3 Reasons Why Introverts & HSPs End Up On The Wrong Path In Life
Why, oh why?
How did I land here?
How did I land in the middle of a life that is SO. NOT. ME.?
What is wrong with me?
How could one person make SO many wonky choices?
I used to beat myself up with these questions over and over and over again. Endlessly.
My life just didn’t feel right. There was nothing too obvious that anyone could point their finger at – all seemed fine on the surface – but the lead actor in this movie called Life just wasn’t getting into character. At all.
And that’s because I was the wrong actor for that particular movie. I was Anne of Green Gables trying to make it in Devil Wears Prada. I was twisting myself up this way and that, trying to fit the square me through a round hole, and I was really angry at myself for putting myself in that position.
But I don’t beat myself up like that anymore.
Because now I understand exactly why it is that I ended up on the wrong path in life.
It wasn’t my fault. I just didn’t have the guidance I needed. There was nobody around to help me understand my authentic self or help me create a more suitable life for myself.
And I also know that I’m not alone. Far from it. LOTS of introverts and highly sensitive people end up taking the wrong path in life just like I did.
Here are three reasons why.
3 Reasons Why Introverts And Highly Sensitive People End Up On The Wrong Path In Life
#1 All The Subtle And Not-So-Subtle Messages About The Way A Human Being Should Be
From the time you are a child, every which way you turn, you are exposed to messages about how people should be. What we should all aim for.
The lucky ones only get the subtle messages:
- Look at little Johnny! He’s so friendly and outgoing!
The less lucky ones get it loud and clear:
- Why don’t you talk more?
- Just come on and have fun like everyone else!
- Quit being so sensitive!
- What is wrong with you?
So you learn that it’s best to talk even when you have nothing to say, join in on the “fun”, and do your best to hide your sensitivities.
And for some of us, the cultural pressure to blend in is exacerbated by the fact that…
#2 HSPs Tend To Be High On Empathy
One of the hallmarks of high sensitivity is high levels of empathy. High empathy, in turn, allows highly sensitive people to be keenly in tune with the feelings and needs of everyone around them.
In the right circumstances, this is a gift, but in less than ideal circumstances, it can lead HSPs toward the wrong path.
First, when you combine high empathy with poor personal boundaries, HSPs can get confused between their own and other people’s feelings. They might start absorbing other people’s preferences and opinions, as if they were their own.
Second, when you are a caring person who is keenly aware of other people’s needs, your first instinct is to try to meet those needs. Whether you are the best person to meet them or not.
So you end up with this:
- What do people around me need? I will give them whatever they ask for. I will take on whatever role they need me to take.
Instead of this:
- What am I best suited to give? What is the best way for me to contribute? I will take good care of myself, so that I can serve those people who I am best suited to help.
#3 HSPs And Introverts Have Unique Needs That Nobody Tells You About
Highly sensitive people are physically different from the majority of the population in that their nervous systems are more easily stimulated and their stress response more easily triggered. This means that HSPs have a lower stress threshold than non-HSPs. A lifestyle with just the right amount of activity and stimulation for a non-HSP can leave an HSP chronically stressed out with potentially severe mental and physical health consequences.
Similarly, introverts are born different from extraverts. And one of the key differences has to do with the types of activities we find engaging and energizing. While extraverts are energized by interacting with the world, introverts put their brains in flow via solitary endeavors. And you know what happens when you rarely or never have the opportunity to do what feels best to you? You get depressed. That’s what happens.
Now, did anybody tell you this stuff in high school? When you were choosing a career? When you were deciding where to live? When you were thinking about having a family? When you went to the doctor with chronic health complaints?
Yeah, me neither.
The Good News
Okay, so the first part of this post was a total downer, right? But dontya worry, cause I’m gonna end this shindig on a positive note. There ARE good news.
The good news is that you are not a prisoner of your wrong path.
Granted, it might sometimes feel like you are.
There might be obstacles that stand between you and the right path.
And you might not even know what your right path looks like, which obviously makes it harder to get to.
But I’m here to tell you that you CAN create a vision for your right path.
And you CAN overcome those obstacles.
And you CAN change your life.