Confessions of a Highly Sensitive Person
Hi. My name is Terri and I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). If you know me, you may say, “Well, that is no surprise”. Yes, I have been known to be called emotional at times. I have even called myself an emotional basket case on several occasions. But being a Highly Sensitive Person does not necessarily equate to being overly emotional as one might think. Because I misunderstood myself for such a long time, I share these confessions with you with the hope that you are better able to understand and love yourself or a loved one with these same traits.
I learned about this term, HSP, while listening to a podcast between Dr. Caroline Leaf and Dr. Elaine Aron. Many years ago, Dr. Aron discovered that 20% of the population are HSPs. She states that this trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant and intuitive before acting, which is innate. HSPs are more aware of the world around them. The brains of Highly Sensitive Persons actually work a little differently than other people’s brains. Researchers can see a difference in the amygdala, which is where we process our emotions. The scientific term is Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) and can be identified by four categories using the D.O.E.S. acronym:
- Depth of Processing – Confession: it takes me time to make a decision because I think through so many things that might affect that decision. I always thought I was like a Boy Scout because I was “always prepared.” When I go somewhere, I usually have everything we need because I have thought through so many scenarios. Another confession: I stand back and observe a lot of times, especially in new situations. People may think that I am quiet or that something is wrong with me (and I used to think that about myself) but now I understand that is just how I process situations.
How do I handle this now? I give myself extra time to prepare or process. I also tell my loved ones that I need that extra time. I give myself a pep talk before new situations. I remind myself that it is okay to observe and that I bring value to the new situation or people and I am prepared to contribute when I am ready. I use doTERRA’s Motivate Touch Blend and roll it on my wrists before heading to an event.
- Over Stimulation – Confession: I enjoy socializing but when I have had too much or there are too many people or too much information, then I need to have down time and recoup. I did not understand this about myself early on. I would get burned out or have meltdowns but I did not recognize the connection. I thought it was because I was an introvert trying to be an extrovert. Now I understand it is just how God created me. Another confession: this age of information, with so much coming at us all the time such as texts and social media, DEFINITELY overstimulates my mind.
How do I handle this now? I plan better. I space out my socializing and make sure to plan some down time. I ask for space when I need it. I make myself do nothing sometimes, which is hard for me to do. I limit my time on social media. I limit the news. I silence my phone at times. I use calming essential oils such as Balance or Adaptiv, to help quiet my mind and body. I use TerraShield to “shield” me from too much stimuli.
- Emotionally Responsive and Empathetic – There it is!! My justification for being an “emotional basket case.” As Dolly Parton says from the movie Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” Now I know why I relate so well to that statement. Confession: I may just cry when I am frustrated, angry, happy or sad or all of the above. I also connect well with others and their emotions. People know me to be an empathetic listener and someone they can turn to in their times of need.
How do I handle this now? I love that I am empathetic. I think more people would benefit if they imagined walking a mile in another person’s shoes. However, I have had to learn how to set boundaries and not take on the emotions of others in an unhealthy way. Through coaching and education, I have increased my emotional intelligence, meaning I am more aware of and can better express my emotions and use them more effectively in my relationships. I also take a supplement called Adaptiv that helps manage anxious feelings and is very calming. I take vitamins daily as well to boost my mood and my health.
- Sensitive to Subtleties – Confession: I am sensitive to sounds. I can hear the mailman down the street. I can hear my husband’s noisy knees as he comes up the stairs from two floors down! I also visibly notice small changes in a setting or in a mood. This can be a helpful trait but if not careful, it can contribute more to information overload.
How do I handle this now? I make sure I do fun puzzles or games that I am good at because I notice the small subtleties. This actually relaxes me and it helps me to do something “mindless”. It seems counter-intuitive but it works for me. I also love it when I complete one because there are some days when I feel like I did not complete a thing! I have to take my wins where I can on those days. I love to diffuse Cedarwood or rub some AromaTouch on my shoulders and settle down for the evening while doing something mindless.
It is my hope that these confessions help you understand some of your own traits or maybe even understand your loved ones better. It is especially important to identify your children’s traits and help them adapt accordingly. It has been such a relief to learn that my brain and my central nervous system work differently – and that is okay. Knowledge empowers us and now I know how to manage myself, my emotions and my relationships better. There were so many times I thought that there was something wrong with me or that I just did not fit in. I am grateful I do not believe that lie anymore but instead embrace my uniqueness and use it to help others. My journey is what led me to become an Emotions Mentor Coach so that I can help others increase their emotional intelligence and improve their relationships. If you would like to learn more about how coaching can improve your Emotional Intelligence and relationships or about any of these products, please contact me. To learn more about Highly Sensitive Persons and take the test or get Dr. Aron’s books, visit www.hsperson.com.