Jenna Answers Your Questions
[Here is] one of my questions about being highly sensitive: How do I accomplish goals when one of my major challenges is a depletion of energy from a sense of being overwhelmed and also a huge need for downtime and energy renewal? Thank you, sincerely and with warm regards.
The first thing I want you to know is that it IS possible to accomplish goals as a sensitive person. Many of us feel like being sensitive can be an obstacle to accomplishing anything. What I often find is the underlying assumption that in order to accomplish goals, we have to do it in a mainstream way. However, that approach doesn't generally work for sensitive souls. The key to accomplishing goals as a sensitive person is to do them in a way that works with your sensitivity, rather than against it.
Here are some examples:
1. Rather than pushing through hours and hours of work to accomplish tasks, set limits on the amount of time you spend on any one thing. Take breaks and pace yourself. The grueling pace that many non-HSPs set is simply not appropriate for sensitives.
2. Follow your inner guidance when making choices, not your mind. Your intuition is designed to give you the best and easiest answers.
3. Listen to your emotions. They can provide valuable feedback and information about what's working and what's not. For instance, feeling down is often a sign that you are pushing yourself to do something that your spirit isn't aligned with. Or, you might simply be exhausted and need a break. When this happens, make time to rest and reconsider.
4. Similarly, honor your natural cycles. In periods of expansion, high energy-output, and/or creativity, we must balance these times with periods of contraction, rest, and renewal. As I said recently to a client, healthy agricultural practices include allowing the fields to be fallow for a time so the soils can rebuild. We must allow ourselves the same.
It might take a little longer to accomplish something as a sensitive soul. But I know in my heart that trusting your sensitivity to guide you will allow you to act with greater impact and satisfaction. In other words, you'll do a better job and you'll feel good about it.
My biggest question would have to be: Why me? [Sensitivity] seems more like a curse than a gift, to me. How do you accept this? I cannot and do not see how I ever will [accept my sensitivity] or how anyone can. It is not right. We are freaks. We should be allowed the privilege of being put to sleep like an old dog. Of course that would be a humanitarian issue, but I suppose we don't deserve any breaks or anything else for that matter, right?
I want to first acknowledge how clearly frustrated and in pain you are about being highly sensitive. It certainly comes with its challenges. And, there are many skills and tools available that help make the frustrations more manageable and the gifts much more accessible.
I absolutely do not believe that we are "freaks." In fact, I want to encourage you to read The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron, if you haven’t done so already. She speaks to the fact that sensitivity is genetic, and is designed to offer different survival mechanisms for ANY species, including humans. Sensitivity is simply a different way of being. However, because our culture is set up for the other 80 percent of the population that isn't highly sensitive, we aren't taught the skills that will help us have happy, healthy, and easier lives.
There are people in the world faced with graver challenges than we sensitives. Some of them give up hope of finding happiness. Others make the best of what they are given and choose to thrive despite their challenges. There are so many powerful and amazing things that come along with being highly sensitive. Please give yourself the chance to discover what they are, and how to work with the gifts that you have been given. I encourage you to start by reading the book I've recommended, and then consider getting support from a coach or a therapist who understands high sensitivity.
My biggest question about being an HSP is how can I NOT be one?
It isn't possible to not be an HSP. However, it IS possible to learn to work with it, rather than against it. Then things get a lot easier.
Being highly sensitive is like being born with brown eyes or blond hair. It's simply a genetic fact. As I said to Christopher, I want to encourage you to think of your sensitivity as a given and learn to take advantage of it. There are many gifts that come along with being highly sensitive. For an example, see my recent article, "What's So Great About Being Highly Sensitive, Anyway?" Learn the skills to manage the challenges of high sensitivity, and put the innate talents you DO have to work. I'd be surprised if your perspective doesn't shift as a result.
My question would be, will I ever be rid of anxiety and worry and have peace and calm in my life?
I sometimes think that I have a black belt in worrying. I'm really good at it! My husband and I joke that he doesn't need to worry because I take care of all of it.
It's easy for me to fall into a worrying pattern. But when I do, I shift the energy for myself by praying, getting more information from trusted sources, taking flower essences, and moving my body to get myself out of my head and my fear-based thinking. The important thing to remember about worrying is that it doesn't help. It isn't real. It is only the voice of fear.
Fear is simply one way of thinking about something. I like what author Debbie Ford does with fear. She asks, "What does fear say?" and "What would faith say?" Then, you can choose which voice brings the peace and calm you are looking for.
As I mentioned in my response to Laura, as sensitives we often push ourselves to do things that simply aren't right for us because we think we are supposed to. While Dr. Elaine Aron points out that sensitive souls with difficult childhoods are more prone to anxiety, I also find that a huge source of anxiety for sensitives is not understanding and respecting our sensitivity. When you honor what your sensitivity is telling you and respond to it appropriately, you may find your anxiety lessening.
Copyright 2007, Jennifer K. Avery
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Jenna Avery, the Life Coach for Sensitive Souls, offers an original coaching program designed to guide highly sensitive souls to a deep sense of inner rightness, so they are inspired to step forward and shine. You're invited to visit her website at www.highlysensitivesouls.com to take her free online assessment, "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?"