Ich glaube ich bin ein High Sensitive Extrovert

Ich bin 45 Jahre alt und trotz meiner doch schon längeren Erfahrung mit mir im Leben gibt es viele scheinbar widersprüchliche Bedürfnisse, die ich nicht einordnen kan. Das Bedürfnis, nach sozialen Kontakten und die gleichzeitige hohe Anstrengung, die ich dabei empfinde. Das Gefühl sehr schnell überfordert zu sein, wenn zu viel gleichzeitig passiert verbunden mit dem große Interesse an der Welt, der Lust auf Neues, ständigem Bedürfnis nach Stimulation wie Reisen und interessanten menschliche Begegnungen. Das ganze gepaart mit einer relativ hohen Risikoaversion und wenig Lust, mich körperlich sehr zu verausgaben.

Bei Seminaren bin ich die erste, die im Bett ist und das Hotelfrühstück nehme ich lieber im Zimmer als mit den Kollegen ein. Zu viel soziale Kontakte erschöpfen mich, nach 2 Tagen bei einem Workshop oder Konferenz brauche ich wieder 2 Tage um mich zu erholen. Ich war schon als Kind und Jugendliche oft schnell ermüdet, wollte immer eher früher nach Hause als später und bin sogar in Nachtclubs eingeschlafen.

In meiner Kindheit wurde mir deutlich, dass ich Dinge anders wahrnahm, sehr schnell traurig wurde und mir das Leid anderer Menschen sehr zu Herzen nahm. Als ich “das Mädchen mit den Streichhölzern” las, brach ich komplett in Tränen aus und war untröstlich. Das brachte mir den Ruf ein, sehr “angerührt” zu sein, heute würde ich sagen “berührt”. Ich nahm Kritik und Abwertungen sehr ernst und war und bin sehr verletztlich.

Ich bin sehr empfindlich gegenüber Gerüchen, Lärm, Nebengeräuschen und bekomme schnell Migräne als Reaktion wenn mir alles zu viel wird. Viele Materialien empfinde ich als kratzig, ich dachte ich sei einfach nur “verwöhnt”.

Viele abwertende Attribute kamen mir nicht nur von Außen entegegen, ich empfand mich selbst als jemanden, der einfach weniger Energie hat, überempfindlich ist, vielleicht auch verwöhnt, weniger widerstandsfähig vielleicht, nicht so abgehärtet, weniger gut im Nehmen, sogar auch faul.

Nie im Leben wäre ich auf die Idee gekommen, dass es auch daran liegen könnte, dass ich Dinge anders wahrnehme, als andere Menschen, nämlich nicht nur im üblichen mentalen Bereich, sondern auch auf einer physischen Ebene. Ein einziges Mal kam mir der Gedanke, als mir ein Optiker sagte, dass ich Glück habe, dass ich 100% Sehkraft hätte, als besonders viele “Pixel” auf der Retina, sodass ich “HD” sehen könne und dass das bei weitem nicht alle Menschen haben. So merkte ich auch, dass ich einen sehr ausgeprägten Geruchssinn und Hörsinn habe und feine und auch unterschwellige Geräusche wahrnehmen kann. Das Brummen einer Klimaanlage oder der frühen Beamer kann mich halb wahnsinnig machen, nach Meetings in solchen Räumen bin ich komplett erledigt, weil ich extra viel Energie brauche um diese auszublenden und mich auf den Inhalt zu konzentrieren.

Trotzdem habe ich einen Job gewählt, der mich ständig neu fordert, indem ich mit sehr vielen unterschiedlichen Menschen, Situationen und Inhalten zu tun habe, gerade, weil ich die Stimulation auch brauche. Mir wird eben auch schnell langweilig, ich sitze nicht sehr gerne alleine zu Hause herum, außer, um mich zu erholen, nachzudenken und in Ruhe zu arbeiten.

Die Balance zwischen zu viel und zu wenig Stimulation ist nicht so einfach, vor allem, wenn man keine Routine und Regelmäßigkeit aushält.

Ich langweile mich bei Smalltalk und habe große Probleme mit wichtigtuerischen und unauthentischen Menschen. Ich werde immer wieder als arrogant bezeichnet, vielleicht, weil ich schnell das Interesse verliere und selber ein offenes Buch bin: man merkt mir sofort an, wie es mir geht, ob ich jemanden mag oder nicht. Ich habe nicht genug Energie, anderen etwas vorzumachen. Das hat viele Nachteile, ganz ehrlich.

