Why Sensitive Women Can be Bitchy

by Amy on August 20, 2014


Guest Post by Mely Brown

Hokey Wolf was a White German Shepherd x Siberian Husky. My mate, my soul friend, my nemesis and shadow self, all rolled into one.

When he was a tiny pup, he was in a van looking down at a fully-grown German Shepherd, growling and barking.

I lifted him onto the ground. “There,” I said smugly, “now look how tiny you actually are”.

Hokey went straight for the jugular.

Later my dog trainer explained with a knowing nod, “ahhh, that’s the Shepherd in him… bite first, ask questions later.”

Bite first, ask questions later.

* * * * * * *

They say we attract our reality. I’ve had 3 dogs with intermittent anger management problems. The common denominator? Me.

I now see my tendency to overreact when overwhelmed. Lash out with my tongue when things get waaaay too much.

But how can a highly sensitive person (HSP), who naturally reflects deeply + slowly and who cares so very much about others, act so impulsively? Uncaringly?

Be such a bitch?

HSP’s are 15-20% of the population who feel things more deeply than most (physically + emotionally) — who get overstimulated easily.

But here’s the thing…

Highly sensitive people are not angels.

Many sensitive women keep stuff bottled inside. It feels unsafe to let out… They fear it might make others uncomfortable…

Bottled emotions are like a beach ball under water. At some point, it will come out – most of the time unexpectedly in one heck of a rush.

When the sensitive chooses to assert herself it can come across as unbalanced, disconnected, uncomfortable and out of character.

“How did the quiet, polite woman suddenly swing to the other extreme?”

And then the sensitive woman wonders over and over “what is wrong with me?!”

And the message she was trying to assert in the first place? It gets lost in the chaos.

Sound familiar? 

* * * * * * *

Ladies, make no mistake, those emotions you keep bottled up, keep your body trapped in a cycle of fatigue, overwhelm and extra weight (yep, stress can make your pants tight).

So here’s what I’ve learned about how you, as a highly sensitive woman, can assert yourself in a way that is powerful and authentic:

Step 1.  See With Clarity + Perspective

Make a deliberate + informed choice about how you want to respond in a situation, BY FIRST OF ALL seeing it from different angles. This is something HSPs excel at, if you allow yourself the time and space to do it (instead of reacting or getting caught up in the rush).

Step 2.  Connect In with Your Power

Bring your energy back to yourself and let go of what’s not yours; go within to ground and center yourself. Connect with your highest intention of how you want to assert yourself in this situation. “Own” your soft subtle strength and the depth of power that lies in-between words and actions. Your connection to your quiet soft determination IS your power.

Step 3.  Take Action AFTER You Get into Alignment

If that means pausing for a moment (or longer) before answering or acting, give yourself that time and space. Then when you’re ready, take inspired + grounded powerful action.

Step 4.  Allow the Results to Be, Just As It Is.

Don’t beat yourself up with “should I have done things differently?” Know that you’ve done all in your power to respond in alignment with your own truth – and then let go. Move onwards.

Trust me, when you slow down and assert yourself in a way that honors your strengths + gifts your message will gets through.

* * * * * * *

Hokey has passed over now, but the lessons he taught me remain. It’s beautiful to see my own self-growth reflected in the gentle and kind temperaments of the dogs I currently own.

Now it’s YOUR turn? Do you consider yourself highly sensitive? How does it show up in your life?  Let me know in the comments below.


Click here to get a FREE spot in Mely’s upcoming teleseminar “What am I doing wrong?! How asking the right questions will propel a sensitive woman to the right health habits” (+ you’ll also get Mely’s book as a bonus, “The 4 Areas of Self-Care for Highly Sensitive Women”).

Mely class


Mely BrownMely Brown is a chartered natural health practitioner + certified exercise lifestyle and life coach. Highly sensitive herself, her clients are sensitive women who want to have healthier habits but are confused or struggling with their self-care. She shows clients how to use her 4-step formula to speak directly in the body and brain’s own languages and tweak traditional approaches to self-care, so it does work for them + they can finally have the energy and enthusiasm to embrace doing what they love in life.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

PJ Ray August 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

You have made this so easy to read and understand. It is a powerful message to woman.
I have been raised to always put others first and to feel extreme guilt if I don’t. The guilt then makes me “punish” myself with weight gain. I do know I am a highly sensitive woman who has trouble letting go of what is not mine.
I don’t know whether or not I can make the changes necessary.However, I do hope many women will make the journey.


Mely Brown August 21, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Hi PJ. That’s awesome you can see the connection between weight gain and guilt and punishment. Most HSPs would resonate with the haze of boundaries between what’s your stuff, what’s others stuff, and trouble letting go of what’s not yours.

A non-sensitive child can be raised “to put others first” and they don’t attach deeply to the outcome. Whereas a sensitive child will try very hard to please and then feel guilt or other low vibration emotions – the beachball inside. Weight gain can be a punishment, it also can be a way of HSPs numbing the overwhelming stimuli that comes from outside and within (putting up a layer of protection).

