Category Archives: Hypersensitivity

Romantic Love

It has been a really long time since I last wrote on my blog. Why? Shortly after my last blog post, after I was freed up from my all-consuming epic year-end project, I fell madly in love with someone in a way that I have never fallen in love with anyone before. And like all things that I become passionate about, I hyper-focused on this new love, forgetting that an entire world exists outside of it.

When emotionally intense highly sensitive people fall in love, they fall VERY deeply in love.

Rose

I thought to myself, “Why did it take me so long to feel this way for another person? What was different about this time?” Of course it has to do with Kimberley-Rae, my now-girlfriend, being one of a kind – one does not simply come across someone as beautiful and amazing as her. But the intensity of the romantic feelings that I experienced also had much to do with the emotional freedom that I broke into after having successfully gone through a great deal of emotional healing and fear conquering over the past recent years.

Although emotionally sensitive people are designed to experience intense romantic feelings that are unattainable by most of the world, many of them, including my old self, have difficulty reaching those emotions because of their many areas of emotional anxiety. Emotional anxiety, the fear of difficult emotions, causes people to be very controlled in what kind of emotions they allow themselves to feel. All of this control gives people the illusion that their emotional experience will waver within the “safe zone.” The unfortunate side-effect, however, is that the underlying fear that never gets dealt with robs people of their ability to experience super high “highs.” In order for me to fall deeply in love as I did, I first had to bring myself to a place where I felt unconditionally safe to experience the whole spectrum of emotions. This place can only be reached after allowing oneself to feel anger, sadness, regret, loneliness, shame, guilt, heart break, etc.

Feeling the intense emotions of being in love for the first time was not so easy for me. I became obsessive. I clicked through every single one of her photos. Rather than simply “feeling” my emotions, my mind took over and I began thinking way too much. I fantasized about a nice future with her. I replayed our first date in my mind over and over again. Although I attended many Christmas parties, my mind could not be distracted away from thoughts of her. My conversations with my friends centered around her. As I meditated on her, my emotions followed and I fell even more deeply in love. I fell so deep that I began to think, “there is no possible way that she feels the same way for me.” This thought was so depressing. My romantic emotions then turned into love sickness. I could not sleep. I could not eat. I was a total mess. I finally understood how those famous sixteenth century poets must have felt in their epic poems about unrequited love. There was no doubt in my mind – I wanted her. For our second date, I was determined to eradicate all ideas of platonic friendship from her mind (if she had any). I did not let mystery have any place in our second date: I came with flowers, held her hand, and kissed her that night. It was one of the happiest moments of my life haha.

Daniel Kim and Kimberley-Rae

Now looking back, I realize that I could have saved myself from my emotional rollercoaster ride had I handled the emotion of being in love differently. I could have used mindfulness techniques to simply feel my emotions instead of letting my mind take over. I could have lived in the present moment rather than live in the past (replaying our first date in my mind) or the future (fantasizing about our future together). In the end, I know I still would have fallen for Kim. After having gone through this experience, I feel like I can be there for my future children when they fall in love and have no clue how to handle themselves.

For the next three months, Kim will be modeling in Tokyo. Please show my lovely girlfriend support by liking her Facebook page and following her on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr blog. Thanks!

Kimberley-Rae

www.facebook.com/kimberleyraec
www.instagram.com/kimberryrae
www.twitter.com/kimberleyraexo
http://kimberley-rae.tumblr.com

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Guilt from Being Unproductive

It has been a while since I last wrote an update about my life. In fact, it has been a while since I last wrote anything on this blog. I have been mostly busy with going out and enjoying my city’s beautiful summer weather (Vancouver’s weather is pretty depressing all other times of the year). I have been spending so much time outside with others that I have found no time to read, research, study, write, work on music, or hit the gym. I don’t feel it as intensely as I did before when I used to be very OCPD, but I still do feel some guilt over not being super productive and not making the very best use of my time.

Gifted individuals and people with OCPD tend to feel extra guilty about not being productive.

Work on Vacation

So where does this guilt come from?

Well, first of all, emotionally sensitive people experience the emotion of guilt much more intensely than normal, average, boring people do (haha just kidding about the “boring” part). A stronger sense of responsibility comes with the territory of being highly emotionally sensitive. Because of their natural ability to see, imagine, envision, strategize, and produce excellence, gifted individuals and people with OCPD feel a very strong sense of responsibility to contribute excellence to the world. But excellence takes a lot of time and effort, no matter who you are, no matter how much talent you have. When this time and effort is not being invested, gifted individuals and people with OCPD feel guilty.

Read more about the obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with the efficient use of time here.

