Tips For The Urban HSP

I am an urban HSP.  I sometimes think I must be truly nuts to be living in New York City, a place that seems like the very embodiment of the word “overstimulation.”

Crowded, loud, bright and always on, it can be a nightmare for the senses of an urban HSP.

If you let it.

I’ve lived here for nearly 15 years now, and I’ve found ways to make it work. (I have a bit of a dream writing job, and this is one of the only places I can really do it, which is why I don’t leave, in case you’re wondering. Also, nearly everyone I love is here, which adds weight to the case for sticking around when you are an urban HSP.)

 Attitude For An Urban HSP

I think the lessons I’ve learned as an urban HSP can be helpful for all, particularly those who might be living in other, smaller urban environments. I think you have to start by just seeing city life slightly differently than many. Here, I think there’s often a default attitude of, “Only in New York! Gotta love it!” when, for example, you’re on a crowded train at 9 a.m. and all of a sudden there’s a mariachi band furiously playing, mere inches away from your face.

No.

You actually don’t have to love it. (I suspect very few people love it, but I applaud their generally optimistic ability to pretend that they do.)

So here are a few of the survival tips I’ve come up with to make being an NYC urban HSP work for me.

Protect Your Hearing

1) Get good headphones, and don’t be afraid to use them.
I’ve always been shocked that so many people are willing to put up with the crappy white headphones that come with an Apple product. They make my ears sore after only a few minutes of listening, and they don’t fit well enough to filter out ambient noise (nor do they stop everyone around you from hearing your music, one of my big pet peeves about public transportation these days: if you’re not wearing headphones yourself, you are more often than not subjected to the contents of someone else’s).

No, I’m talking about getting some of those little rubbery ear buds, or, if you’re loaded, a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones (they’re on my wish list). A little of your own curated music can radically change a walk through a chaotic city street, a subway car filled with yammering people and blaring conductor announcements, or a store where four overly cheerful salespeople come up to you within the span of a minute and say, “How ARE you today? Can I help you find anything?” Just point sheepishly to your headphones, as if they are surgically implanted in your head and totally beyond your control, and move away.

2) If you’ve got a smartphone, get a white noise app.
Music is good in many situations, but I find that when I need to really concentrate on reading or writing something, it’s too distracting. My white noise app is the best thing about my iPhone by far. Mine lets me create my own mixes of soothing sounds: beach waves crashing and light rain! Tree frogs and oscillating fan! Or just plain old white noise. Actually, brown noise, which is softer than white noise. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean. Any of these will instantly reduce my HSP stress by half. It’s also genius for hotel rooms while traveling (more on this in my upcoming sleep tips post).

Protect Your Boundaries

3) Make subway rides work for you. As Elaine Aron might put it, use your boundaries. Don’t worry about everyone else’s feelings so much. My instinct is generally to try to make other people feel good, so I’m not all that comfortable saying no or shutting things down even when I really need a break from human beings (which is pretty often).

But I’ve found that in order to stay sane, you have to just power through that instinct and be a little protective of yourself. For example: when riding on the train, someone sits down next to me eating an egg sandwich. She seems perfectly nice otherwise and part of me doesn’t want her to feel like a leper if I get up and move. But you know what? An egg sandwich smells disgusting, and it’s ruining the precious half-hour of down time I have in the morning. So I’m gone.

Ditto someone who’s having a loud, laughing cell phone conversation next to me. Or twitching just slightly oddly in a way that suggests they might be a bit off. Or wearing pungent perfume. Just get up and move. You’ll feel so much better when you do.

Similarly, when I’m leaving work and someone tries to catch me and take the train with me, I generally come up with a reason to split off (“I have to make a call first,” or “I have to run an errand”). I find that when my subway ride gets diverted into chitchat or small talk, I tend to reach my destination feeling depleted and annoyed, which reduces my ability to be present for whatever my next activity was. So I just find non-mean ways of getting out of the shared subway ride.

It’s best for everyone.

The Challenge Of Smelly Air

4) Get an air filter
One of my least favorite things about New York is the smells. And I’m not even talking about the stereotypical pee and garbage aromas, which tend, in my experience, to be a bit overstated. No, it’s the cooking smells that really do me in.

