I have something personal to tell you. I'm a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and an Empath. It's a wicked combination, both a blessing and a burden. I will not bullshit you, being these 2 things in one body and one mind can be a daily battle. In the last 2 years I have focused on healing and transcending the tough stuff by facing it head on. I'm not going to sell you some 'get well soon' ebook or healing program, I want to share my story on what it is like to be an Empath and HSP and for those of you who are HSP and/or Empathic or suspect that you are, I hope my series will support you and help you realise that you are not alone.
What is a HSP?
According to Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You, the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. You can read more about HSP here. Carl Jung originally coined the phrase "innate sensitiveness".
What is an Empath?
An Empath is a person who can deeply perceive emotions of others and take those emotions on as their own. An Empath's abilities can present in different ways from one Empath to another. Here is an excellent list on the traits of an Empath.
As for myself, I am hugely affected in public places where there are lots of people as I find it too 'noisy' (too many emotions and energies clashing), I crave solitude and quiet, I can pick up on the emotions of others, I find watching current affairs, tragic stories and cruelty unbearable, I pick up on the vibes of people I do not want to deal with/do not like, I am extremely compassionate, I'm a creative, I love animals, I have always been interested in esoteric and metaphysics, I am always learning something new or thirsty for knowledge, and I value freedom. I have probably missed a few things here, but you get the idea!
Honour your Inner Empath
If you are an Empath, it's really important to value your sensitive and empathic traits. These are very special traits and it is understood that a small percentage of the world are Empaths. I am grateful every day that I am the way I am, not solely because I am sensitive and empathic, but because they form part of my whole self. I can not switch my empathic traits off and become non-empathic.
My decision to 'out' myself has a lot to do with me wanting to be fully expressed. That is to fully express myself and feel the freedom in doing so. I've spent a couple of weeks working out how I was going to write about all this. I gave a lot of thought about what I wanted to write and for 2 days before I started writing this, I suffered major anxiety about sharing something that is quite personal and then proceeded to battle with it! I had already shared that I would write about this in one safe and supportive group, and then I got cold feet, butterflies and heart pounding fear. It's commonplace to go on social media read about everyone's daily lives and at times personal problems, so writing a post about this should be easy, right? Well, my answer there is No. There are only a couple of people in my life who know that I am HSP and an Empath and are learning how to support me when I have my highly emotive moments where my boundaries are crossed and I struggle to put them back up again.
Inside View and Some Guideposts for Supporters and Loved Ones
In future posts I will go back to my earliest memories of thinking there was something more to my thought patterns right through to the present where I actively try to control, block and strengthen my boundaries while I traverse daily life. If you want to know what it's like for me if I follow the news, read the newspaper and watch documentaries about people who have suffered? I will write about this and more in upcoming blog posts.
You may have someone in your life who you think is very emotional or sensitive. It could be that they are HSP and/or an Empath and they need you to communicate and support them in a different way. They may not even know they are HSP or an Empath. I hope that in sharing my story, you will attain some guidance on how to change the way you communicate with your friend or family member.
I'm not much of a rule setter - more of a rule breaker being an artist/maker and all! SO...the first guidepost I will lead in with is this: do not tell the person that they are being overly sensitive, silly or what they think or feel is stupid. This can only escalate the anxiety and negativity they sense and can encourage reclusive behaviour. Here's why:
Emotions run extremely high in highly sensitive and empathic people. If we have not worked on our boundaries, we are quite vulnerable to the thoughts, feelings, words and actions of others. We will mull over or feel what people have said long after the words were spoken, and will most likely suffer with insomnia. It's stressful, but it doesn't have to be. It can feel manageable if we have support.
We tend to think of others first more often than not, but it is assumed that we think of no one but ourselves. We may come across as selfish because we crave solitude even more if we don't have it as often as needed, but this is because silence is absolute bliss - to be alone allows us to recharge our batteries and restore. The time we spend worrying what other people think of us is wasted time. It took me a while to learn how to block and protect myself from outside influences and 'noise', not just thoughts but emotions. I'm still trying to find an effective way of managing it. If we don't have the quiet we crave, we lose focus, become irritable and end up emptying our self love cup because it feels like a burden rather than a gift to feel what others feel.
I feel like I can only be at my best when I make time to do things that nourish my soul. I'll also mention here that I am an only child so I spent 29 years of my life in relative quiet before becoming a parent! Being sensitive to noise on a daily basis can consume me but as long as I create the space to do what nourishes me, I'm okay. Here are a few things that I do: make and eat healthy slow cooked meals, drink herbal tea (preferably Yogitea Detox), self-reiki, crystal body gridding, drink green juices and super foods, homemade salt scrub exfoliation (salt is the ultimate detoxifier), magnesium and essential oil baths, massage and reiki healing sessions, walks in nature, ocean dips and listening to music.
Over to you now. What do you think? Do you suspect that you are an Empath? Do you know anyone who is an Empath or a HSP? Is there anything you'd like to know and would like me to answer in this blog series? Please email me or add a comment below. Thanks for reading!
Hello, I'm Sharyn: Founder of of Gutsy Girl and Gutsy Girls Will Rule The World. I am the Creatrix of Sacred Circle Leadership Training and Gutsy Mantras.
Get to know me on my About page.
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