INFJ Male Bio: College Student (Age 19-21)
The Beginnings of Self-Help: Learning About the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
My mother used to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show every day around the time I came home from school. This brought the concept of Self-help to my awareness. As I matured I was able to grasp the more abstract concepts of psychology and spirituality discussed during the show. It also led to me doing some research online about my problems and my personality.
I already knew that I was introverted, but on the internet I found out about the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
Immediately, I recognised myself in this description and ordered the book: The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine. N. Aron (1999). Aron (1999) states that one out of five people is born with a more finely tuned nervous system that picks up on subtle stimuli and processes that information more deeply (sensory processing sensitivity).
These people therefore risk being overstimulated and may require frequent downtime to rest. A huge breath of relief this book was. For the first time in my life I felt understood.
Up until that point I was suffering so much thinking and being told I was just exaggerating my sensitivity. Here this book described my traits with unbelievable precision. It felt unreal to think that there were more people out there having the same type of experience and that these traits had some scientific backing as well.
Most of my challenges were actually highly sensitive person problems.
As I delved deeper into the new-found knowledge, I learned that my body was processing sensory information differently and the importance of taking care of the needs that came with that.
It also shed some light on typical childhood, adolescent and relationship experiences for HSP’s to which I could strongly relate.
Psychology as a Profession
During high school I had always dreaded the idea of eventually having to take on this working life and be a certain type of adult. I already felt so stuck in myself. The notion of eventually ending up in a day job where I was forced to be around the same people all the time and pretend to be enthusiastically social felt as a trap.
Due to my highly sensitive person traits my needs were different. Like needing a lot of down time throughout the day.
My preference is to be alone when I want to, but such work environments are more rare. A job where I had to compromise on those needs and wear a mask all the time was stressful to imagine.
Even though I thought the sort of work life structure I feared was inevitable, I graduated from high school around the age of 18 and needed to think of my future profession. For the longest time I had no idea of what to pursue.
As I got more into psychology my interest grew. I decided that I wanted to help people since I was already so good at listening and making people feel at ease according to my friends and family. So I started to study it at a University to get a degree.
Photo by Brody Childs on Unsplash
Pain as a Teacher
However, my highly sensitive person problems were still there. The overstimulation, the intrusive fearful thoughts, the paranoia, the sadness, the deep shame. As they festered for all those years it made my symptoms worse. I was also ashamed that I didn’t have a real girlfriend as a teenager.
Eventually, around the age of 20 I did got into a relationship with a girl and was deeply in love. Sadly, my symptoms weighed me down to the point I wasn’t capable of being in that relationship.
The love relationship triggered a ton of pain and insecurities in me and soon she broke up with me. I tried going to see a therapist again, but once we had to dive deeper I got scared and quitted after three sessions.
This was very unwise as it made my problems worse and now I was heartbroken on top of that. I also developed this weird rash on my head and till this day the doctors can’t tell me what it was exactly. Medical treatment seemingly cured it, but periodically it would return.
I now believe it was actually a psychosomatic symptom because of my body’s intense stress levels. Despite everything, I still tried to pass my first psychology courses. My mind and body however, were just cluttered with worry, emotional pain, stress and hyper vigilance.
I remember the two hour commutes from home to University each day by public transport and how absolutely terrible I felt. I was at a loss and this couldn’t go on much longer. I was broken.
A Profound Shift In Consciousness
Jungian Archetype Excercise
Then one day this mandatory drama and theatrics course started during the second semester. Its teacher was a playwright. During class we got all kinds of creative exercises, like freestyle storytelling and playing certain character roles with each other.
What made this teacher’s class so special was that it was infused with philosophical and spiritual wisdom. I was captivated by these classes.
One day after we collectively did a Jungian Archetype exercise, I was blown away by the messages I got from my intuitive imagination. At one point during this exercise we had to imagine a desert hill at a small distance during night time. From afar a light from a campfire could be seen on that hill.
In our imagination we had to climb the hill and go to the fire. The teacher went on saying that on that hill there was a wise old man sitting at the campfire. This wise old man said nothing and gave you an object while looking at you in peace.
Now we as students had to let our imagination decide what the object would be that this wise old man gifted us. My imaginative gift was a big golden key. As we discussed each others’ gifted objects and its potential symbolic meaning, my key might meant that I should symbolically enter another space by opening a new door.
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Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth
About a month later when I got home from University the Oprah Winfrey Show was on like always. This time she seemed extra excited about the topic of her show. She was talking about a book she could not stop reading because of its profound wisdom.
This book was: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (2006). I remember watching that episode twice that day because I enjoyed the energy so much. I ordered the book right away.
A few days later when it arrived I remember opening the package and staring at the book its cover and table of content. As I looked at just the mere chapter names and paragraphs my whole body started radiating this warm feeling from inside.
It was a strong blissful sensation which I could not understand nor did I felt like this other than times where I was completely immersed in music. Still this was different. How could this be? I was just looking at the book and its contents. There was no reading yet.
After I had put it on my book shelf I was still somewhat in awe and puzzled of what happened. Later that evening when I looked at the book again, that same blissful sensation came to me.
As if my whole being was drawn to that book. In the next couple of days I started to read it and it was literally a mind-blowing experience.
In that same week Oprah announced that she was going to do webinars with Eckhart Tolle. I read the chapters before watching the matching webinars religiously. There are no words for the awareness and insight I got into my own suffering.
For the first time in my life I could observe my own thoughts as if I were separate from them. Whereas before I was completely enmeshed with them.
I became conscious of the fact that my inner thoughts, feelings and my resistance to the present moment were causing me so much pain. This realisation was out of this world!
Gradually as I read the book, my painful thoughts and suffering were reduced by about 70% within those couple of weeks I took to really take everything in.
My obsessive and compulsive symptoms almost completely disappeared. I felt lighter, less reactive to my environment, more calm and alive. The freedom and relief I felt was unprecedented.
While I was going through that inner transformation I also realised another thing: that Eckhart Tolle represented the wise old man who gave me the golden key in the Jungian Archetype exercise: its book. A key to a new world. A new Earth.
As this was probably the most painful period of my life, I see now that this same pain actually accelerated my breakthrough. I couldn’t be more ready for Eckhart Tolle’s message due to my suffering.
This shift in consciousness is the most significant thing that happened to me till this day. I have counted the days since like my blessings.
However, I do recommend to seek professional help when dealing with psychological problems. Not completing my therapy was an irresponsible thing to do and I regret it.
Food For Thought
What has been your most significant experience in life till now?
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Continue to Part 5 of INFJ Male Bio.
Aron, E. N. (1999). The Highly Sensitive Person: How to thrive when the world overwhelms you. London, England: Element. Book
Tolle, E. (2006). A New Earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose. United States of America: Plume. Book
For the total list of recommended reading, please go to the Wisdom page.
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