Apartment building living just inevitably comes with having to share the air with other people who like different food than you, and if you’re an HSP, those odors can feel like a punch in the face. Someone down the hall from me must, I think, own a deep fryer, because nearly every night it smells like Popeye’s in the hallway. This is not OK. This smell makes me deeply sad. But I can deal with it, because I have a pretty decent air filter going in my apartment’s entryway. It also just offers some psychological support, knowing I have a little mechanical sentry between me and the olfactory chaos going on outside my door. (In a pinch, I find that a Yankee Candle also works pretty well. Who knew? But it’s nothing compared to an air filter.)

Bottom line, just because you live surrounded by other people doesn’t mean you have to feel violated by their ill-advised culinary choices.

Create Your Own Lifestyle As An Urban HSP

5) Get a dog
In a way, this might seem odd advice, because a dog does come with its own set of stressors: they cost money, they require lots of attention, they may wake you up barking at absolutely nothing in the middle of the night. But if you get a good one, they can also offer a brilliantly convenient excuse for getting out of things and living a lower-key life than you might otherwise be expected to do as a city-dweller.

Everyone in your office going out for happy hour, and you’re sort of expected to go, even though the thought of being stuck in a noisy bar making small talk makes you want to bang your head against a wall? Don’t sweat it, you have to go home and walk the dog. Sorry! Additionally, your dog will ensure that you must go on multiple rambles around the neighborhood daily, which is a practice that’s highly beneficial for soothing the HSP’s system. Which brings me to my next tip.

6) Live near a park
It doesn’t have to be Central Park (or your city’s version of Central Park). But if you have someplace you can get to reasonably easily where you can be among trees instead of human beings, that’s going to increase your quality of life a whole lot. (As well as your dog’s.) Go regularly. Go every day. Take deep breaths and always know, when you’re in the midst of the urban circus, that this will always be here waiting for you. Don’t live near a park? Make it a habit to walk through one on your way to work, if you can. Get off the train a few stops early and incorporate a park walk into your commute.

7) Get plants
Plants! It’s like having a mini park in your apartment.

8) When all else fails, Xanax.
Just kidding. (Not really.)

How Highly Sensitive People Can Prevent Burnout

If you feel stretched beyond your limit you are not alone. The crushing workloads and stress of so many highly sensitive people  are a prescription for burnout.

You would think that avoiding burnout would simply be a matter of not crossing a threshold of fatigue.

Burnout is not that simple.

Many people in our fast-paced world burn out from the daily demands even if they are not highly sensitive.

For highly sensitive people the problem of burnout is amplified by their naturally higher stress levels caused. The overstimulation we experience is caused by a fast paced, noisy and sensory intense world.

Sources Of Burnout For Highly Sensitive People

Burnout can come from many sources for highly sensitive people:

  • work because we are increasingly expected to be as highly productive and fast-paced as our economic system demands
  • creative burnout since HSPs tend to be highly creative. Creativity does not follow a rigid schedule. However,  the expectation is that it will. Creativity can create pressure all by itself, but with time pressures added, creative burnout can be a result.
  • high empathy can result in serious burnout problems. Our empathy may cause us to dig deep and be extremely conscientious which is an added demand that we place on ourselves. It may not be rewarded, but is something we do to be at peace with ourselves.
  • too much sensory stimulation from all forms of noise, light, chemicals, and electronics to name a few can add also to our burnout potential.
  • toxic relationships, at home and at work are contributing factors as well.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is not just an emotional problem. Merriam-Webster  defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

These factors sound simple and probably reflect the reality of non=HSPs. However that does not mean that they do not apply equally to highly sensitive people.

In the case of HSPs, both can be serious factors because our need for rest is high and frequent and because many forms of work do not suit us, in particular all forms of drudgery.

But there are additional factors for highly sensitive people:

  • the rest we need from being around people too much
  • the rest we need from all forms of excessive stimulation:
    • light
    • sound
    • fabric and touch
    • entertainment
    • crowds
    • high pressure situations
    • competitive situations
    • toxic social environments

Work burnout can also occur

  1. when the work we are doing doesn’t suit our skills or interests.
  2. when we know we are not interested in a particular job or task and force ourselves to do it too often
  3. when our work environment is fear-based and highly political
  4. when we have too many emergencies, both at work and at home
  5. when we are sick or a family member is sick causing us to burn the candle at both ends.

