Recognizing the Oz Within

I love the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. Not only is it a compelling story that I never tire of watching, it is a stunning example of the differences in perception between highly sensitive people (HSPs) and the rest of the population. If you know the story, you know that the main character, Dorothy, lives in Kansas. Here is the black, white and every shade in between of the world we know. You can perceive reality in its starkest, most fundamental state.

Dorothy is like most of the rest of the population of our planet. She knows no different, that is until she lands in Oz. She opens the door into a vibrant and brilliant world. One that shines. It is a wonder to the eyes and to the other senses. Life takes on a whole new energy. Her vision is crisper, and it presents her world in a different light to her.

Explore what lies beyond the rainbow
“Double rainbow seen from Lower Mammoth” by YellowstoneNPS is marked under CC PDM 1.0.

But color or lack of color is not the only difference between Kansas and Oz. She is surprised by the idiosyncrasies of Oz. All the elements of life are there, but they declare themselves in strange new ways. Dorothy is surprised by these differences enough to tell her little dog, “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.“

We HSPs are born into a black and white world, seeing the wonder of Oz. If you are like myself, you spent much of your life trying to push your Oz perception into the Kansas landscape. But now you are realizing that Oz is where you belong. If so, this blog is for you.

Here, we will

  • Explore the advantages that your highly sensitive nature gives you;
  • Learn how to better face the challenges of the negative aspects of high sensitivity; and,
  • Learn how we can support our fellow HSPs as well as teach the rest of the world about us, and what we have to offer.

We humans know, discern, and understand what our world consists of through our senses. Sensual perception tells us how the world works. One of an HSP’s qualities is that of enhanced sensual perception. Perception that goes beyond the black and white vision of the normal world. Normal perception gives enough information to navigate through a lifetime. But the color world as perceived by Dorothy in Oz is more dazzling. And the vividness exposes that which cannot be seen by typical vision. A radiance which yields a deeper understanding to life.

Highly sensitive people everywhere are beginning to recognize the truly wonderful gifts that we have. While we acknowledge that we are not superior to anyone else, we also honor how our difference gives us certain advantages inaccessible to the other 80%-85% of the world.

With this blog, I hope to inform, enhance, and inspire. As you discern the unique idiosyncrasies of your uniqueness, life in Oz will soon become more comfortable.

Join me as we explore Oz together.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Is HSP Sensitivity a Curse or a Blessing? (Part 2)

In our last post, we took in many of the advantages that HSPs possess. In this one, we must look at the disadvantages in order to see the whole picture, and make a balanced choice.

Cons

Relationships

Because we can be overwhelmed, we limit our relationships to a few treasured friends. We are easily hurt by others’ insensitive words and actions. Due to our empathy and compassion, people are drawn to us. That means everyone. We can attract toxic people as well as the friendly kind, which leaves us open to abuse and exploitation.

Image courtesy of Geralt (Gerd Altmann) on Pixabay.

Career

We bring many wonderful qualities to the workplace, but we also have our limitations. Workplace distractions can hinder our productivity. A noisy, open work space can easily overwhelm us. We thrive on our inner thoughts and can come up with original solutions given the time necessary for us to accomplish this, but short, tight deadlines and on-the-spot thinking is not our forte. A job requiring much multitasking can be challenging and cause us untold amounts of stress. We are at our best when we can focus on one undertaking at a time.

Health

Because of our extreme sensitivity, we are susceptible to a number of illnesses and afflictions. Any illness that stress can produce will cause certain symptoms. Symptoms of stress in a “normal” person flare in intensity in an HSP. Migraines, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety and depression, heart disease, and gastrointestinal problems are just a few of the diseases that HSPs have struggled with.

Emotions

As noted earlier, understanding human emotions leads to better understanding of ourselves and other’s actions and motivations. But because that requires immense sensitivity, it has its drawbacks. We can become overwhelmed in times when our senses are being bombarded. For instance, around a large group of people or in an intense work situation. It also means that our feelings are easily hurt. We must guard against being defensive.

