Today I received an essential comment on an article I wrote a couple year ago entitled, “Empaths vs. HSP (They’re Not the Same Thing). This article represents a time I was breaking free from much of the interpersonal warfare with some HSP in my family (and learning a TON about my empathic abilities in the process).
You can read the full comment at the end of the actual article, but I wanted to post some of the highlights, as well as my response back to her.
This comment, I feel, voiced what many HSP feel and wish others would understand about them. While my response is what I assume many empaths feel and wish HSP would understand about us.
Thank you for sparking this article, Crystal! Also, I edited my entire response in the comment section, so I’m sorry if you received a million revisions! 😉
HSP and Empaths — I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Response from Crystal:
“I am truly HSP. The way you describe a HSP on Youtube was degrading and sounded selfish. HSP were born this way, so if you were truly an empath you’d see that and be more understanding of the pain we endure.
Have you ever thought that it could be your own thinking that created the affliction inside of you because of your thinking of it? Yes, there are truth empaths that experience people’s pain from far. But HSP have already experienced so much pain in our lives that we don’t have to HAVE that person’s pain to understand what that person is going through..
HSP have an extremely, some unbearable nervous system, so with that comes pain and emotion go so deep that it’s far beyond words. I tend to believe that you are not as empathic as you claim to be because you would be more gentle with your output about HSP. A truly HSP is sensitive to the core, physically too. Their skin, hair, and organs are even fragile. It’s not just about experiences, emotions, etc. It’s a physical manifestation from birth that is unspeakable…
Comparing empaths and HSP is like comparing plants. Like a tender violet to a tree. They’re both plants but if you touch a violet it dies. HSP do pick up other people’s energies, the atmosphere, and surroundings very easily and it stays inside us. We tend to be absorbers, picking up others energies is debilitating for us because of our delicate nervous system…
It’s like the old (demeaning) saying “thin skinned people.”
HSP is almost like handling a burned patient. You should be able to sense that if you were a true empath. But it appears there’s no real empathy here for HSP because if there were, your definition would have been more empathetic. It would be muchly appreciated if there were more understanding about real HSP. Thank you.”\
Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I agree. I was expressing lower vibrational emotions in this article, which makes us immune to our more subtle sensitivities. I was in the expression of my experience, giving a voice to the unhealed side of my empathic self.
In fact, recently I did a video talking about the jaded place I was in when I wrote many of my articles at this time. I was experiencing emotional pain in relation to my own sensitivity with HSP in my family.
Unhealed HSP tend to use empaths (unconsciously) to feel and express those lower vibrational emotions they reject within themselves, then shame and emotionally manipulate empaths for feeling them. They do this because of a belief that only *certain* emotions or vibrations are acceptable to feel (obviously, this comes from trauma).
Although I was expressing my “war” with HSP in this article, I will always leave it up because it is an authentic reflection of where I was at the time, and the reality of an empath: we feel others – most especially the emotions they reject, suppress, and deny.
The conflict between HSP and Empaths lies here. Many HSP identify so strongly with being “good” that they develop an acute aversion to lower vibrational emotions, which can cause them to construct a superiority complex that demeans and belittles the very REAL human experience of feelings like anger or jealousy, or bitterness.
Because HSP are so sensitive to these lower vibrations, they often project their rejection of these vibrations onto the empath and then paint the empath as the “enemy” for expressing them (which justifies withholding love, or in their mind, their sensitivity to the empath).
This, in turn, triggers the empath’s deep wound of rejection, which can cause them to either try to “earn” the HSP’s love back, or attempt to appease the HSP by promising to change. Both of these options invalidates the emotional experience of the empath, and reinforces the belief that “I can’t feel what I feel because it will hurt someone.” In reality, what we are saying is “I can’t feel what others are uncomfortable feeling.”
A better option for empaths is to validate our emotional state, REFUSE to withhold love from ourselves (or the other) for feeling, allow the HSP to interpret the vibrations however they choose (without taking it personally), and let the emotion go.
The point is, we do not have to modify, minimize, or lie about how we feel. However, understanding the nature of an HSP can certainly help us remember the rejection of emotion is not about US – it is reflective of a deeper wound.
Your response helped me remember the second agreement (from book THE FOUR AGREEMENTS),
“Take nothing personally.”
If an empath allows the HSP’s fear of lower vibrations to be internalized within, we agree to the HSP’s story (lower vibrations = I’m unsafe). This is a profoundly damaging belief for an empath to have, as it causes deep internal conflict about the very essence of what we are. By nature, we cannot reject our emotional experience without making ourselves sick or blocking Life Force.
Although I know it was probably unintentional, your tone in this comment is reflective of this dynamic. Because I was expressing lower vibrational emotions in this article, you imply that I am somehow “unworthy” to call myself an empath and should be ashamed of my feelings.