Work is a particularly challenging subject for highly sensitive people since we have the need for work that is meaningful, self-paced and our “calling.”

All these factors – the presence of some or absence of others create stress for highly sensitive people. Since our systems are so sensitive, poor health habits will only make all of the potential burnout factors worse.

When we are well we can withstand some turbulence in our lives. When rough spots last too long they start to debilitate us. Life is not meant to be a long emergency.

Assessing Burnout Potential In Your Life

To assess burnout potential in your life, evaluate each aspect of your life below on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low in stress and burnout potential and 10 being extreme burnout potential.

  1. consider your physical condition:
    • if you are strong and have physical reserves, you may be an HSP who has the ability to withstand long-term stressful situations.
    • if you are an HSP with lower resilience, you need to be careful about how much stress you tolerate and make adjustments to prevent physical burnout.
    • you become fatigued easily
    • you are sick or get sick easily
  2. consider your work situation.
    • are you valued?
    • are you doing work you love r is a lot of it drudgery?
    • do you have the skills you need to succeed in your field?
    • do you work with people who are good for you including taking your sensitivity into account?
    • is the organization well managed so that you are not affected by constant emergencies?
    • do you have to overwork too much?
    • are you compensated well? Are your benefits good?
  3. consider your relationships.
    • start with your family. Is it a warm, loving and supportive family? Are you accepted or are you generally frustrated by the disregard and unhappiness in your family?
    • do you have close supportive friends who accept and understand your sensitivity?
    • do you have a community you are a part of that is also supportive of your HSP trait?
    • are you happy with your social life?
    • are your work relationships good and productive?
  4. consider the time of year.
    • are there certain times when you are more overloaded than others and at risk of burnout?
    • are there times when the people around you are overloaded and your responsibilities increase as a result?
  5. consider the overall stress conditions in your life?
    • do you have burnout in some or two area spilling over into others and are you able to take time to heal?
    • do you see the potential for burnout to develop in any area in the future?
    • when you look at your burnout assessment how does it look to you? piece of cake? manageable? serious burnout potential?

There are no right answers and no score to determine your burnout potential. Your assessment is a map of your current situation so that you can easily get a high level view of your current situation.

With your assessment in hand, it might be useful to consider whether your burnout challenges are people challenges, time management challenges, or a need to develop skills. Sometimes we lack a skill set that could make our life easier, save time and reduce stress.

Steps To Prevent Burnout

Anyone can suffer from burnout. Highly sensitive people are likely to be more quickly affected than others by a high demand culture. But there are some steps you can take to insulate from the worst effects of burnout.

Here are 9 things you can do to prevent your sensitivity from turning into full blown burnout:

  1. strengthen your body first.  Improve your energy by getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and eating well.  Detox your body since toxins can build up causing debility over time. Take herbs to support your nervous system and defuse the impact of stress on your body.
  2. learn to meditate to relieve stress and help you with emotional balance. A long term meditation practice can help you detach from toxic people and helps restore your nervous system.
  3. make a list of all the areas of your health that you need to work on and set priorities for them.
  4. research on the internet about areas of your life that need significant improvement. Do not be afraid to tackle large issues like career choices and family problems.
  5. do not be afraid to cut back on commitments that are too draining.  Your other commitments will benefit from your improved attention. You are not responsible for others expectations.
  6. upgrade your skills to keep yourself marketable and functioning well and minimize job stress.
  7. for the tasks you hate, you have several options: drop them if they are really unimportant, break them up into small bite size work units so that you only have to so it for a short time, delegate them, or trade your undesired task with someone else’s undesired task. Avoid drudgery. It is notoriously draining for HSPs.
  8. determine what is most important to you so that you increase your time spent on your high value activities and therefore increase your satisfaction. It will cushion you from less pleasant experiences.
  9. treat burnout as a life-time concern that you can eliminate but taking good care of your life. It is a serious challenge for HSPs but one worth taking on.

