We Need Highly Sensitive People Thriving in the World
Do you often feel like there’s a light inside of you that wants to shine brighter but is overloaded, overwhelmed, or depleted? I understand that feeling well as I am a sensitive person who happened to answer 27 out of 27 on Elaine Aron’s self-test for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). I always felt different than most people around me but that usually meant I felt awkward. Having grown up feeling too sensitive and emotional I often struggled with a constant state of depletion. I would plan out my energy for the week trying to figure out how I could get everything done. Often something larger would end up in my lap and I just felt that I couldn’t accomplish what I needed. I couldn’t wait for that moment when I could get into bed in the evening after the kids had been put to sleep and everything had been done for the day and I could finally rest. But I often felt like I could never catch up with my energy and usually started the next day tired too. As a psychotherapist that now specializes in this trait, I hear the same story from a lot of my HSP clients and students.
I get so excited when an HSP comes to me wanting to learn about the trait and understand themselves better in the world as a sensitive person! When I’m talking to an HSP that has just started their work with me and I hear about their suffering, I understand that feeling on such a deep level. Maybe they feel like they’re not good enough, maybe they feel like they’re struggling at work, maybe they’re struggling in their relationship, and they are wanting more. It was within my own suffering that I felt I needed to understand myself more. Years ago, when I started my own therapy, the first thing I said to my therapist was I want to work on my self-esteem. That’s often the first part of our awareness, feeling we have low self-esteem, or sometimes we are just aware of our high stress and anxiety. Having suffered anxiety in my life I understood this way of suffering on a personal level and I understand it with my clients and students. When I was in graduate school, I learned more about Elaine Aron and her work and research with the trait. I cried as I read her book, The Highly Sensitive Person because I felt so understood, and at that moment, I realized that there were other people that felt like me. We were often trying to mold who we were to "fit in", often feeling hidden or insecure, and we were trying so hard in the world.
I wanted to learn all there was to learn about the trait, and at that time there was very little information about it. When I started working with clients I recognized similar patterns of the trait that we all seemed to share globally. I started studying meditation, mindfulness, practicing yoga, and learning about the brain. Rick Hanson‘s work became pivotal in my connection with how we can actually train our brains. The concept is that there were particular things that we could do that can alter and improve how we feel and reduce our suffering. You could activate particular parts of your brain that were calming and soothing and positive. I started practicing on myself and felt such amazing changes within me. I had more energy. I felt more positive. I thought more creatively and felt better about myself in general. I started sharing those tools and techniques with my clients and students. The idea that there were things we could do to feel better about ourselves, mind, body, and spirit felt like a relief and so important. As they started using these new tools and beginning to feel better, they could experience that light getting brighter and brighter. There were specific ways we could change our experience, activate those centers in our brain, have more energy, and we could be there more for ourselves, our family and friends. It was the most amazing time because I had clients coming to me who had suffered for years with anxiety and they were feeling better within weeks. I started writing out the things that were working for clients and gave a workshop to therapists in my area and created my first online course for the highly sensitive person about understanding our brain and the specific techniques and tools that someone can use to reduce stress and anxiety and challenges and increase energy and fulfillment and positivity. I did a pilot program with highly sensitive people and asked them what worked and what didn’t so that I could make sure it worked outside my one on one time with someone.
It was an incredibly fulfilling experience to watch highly sensitive people start to thrive in the world because I truly believe we are meant for greatness! We can find ways to make the world better and learn to support our needs and make things work more efficiently. We have this incredible capacity of depth of processing that allows us to analyze so many different angles. We can read micro-expressions that up to 80% of the population miss. We are incredibly intuitive, aware, conscious, conscientious, helpful, kind, compassionate, and loving people. Sometimes those beautiful traits get buried under that overwhelming exhaustion and fatigue or in the depletion of oversensitivity and what can feel like emotional chaos. There are particular ways that we can take care of ourselves that help us manage the challenges so that we can increase the positives. I want that for you and I want that for all highly sensitive people globally.
We need you thriving in the world and doing your thing to make it better. We need you as that kind person who helps others. We need you as the creative parents that can be so loving and nurturing. We need you as professionals that are creating programs for our children. We need you as inventors making products that are more sensory friendly for us. We need you designing workspaces that give us private, quiet locations to do our best work. We need you to let highly sensitive people create programs to change the format of office hours allowing more work from home and less commuting and fewer hours to be more productive with more rest and restoration time. We need you to do the research that changes policies, we need your compassion to help those in need and make the world better. So if you are one of those people with a passion for making the world better or at least your own experience in the world better you deserve to learn everything you can about the trait and the methods that truly help you live a beautifully authentic life where you can truly love yourself and be that bright light in the world. We need you to see and live within your beautiful authentic self.
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~Julie Bjelland is a psychotherapist, global HSP consultant, and leader in the field of high sensitivity and has helped thousands of highly sensitive people around the world. As an HSP herself, Julie understands what it is like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions. Julie teaches an online course for HSPs and is the author of several books. www.juliebjelland.com.