Ok, this week it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. It won’t be too bad though, I promise!
Guilt as it relates to people with the trait of high sensitivity is a new topic for me; something that I have only really begun to explore over the past few months. I have had a few HSPs mention their various feelings of guilt to me in the past… Some have explained a certain scenario in their life where they have felt significant, debilitating guilt, and others have told me they feel very guilty about choices they make on a regular basis.
Guilt is not a fun emotion to feel, so people (both HSPs and non-HSPs alike) try and avoid it at all costs. I also believe that much too often, we are feeling guilt for the wrong reasons.
Elaine Aron, Author of The Highly Sensitive Person, believes that HSPs are more prone to feeling guilty than the average person.
I do agree with her.
Very often, HSPs have a sense of over-responsibility when it comes to ensuring that other people are pleased and happy. Because HSPs are highly empathetic, this sense of over-responsibility and need to over-achieve is almost like a protective mechanism.
Why? Because we HSPs feel the disappointment and pain of others SO deeply that even though the feelings are not our own, we internalize them, creating the aftermath emotions of guilt or shame when we know that our actions or choices have disappointed others.
In the same way, HSPs feel disappointment in themselves more deeply, and so the cycle continues.
Unfortunately, this is a very difficult part of being sensitive and empathetic, and I feel so much for those who take on guilt that stems from all these feelings. I empathize with you, and I want to help you – I want to lessen that burden.
Your triggers for guilt and shame may also root back to childhood. As I have explained in other posts, HSPs who have had difficult childhoods were probably extremely affected by them, more so than the average person. It’s possible that as a child you may have blamed yourself for “being too sensitive” (and maybe you still do), or “crying too much” or for your parents’ fights or stress. These feelings of guilt can live on.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios that may provoke feelings of guilt for an HSP more closely…
I think that if we strip these situations down and analyze the triggers for why we may feel guilty, we will see that feelings of guilt are surfacing for the wrong reasons.
We may feel guilt about…
Making a mistake at work and causing a delay.
Sure, it is natural to feel bad about this, but don’t torture yourself over it. HSPs are usually very hard workers, and mistakes happen. It may not be entirely due to your actions, either. Don’t be so quick to blame yourself. If your boss becomes upset with you, remember – you don’t make mistakes often, and your boss will probably be over it before you are. So don’t worry your head all weekend about it. Let it go, the mistake is in the past and now out of your control.
Don’t beat yourself up. Free yourself of the bad feelings!
Missing a friend’s party after a long, busy week because you need downtime.
In this scenario, HSPs might start to feel guilty about even considering missing the party. What’s worse, these feelings of guilt might even be scaring you into going. But think about this logically – you won’t be seriously harming anyone by not going, and you will be improving your well being if you choose not to go, because you will be doing whats best for you.
And, I bet that once you make the decision not to go and let your friend know with a sincere explanation, your feelings of guilt will subside.
There is no shame in that!
As a way to combat feelings of guilt in these situations, try and set your emotions aside for a second, and ask yourself…
“If I don’t go to the party, will I be seriously wronging anyone?”
“Did I make a mistake on purpose to cause harm at work?”
“Will I be going against my own set of values if I make this decision?”
“If I don’t do this will I be committing a crime?”
“Did I consciously do something to harm something or someone?”
If your answers to these questions are “no,” then you are doing nothing wrong, and there is no need for guilt.
You can ask yourself these logical questions in any scenario that you may be feeling guilty about. This is a great way to check in with yourself, and expel any unnecessary guilt.
Through my work and writing to you, I not only want to empower HSPs to understand the gifts and talents they posses with their trait; I also want to help them work through anything that may be shielding their light so they can shine brighter than ever. Thank you for reading this week. ❤
Until next time,
XO, your fellow HSP, Chelsie