Ich wusste auch, dass ich eine gewisse Feinfühligkeit und Empathiefähigkeit habe, ich kann mich sehr gut in Menschen und Situationen einfühlen und nachempfinden, wie es ihnen geht und was sie brauchen könnte. Eine Voraussetzung für die Arbeit als Beraterin und Coach. Die Fähigkeit zu tiefen Empfindungen ist schön, aber ich dachte, die haben alle, ich kann halt nur nicht so gut damit umgehen.. mich beschäftigen Probleme der Welt und anderer Leute lange Zeit, ich träume intensiv und sogar darüber denke ich dann noch nach. Manchmal bin ich erschöpft von allem. Umso erstaunter bin ich, dass andere Menschen vieles einfach wegstecken, weitermachen, die ganze Woche in Terminen stecken, am Abend ausgehen und am Wochenende noch ein volles Programm mit Familie und Freunden schaffen (wobei sie auch erschöpft sind). Ich würde das einfach nicht aushalten, deswegen schaut mein Leben auch anders aus: Phasen der Anstrengung und Phasen der Ruhe wechseln mittlerweile in wohltuender und balancierter Form ab.

Kürzlich jedenfalls stolperte ich über einen Artikel der besagte, dass HSP — High sensitive Persons — auch extrovertiert sein können. Ich las die Beschreibung der HSE -High Sensitive Extroverts — und war sprachlos. Das war, das bin ich, in allen Facetten, Problemen, Widersprüchen, Eigenarten, Bedürfnissen und Werten. Ich war unglaublich erleichtert, dass es da Menschen gab, die offensichtlich ein sehr ähnliches Erleben der Welt haben. Ich wusste das zwar, da ich mir Partner aussuchte, die ähnlich gestrickt sind wie ich, aber ich dachte wir sind eben die Sonderlinge, die ich zusammentun.

Interessant an der HSP Forschung ist, dass es nach dieser Theorie eine 80:20 Regel gibt: 80% der Bevölkerung empfindet relativ ähnlich und dann 20% der High Sensitive Persons ebenfalls: und der Unterschied ist nicht übergehend, oder normalverteilt, sondern es gibt es ist eine “diskrete” Stufe. Von den 20% HSP sind dann nochmal 30% extrovertiert, als insgesamt 6% der Bevölkerung. Evolutionstheoretisch ist die Erklärung dass es sinnvoll ist, dass ein Teil der Population feiner wahrnimmt als der Rest, da sie wie wichtige Sensoren agieren. Es wäre aber nicht gut, wenn alle so agieren würden, damit wäre eine Gesellschaft auch nicht überlebensfähig.

Ich weiß natürlich nicht, ob ich jetzt wirklich ein HSE bin, ich habe keinen Test gemacht und die Forschung dazu ist auch umstritten. Das ist aber gar nicht wichtig, wesentlich ist für mich, dass ich mich sehr erleichtert fühle und mir diese Erkenntnis hilft, mich selber besser zu verstehen und auch zu akzeptieren und zu schätzen.

Deswegen wollte ich diesen Artikel schreiben, denn vielleicht gibt es noch andere HSP oder HSE da draußen, denen es ähnlich geht wie mir.

dazu noch zwei Links, den zweiteren habe ich als Ganzes kopiert, weil er so treffend ist, viel besser, als ich es jemals beschreiben könnte.

https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/highly-sensitive-extrovert/

https://hsperson.com/introversion-extroversion-and-the-highly-sensitive-person/:

  • The highly sensitive extrovert (HSE) meets most if not all of the criteria Cain uses to describe the introvert in Quiet. We are contemplative, introspective, kind, gentle, empathetic, creative, visionary, intense, and perceptive. Many of us are social justice activists, teachers, humanitarians, poets, spiritual teachers or counselors, and prefer a less stimulating environment over a more “random” social one.
  • The HSE does need to go “inward.” It is in these quieter environments where we retreat for the deep, internal processing that comes naturally to being an HSP. This inward state is also where our spiritual life resides and where we rest and recharge from an often harried external world.
  • The HSE also needs to gain energy from the external world, because if we spend too much time in this inner world, we can become, lethargic, restless, unmotivated or even slightly depressed. It is then we know we need to get out of our inner world and seek “novel” stimulation which will inspire or energize us. Notice the word “novel” — our excursions in the outer world need to be novel, and chosen by us, based on our individual needs, or else the activity can become just as overstimulating for us as the introvert HSP. And even when we are out, very much enjoying ourselves, we can often return home overstimulated, physically tired, and in need of extra sleep or processing time.
  • The HSE is not the same as the ambivert. Why? Because ambiversion implies one can choose to go out, engage in social activities and enjoy themselves without the kind of over stimulation, deep processing, or awareness of subtleties that HSPs encounter. Ambiversion also does not take into account the other characteristics in the D.OE.S. acronym mentioned above.
  • When in more positive environments, as individually defined by the HSE, we can be highly responsive and our natural joy, curiosity and enthusiasm might be viewed as generally extroverted. Our highly sensitive enthusiasm can be contagious, yet if we are not careful, we can become easily overstimulated, and may overstimulate others as well. In more negative environments, the HSE can appear to be introverted. We can also become quiet, reserved or withdrawn. A further explanation of this can be found in the “differential susceptibility” work of Belsky & Pluess (2009.)
  • Unlike the introvert, the HSE looks forward to creating meaningful time out in the world, and are often catalysts for others to join in our unique adventures. However, we can grow tired, and depleted of energy, being the only one to initiate activities with our more introverted companions.
  • Because of our tendency toward overstimulation, it is not unusual for the HSE to leave an event early. Even when enjoying an activity, we can often return home feeling “wired and tired” because the very chosen activity that energized us, can also make us tired and in need of alone time or a nap.
  • The HSE can often be found engaged in interesting, novel, creative activities outside the home — and we often enjoy these activities more with one or two others. When out and about in their chosen activities, they are warm and engaging, often enjoying or initiating conversations with strangers they meet, and/or sometimes making a new friend.
  • Some research (Laney 2002) indicates the neurotransmitter dopamine energizes the extravert brain causing, them to seek external rewards in the form of status, money, sex, social affiliation or a promotion at work. It is important to know the HSP, introvert or extrovert, is not motivated by these external societal rewards. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The highly sensitive person, extrovert or introvert, reflects more about the “way the world is going;” is more concerned with deep, meaningful relationships; and the exploration of the meaning of life, social injustices, and why things are the way they are. In fact, Barrie Jaeger’s book, Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person makes it clear that the HSP is more in need of “psychic income” and will often take a position lower in salary if the job offers opportunity for meaningful engagement in the world.
  • HSEs differ according to their age. The younger HSE is likely to be quite social, never turning down an invitation to do something with their friends. This might be because they possess more physical energy which allows them to enjoy more extroverted activities. The more mature, or older HSE, is not rewarded by social activities, nor by interacting with friends or strangers, unless it is an environment and interaction based on trust, openness, and authenticity.
  • Our passions manifest outwardly and we will easily risk our comfort zone for causes that are important to us. Many HSEs are social justice activists, speaking out passionately for what we believe. Many of us are leaders, not because we want to be, and not because we enjoy the spotlight (we don’t), but because our compassionate convictions have placed us in leadership roles, often because no one else has stepped up to the plate. You will find many HSEs passionate and expressive about what they do to make the world a better place, especially when reciprocity and mutuality are in place.
  • Unlike the HSP introvert, we go inward (i.e., we “introvert” as a verb) mainly to recover, rest and renew — not necessarily because we “prefer” to be alone. After our physical and mental energies are recharged by being “in,” we go “out” to manifest our visions, our passions, or our work in the world. We enjoy sharing our ideas with other like-minded individuals.
  • The HSE extravert is warm, engaging, expressive, and easy to know, and can make and keep friends without too much difficulty, although they are usually easily fulfilled with only small circle of close, loyal and true friendships. It is always easy to identify the sensitive extrovert who attends an HSP Gathering Retreat. I never have to wonder if they are enjoying themselves for their smiles, openness and conversations leave no question that they are happy they came. Introverts are more difficult to read, at least for the first two days. Then, the introvert HSP shows up just as engaged as the sensitive extrovert.
  • The HSE can often unconsciously challenge the status quo, by simply stating something they are passionate about in an off-handed way. This then draws attention to themselves, which is something we find very uncomfortable, thus we withdraw, and can appear as introverts. However, if our values are in jeopardy, we can be passionate, outspoken and will tolerate overstimulation and attention in order to make our point of view understood, or to challenge an injustice.
  • The majority of HSEs are most likely high sensation seekers (HSS), (http://hsperson.com/test/high-sensation-seeking-test/) although not necessarily in a physically challenging kind of way. We are seekers of novelty and do not shy away from intense experiences, if chosen by us. The same could be said for introverts who are high sensation seeking.
  • For the HSE/HSS, being under-stimulated can be just as anxiety-producing as being overstimulated. Thus finding one’s “optimal level of stimulation” is often difficult …yet rewarding, energizing and nurturing when understood, experienced and maintained.
  • Many HSEs find great enjoyment in jobs that allow them to teach a subject matter they enjoy. For example, one sensitive extrovert loved being a successful coach of a girls’ volleyball team, yet she dreaded “recognition night” when she had to use a microphone to bestow awards, and speak to a crowd of parents. Other sensitive extroverts, when allowed to manage their own time, have found parenting to be a great joy. Others found teaching to be extremely rewarding, yet were drained by public school environments.
  • The HSE thrives on deep meaningful connections with others. We often work best when collaborating with others, especially when feeling safe to share our truest thoughts and feelings. We are creative, visionary and inspired by common interests we share with others. We thrive on mutuality, reciprocity and empathy, and can wither without it.
  • Just like the HSP introvert, feeling misunderstood, excluded or invalidated is a recurring theme for the sensitive extrovert as well. The HSE identified as feeling things deeply, being emotional, caring deeply about others and the world at large.