Personal

Image courtesy of Fotorech (Daniel Reche) on Pixabay.

Being highly sensitive can work both ways. It has its highlights and its pitfalls. Your individual experience will vary from every other HSP. In the end, it will depend upon what you make of it. If you are an optimistic person, the blessings will outshine the demands. And vise-versa if you tend to be pessimistic.

In my personal experience, I would not have it any other way. I’ve had my share of challenges to overcome, but in the end, my sensitivity has taught me more, given me more, and blessed me in ways being born “normal” never could. I hope that you, too, can see your highly sensitive nature as the blessing that it is. You’re one in a million in a group that is already one in five. How rare is that?

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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Is HSP Sensitivity a Curse or a Blessing? (Part 1)

We know that we are different from the other 80% of the population. Our sensitivity creates different biological responses than our counterparts. As a consequence, we often perceive our world differently. Our senses are the tools through which we comprehend that world. When they are heightened, our view is more intense, brighter or more energetic. Since our emotions express themselves through that extraordinary lens, they can be misunderstood by that group of people who see things differently than us.

Dr. Elaine Aron’s DOES list for HSPs

Before we go into the benefits and challenges that HSPs have, we should look at the core characteristics of HSPs. These were first presented by Dr. Elaine Aron in her research through the acronym DOES. They are listed in the graphic to the left. In addition to these core features, it is imperative to note that new research has shown that not all HSPs react the same way in certain instances. Highly sensitive children who did not have their needs met adequately by their parents were found to be more susceptible to depression, anxiety, or shyness.

With these facts in mind, let’s get to the pros and cons of sensory processing sensitivity (the term for the trait of high sensitivity).

Pros

Relationships

Empathy is key to success in our relationships. We don’t like to be spread thin, so we limit our relationships to a few special people in our lives. But the people with whom we have close relationships are drawn to us because we are cognizant of their needs. We listen to their wins with accolade and are sympathetic to their losses. We are conscientious and loyal to the people we love.

Career

There are innumerable benefits an HSP brings to the workplace. And corporate America is finally discovering this previously unknown fact. Detail-oriented, out-of-the-box thinking, seeing what others miss, exceptional leadership, empathy with client/customer base, working well without supervision, creativity, conscientiousness, and taking great pride in creating a superb work product are just a few of our many contributions to the workplace.

Health

Image courtesy of Aitoff (Andrew Martin) on Pixabay.

We are meticulous about health issues, diving into any health concern with research and determination. When we set our minds to it, we are tenacious in the areas of diet, exercise, and self-care.

Emotions

This may be our most striking advantage. We are adept at recognizing and experiencing intense emotion. Not only in ourselves, but in others as well. Nuance and subtle energy are easier for us to sense and identify. This gives us a clear window into not only our own actions and motivations, but into others actions and motivations as well. Understanding human behavior is a definite advantage to living a fulfilled and compassionate life.

Personal

Due to our sensitive personality trait, we are touched by nature. We love and cherish the beauty that nature provides. We are in tune with pets and wildlife. We also have more spiritual awareness. All these things come with a deep empathy and respect.

Now that you’ve been briefed on the advantages and benefits of sensory processing sensitivity, tune in next post to see the flip-side. There are negative traits or disadvantages that show themselves in the overall trait of sensitivity. We’ll look at those before answering the question presented in the title.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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How to Maximize Your Personal Power for Self-Protection – Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at the destructive nature of toxic people that can wreak havoc on an HSP’s life. Here are four steps you can take right now to build up the power to resist the attacks of toxic people, who I call Swan-Killers. As a result of your own HSP traits, this power already dwells within you. These techniques are simple tools to bolster your own incredible resistance.

Identify

Your first step is to identify the people in your life, or who you come in contact with, as a Swan-Killer/toxic person. This is easier for you than you think. As an HSP, you are aware of subtleties and nuances in behavior. You notice little clues that will identify if someone needs constant praise and admiration, or has a sense of entitlement. We sense when a person treats others disrespectfully. Or intimidates, bullies or belittles others. These actions may be done in a slight manner or a roundabout way, but while they fly over the heads of others, you will know what is happening. Increase your awareness and pay attention to these clues.

