Jenna answers more questions
How can I start my own business, find my community, or serve the public when my primary instinct is to be a hermit? I don’t make many friends or maintain friendships because my energies have always been inner-focused, developing my spiritual and creative life. How can I translate this into right livelihood? Being around people (or clients) for any length of time is usually exhausting, frustrating, and disappointing. I either absorb their problems/pain and want to fix them, or I can’t tolerate their personalities, period. At my job, I spend most of the time in focused concentration at the computer, failing to build allies, maintain friendships/contacts, or network (all the soft skills that guarantee success in the marketplace, I’m told.) . . . Does this mean I’ll have to be a wage slave forever, because I lack the social skills to find a community, a niche market, a client base, or even a circle of friends? And what happens after retirement, with no husband or children, deceased parents, and estranged siblings? Should I be seeking a monastery instead of dreaming of starting a business?
What is most interesting to me about your question is how well it describes my own experience. I also am an INFP, inner-focused, spiritual, creative, very focused at the computer, and I get exhausted with too much time around other people, don't like to "network," etc., etc.
This is precisely why I have carefully crafted a profession that works for me: As a life coach, I work from home, set my own schedule, and hand-pick the clients I work with. I have a wide network of personal connections, many of which I maintain online and by phone. I have select friendships with people I love to spend time with, and otherwise like to be at home with my family and pets. I do all my business promotion through means that work for me: my e-zine, website, blog, and web advertising.
When I do go out into the world, whether for business or pleasure, I strive to do so in a defined, conscious way: I schedule no more than one social event in a weekend, one public speaking event in a month, or one TeleConference in a week. I do only a specific number of coaching sessions each week. I've learned what my energy requirements are, and to the greatest extent possible, I honor them. Despite these "limitations," I bring in a reasonable salary and can afford the things I feel I need. I am careful to price my services to match my energy expenditures and effort, while also striving to find ways to work with people at all budget levels.
So in the end, no, I don't believe that you have to be a wage slave, retreat to monastery, create a business in a mainstream way, or use the standard measures of success. The key for sensitive souls is to 1) be willing to be sensitive and know that means you have different requirements and needs, 2) think outside the box to create something that really works for you and your sensitive nervous system.
See my answer to Sheila, below, about being around other people.
My question is how do I make a living when I can not even be around people? My chosen profession is nursing, but every time I come into contact with emotionally or physically ill clients I take on their problems and feel them as if they are my own. . . . I know nursing is no longer an option for me. So again I repeat my question how do I make a living when I can no longer be around people without becoming ill? How do I stop all the information from coming in? I have tried all kinds of shielding techniques, but every time I think I have found one that is stronger and will work then something new starts coming through that I did not have to deal with before. I have come to fear being around people.
It sounds to me like you might be a sensitive soul with such a sensitive energy field that you have extra requirements for clearing your energy field and taking time to be alone to recharge. People with crystal aura colors have these requirements, and also make powerful healers.
The nursing profession demands a huge energy outlay from a sensitive person. Working a limited schedule (even as little as 1 day per week) or working in an environment with patients who are generally in good spirits would be a way to help balance that. However, it sounds like you have come to a place of acceptance that it is time to move on. I encourage you to consider pursuing energy skills training for healers (such as shamanic training or perhaps working with someone like Barbara Brennan).
My experience is that shielding techniques are only a small part of the puzzle. It's a great place to start, but we also need good clearing skills to remove what we do pick up from our energy fields. This makes the shielding skills ultimately end up being like training wheels. (Though I do teach a shielding technique that I think is a cut above the rest.)
We also need to have a strong, clear sense of ourselves so that we are better able to stay in our own skins and stop becoming energetically enmeshed with others. To do so, we have to make a philosophical shift that it is okay not to process or fix other people's energy, problems, or emotions (a lot of sensitives subconsciously believe that other people need us to take care of them -- see my article, "Are those your feelings?").
We can also raise our own vibration enough so we are out of sync with the lower vibration energies around us. That way as we move through the world, we don't attract negative experiences because we don't resonate with them. This is an important application for the Law of Attraction.
I was wondering how you would suggest telling people about being sensitive, especially people close to you who “don't believe in that stuff”? I tried telling my fiancé recently, but . . . it didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped. The negative energy in our relationship now is overwhelming! Do you have any tips on explaining sensitive and empathic abilities to people without making them think you're just a bit off?
It's been a while since you posted your question; hopefully this is still relevant.
Talking to non-HSPs about being highly sensitive can be tricky. I wrote an article in June, 2005, called "Explaining Your Sensitivity." You can find it here on my website.
When talking with intimate partners, take the time to explain it gradually. I've slowly introduced the concept of being an intuitive empath to my husband (then my boyfriend) -- at first he thought I was a bit nuts too, but he has gotten more and more comfortable with the idea over time. So hang in there and go about it gradually. I suggest starting with the more mainstream aspects of sensitivity -- you might even consider showing your fiancé Elaine Aron's book, The Highly Sensitive Person.
Best wishes for your marriage.
How does one know if they are HSP or simply touchy?
I encourage you to take the Self-Test on Elaine Aron's website, here to help you assess whether or not you are highly sensitive. As a follow up, you might want to then take my online assessment called, "Is Your Sensitivity Working For You?" here.
Greetings. My question is how to stay present with all of my children when they are all asking me questions at the same time? It's like being in a crowded room when they all bombard me with questions and it disrupts my inner self with all the "noise," to the point where it hurts, and I don't want to ignore them or hurt their feelings. So how do I deal with them and stay true to myself? Thanks.
What occurs to me is sitting down with them at a quiet, calm time and making a plan for how to handle such situations in advance. You might even ask them to help you come up with a hand signal to get their attention. (At an event I attended we used a technique where the leader would raise a hand and be quiet to signal to the group that it was time to pay attention. Everyone else would raise their hands and be quiet as well as soon as they noticed it. It was a nice way to get everyone's attention without yelling.)
In the moment, I think it's important to tell them the truth, something like, "I want to answer all your questions and I don't want to hurt your feelings by getting upset, so let's all take a deep breath and I'll answer them one at a time." I'm not a parenting expert, but my sense is that giving kids the chance to know what's going on with you will help them enlist on your side.
How on earth do I stay grounded being a stay-at-home mom of a two- and four-year old who fight, scream, whine, throw temper tantrums almost all day long? It is overwhelming, overstimulating, and I tend to lose it. I am a single mom and have no help to even get a breather!
Good question. Children can be a source of intense stimulation in a world that is already overstimulating. I suggest finding ways to get grounded WITH them. Playing in the dirt or sandbox would be great for getting you grounded and giving them a chance to play, for instance.
Also, I recently heard a wonderful story about a mom with three girls, ages one, two and three years old whose father had died recently. She was so exhausted, and so desperate, that she came up with a game called "Make A New Mommy." Every day, she and the girls would get out the rolling pins and balls. She would lie on the floor and they would roll her out like dough. That way, she got her daily "massage" and her girls got to play with her too. I thought it was a brilliant, creative helpful choice in a seemingly insurmountable situation.
More on Highly Sensitive Parenting
Are there other highly sensitive parents out there with good solutions for Tammy and Johya? I'd love to have you share them on our discussion board, here.
Read my article on "Making Highly Sensitive Parenting Work"
Thank you for your questions… I'll be answering more questions in future e-zines. What are your biggest questions about being highly sensitive? Post them here.
Copyright June 2008, Jennifer K. Avery
For more articles like this one, see Jenna's Articles or her E-zine Archives online.
This article may be published on your website or in your e-zine as long as the copyright notice and this complete note are included:
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?"