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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.

Blog

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!

Filtering by Category: highly sensitive person

The sensitive struggle in relationships

Ivy Griffin

As sensitive folks, we tend to be excellent friends, partners, children, parents, employees, colleagues, neighbors. If your immediate reaction is, “I’m not sure that applies to me,” you’re probably being too hard on yourself. But, you’re not alone as many highly sensitive people (HSPs) tend to undervalue what they offer to others. We HSPs are wonderfully empathic and do such a good job of putting ourselves in others’ shoes that the people in our lives usually really appreciate us. HSPs tend to be great listeners, wonderful problem-solvers, and gentle advice-givers. When an HSP tunes in to another person, that person really knows they’re being heard and seen. And, this doesn’t happen a lot in our busy culture, so, people really like this connectedness they feel from sensitive souls. 

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The social hangover

Ivy Griffin

Imagine that you’re at a party or gathering at a friend’s house. As a highly sensitive person, you may have felt some anxiety or dread about going to the party and having to make small talk. Some of the folks in attendance are friends, and you gravitate toward talking to them. But, you notice a couple of people who hang back and don’t seem to know many others. Your empathy kicks in, and you decide to go chat with them to help them feel more welcome. While you’re talking, another person or two joins in the conversation and brings up a political issue you care about deeply. As you passionately discuss the matter, you add in how you cannot understand anyone who thinks otherwise. The person you initially approached quietly says, “I disagree” and wanders away. 

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Your eyes direct your path

Ivy Griffin

This sounds like advice from an eight ball, right? Or, from some sage old monk. Funny how words of wisdom can seem profound and trite at the same time. This little nugget actually came to me from an unexpected source when I was in college. See, I’ve always had some fondness for adventure, and at the end of my junior year, I convinced two of my girlfriends to go with me on a 3 week trip through the southwest with the student Outdoor Center. The trip involved some hiking and camping, which we all loved, and a lot of rock-climbing and mountain biking, which none of us had ever done before. 

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Getting past the small talk

Ivy Griffin

Have I mentioned that I hate small talk? I can handle about 30 seconds of it, and then . . . I’m boooored. The meaningless banter makes me wish I was at home reading a good book. But, give me some depth, catch my interest on a topic, go beyond the ordinary chatter, and I’m hooked. I love stories SO much.  I could listen for hours as a story unfolds. Yes, it’s one of the reasons I became a therapist, and it’s one of the gifts of therapy—we very quickly move past the shallow small talk and dig into what’s real and what matters. As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), this stirs my soul. I come alive with such deep and meaningful conversations.

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Why am I so bothered by things that don't affect other people?

Ivy Griffin

I often hear the frustration and sadness and defeat in the voices of highly sensitive people (HSP) when they share how they become more emotional, overwhelmed, shut down, or worn out in situations that don’t seem to affect other people. This difference can make HSPs feel like outsiders, like there must be something wrong with them because they are abnormal compared to everyone around them. 

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When emotions are too big

Ivy Griffin

Do you have those moments where it feels like your entire body has been taken over by a feeling? Almost as if you’ve been consumed by a strange creature, and you’re not sure if there’s going to be a “you” when it’s all said and done?? I imagine most of us highly sensitive people (HSPs) have had and will continue to have these moments—much to our chagrin. We hate them, right? I have that sense of ‘Wait, seriously, seriously?’ when it starts to happen.  Like, are you kidding me—I’m here—AGAIN?! 

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You are not alone

Ivy Griffin

I often hear from highly sensitive people (HSPs) how different and alone they feel. “I’m too sensitive,” “I need to grow a thicker skin,” “Why can’t I just let it go like everyone else?” are common refrains. Such beliefs often stem from a lifetime of conscious and unconscious messages from well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning people about how there’s something wrong with the way you are. And, the reality is--highly sensitive people are not the norm. We know this because research has found that 15-20% of people in any given population in any given culture carry the personality trait of being highly sensitive. 