Everyone’s life matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their life.

HSPs need to learn to say no. You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders.

When you are flexible, mindful about commitments and your highly sensitive nature and take excellent care of yourself you are doing what is necessary to beat burnout.

Preventing burnout is one of the most important things a highly sensitive person can do.

It is worth the effort.

No Need To Rush: The Special Gift Of Slow

I have always been expected to operate at lightening speed.

And it has never worked for me.

I need to process…and process…and process…

I LOVE to process.

It is my idea of a good time!

What’s The Rush!

I have never understood the need to rush. In my experience, the easiest way to have problems is to rush.

However, from a very young age, I have noticed that people around me were aways in a rush for something. A rush to judgment, to get something, be somewhere or do something.

I always felt “wrong” because it always seemed so silly to me.

It also seemed to me that something terribly important was missing.

Is Anybody Home?

I felt alone in all of the rushing. Rushing felt so escapist, and I did not understand what everyone was trying to escape? I felt stupid for not really wanting to join in.

Escaping was not compelling to me. It did not attract me and still doesn’t.

All of the rushing and escaping feels sad.

It feels like we are afraid to take a chance.

It feels like we are here but no one is home.

Speed Can Be Dangerous

In school, we are rewarded for getting answers not for asking questions. So often we continue that pattern in our daily lives.

Not to have an answer os a failing, a way of losing a competitive battle for survival, a risk we are afraid of.

But answers are not necessarily simple and they can only evolve by engaging with a set of circumstances or conditions. It is through that process that answers come.

When we fail to honor the process of engagement and deliberation we are plagued with the kind of ideological substitute for problem-solving that plagues our society right now. We have packaged answers that fail to solve anything while the real problems seeking our attention remain ignored.

And so we run around each one of us with our bandaids unable to really solve our problems.

No wonder so many people feel frustrated and depressed.

They have every reason to.

Slow Is About Respect

When you approach anything in a slow careful manner you are paying a very basic kind of respect. You are paying attention to people, place and things. You are paying attention to process. You pay attention to current reality as a starting point for moving forward. You give everything the attention it deserves.

Slow is about paying attention. Fast is about escaping.

That is true both in our work and in our relationships.

I am sure how you have experienced the awful feeling when someone rushes you because they do not want to be bothered.

I am sure you have also experienced what it is like when someone takes the time to talk with you.

The rushed experience closes you down; the slower, more thoughtful interaction opens you up.

Does The World Belong To The Takers?

When people rush as their primary way of relating, all interactions become superficial and transactional. Speed does not really allow for anything else.

So when we slow down, we open the door to more give and take which is a more satisfactory arrangement for everyone, in reality. We also honor each other and the value in each other when we slow down. We honor each person’s uniqueness, gifts, and limits as part of the whole.

We can then give ourselves the opportunity to be with what is instead of demanding that everyone be something else to meet our demands and requirements.

Life Is Not Just A Shopping Trip

Too often we relate to each other as consumers looking for something pleasurable from others.

Pleasure is great but seeking or demanding it as a constant in our lives keeps us in the role of shoppers rather than creators. As a result we miss out on ourselves as much as everyone else.

Slowing down gives us not only our time back but also our friendship and respect.

It gives a more natural place in the universe. It lets us be both more humble and more creative at the same time.

Slow is a gentle place.

Slow lets us open up more.

It frees us from our demands and lets us join into the world rather than bearing down on it oppressively with our need for continual self-indulgence.

Slow lets us be human and humane.

Slow gives us a much-needed break and everyone else, too.

It is worth embracing.

Those Energy Thieves: How Overstimulation Hurts HSPs

Being a highly sensitive person can feel like you are living in a world that is too loud all of the time.

What do you do about raw nerves and nervous exhaustion?

Noticing The Energy Thieves

I call them energy thieves – all the demands for our attention that are unnecessary, counterproductive and unimportant. Unfortunately, there are so many of them.

It can take a lot of energy to deal with all of the energy thieves on our lives. Some energy thieves are obvious – television and social drama top the list. Others are not so obvious. In this consumer age, our time and energy are some of the things being consumed. The combination of high complexity and high demands for participation can wear down anyone. Highly sensitive people, however, are just worn out, they are at risk of getting sick.

