The term 'Highly Sensitive Person' (HSP) is now becoming much more widely recognised in every day terminology, but it was initially coined by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron in the 1990s (you might have read or been recommended one of her many books!)
Highly Sensitive People are those who are extremely attuned to their environments; both physical and emotional, the good, the bad and the ugly!
I completely identify with this description and try my best to embrace all that this entails. Sometimes my sensitivity can feel overwhelming, but it also feels like a superpower.
I'm highly intuitive.
I also get very easily overwhelmed and need pretty strong boundaries to avoid burning out. This is why HSPs need to be especially well-equipped in taking care of their own wellbeing.
As HSPs, we tend to process information more deeply and thoroughly than the average person. This might mean spotting extra details that others might overlook, experiencing emotions more intensely, and being highly empathetic. We can also be highly self-motivated and independent, thriving through periods of quiet and solitude.
The secret to harnessing these superpowers is self-awareness and staying in control. This might not be possible all of the time, but the more we can learn to identify what we need and ask for it, the better our highly sensitive skills can be put to use.
It's true that much of the world is 'designed' around the needs of less sensitive individuals, but in my opinion, this just means that we need more information about how to help ourselves. This could mean learning about:
Self-awareness: Understanding our own needs, triggers, and limitations. Noticing how certain situations, people, or environments affect us will help identify where we need to set boundaries.
Communication: Clearly and kindly expressing our needs to others. Using "I" statements to communicate how certain behaviours or situations affect us. For example, "I feel overwhelmed when there's too much noise, so I need some quiet time to recharge."
Setting Boundaries: Beginning in less challenging situations. It can be helpful for uus to practice asserting our needs with people we already feel safe and comfortable with before addressing more complex scenarios.
Establishing Self-Care: Prioritising self-care routines that help us to recharge and manage sensitivity and stimulation. When we get into a routine of consistently taking care of ourselves, we can have the energy and resilience to maintain boundaries.
Planning Ahead: If we know we're about to enter a situation that might be overwhelming, we can learn how to plan ahead. This might mean pre-setting our limits and strategies for coping, such as taking breaks, using breathwork, or excusing yourselves and moving out of a situation if needed.
Monitoring Our Energy Levels: Over time, we get better and better at paying attention to how we're feeling emotionally and physically. If we can notice signs of exhaustion, stress, or discomfort before they reach breaking point, we get extra time and space to make changes that help us.
People often ask me about my brand name 'Strength in Feathers' and what it means...
To be honest I don't have a clear cut answer or story behind choosing the name, but the idea of Strength in Feathers was to capture the strengths of being delicate, gentle, and light.
If this resonates with you too, I'd love to meet you and hear about your experiences of managing your wellbeing as a highly sensitive person.
I run workshops and retreat days as well as individual coaching sessions. I'm based mostly in Falmouth, but also work online so drop me a message from wherever you are in the world!