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On setting (and holding) boundaries

Ivy Griffin

Imagine this scenario:

Your friend or family member is going through a separation, and you know they’re having a hard time. You empathize with their struggles and offer them support, reminding them that it will get better again. They start to lean on you more, needing more time and asking for more favors. You begin feeling resentful, but you don’t want to hurt your loved one’s feelings, especially when they’re struggling so much. This goes on for a couple months, and you become more and more frustrated. Of course, you have your own life and struggles to manage!

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Gratitude

Ivy Griffin

Gratitude. We hear about this notion all the time, especially in the month of November. Count your blessings! Remember what you’re grateful for! Give thanks! We hear about gratitude so much that it can start to sound trite, and we may tune out. I get it. And, I’m a realist. Gratitude probably doesn’t change everything, despite the alluring image. However, despite the word being tossed all about, the practice of gratitude can be legitimately helpful, especially for highly sensitive people.

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Navigating family relationships

Ivy Griffin

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) truly benefit from having a solid support system. We can be so good and helpful at taking care of and being there for others and not so good at taking care of ourselves. While part of our personal work may be learning to prioritize self-care, it also helps tremendously if we have people in our lives who understand our sensitive nature, check-in with us about how we’re doing, and give us both space and support as we need.

For some HSPs, this support may come from a loving partner, an understanding parent, a close sibling, a kind aunt. For others, family may not be what they need.

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Taking stock of your boundaries

Ivy Griffin

In all relationships—whether with friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers—boundaries exist. The boundaries may be conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional. No matter how much or little thought goes into any particular interpersonal boundary, these boundaries guide our interactions. We teach people how to treat us, and they teach us how to treat them, either by what we do or by what we don’t do.

Even though boundaries play a critical role in relationships throughout our lives, we often don’t spend much time talking or thinking about boundaries, unless something goes wrong.

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The burden of 'too much'

Ivy Griffin

We live in a culture that never stops. As we’ve become more global and connected, there’s constant input from everywhere—work demands, friend and family obligations, household chores and errands, not to mention an ongoing information stream on any topic or question we might possibly have. Want ideas for the best way to unclog your bathroom sink? You can go down a rabbit hole of blogs and YouTube videos dedicated to this topic and suddenly an hour has passed and you’re still not sure what you want to do!
 
Yowzers! For highly sensitive people (HSPs), the demands and input from everyday life can be utterly exhausting AND overwhelming

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How to stop your overthinking brain

Ivy Griffin

A common struggle for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) is overthinking. “My brain won’t stop,” or, “I can’t turn it off!” or “I’m overanalyzing again” are common refrains. While I know it can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming at times, all this thinking actually makes a lot of sense for sensitive folks. One of the main characteristics of being highly sensitive is “depth of processing.” This means we think on a super deep level. We take all the information that we’ve been absorbing from our environment—another core feature of being an HSP being that we notice a lot about the world around us—and dive into our thoughts about situations, other people, our own actions, our beliefs and values or maybe even just a comment we made or a look we gave.  If we’re worried or stressed, this can be great fodder for our overthinking brain to take us down the rabbit hole.

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Traveling as a Highly Sensitive Person

Ivy Griffin

Summer’s on the horizon, and a lot of people are gearing up for travel and vacations. Whether you may be heading out to enjoy some time in nature, relaxing on the beach or hopping on a plane, travel for a sensitive person can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. However, for highly sensitive people, it’s so necessary to take a break from the grind of life.

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You may sweat some small stuff (And, that's okay.)

Ivy Griffin

How many times do we hear people say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” “Stop making mountains out of molehills.” “Just let it go!” Then, for sensitive folks, how many ways do we beat ourselves up for not being able to do these very things? “There’s something wrong with me.” “Why can’t I be like other people?” “Why do things get to me so much?” This questioning and blaming, naturally, leads to negative thoughts and judgments about ourselves, which then makes us feel (in technical terms) like shit.

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