Your comment also implies one of the biggest misunderstandings humans have about emotions: that they are unchanging and stagnate. Just because I FELT this way over two years ago does not mean this is what I AM. A belief that we ARE our emotions suggests that we are also powerless to them.
Lower vibrational emotions do temporarily mute our sensitivity to higher vibrations (we cannot feel both appreciation and anger at the same time), but getting angry is how we, as empaths, free ourselves from being controlled by the emotional needs of others. Anger helps release us from the co-dependent agreements and interactions that have caused us to self-destruct. (And many times, those co-dependent relationships are with HSP).
Feeling emotions (ALL OF THEM) is not wrong. This article does express my Shadow, my limited perspective, and my projections, but it does not make me any less “empathic,” or my experience of HSP any less valid.
Empaths and HSP are extremely sensitive to each other because they both represent the contrast of emotional vibrations. Ultimately, we are perfect reflections of each other.
HSP may be “born” with sensitivity, but they are not born with the Matrix of lack and fear. Fear of lower vibrational emotions comes from trauma and is the root of why so many HSP feel unsafe in this world. In order to be free, HSP, just like everyone else in the lack matrix, need to reprogram their understanding about what it means to be highly sensitive so it becomes a superpower, not a handicap.
*Special note: These dynamics can exist between anyone (empath, hsp, or not) and vacillate constantly. We all play all roles, but we have patterns, beliefs, and habits that often keep us repeating the same story. We are not saying “this is the ONLY way it is!” but rather, “this is one way it is.”
5 thoughts on “Empaths vs. HSP (The Dynamics of Vibrational War)”
Great post. It is incredibly frustrating and shaming when people who claim to be “white” magic won’t delve into the whole of experience and emotion, while condemning and judging those who are emotionally honest, or expressing philosophical curiosity. I find they are the biggest of hypocrites. Thank you
I appreciate d that article. It clafified for me that I am HSP and not Empath. I was just learning at that time and I thank you for that article.
Omg… I’m like crying right now and I’m not entirely sure why. I think because I have been battling against the emotions of anger for so long and this article here really shows what has been happening within me this past year.
I used to believe I couldn’t feel anger or hate, but I didn’t think that was superior to anyone. I was happy that I didn’t have (or didn’t think I had, I should say now) those feelings, because I feared them in others, but I did think of myself as weird because of it. Everybody also kept saying things like “You’re too nice/good/naive for this world etc.” I have always tried to be as good as possible. I still do, but I never actually thought of myself as being a good person. If that makes sense? I try, that’s all that I know and maybe that is all that’s important. But especially lately, I’ve had a lot of difficulty accepting who I am, because I’m in the process of healing from abuse in my childhood and at some point during that healing process, about a year ago, I started changing. Suddenly the person I thought I was, one of the only things I thought I could be certain of in my life, was gone. I never used to feel anger or hate. I believed I was incapable, that I’d been hurt too much and that my extreme fear of upsetting someone else made me incapable of what I thought for me were negative emotions. I never condemned anyone else for having them, but the thought of me having them, it was impossible. Subconsciously I probably suppressed it because of my fear of it. Not being able to get angry and other things like suspicion etc made me extremely vulnerable. Having anger now is a way to protect myself. A way to never let what happened to me happen again. A way to say hey, you know what, I matter too just like everyone else. I know all these things and yet I still somehow long to go back to the way things were. It seemed easier. My psychologist keeps telling me that it’s a good thing and I shouldn’t feel that I need to go back. All emotions have a right to be here. I still need to find a balance though. Because my anger now tends to come out as an explosion that I feel I have no control over and that scares me. There is a lot of anger in me now. It feels like a volcano about to erupt… It’s terrifying. I would never intentionally hurt someone and I’d like to believe that even in anger I would never, but I don’t know. I don’t know how far those uncontrollable (so far) fits of anger can go… I will find a way to control it before anything like that has a chance to happen though. But I need to accept that anger now as something I have a right to feel. Just like I’ve always believed that everyone else has a right to feel it too.
I’m still unsure of who I really am and what I’m meant to do. I still don’t know whether I’m a HSP or an empath, which is a question I’ve been asking myself for a very long time. After reading this, I am now thinking it is more HSP, but maybe that doesn’t even truly matter. Just having read this already helps with what I’m going through. So thank you.
I think a different title for the original article would have softened the blow – one that informs the reader you’re expressing your frustrations with the HSPs in your life. I’d deeply appreciate a fresh attempt at addressing objective differences between empaths and HSPs. One thing I wonder is if empaths have high physical sensitivity in the same way that HSPs do, though I have a feeling we need more science to discuss such differences with precision.
Agreed. I do think HSP have a highly sensitive central nervous system, which differs greatly from the empath. But as you said, none of this has been properly studied so the majority of info is anecdotal at best. ❤