When Speed Defines Life

The volume and complexity of daily life makes it difficult to operate at a manageable pace. The result is that unfinished business of all types pressures us for our attention as does our consuming social and economic system. Something has got to give and often in the case of highly sensitive people it is them.

Essentially anything that we have not dealt with becomes an energy thief and unfinished business becomes stored in our bodies. The minute something accesses our attention, it acquires energetic significance until it is dealt with.

Unfortunately, in the case of HSPs, our nervous systems are magnets for stimulus; often we become overwhelmed and are not able to deal with it. So we store it.If we are not careful we may start to feel that we are running out of places to store everything we have not been able to deal with and that adds to our stress even more.

All energetic information has a place inside us. There is one another place we need to look for energy thieves – our minds. The mind can be an energy thief in the following ways:

  • when we spend HUGE amounts of time ruminating about all sorts of things that are unhelpful
  • anger of the past
  • worry about the future
  • self-reproach
  • keeping score

How To Eliminate Energy Thieves

There is one form of keeping score that is useful: taking stock as often as you need to to see what energy thieves are laying claim to your time and energy. You are not doing this to push yourself harder but to seeing what is laying claim to your energy that should be examined. Too much entertainment, consumption, and personal dramas need to be considered and perhaps disposed of.

Taking Care Of What Is Important

Unfortunately, not everything that you would like to have gone can be discharged easily:

  • grieving the loss of a loved one
  • healing childhood abuse
  • ill health

Somethings require our attention for a long time and that may actually be good. Our best solution is to honor the process and the need by taking time for a meditation, journal writing or whatever healing approach we would like and let it have it’s place in our life without taking over. Once you have a process that honors you, you will feel more at ease. Your mind and body will be aligned with your well being and that creates internal peace.

Other thieves require a different approach. People, activities, and places that do not honor your value need to be reevaluated and if necessary given the boot. Notice the people, situations, and things that drain you as a sign of needed change.

It is very important to be patient with yourself. Energy thieves often do not go quietly. The more you take care of yourself, the easier it is to make necessary changes. Working on your energy health will help as well. Energy techniques like reiki and meditation can make a big difference in helping you realize the life you deserve.

7 Paths to Reducing Sensitivity And Overwhelm For HSPs

You’re driving your car to work. The heat hasn’t kicked in.

Suddenly, you notice that you forgot to cut off a sewn in tag on the back of your shirt collar. It’s irritating your skin.

Sadness and frustration wash over you as you witness a child being drug by the arm through a cross walk a bit too fast for her tiny legs to keep up.

Down the road despair for the death of a tiny animal creeps in to your heart as you swerve to avoid what others blow off as just road kill.

A few minutes later, you walk in the door to your toasty office and the frown on a coworker’s face tells a story others seem to miss, and your day hasn’t even begun. Can you relate?

This is the world of the Highly Sensitive Person.

The HSPs Heightened Nervous System

As Highly Sensitive People, we are sensitive to light and color, harsh or excessive smells, loud, repetitive and unexpected noise, particular tastes and textures of food, and to the things and people around us us. We are sensitive to subtle changes and differences in our environment and, although not always recognized, we are sensitive to things unseen, such as electrical frequencies (EMFs), other’s emotions, and even the spirit world.

Highly Sensitive People are also empathic. Meaning, we are able to pick up on the emotions of others. And, it’s not just a matter of reading a person’s body language, like Tim Roth does on the TV show Lie To Me, although HSPs are exceptional readers of body language as well. We actually feel and carry other’s emotions as if they are our own. We absorb everything. And, what’s really disturbing is that most of us don’t know we are Highly Sensitive People and that not everyone shares our abilities.

It can be easy to want to shut down, stop seeing, stop feeling, and stop sensing, especially when our sensitivities make us feel physically dis-eased. But, that is to merely exist, to just breathe in and out, and who really wants just that? Well, maybe during meditation, but not in day to day life. Life is for living abundantly and joyfully through our senses. Reducing sensitivity overwhem is important if we want a life of joy.

