There are times in life that require change. It might be a new job possibility, a passion about starting a new business, an interest in taking up a new hobby. It can also be challenges of life that necessitate change—a relationship that is no longer working, a sick loved one, a work environment or career that does not fit our needs. Whatever the impetus, it can be a scary and overwhelming time, especially for highly sensitive people (HSPs).
As HSPs we tend to thrive in our own realm. We may appreciate routine, like having our favorite coffee shop around the corner or our just-right tea mug in the office break room. We may feel safe when we know what to expect or have familiar faces around us. However, being comfortable doesn’t always serve us. Sometimes we pay a big price to remain in our zone. Sometimes the pain of staying with what's familiar exceeds the uncertainty of leaving it, and sometimes the excitement and hope of possibility makes change worth it.
Deciding to take that step and move out of your comfort zone is likely to create some fear and worry, even if this is a choice you actively want to make. As an HSP, you may feel these emotions VERY intensely. That’s normal and just part of your DNA. Just know that you are not alone. The vast majority of people have strong anxiety around change, so much so that there’s a word for it—homeostatic anxiety. This is the anxiety that arises when we lose our balance in life, relationships, work, family, etc. As human beings, we have a natural desire for the familiar and a natural fear when that changes.
Since we know change and moving beyond our comfort zone is inevitable at times in life, how can we take care of our gentle, sensitive selves in the process?
- Give yourself a soft place to land in the midst of the uncertainty. This could mean scheduling a regular dinner date with a close friend to get grounded and have the support you need, or this might be asking your partner to snuggle up on the couch with you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your soft place might be a hot soak in the tub or a walk at the park or a guided meditation about imagining a relaxing, peaceful place. It can look like anything, but the key is to create moments and places of comfort for yourself. Yes, lots may be changing, but you can give yourself the gift of soothing when and where you can.
- Acknowledge and allow for the emotional ups and downs. Ups and downs are SO normal, especially when things are changing. As a sensitive person, your emotional waves may sometimes feel like a tsunami. While that’s no one’s idea of fun, it is okay. You are strong, and you will survive. The best thing you can do for yourself is to float along the wave, rather than trying to fight against it. Allow yourself to bob and weave along the waves of emotion, and as we know, even the tsunami crashes and recedes. This won’t last forever.
- Lean on the people who care about you and support you. Don’t go through this time alone. As much as it may be out of your nature to ask for help, you can certainly let people know what’s going on with you, and with those you’re close to, let them know how you’re thinking and feeling about it all. Sometimes we get so damn stuck in our own heads, and it’s so helpful to have another person pull us out. Your people may be able to remind you of your why, help you get grounded and support you through the challenges. This might also be a time to see a therapist or life coach or join a support group. Such services can offer tremendous support and guidance in a safe, nonjudgmental objective way, and you might find that your sessions become one of your soft places to land on a regular basis.
In times of change, hold yourself gently, dear HSP. Remember that this is hard for everyone, and that your sensitive nature means that you’re taking in all of the sights and sounds and sensations and feelings and newness of what’s happening, which can, of course, be overwhelming. That’s okay. You’re okay. You can use your knowledge about your trait to give yourself what you need. You’re still in charge of you. And, the good news? Because you’re so aware and empathetic and insightful, you’ll quickly see and understand the new environment and can use that information to adapt and to ease the transition. Because your sensitivity is also your superpower.
Take good care,
pssst--are you needing some more support for yourself right now? I'd love to be of help. Feel free to reach out about individual therapy or about my HSP online support group that's starting soon!
Ivy Griffin, LMFT # 51714, Director
Thrive Therapy & Counseling
1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818
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