homeless personI’ve been traveling a lot lately, and I’ve seen people all over the world who are begging on the street or homeless.

In Thailand, especially, we’ve seen people missing limbs and with severe physical disfigurement. In Bangkok, we saw a woman sitting on the street, begging, with what looked like large tumors hanging off her face.

Sometimes you will see someone missing their legs, lying face down on a busy, dirty, hot sidewalk, with their arms outstretched, holding a cup for donations.

I’ll make some generalizations here. No one likes seeing homeless people. Everyone feels sad when they see someone begging, or if they see someone who is disfigured or disabled lying in the street. Don’t get me wrong– I don’t think I’m special because I feel bad about seeing people who are struggling.

But when I see someone begging on the street, like the people I mentioned above, a feeling jolts through my entire body. I don’t know how to explain it–it’s like a flash, or a shock, from head to toe. I feel an intense sadness, and then I feel like I should give the person money, but then I’m too shy and timid to do it. Then, the guilt. Then I can’t stop thinking about the person.

What might their situation be? Can you imagine how bad it must be to be begging on the street? They must be so hot and uncomfortable. Their clothes look so dirty–I wonder if and when they are able to bathe? I wonder where they go at night. Do they not have any family that can take care of them? Some doctor somewhere must be willing to help them with their physical ailment for free, right?! Then I think about how fortunate I am to be healthy, to have family, to be able to afford food, health care, and lodging.

Since highly sensitive people sometimes have heightened emotions and empathy, it makes sense that HSPs may have more intense reactions to seeing homeless or people begging on the street. As an HSP, what do you think?