Yet, some of us feel cornered, held back, and cheated by life, by our sensitivities. And, for those of us who feel that way, if we are not careful, we can end up believing we are victims of a cruel fate or negative karma, especially when we don’t understand why we are the way we are.

Highly Sensitive People, Emotions & Overwhelm

But, first, what is overwhelm? Overwhelm is experienced any time we feel, think, or experience something we feel we cannot handle. Overwhelm leads to negative emotions, which come from, both, our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Emotions are not just something in our minds. They are, indeed, molecules of energetic expression meant to precede a physical action, which, in turn, is meant to offer us relief.  HSPs reach overwhelm faster than others because we process emotions more physically than nonsensitive people do.

Emotions have the power to trigger chemical responses in the body, which impact our immune systems. Headache, stomach issues, chronic pain and phobias are symptoms caused by overwhelm to the nervous system by emotions. When we leave our emotions unresolved or misdirect them without a positive physical outlet, an action, we become dis-eased. Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and other autoimmune disorders to appear due to sensory overwhelm, sometimes called overload.

Plenty of Highly Sensitive People have been given clean bills of health by their health providers and/or told their condition is all in their mind. After experimenting with strict diets, exercise, and prescriptions for anxiety and depression that don’t work, some HSP opt for self-medicating with recreational drugs or alcohol just to survive their senses. The good news is that by engaging in the right body-based therapies we can give our emotions the positive outlets (actions) they need for reducing sensitivity overwhelm.

Why Sensory Avoidance Increases Sensitivity

Much of the energy drain Highly Sensitive People experience comes from trying to avoid our sensitivities rather than using them. In some circles this is called sensory defensiveness, which means you become defensive and avoid whatever stimuli makes you feel uncomfortable. Avoidance behavior only creates more sensitivity because of the energy required to sustain resistance and the additional stress it causes. It also leads to isolation, low-self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

I often tell people that if they are in the midst of a panic attack to use up the energy that’s trying to be expressed. Don’t resist. Walk briskly, run, dance in place, shadow box, take several deep breaths, or stamp your feet very hard. In other words, use up the adrenaline. I also say to use your senses.

Senses are like fine muscles. Stop using your senses and they’ll over-react, exaggeratedly to your emotions and the world around you. By engaging your senses in positive body-based activities often your senses will help you to maintain energy, balance, and calm. This creates joy.

Why ‘Mind-Based’ Therapies Don’t Work for HSPs

There are several theories as to what causes sensitivity. You can read about them most anywhere. But, how you came to be highly sensitive isn’t as important as knowing what to do about it. Often, HSPs seek counseling thinking it will help towards controlling their sensitivities, only to discover it does not help in reducing sensitivity.

That’s not to say mind-based therapies (counseling, journaling, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, hypnotism, meditation, etc.) are not beneficial to Highly Sensitive People having suffered ongoing emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and Near Death Experiences (NDEs). These therapies can help to prevent, manage, and even erase unhealthy thoughts and emotions. And, who doesn’t need that? However, being a Highly Sensitive Person is not the same as having an anxiety order and should never be confused as such.

I choose to believe being sensitive is a way of being and not a disorder. And, while mind-based therapies work very well for trauma and abuse issues, they will not reduce overwhelm caused by a genetically sensitive nervous system. For the HSP to reduce overwhelm it requires something more. It requires body-based therapies.

The HSPs 7 Paths to Reducing Sensitivity And Overwhelm

#7. The Spiritual Path, (also The Path of Spirit) which corresponds to the Crown Chakra, the colors Violet, Gold and White, the essential oil Frankincense, the gemstones Amethyst and Crystal, the food Purple Grapes, and understanding of ourselves and others. Remedies for The Spiritual Path may include introspection, connecting to a higher power, and learning to protect one’s self through ritual.

#6. The Path of Intuition (also related to The Path of Sound), which corresponds to the Brow Chakra, the color Indigo, the essential oil Vervain, the gemstone Lapis lazuli, the food Plums, and extra-sensory perception (the 6th Sense). Remedies for The Path of Intuition may include meditation, an area of study, or turning to unconventional methods of intuiting.