More from a Myers Briggs Perspective

My research, including interpreting Myers Brigs results with scores of HSPs, has shown the majority of HSPs are of the “NF” temperament, specifically: INFP, followed by INFJ, then ENFP, ENFJ. Then comes ISFJ, and less frequently, ESFJ. There are many HSPs who are “Ts” and can be found within the “NT” temperament, such as INTP and INTJ. Fewer HSPs are ISTJ, ISTP. I have met only two HSPs who identified as ESTJ.

Many sensitive extroverts mistakenly think they are introverts because their (Myers Briggs) raw scores between the E (extraversion) and the I (introversion) are very low. This usually leads to the misconception that they are either ambiverts, or that they are well-balanced between the two preferences. This is not accurate. According to Myers Briggs theory, a low score between preferences indicates some sort of transition or turmoil between the two functions. Example: the HSE is often overstimulated and harried when in the external world, yet they can become easily bored, lethargic or experience a low grade depression if “introverting” (as in a verb) for too long, thus there often is a sense of transition or turmoil between extroversion and introversion for the HSE.

Many HSEs can be led to believe they are introverts because of their avoidance of crowded, noisy places, their need for alone time and their general misunderstanding about the difference between the HSP extrovert and the non-HSP extrovert. Here is what one participant, fairly new to the HSP trait shared after her participation in my Myers Briggs/HSP Overlay class:

“…It is exciting to understand more about my HSP trait and the Myers Briggs. This has helped me understand my sensitivity, and some of my extraversion desires that otherwise have always felt so contradictory. I finally know I’m not a “contemplative extrovert,”, or an “outgoing introvert” ~~ I am a highly sensitive extrovert. I can’t tell you how much sense this makes to me… It helps me discover what balance looks like in my life within the E and HSP context — a balance which has eluded me for many years. I look forward to consciously choosing to honor both my extraversion and my sensitivity and to finding a more nurturing and meaningful balance between the two…”

So are there any differences between the HSP Extrovert and the HSP Introvert?

Yes, there are. However, my research clearly shows the difference between the sensitive extrovert and sensitive introvert to be quite small. The greater difference was between the HSP population, and the other 80% who do not self-identify with the Sensory Processing Sensitivity Trait. However, here are a few differences between the sensitive extrovert and sensitive introvert.

  • We do prefer to share our thoughts and feelings out loud rather than write them. In fact, when confused or seeking clarity, we might first jot down a few notes, but are most relieved and gain the most clarity when talking with a trusted friend.
  • We do not like to share our personal lives or habits via social media, however, we do easily share our personal lives in person with those we know, like and trust.
  • Unlike what social media tells us about the introvert the HSE does not mind talking on the phone. In fact, the phone has nothing to do with it — it is the person we are talking to and the context of the conversation that means the most to us. So, yes, we will let the call go to voicemail if we don’t recognize the caller. Yet, if it is a call from someone in our “Inner HSP Circle” or someone we know and trust, we joyfully receive their call, and are most likely enriched, or energized, by the context of our conversation.

Neither the HSE, nor HSP introvert enjoys small talk. However, observations made about two days into the four day HSP Gathering Retreats show that after the opportunity to “go deep” and share our “authentic” selves, the HSP can and does engage in small talk often much to their surprise.

Conclusion

The HSE is not the “man of action” described in Quiet. It is also not accurate to assume the non-HSP introvert, like my spouse, (who makes up the majority of the introvert population as seen in the graph on p. 1) is the “man of contemplation.” Finally, it is accurate, and only fair, to differentiate between four temperaments: the HSE, the HS Introvert, the extrovert who is not an HSP, and the introvert who is not an HSP. To understand these differences, it is important to overlay any discussions of extroversion and introversion with the D.O.E.S. ~ (1~Depth of Processing; 2~Overstimulation; 3~Emotional Intensity, Empathy and Responsiveness, and 4~ Sensitive to Subtleties) because as previously discussed, these apply to all highly sensitive people. The D.O.E.S. does not apply to all introverts or extroverts, especially those who do not self-identify as highly sensitive people.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Julia Culen

Julia Culen

writing, reading, speaking, consulting, gardening Vienna/Salzburg/Granada, https://ccg-group.eu/, https://juliaculen.com