As an HSP, you have a strong intuition. An HSP friend of mine calls her intuition her spidey-sense. This is when the hair on the back of your neck raises or tingles run down your spine. Your reaction might be simply a sick or uneasy feeling inside when you meet someone. You know how it manifests in you. Pay attention to these signals also. That spidey-sense is trying to tell you something.

Image courtesy of 512893 on Pixabay.

Separate

The best solution to avoiding danger with a Swan-Killer is to disengage with them. Removing yourself from that person is your best defense against any possible attack.

Often, separation is not possible, as in the case of a family member or co-worker. In that case, you need a different strategy. There is a very simple but effective method for dealing with a Swan-Killer called the “gray rock” technique. As the name implies, your interaction with that person becomes as bland as a gray rock. To implement this technique, keep your interactions with the person as short as possible. Maintain your boundaries, and stay away from sharing personal information. Keep to subjects like the weather, or other neutral topics. Disengage as much as possible. Avoid eye contact. Draw their attention away from you by looking at objects in front or around you, or doing distracting gestures.

If you are being disrespected, you will have no choice but to engage with that person. Assertively, but calmly and evenly, stand up for yourself. Do not allow someone to take advantage of you. Take your stand and assertively let them know you will not be bullied. Tell them in a confident and decisive manner that you are in disagreement with them, but that mutual respect is required in the situation.

Which brings us to our third step.

Image courtesy of 512893 on Pixabay.

Stay Calm and Focused

Our strong emotional reactivity does not mean we are not in control of our emotions. Emotional regulation is at our disposal. We have the innate ability to think before we act. It is part of our makeup to process the situation and our reaction to it before we actually respond. We need to take advantage of this trait. In that short span of time that we take to contemplate, we are free to determine and set an appropriate boundary, regulate our present emotions, and respond accordingly.

When we stay calm and focused, and react appropriately, the power in the situation remains on our side.

Own Your Power

This step will be more difficult for those of us who have had more difficult childhoods. Sensitive children take the garbage heaped on them to heart. It is a struggle for that sensitive child to believe in their own worth. But if you find yourself in this situation, understand that you have a special gift, that you have the power to do great things, and that you have the right to stand up to anyone who claims otherwise. And to anyone who wants to insult, belittle, criticize, or manipulate you.

We, as HSPs, have a unique kind of personal power. We need this power because we are favorite targets of Swan-Killers and other toxic people. To be the best you can be, own your power to stop abuse in its tracks.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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How to Maximize Your Personal Power for Self-Protection – Part 1

In my memoir, I tell of an incident early in my life, many, many years before Dr. Aron began her work to identify and classify the personality style known as highly sensitive. The characters in this incident were myself, another highly sensitive person (HSP), an energy vampire, and an enabler. At the center of the story was a souvenir glass swan; a graceful, elegant, but also functional souvenir that sat on the desk, and was a cherished memento, of the other HSP in the story.

Image courtesy of Alexrrz27 on Pixabay.

The incident fell on a day when the energy vampire chose to target both myself and this other HSP in the office where we all worked. It started at a meeting where the energy vampire and enabler conspired to inflict pain on me in a very personal way. But the energy vampire was not satisfied with me alone. When I returned to the office, I found a scene that struck me so strongly that to this day I ache for the other HSP.

The energy vampire had taken the other HSP’s swan that she held so dear, and thrown it on the floor with enough force to shatter it into tiny little pieces.

To this point in my life, I did not believe that any person existed that would purposely do that to another individual, whether they liked them or not. It was an incident that opened my eyes to the dangers we face in an unkind world. To me, that little swan became a symbol of those of us who can be easily shattered by the energy vampires of the world. And the absolute need to protect ourselves.

Knowing their words and actions can wound, energy vampires (whom I refer to as Swan-Killers) purposely set out to inflict as much pain as possible. They maximize their efforts by targeting HSPs because we can be hurt easily. They do this in a useless attempt to quell their own hateful feelings toward themselves. This is the only way they know how to handle these irrepressible, distressing emotions they have. There is little hope for them, but there is hope for us. We can stop being in their bull’s-eye.

Image courtesy of Geralt (Gerd Altmann) on Pixabay.

The way we do this is to shore up our own personal power. Yes, we have a great deal of personal power, but we are reticent to use it. Personal power is the force that we all have within us to manage our relationships and the events in our lives. This is not a strength that we pull from any authority given to us. It is the fortitude that comes from our individual characteristics, attitudes, and beliefs.

In Part 2 of this post, I will share four steps to take right now to shore up your power for protection against Swan-Killers and Energy Vampires.

We, as HSPs, have a unique kind of personal power. We need this power because we are favorite targets of Swan-Killers and other toxic people. To be the best you can be, own your power to stop abuse in its tracks.

Tune into Part 2 for four tips to magnify that power.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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How to Make Your Strong HSP Fight-or-Flight Response Work in Your Favor

There is no getting around it. We, as HSPs, have a very strong fight-or-flight response to stress. As I mentioned in my last post, it is critical for highly sensitive people to not only understand this phenomenon, but to learn how to manage it. When you manage it well, it can be a crucial aid in making the most of your highly sensitive nature.

Stress relieving activities are necessary for anyone in our overactive, stimulated, modern world. Even non-HSPs require this in order to cope. But as highly sensitive people, we are especially prone to the ill effects of too much stress. We also have needs that require attention that others do not. Effectively addressing these needs is the key to getting on top of your stress. When you do, the fight-or-flight response can work in your favor, rather than against you.

Image courtesy of Sasint (Sasin Tipchai) on Pixabay.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

Your top priority is getting your physical health running at maximum efficiency.

  • Eat right – Cut out junk and processed foods, eat the amount of food that is appropriate for you, and be mindful about your dietary habits when you are in social situations (it is very easy to overindulge when you are socializing);
  • Exercise – Choose an exercise that you enjoy and will stick with, include other forms of exercise like tai chi or yoga in addition to cardio, and record your progress;
  • Get enough sleep.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

When you are active physically, it can help improve your emotional health. There are activities you can do to strengthen and support that start.

Image courtesy of Engin Akyurt on Pixabay.
  • Meditate;
  • Practice relaxation exercises;
  • Indulge your spiritual side;
  • Bathe mindfully (water has the power to soothe).

Take Care of Your Special HSP Needs

Too many times, due to our extreme empathy and compassion, we place ourselves in the role of taking care of everyone else first. But remember that you cannot adequately care for others in your life before you take care of your own needs.

We, as HSPs, have needs that go beyond that of the non-HSP. Because our nervous systems are prone to overstimulation, we must take steps to rest them properly when necessary while indulging our need for deep thinking.

  • Set aside time for solitude and reflection;
  • Indulge in activities that you enjoy (hobbies, etc.);
  • Spend time in nature, connect to the outdoors;
  • Feed your mind – read, engage in stimulating conversation with a close friend or spouse;

Our fight-or-flight response serves an important function in our lives. But in order for it to function properly, providing needed safety and not go haywire, you must calm it during the times it is not in use. These activities will ensure that outcome.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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Why Understanding the Fight-or-Flight Response is so Critical for HSPs

In my book, Mere Sense, a Memoir of Men, Migraine and the Mysteries of Being Highly Sensitive, I describe an incident that really threw me off my game early in my life. I reacted to a social incident with an uncharacteristic response, one that I not only didn’t understand, but also never wanted to do. This event made me question everything about myself – who I was, why I reacted this way, and questioning what was wrong with me.

The incident was actually a catalyst to spur me onto discovering my high sensitivity. But it was painful getting through that process, as well as an embarrassing way to start it.