#5. The Path of Sound, which corresponds with the Throat Chakra, the color Blue, the essential oil Vanilla, the gemstone Turquoise, the food Blueberries, and expression. Remedies for The Path of Sound may include using your voice, speaking up, and expressing how you really feel.

#4. The Path of Touch, which corresponds to the Heart Chakra, the colors Green and Pink, the essential oils Lavender and Jasmine, the gemstone Emerald, the food Avocado, and love. Remedies for The Path of Touch involve learning to love yourself and others unconditionally.

#3. The Path of Sight, which corresponds to the Solar Plexus Chakra, the color Yellow, the essential oil Cedar, the gemstone Citrine, the food Yellow Squash, and personal power. Remedies for The Path of Sight may include intellectual stimulation, playfulness, and a healthy support network.

#2. The Path of Taste, which corresponds to the Sacral Chakra, the color Orange, the essential oil Sandalwood, the gemstone Moonstone, the food Pumpkin, and intimacy, as in closeness. Remedies for The Path of Taste may include healing negative emotions associated with the pelvic region, such as surgery, miscarriage, unhappy sexual experiences, or sexual abuse.

#1. The Physical Path (also The Path of Smell), which corresponds to the Root Chakra, the color Red, the essential oil Patchouli, the gemstone Ruby, the food Licorice, and survival of our body on the physical plain. Remedies for the Physical Path may include diet and nutrition modifications, sound sleep, exercise, and work.

Chakras are the energy centers located along your spine responsible for maintaining spiritual, emotional, and physical health. A blockage in any of your chakras will create specific dis-eases depending on the chakra affected. For example, a blockage (low energy) in the Solar Plexus Chakra may cause stomach problems, such as acid reflux or loss of appetite. Emotional disorders might include confusion, irritability, or loneliness. It is important to know that when one chakra is unbalanced it affects the energy levels of the other chakras.

It is well worth your while to investigate any possible energy blockages you may be experiencing through my Aura Energy Self-Test for Highly Sensitive People, which is freely available on my website, The Captains Lady at www.thecaptainslady.com. Once you know where these blockages are located, you’ll be able to choose appropriate, therapies to create better balance between your senses (The 7 Paths), which will you in reducing sensitivity.  You will find the majority of the therapies helping to create and restore chakra balance are body-based therapies involving the senses.

A Quick Approach to Reducing Sensitivity

If this information sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, don’t despair.

Although it is helpful to have ideas and methods made available to you as far as diet and remedies are concerned, especially when you suffer from stressful symptoms and syndromes, you don’t need to take aura tests and read a bunch of literature to understand how to use your senses in positive ways. There’s a quicker approach for reducing sensitivity.

Try this exercise. Think of all of the things you have thought about doing over the past few days, months, or even years. What have you wanted to do more of, but haven’t? Perhaps, you’ve wanted to listen to music more often, visit friends, take a walk on the beach (HSP need expansive settings from time to time), spend more time in bed sleeping, hug more, laugh more, buy a new fragrance, make that traditional pot roast, or send someone a thank you card. Stop wasting energy avoiding these things. Avoidance is resistance. It wastes your energy. Spend your energy wisely through your senses of Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, and Smell, doing what you truly enjoy. However, remain moderate and try not to over-indulge any one particular sense.

Within just a couple of weeks after engaging your senses in the body-based therapies of your choice, you should notice you feel better and have more energy, both, physically and mentally. These therapies help for reducing sensitivity. Avoidance, drudgery (boredom and monotony), and negative emotions begin to fade away. You begin to trust your emotions not to make you react fearfully. Self-esteem begins to rise.

That’s not to say you will never have another negative emotion, but, ultimately, by taking action through your senses you can empower yourself to truly live life instead of merely surviving, perhaps for the very first time. However taking these steps for reducing sensitivity will make your life a lot better.

Being Present: All You Really Need

Being present is often treated as something to strive for. It is a kind of Holy Grail of spirituality and well being.

Being present is where you live when your head is out of the way.

Why is it so elusive?

How Our Heads Get In The Way

It never ceases to amaze me how much our heads get in the way of living well and enjoying life. It happens so innocently, too.

