else’s good or bad day (I think of it as the emotional weather that floats around them).

    It’s…a lot to handle.

  • Catlyn

    I’m an INTJ and I’ll gladly add my personal anecdote to support Antonia’s hypothesis that a 3 year old Sensation may predispose a person to environmental stimuli sensitivity. I laughed out loud at her Chili Peppers concert story.

    I have several similar stories — when I was younger I was a competitive swimmer. Larger meets could last 12+ hours. After an hour or so, I would HAVE TO curl up and take a nap somewhere, (often right in the bleachers!)because the cheering crowd noise, the start buzzer beeping, etc. would cloud my mind to such a degree that I could no longer think straight and I would lose track of time, forget my race number, misplace my equipment, and generally cease to function well.

    • Lucas

      Haha I laughed at that reference as well. As an INFJ, my inferior Se gets overwhelmed at the mall or in any environment where there’s a lot of noise or things happening at once. I mentally can’t process it all so I oddly enough find myself feeling very drowsy. My eyes get tired and I just want to shut down. When I was younger I use to wear ear plugs and sunglasses when I went out. Now I’m somewhat better adjusted because I know my boundaries. I’ve really had to work at being aware of my needs. Like, I can’t be out walking, shopping, and generally being contstantly physically active for hours on end. I use to get tired at track meets as well, like you said, too many people and noises. Nothing is better than complete silence and a calm environment. Lol

  • Amy

    I’m an INFJ, and I recently read Elaine Aaron’s book. One of the most helpful things I learned from it is being aware of my arousal level, and knowing what events trigger over-arousal. I’ve learned that I need to take a walk or hot bath, read a book, or do yoga after doing something that is stimulating (on either a sensory or emotional level). During the last couple of years prior to reading the book, I chronically overscheduled myself, and put myself into many situations where I had no alone time for weeks in a row. I ended up having insomnia on and off for the last year along with a B12 deficiency. The book made me realize that I can’t ignore my own needs.

    In that realm, I’ve also recently realized that I am somewhat of a people pleaser. My mom and brother who are both ISFJs and HSPs are also people pleasers. I have difficulty setting healthy boundries and not overextending myself, and I also try to avoid conflict completely. When conflict is unavoidable, I usually question my behavior almost obsessively after, worrying that I behaved inappropriately. I’ve enjoyed hearing and reading some of your other content related to better developing the harmony function. Are there any books or reading materials you could recommend for this?

    Great podcasts, by the way!

  • Emma

    Apparently INFPs are the most introverted introverts so this could have something to do with it… because we spend so much time in our inner fantasy worlds, the outer world and all it’s noise, brashness and activity can be especially jolting and hurtful

  • Emma

    I’m curious as to why being ‘sensitive to criticism’ wouldn’t fall under the HSP umbrella. I think your interpretation of HSP 2 is a bit more Fe-oriented… dom-Fi users, for instance, don’t CHOOSE to get hurt by personal comments, but we’re so skinless when it comes to the world affecting our emotions, that we can’t help but be hurt more easily when it comes to things that relate to the self.

    i imagine this might be an annoying process for someone who isn’t dom-Fi, but I assure you that it’s a very real kind of sensitivity. I have consistently seen every type call INFPs out for being ‘sooo sensitive,’ as if markedly moreso than other people and am wondering how this fits. Maybe it’s a more selfish, unrelatable sensitivity but I think it’s very much there, and not just a development issue (although more underdeveloped people will have it in a more extreme, untenable way).

    Maybe I’m not explaining this the right way, but I guess I’m just wondering if you can help me understand why so many people of every type consistently (even INFJs) will call INFP the most sensitive. I have seen this consistently in various MBTI communities and IRL

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