Thriving As An HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)

By: Lisa Philippart
Now that you know a bit more about high sensitivity and its characteristics, it’s time to ask the question…how can an HSP not only survive, but thrive in a non-HSP world? According to Dr. Elain Aron, there are four steps to using our talents and gifts as HSPs to flourish in our daily environments.

First step is self-knowledge. You have already done this! As an HSP, you recognize four areas or indicators of our sensory processing sensitivity. 1. You reflect more than others about the way the world is going, the meaning of life, pondering the direction of a relationship, and feeling more deeply about the suffering of others. 2. You are often overstimulated by sights, smells, sounds, and people, which can lead to confusion, poor memory, and an activation of the “fight or flight” response. 3. You are emotionally intense! Yes, you feel deeply. HSPs are sentimental, full of compassion and worry, and are easily moved to tears or laughter. 4. You are sensory sensitive, which means that you are keen observers. You notice the smallest details, have low pain thresholds, and can sometimes identify feelings of positive or negative energy.

Second step is reframing. Reframing means seeing something in a new way or in a new context. Now that you are aware of your gift, you will want to reframe your past. So many of your “failures” were inevitable because neither you nor your parents or teachers or friends or co-workers understood you. You are considering your responses in light of what you know now about how your body automatically operates. Reframing your past and your perspective can lead to improved self-esteem, which can then lead to a decrease in becoming over aroused in unanticipated or highly stimulating situations.

Third step is healing. How can you survive as an HSP? Here is a brief list of suggestions from Dr. Ted Zeff’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: prepare for the overstimulation in your daily life, learn to calm your senses and cope with time pressures, take care of your body, allow yourself to sleep when needed, maintain harmonious relationships, create a peaceful work environment, and nurture your HSP soul. I am giving you permission to spend more time in serenity and quietude. I promise you will notice a positive change in your energy and spirit.

Fourth step is being an HSP in a non-HSP world. How can you thrive as an HSP? This involves three areas of an HSP’s world. 1. HSPs require more self-care than non-HSPs, so diet and exercise are vitally important. In addition, your mental and emotional processes can deliberately and intentionally alter all other areas of health and life. The happiness factor is crucial! Your self-care also includes quiet time to create that inner peace, which will allow your body and mind to realign and repair. 2. HSPs tend to experience discomfort in social situations. You will want to develop ways to reduce the chaos while creating a social life “persona.” In some situations, it may be appropriate to explain your trait. 3. Handling conflict is a difficult topic for HSPs. You tend to avoid it at all costs! But when you can’t, it helps to be as prepared as possible whenever you can, and to counter each negative thought with a positive one. A sense of humor and the natural gift of compassion can often de-escalate an uncomfortable situation.

Can you tell I am passionate about being an HSP? Until next time
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor