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Thrive Therapy & Counseling provides high quality therapy to Highly Sensitive People and to kids, teens or adults struggling with anxiety, depression or self-esteem.

Appreciating your sensitivity

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This blog is written by a therapist in midtown Sacramento and focuses on the concerns and struggles of highly sensitive people (HSPs) and of kids, teens and adults struggling with depression, anxiety or just trying to figure out what they want for themselves.  There's help and hope through counseling and therapy!

Appreciating your sensitivity

Ivy Griffin

Have you ever stopped and thought about all the qualities that make you uniquely you, dear highly sensitive person? Yes, yes, as an HSP, you might already be over-analyzing. If you’re having a bad day or in low spirits, you might be telling yourself there’s nothing so special about you. Or, you might be able to write an essay describing yourself with all that wonderful insight you have. No matter how you’re feeling right now, no matter what kind of day it is, I first invite you to take some time--today or within this next week--for yourself and the following exercise.

Then, once you’ve set aside some time, allow yourself to journal, ponder, voice-record, type, whatever-your-inclination as you really chew on the following question; and, since it’s often easier to think about ourselves from the perspective of a friend or loved one, I’ll phrase it this way:

How would someone who knows you well describe you? Who are YOU?

Go ahead. I invite you to actually do this.

If you’re like me and can get wordy sometimes, it might help to stick to bullet points. But be generous. 

Create a comprehensive list that describes you, just as you are. This list includes you as a whole person—strengths, challenges, skills, values, motivations, beliefs, hopes—the whole shebang of who you are.

It’s ok and encouraged that you take your time with this. You might even work on this activity over the course of a few days. You can print this article out or bookmark it, and come back for the rest when you’re ready. Really, no rush. Take your time to paint a picture of you.

 . . .

After you think you’ve finished, go back and try to come up with 5 more items. I bet you can. (We tend to not like to talk about ourselves as HSPs, so I’m offering this nudge to encourage you to more fully think about and describe yourself more than might be your natural inclination.)

Any more?

Okay.

Now, go back and circle the items that you believe may be related to your sensitivity. If you’re not sure, see what might fit into this list, or reference the links:

  • Being strongly affected by your own emotions, your physical environment (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch) or by others’ emotions
  • Having insight and intuition (that often is right)
  • Thinking carefully before you speak or act
  • Watching others and listening closely
  • Loving animals
  • Being kind, compassionate, empathic
  • Becoming easily stressed or overwhelmed, especially when you have a lot to do
  • Being creative or having a strong appreciation for art, beauty, nature
  • Thinking a lot, having deep thoughts/a complex inner world, possibly “over-analyzing”
  • Needing alone time or time set aside to recharge, especially when life is busy

Or, see what other descriptors might be connected to sensitivity by reviewing:

Then, mark any items that you had negative commentary about in your head. You know what I mean—any time you made a judgement or sighed or felt annoyed by an item, mark that too. 

Sooo, what stands out to you? How did that feel? Recognize any connections between traits you like and your sensitivity that you might not have noticed before? Did you find yourself surprised by any negativity that arose? Or, any sense of surprise at how much of who you are is linked to your sensitivity?

Lots of good, sink-your-teeth-in, depth-oriented questions I’m asking here. Why? 

One, because I know how much you enjoy this real, genuine depth of exploring and understanding.

Two, because I know you’re a beautiful, kind, intelligent, insightful, compassionate, lovely person.

Three, I know sometimes—or often—you may not see yourself that way, dear HSP. And, I want you to have the chance to see you as I know you are—without all the crap and shame and judgement in the mix (that may very well come from your childhood, negative life experiences or from what other people have told you).

Four, because in order to shift any of these heavy, negative, judging, shaming, blaming or otherwise unwanted opinions about yourself, you first need to know where you’re starting from. Then, you can dig in, and reassess from a place of understanding and embracing this beautiful sensitivity.

And, I’d love to help. I invite you to join with other wonderful HSPs as you recognize and honor your worth, connect with others in your tribe and help them see their own light too.

Join me in my Online HSP Support Group? I hope to see you there! 

Take good care,

Ivy