What I eventually discovered is that my reaction was triggered by something very natural in all of us, and heightened in highly sensitive people. That knee-jerk reaction is something called the fight-or-flight response to stress. And it is especially prevalent and magnified in HSPs.

Image courtesy of Pedrofigueras on Pixabay.

It started out as a survival instinct in our ancient ancestors to help them escape the many physical dangers they faced in their environment every single day. At the first sign of danger, their bodies mobilized to either stay and fight the danger or flee away from it. It continues in our current society more as a defense to psychological and emotional stress rather than physical.

In HSPs, this response hits our highly sensitive nervous systems with more power than the non-HSP. The physical and emotional response is exaggerated. Our reactions to external stimuli may come across as bizarre or even shocking to the general public. As in my example, it signaled to me that there was something very different about me. And it frightened me.

Because of this trait, we HSPs must become aware of the fight-or-flight response in ourselves and take steps to calm it. This is possible, and we will go into that in the next post. First, we need to look at how to recognize it. The following is a list of some of the many possible signs:

Image courtesy of Geralt (Gerd Altmann) on Pixabay.
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Increases in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased perspiration
  • Dilated pupils
  • Trembling
  • Tense muscles
  • Dry mouth
  • If especially intense, you may lose control of bowel or bladder, or fail to feel serious injuries

Too much fight-or-flight response can result in serious effects such as weight gain, sleep and digestive problems, anxiety and depression, headaches and migraines, muscle tension, or diseases like heart disease, heart attacks, or high blood pressure and stroke.

This under-reported issue is so important for HSPs to be aware of and manage. Check in to the next post to find out what you can do to better regulate your fight-or-flight response. As HSPs, this is a critical health and safety issue you cannot ignore.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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Using Your HSP Voice to Make a Difference

Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a pastor and a civil rights activist. He spread his message of equality through nonviolent resistance and peaceful protest against discrimination during the late 50’s and 60’s. He led a march of 250,000 people in Washington, D.C. culminating in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. His impact during his short 39-year life was so powerful that beginning in 1986, our country set aside a day, making it a holiday, to celebrate his accomplishments.

Dr. King was a highly sensitive person. His voice was his power.

We can’t all be another Dr. King. But we share a forceful and energetic trait in his HSP voice. With that voice, we are able to deliver potent messages to counter the disingenuousness that pervades today’s society. Your voice, too, can be an instrument for positive change.

Image courtesy of Peggy_Marco on Pixabay.

What are the qualities that make your voice so unique in a world filled with so many disparate and destructive voices and actions?

Conscientiousness

First and foremost is your conscientiousness spurred on by your reflective quality. You think deeply on issues and consequences. Your sense of fairness and justice come from this reflective action. As you reflect, your empathy and compassion parse out the self-absorbed rhetoric from what is honest and sincere. Your sense of fair play kicks in and spurs your emotional reactivity. You become angered by all the wrongdoing present in our world.  This affects whatever causes are dear to your heart.

A Clear Voice of Reason

Given enough emotional reactivity, your innovation and creativity begin to brew. We have vivid imaginations fueled by the nervous system energy a highly sensitive nature generates. Our perceptions are heightened because we are constantly taking in information from our environment and trying to make sense of it. This builds a finely tuned intuition. Our sensory and intellectual insights induce a wide array of solutions. Often these solutions are new, or a combination of previously unconnected ideas.

Building a Better World

We notice subtleties and even the smallest detail. This gives us a grasp of the ways in which we can build a better world. We are able to connect with people in deep and meaningful ways. Making use of both of these qualities, we produce blueprints for positive change.

Image courtesy of Viarami on Pixabay.

Although there are extroverted HSPs, most of us are introverted. This can make it uncomfortable to let our voices be heard. Conflict and violence, due to our highly sensitive nervous systems, makes us overstimulated and anxious. These two points, if we let them, can silence our voices. But we must combat the instinct to retreat within ourselves every moment.

