Do you or someone you love identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? Get the full scoop on how to survive and thrive as an HSP in this condensed interview with Thrive Global and Antoinette Beauchamp.
What is meant by a Highly Sensitive Person?
A Highly Sensitive Person is someone attuned to their energy, the energy of others, and of the environment. HSPs can easily read the energy and emotions of a friend or colleague and are keenly aware of energetic shifts in a room. HSPs can easily be disguised or categorized as people who easily get hurt or often take things personally, but this is a very generalized stereotype. Being highly sensitive has an intuitive and energetic piece to it that has nothing to do with hurting one’s feelings.
Does a Highly Sensitive Person have a higher degree of empathy towards others? Is a Highly Sensitive Person offended by hurtful remarks made about other people?
An HSP has a higher degree of empathy because they can feel other people’s emotions as if they’re their own (similar to an empath). They are often putting themselves in someone else’s shoes so much so that the feelings feel like their own — with no effort or awareness that they’re doing so. As for being offended, the short answer is yes.
An HSP can often be offended by hurtful remarks made about other people, especially with little to no awareness of their sensitivity. However, when someone gets offended by hurtful comments made about others, it can also simply mean that they are practicing empathy, or that they have a close relationship with that person. People that are not HSPs can learn and practice empathy, but HSPs care for and feel someone else’s pain by nature.
What advantages do Highly Sensitive people have?
There are many advantages to being a Highly Sensitive Person. In fact, I believe there are far more advantages than disadvantages.
Thrive as leaders. Employees feel like they understand them and turn to them with their challenges and full trust. This fosters loyalty in business and in life, which is an absolutely invaluable quality to have.
They have deeper relationships. Because they can feel so profoundly, HSPs can use their sensitivity to their advantage by using their intuition and empathy to ask deeper questions and provide a safe space for people to open up.
They feel more. HSPs don’t only feel the negative emotions more, but the positive ones too. Who wouldn’t want to feel more joy, happiness, and excitement?! They are hyper-attuned to these energies also, which makes the ride of life that much more exciting.
Can you share a story about how a highly sensitive nature created problems for someone at work or socially?
I have an executive client who is constantly overwhelmed. Her work environment is very heavy; they’re a growing company with a lot on their plates across the board. Not only does she have a full calendar herself, but she manages people that are highly stressed, overwhelmed, and are experiencing anxiety. On a daily basis, she is not only feeling her own sense of overwhelm, but she is feeling and taking on the energy and anxiety of everyone around her. Being an HSP, in her case, is helpful because her employees feel like they can talk to her, and they feel understood.
However, it is also problematic, because up until recently, she was not aware this was happening. Once I brought this to her attention in our sessions, she noticed how all of these feelings were not just her own. Since then, she has been able to distinguish and disconnect from her emotions versus someone else’s. While that didn’t solve the entirety of her stress immediately, it did create room for her to feel more at peace of mind and more in control of her environment.
How would you advise your client to respond if something they hear or see bothers or affects them, but others comment that it is minor?
Allow other peoples’ judgments, opinions, and comments to come, but be mindful of taking them personally and internalizing them as your own. As humans, we are constantly projecting our own insecurities, beliefs, fears, and doubts onto other people. If someone tells you that you’re being petty or what you’re experiencing is ‘minor,’ then they are simply telling you exactly what they would say to themselves to calm down from a situation. In turn, practice listening to yourself more often and going inward to ask yourself what you need. (Journaling is a great way to become more self-aware.)
What strategies do you recommend to your clients to overcome the challenges that come with being overly sensitive without changing their caring and empathetic nature?
Become hyper-aware of your energy shifts. “Energetic mastery” is something that I teach my clients across the board–becoming aware of your energy at any given moment can give you significant power and support. Some simple tips:
Pause before you take your next step/complete your next task.
Check-in with yourself before you go out or take a phone call.
Say no and set boundaries if you are feeling ‘too much’ or need a break.
Practice meditation or yoga as often as possible to slow down.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person?
The biggest myth I want to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person is that we are “too sensitive.” Meaning, that because of our sensitivities, we cannot be functioning members of society. Unfortunately, this myth is perpetuated by stereotypes, pop culture, and movies — so much that HSPs start to believe it. Yet we are here on this planet to interact, to live this 3D life, and learn how to master our qualities vs. using them as shields or excuses to shy away from others. Being afraid of your superpowers will hold you back from truly standing in your greatness. You can handle anything, as long as you continue to learn about yourself, your reactions, and your energetic shifts. Choose balance over extremes to thrive and learn what works for you.
As you know, one of the challenges of being a Highly Sensitive Person is the harmful, and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just stop being so sensitive?” What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that it just doesn’t work that way?
It’s important to own who you are, no matter what. Don’t allow someone else to bully or criticize you for your gifts. And don’t victimize yourself, either–you are powerful! You are capable of all things, and you can continue to create different situations and realities by harnessing your sensitivity. Simply tell the person who challenges you that you love being sensitive and that you see it as a strength–not a weakness. People are afraid of vulnerability and sensitivity because it’s raw and real. Allow them their experience–they’re living in fear, and you’re not. This doesn’t need to be contentious rather a mutual understanding that both worlds can co-exist.
What are the 5 things you need to know to survive and thrive if you love or are in a relationship with a Highly Sensitive Person?
Give them space. Whenever your partner seems stressed, overwhelmed, or gets quiet, give them a little space and use it as an opportunity to embrace some space yourself. It’s healthy for all couples (and even friends) to seek space to grow and reflect as individuals, let alone someone sensitive!
Encourage their self-care. Enough said! Encouraging a bath, energy healing session, meditation, and more, will give the person you love permission to recharge in a cleansing and effective way. Self-care is necessary for sensitives — the reset button is non-negotiable. Show them that you know this!
Be loving and compassionate as often as you can. Whenever I am caring and compassionate toward the HSPs in my life, I see how it lights them up. If all energies are felt in a heightened way for HSPs, then imagine how good they feel when love and compassion are at the forefront! It will positively jolt them, make them smile, and maybe even give them butterflies.
Have a little fun. Because HSPs can be introverted or have tendencies to stay inside more than others, allow them to have some fun celebrating their lives! Welcoming environments will get them going in a positive, loving way. It will also give them space to get out of their heads and into their bodies in a lighter setting. Spending time in nature, dancing to joyful music, or being amongst positive, high-vibe friends will support them.
Support their beliefs and rituals. Even if you’re not a big meditator yourself, or maybe you don’t have quite the same beliefs, support them and allow them their space to participate in what makes them feel good. Rituals are very important for HSPs. For example: buy them a gift card to their favorite meditation or yoga studio, or a clear quartz crystal for positive energy.
This is a condensed interview previously published in Thrive Global