This guilt is a big-time joy killer. It removes you from your present moment that might be filled with so many amazing things that you can enjoy and wonderful people that you can laugh with. Many people attempt to eliminate this guilt by keeping themselves very busy. Being busy, however, does not always lead to excellence. Busy-ness that is driven by guilt can actually do a lot of damage to the joy that you derive from participating in your area of excellence. During my workaholic years living in Korea, I lost a lot of my joy in producing music because I had spent so much time dutifully working on musical projects that I had very little interest in. Although being productive controls this pervasive feeling of guilt, it never gets rid of it.

The way I now respond to this kind of guilt is much healthier. I now let myself feel the guilt and let the emotion take its course in and out of my system. I remind myself in my head that it is NOT my responsibility to bring excellence into this world – being born with all the right tools does not automatically sign me up for a life of duty. My faith also helps me deal with this difficult emotion. I trust that this world is in the good hands of an omnipotent God who loves to share His unrivaled excellence with the rest of the world. I think of all the imperfect people in the Bible that God partnered up with to do this. God didn’t need them to be constantly busy. It was the condition of their heart that mattered much more to Him. I then tell myself that everything will be just fine and turn my focus back onto the present moment.

Another step that really helps to lessen the intensity of this kind of guilt is putting an end to judging others negatively. Many people with OCPD fall into judging others for their “laziness.” After judging others in this way, people with OCPD grow to be very unforgiving toward themselves.

So yeah… I am going to continue to enjoy my summer! I hope all of you are enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world :)

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Amy’s Baking Company: Sensitivity to Criticism Goes Viral

Last Friday on Fox’s reality TV series “Kitchen Nightmares,” chef Gordon Ramsay paid a visit to “Amy’s Baking Company,” a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Just like he does in every episode, Gordon Ramsay offered his constructive criticism with the intention of improving the restaurant’s success. The restoration process, however, was cut short for the first time in the show’s history because the owners of the restaurant, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, showed excessive resistance and defensiveness to Ramsay’s signature not-so-sensitive criticism. The two restaurant owners then became a viral hit over the internet because of their continued over-the-top display of oversensitivity to criticism even after the show.

Sensitivity to criticism comes from not feeling good enough as a person.

Amy's Baking Company[ Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, owners of "Amy's Baking Company" ]

Although the feeling of inadequacy is shared by many people, those who struggle with it the most are obsessives (highly anxious highly sensitive people) who had been starved of healthy affirmation during their childhood. This does not necessarily mean that their parents all have directed much of their criticism toward their children while they were growing up. No. Their parents could have very well been good-hearted, loving people who provided frequent words of affirmation. The question is “when?”

Although it makes sense to give positive affirmation at the onset of good results, affirmation linked only to performance is very unhealthy, especially for obsessive children who think in extremes. This kind of affirmation sets up children to define themselves by how well they perform. In the video, it seems pretty clear to me that Amy defines her self-worth by how well she performs as a chef. When anything less than perfection is delivered, performance-oriented obsessive people hear a voice in their head saying “you are fatally flawed!” When others say, “This could have been better,” they hear, “You are a disgusting human being! On the show, one of the servers asked, “Are you sure?” to Amy. Amy took this simple question as a hostile challenge and equated the experience to someone holding a gun to her head. People who have lived the majority of their life listening to this kind of verbal abuse inside their head are very broken inside.

The choice of words that Amy and Samy use to attack their opposers and “haters” is a reflection of what they constantly hear inside their head. In their mind, Amy and Samy are simply mirroring everyone else’s insensitive communication. It feels to them like the entire world is out to attack them.

It is devastating when one’s identity gets crushed. I can see Amy and Samy desperately trying so hard to fight against the idea that they are not good enough as people. It appears that pride has made its way into their lives to help them cope better with their pain. They have convinced themselves that everyone else is wrong and they alone are the only ones who know how good food tastes.

My heart breaks for Amy and Samy Bouzaglo. I hope they get to discover soon that they are good enough just the way they are, regardless of how well they cook or run a restaurant. I am bothered by the online world’s insensitivity towards them. Rather than leaving these two poor broken people alone, so many people are attacking them for fun, just to get a kick out of their reaction.

Welcome to the new world of online bullying :(

Watch the entire TV episode here:

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Sexuality

According to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, author of “The Highly Sensitive Person,” 15-20% of the world is highly sensitive. This minority group senses stimuli from within themselves and in their surroundings much more intensely than the rest of the world does. They also experience thoughts and feelings that are very different from those of others.

Throughout my blog, I have written about various types of highly sensitive people (not just people with OCPD) and the different ways in which they experience the world. I have written about those who feel very different emotions that most people do not feel, those who think very different thoughts that most people do not think of, and even those who see and hear very different things that most people do not see or hear. After reading over the stats of my blog and seeing the interesting terms that my curious visitors plug into their search engines to find my site, I felt inspired to write about another aspect of high sensitivity.

Some highly sensitive people not only experience sexual thoughts and feelings much more intensely than other people do, but they also experience sexual thoughts and feelings that might be very different from those of others.

Sexuality

Highly sensitive people do not conveniently choose what stimuli enter their senses. Sometimes what enters is overwhelming, disturbing, or very different. This just comes with the territory of being highly sensitive. It is quite normal for highly sensitive people to experience sexual thoughts and feelings that are different from those of others.

When highly sensitive children experience their different thoughts and feelings (whether they may be sexual, emotional, imaginational, intellectual, spiritual, sensual, etc.), what they need to hear is, “I acknowledge and validate your thoughts and feelings, child. They are real. They come as a result of your heightened sensitivity.” Unfortunately, most of the highly sensitive population grow up being told that their thoughts and feelings are wrong.

But just because their inner experiences are real does not necessarily make it a good idea to give highly sensitive children complete freedom to follow all of their thoughts and feelings. Boundaries can help protect highly sensitive children from going too far down a path that ends with more pain and stress. For children with OCD, their thoughts of catastrophic events are real to them and they feel the immediate need to prevent those events from ever happening. When they are left alone without any boundaries, many of them go ahead with their preventative measures which, overtime, become compulsions that are extremely difficult to break later on.

Sexuality is one of those areas that many children are left without any boundaries. But do boundaries even need to be set in this area? Unlike the OCD example I have given above, no one can really argue that any path in sexuality, whether it be heterosexuality, homosexuality, or other, ends with more pain and stress. There are happy same-sex couples and there are people like Erika Eiffel who are married to objects. But one thing for sure is that most highly sensitive children are not fully aware of what really happens in their brain when they repeatedly act out on their sexual thoughts and feelings. They do not know what they are getting themselves into.

Sexual attraction works like a compulsion. After repeatedly acting out on sexual thoughts and feelings, the body and mind begin to automatically produce all the chemicals related to mating whenever the object of sexual attraction is present. The person that it affects feels like he or she has very little control over how he or she feels. This applies to heterosexuality, homosexuality, and other sexual preferences. If people ever want to develop sexual attraction for something different down the road, while it will be very difficult, it is not impossible. It is a matter of consistently accessing different neural pathways in the brain by behaving and thinking differently (read more on neuroplasticity). But since old neural pathways, even the ones that are not accessed any longer, still remain inside the brain, past sexual attraction cannot be completely erased. It always just sits there. There is no “cure.” But that does not mean change is impossible.

Sexuality does not always begin with the presence of sexual thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it is the absence of sexual thoughts and feelings that causes highly sensitive people to explore their sexuality. Highly sensitive people do have a tendency to place more meaning in the lack or absence of expected thoughts and feelings.

Finally, I would like to end off with a fun video clip by College Humor:

Did you notice how many of the stereotypes used in this clip also relate to high sensitivity? The focus on details, empathy, etc.

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Cooling Off VS Silent Treatment

Feeling wronged by others is an inevitable part of life. When this happens, honest communication that promotes mutual understanding can greatly strengthen relationships. This, however, is not so easy to do under the influence of anger. Anger robs people of their ability to communicate their own feelings in a sensitive manner. It causes people to be explosive, hurtful, and offensive in their communication.

In order to prevent the pains of angry miscommunication, many people temporarily remove themselves from the emotionally overwhelming situation to “cool off” and communicate again later with a clearer mind. When this only takes a few hours or a day at most, many agree that this strategy is acceptable and even healthy. But as soon as this strategy takes longer than this allotted time, all of a sudden it becomes unacceptable. Many highly sensitive people who just happen to take a longer time at cooling off are then wrongly accused of giving the “silent treatment.”

Highly sensitive people just take a longer time to cool off from their overwhelming emotions.

Cooling Off vs Silent Treatment

Even though the two may look the same from the outside, the motives behind cooling off and giving the silent treatment are very different! Cooling off serves to protect relationships while the silent treatment aims to attack, hurt, and punish others through emotional abuse.

So how do you determine which one it is that your highly sensitive partner or friend is doing?

Many people examine the length of time it takes their partner or friend to communicate with them again after a fight. In this approach, any form of withdrawal that takes too long (whatever “too long” means…) can be interpreted as the silent treatment. This approach falls apart, however, because it assumes that all human beings experience emotions at the same level of intensity. This assumption, of course, is not true. Highly sensitive people experience emotions much more intensely. Those intense emotions just happen to need more time to cool down.

The unsettling truth is that you can never really be too sure which one it is unless your highly sensitive partner or friend communicates openly with you about the reasoning behind his or her withdrawal. Communication as simple as “Sorry, I am still trying to cool off” can go a long way in saving loved ones and friends from feeling abandoned. It also saves everyone from the trouble of wrongly guessing what is going on.

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