The world needs your voice. Let the power of your words be the wisdom the world is so waiting on. Proclaim your well-thought-out answers at the most significant time, this very moment. Speak to be heard. Allow your voice to ring above the din of egotistical verbosity that takes us in the wrong direction.

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. King said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Take these words to heart. They are your catalyst to speak up for change.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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How to Explain Your HSP Need for Alone Time to Others

When I first entered into a relationship with the man that would become my husband, I told him that there was something he needed to know about me. I needed time alone. It had nothing to do with him, or was a signal that I was angry, or was a sign of a relationship problem. It was a necessity for me because that was something I needed to effectively cope with daily stress.

Image courtesy of Renan_Brun on Pixabay.

This admission took place early in my knowledge about my high sensitivity trait. I barely understood it myself. All I knew was that it was vital to maintaining my sanity. I was relieved when he accepted my explanation, and believed me.

If the situation happened today, rather than decades ago, I would have a much more concise answer. One that has a science-backed, logical, and much more persuasive premise. Whether you are in a personal or professional setting, there are solid points that you can use to help non-HSPs understand your absolute need for solitude.

I’ve created a bullet list of points, that when applied to your own situation, make a solid explanation for your very real need for alone time.

Image courtesy of 0fjd125gk87 on Pixabay.
  • I am a “highly sensitive person.” This is not a random designation – it is based on scientific research. The research shows that people with this characteristic have very different traits that require different needs than the typical person.
  • The most distinctive difference between myself and a non-HSP, is that I have a “sensitive” nervous system. This nervous system is constantly on the go.
  • Due to this revved up nervous system, I have a very active mind. HSPs process information deeply. This means that my mind is full of a constant barrage of thoughts, feelings, and imaginings. My brain is always working on several things at once. And I take a deep dive into making connections to my life.
  • Another trait is extreme empathy. Because of this, I “feel” other’s emotions. Non-HSPs must experience and deal with their own emotions, and this can overwhelm them at times. As an HSP, navigating my own as well as others’ emotions means that my load of emotional contact is doubled or tripled. I become emotionally exhausted much sooner than a non-HSP.
  • These traits, as well as my other positive HSP traits of attention to detail, conscientiousness, and high emotional quotient, make me both a compassionate partner and a desirable employee.
  • As a romantic partner, I am highly empathic and motivated to work on the relationship.
  • As an employee or businessperson, I am creative, work well with people, and customer-oriented.
  • I am sensitive to environmental stimuli. Lights, textures, sounds, smells, and weather conditions are just some of the sensitivities that cause me problems.
  • With the above beneficial qualities and environmental sensitivities, I must take appropriate time to “rest.” Time alone is the only way to rejuvenate myself. Without this required rest, I become overwhelmed, distracted, irritable, impatient, and subject myself to developing or worsening health conditions. I am unable to be at my best.
  • In order to recuperate, I typically need X number of hours per day or X number of hours per week, etc. Replace the “X” with your specific requirement. Recommendations for HSPs is a minimum of 2 hours per day.

These bullet points are the highlights for a thorough understanding as to your very unique need. Customize them to your situation. They will help form an explanation that non-HSPs can understand.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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Mastering Give-and-Take, an Essential HSP Skill, Part 2

Knowing the art of give-and-take is an essential skill we all need in order to successfully live a happy and productive life. Determining and maintaining boundaries is especially important for HSPs. Those boundaries are already blurred due to our empathic abilities. But for some, the boundaries blur even more. If you are constantly put down and denigrated, you grow up with the belief that you are not deserving. This belief can obscure those boundaries even more.

With such muddled boundaries, standing up for yourself becomes an almost insurmountable challenge. If you have not read Part 1 of this post, I encourage you to do so before reading this final section.

Thin Boundaries

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

A boundary in life is a line (sometimes invisible) that separates two distinct areas. In people, a personal boundary separates what is good for us vs. what is destructive. We must protect and defend our personal boundaries. When we set and maintain our boundaries, we can relax and enjoy life knowing that we are protected.