You’re doing great – all change starts with clarity. One of Elaine Aron’s books is called The Highly Sensitive Child. Although it’s aimed at raising a child, it’s a great read for any hurting HSP adult to help reframe your own upbringing and allow the wounded sensitive child (that’s still inside us) to heal.


liz August 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Good stuff for me, especially right now as I am in the midst of some chaos that resulted from my outburst yesterday. It especially hit me in the heart with your sentence saying, “the message she was trying to assert in the first place…gets lost in the chaos”. That’s eating at me today! My message wasn’t even heard after all this! And it really was a good message! (Aw, darn. 😉
I will practice being compassionate with myself as I learn some of these things. I do think it’s true there’s a connection here between being highly sensitive and an approval-addicted and keeping your true feelings to yourself. I’m practicing trying to be more whole and let more of my stuff show without judging myself too much.
So in my experience there is real tension there when you are sensitive to other people’s stuff (which can be a gift), but your stuff doesn’t come out. I like what you said about HSPs excelling at seeing things from different angles, and to use this as a tool. I’m interested hear more from you about learning to navigate this tension artfully. Thanks for the article; reading it helped me.


Mely Brown August 21, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Hi Liz. I totally sympathize. It can take a lot for HSPs to speak up in the first place. And then for the message to not get through, it can feel like people don’t “get” what we’re trying to say, or they don’t “get us”, or even that “I’m not heard”.

I agree, for an HSP, part of approval addiction is keeping your true feelings to yourself — often because we’re sensitive to others’ emotions and we don’t want to make them (or ourselves) feel uncomfortable. And we need to find that balance of sensitivity and showing more of us.

You’re doing awesome, keep practicing at taking compassion (which HSPs are good at) and turning it inwards (which we’re not so good at!!). And not just knowing this intellectually — because we’re all smart women, we KNOW this stuff, right? — but also getting it viscerally. Truly feeling compassion for yourself in the way you’d feel it for a small child who’s doing their best. HSPs thrive with positive self-talk!


Devi August 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

You’ve got me down to a tee!

I spend years trying to do the right thing and intermitently hitting out in rage when I couldn’t stand it any more. When people asked me to step being so angry and couldn’t – after all, my anger was the only part of me standing up for myself.

But now the rest of me is standing up for myself, I don’t feel so angry. Both harder and simpler than it sounds.


Mely Brown August 21, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Hi Devi. You’re not alone in that. Most HSPs would resonate with trying to do the right thing, and often hold stuff in until you hit that place of not being able to stand it anymore. Sooner or later the energy has express, one way or another.

Often the recipient is so taken aback, they don’t see that you’re simply trying to stand up for yourself. Instead they want you to control yourself and stop being so angry — but trying to “control” yourself is what you’ve been doing all along. And it’s like being told to put the cork back into a shaken-up bottle of champagne — the energy isn’t going in that direction (and hey, champagne tastes great when it’s not all shaken up!).

I’m so happy for you, that the “rest of you” is now supporting you in standing up for yourself. You’re right, that sense of wholeness is simple but not always easy! And connecting into it can be uncomfortable at times, especially for an HSP. It gets better with practice.


Elaine August 21, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Just want to say thank you for sharing this. I am a HSP (heaven-sent person) too. 🙂
I am so aware of gentleness being actually the strongest thing there is and trying to honor that in me while at the same time trying to function in a world that mostly feels anything but gentle. I love how you put “your connection to your quiet soft determination IS your power. ” Nothing seems to strengthen me more than beautiful deep Silence.


Mely Brown August 22, 2014 at 12:07 am

Hi Elaine. I LOVE your “Heaven Sent Person”, that’s gorgeous. I really relate to what you say about honoring your gentle strength in a world that mostly feels anything but gentle. Beau Taplin says it beautifully too, in Shed Your Sharp Edges — he says: “Softness is not a weakness. It takes courage to stay this delicate in a world this cruel”.

It’s much easier to put on armor and numb ourselves — but that comes with a price eventually (I found out the hard way, with health). I truly acknowledge you for honoring the strength that comes from your gentleness, and the power that comes from that beautiful deep silence. You’re a courageous woman – bring more of your soft determination into the world, it needs it.


Lu Scannell August 21, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Yes…I had a bad night last night doing exactly what you’ve written about. I was a total bitch to two different people at the same time and wondered where were these words that I was speaking even coming from? God, I need to slow down and do what you’ve suggested. Help!!


Mely Brown August 22, 2014 at 12:24 am

Hi Lu. Oh yes, I know that feeling well!! We HSPs can get so used to being caught up in other people’s energy and the pace of life in general, that it just feels “normal”. Uncomfortable at times, but normal. But our neurology knows differently — and the stuff our brain hides deep from our awareness, sometimes it comes out of nowhere and surprises even us. It’s like “where did that come from? Did I really just say that?!”

Slowing down is huge. It feels really different to the recipient too, when you’re speaking your truth from a grounded centered place. Not just blurting out something the inner 13 year old would say. (I know I’m not the only one with one of her!)

Share the blog with your friends – a good friend will understand and forgive you. (And possibly understand exactly what you mean!)


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