People with thin boundaries are often called “thin-skinned.” As highly sensitive people, we can be easily hurt, which would account for why people with normal nervous systems might label us that way. People, even within the HSP community, have different personal boundaries, which brings us to values.

Values

Your values are the principles or standards of behavior that you hold dear. The ones that you find important and drive the forces in your life. If you don’t know what these are, your first task is to do some homework and put your values on paper. Choose four or five that you adhere your life to, and write a short paragraph as to why you honor that particular value. If you do not have a clue as to what your values might be, here is a short list to give you a gentle push in the right direction.

Once you know your values, you can apply them to each situation you run into. For instance, if honesty is one of your values, you can ask yourself what course of action produces the most honest response. This is a simple illustration. Most situations, you will have more than one applicable value, and they will integrate together to form your answer.

Inner Strength

Image courtesy of 8385 on Pixabay.

There is one final characteristic that comes into play here. Inner strength is the quality that will give you the courage to draw your personal boundaries and keep them from being violated. You probably have more inner strength then what you give yourself credit for. But it is a good idea to build on that basis by working on it daily. Here is a good article to get you started.

Give-and-take is a skill that allows you to practice your innate compassion and empathy while maintaining a healthy protection for yourself. Practicing healthy give-and-take, strong boundaries, and optimum inner strength will put your feet on solid ground. You deserve nothing less.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson


Last Chance!!!

Today is the last day for a free download of Mere Sense, the ebook. Don’t miss your chance at this free opportunity.

Follow the link above, and click on “$0.00 to buy” for your free ebook.

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Mastering Give-and-Take, an Essential HSP Skill, Part 1

On June 14, I spent the late evening and part of the night huddled in the basement under the staircase, as a tornado touched down in the countryside two miles from our small town. In the morning, when we assessed the damage, we found many of our trees gave up some of their limbs to the straight-line winds created by the event. I mourned one limb in particular. It was from a tree in our front yard. The limb was massive and it fell so as to block access to our front door. I documented the damage on my Instagram account, uploading a video showing the extent of blockage that this limb created.

Picture of tree from our yard, with missing limb wound.

After we cleaned up the next day, and were able to take a breath, we noticed something odd in the wound left behind from this large branch that came down. Take a look at the close-up picture posted below, and see if you can see the oddity.

Can you see it? There was bark growing on the tree in parts where the limb should have attached itself to the tree, exposing its hollowness and thereby causing weakness in the branch. The branch had little inner strength to resist the brutal attack of the winds. It is no wonder this branch gave way and was destroyed by that wind.

The hollowed-out portion of the limb caused it to be more brittle than its counterparts, and that weakness was no match for the power of its adversary, the wind. Without a solid core, giving it strength, it could not create the give-and-take sway needed to survive.

We, as HSPs, can take a lesson from the limb of this tree. While opinion is changing, many of us grew up listening to criticisms from the world, and often our own support group. Some of these include:

Close-up of wound, exposing evidence of hollow branch.
  • Stop being so sensitive.
  • Toughen up.
  • Why are you crying?
  • Stop being so emotional.

I’m sure you have your own set of criticisms that were aimed at you. Being sensitive, we take such criticism to heart, and especially as a child. As one so young, this type of criticism is harmful, because children are new to a harsh world. Their job at this time in life is to form a solid foundation with which to navigate an insensitive environment. When attacks like this happen to a sensitive child, there is injury to their core being. And we’ve seen what a weakened core can cause – lethal damage.

Not all HSPs suffer from this phenomenon. Those who received understanding and support in the beginning of their lives have an advantage, and those HSPs had a high-quality tool to triumph over it. To those who did not receive such support, it becomes necessary for survival to build that reinforcement yourself.

Join me in the next post, where we will look at ways HSPs can counteract this kind of damage. And, with that newly found inner strength, how to find the right mix of give and take to satisfy their empathic drive, while maintaining a protective shield against assault from an insensitive world.

Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson

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