Our heads which are in the business of helping us and trying to make sure we survive, grapple with our environments and questions about our lives and ourselves in an attempt to make our lives worthwhile. Our brains start at a very young age with the business of making meaning. Our immature brains do not know that when we are young we are unable to fully make meaning. However, our young brains are undaunted by what we do not know and plunge into the complex waters of meaning.

Our meaning makers bump up against the meaning makers of our parents and families as well as our cultures. A lot of mistakes get made in the area of meaning, resulting in prejudice and stereotypes that we then have to work awfully hard to eradicate.

Once we have made meaning, then we continually work with that meaning as we make a life in the world. So we are often drawn back to the past as we try to come to terms with mistaken conclusions we have formed about ourselves and others. So naturally being present is out of the question.

How we made meaning can affect our view of the future and whether or not we over focus on the future. If we learned to dread our environment as a child we may have a recurring and habitual dread and project that on to the future. If we experience a lot of chaos as a child we may come to expect that out future will be the same.

Childhood Costs Us Our Ability To Be Present

Inevitably we experience the holes in development of our families and out cultures as a child. These experiences, whether mild or severe, cause us to develop defenses around our selves and our relationships with others. We learn to fear, which takes us out of our natural loving natures. Fear and being present are antithetical to one another. Fear may be rational or irrational; when it arises it generally puts us into our heads and not in the present. Unless, of course we are being chased by a tiger, then we cannot not be present.

We lose our ability to be present in childhood for several reasons:

  • we have to survive and are dependent on others so we become attuned to our families as a survival mechanism
  • we learn the rules, roles and expectations of our culture which cause us to want to do what is expected
  • cultures create rewards for our conformity and we learn to seek those rewards as validation of our goodness and worthiness.

Belonging is nice but it is often achieved by giving up our true selves. Being popular can feel good and it can also become something that we come to depend on as a part of our identity. We may have gained many skills and experiences from childhood to adulthood. Often, however, we enter adulthood having bonded with our culture but having lost our ability to be present to the awesomeness of the living world.

Why It Is Hard To Be Present

Being present is difficult because it:

  • reminds us of our aloneness. When being present, you are more aware of yourself as a contributor to the world with full responsibility for your actions and decisions. You are also more aware of the fact that no one can make your decisions or take your actions but yourself.
  • reminds of our anonymity or invisibility. Being present can make us aware of our actions wile at the same time reminding us that we are only one person in a multi-billion person tribe in a world with even larger numbers of other species. It can be humbling.
  • remind us of how temporary everything is – so it can remind us of our own death.

Being present can raise fears that make it hard to take that leap of faith into the abundance that it offers us.

The Gifts Of Being Present

Being alert and alive means that you are awake to:

  • what is and also what is not
  • the limitlessness of time and space
  • the unknown and the treasures that you may find
  • the creative potential of each moment to manifest healing, and new ways of living
  • the freshness and innocence of each new moment
  • the gift of being alive which you share with all other beings
  • the courage of being present
  • the necessity of being present
  • the joy of being present.

All roads in life lead to the present. It is our shared home with all other living beings. It is where we decide to let go and heal. It is where we take a chance on ourself, someone else, and where we offer something new.

Being present is where the hope is.

See you there!

Do You Suffer From Emergency Mind?

When we afraid everything around us looms large and chaotic.

Lately though it seems that fear has become the norm and we are living in a perpetual state of emergency.

Perhaps it has always been this way but I am noticing something else at work that needs questioning.

Emergencies Are Not Innocent

Emergencies have become a way of life for many of us.

Notice our entertainment. They are mostly about emergencies. Whether depicting our health care system, focusing on national security, or relationships, many of our movies and television entertainments are based on the idea that life is an emergency.

Of course, we have some emergencies – some of the time.

However, I think we need to ask why emergencies have become the norm for our lives. It seems to me that we have been suffering from emergency creep for a long time, and now emergencies have reached a critical mass to the point that we may not recognize life without them.

Emergencies are not innocent. They take huge amounts of energy and resources. When they occur, they replace any other priorities. A continual state of emergency is a great way to control the social and even political agenda of a family, community and society.

The Consequences Of Emergencies

When an emergency is over we are often poorer for it.

If we have a hospital emergency we certainly understand the enormity of the bill, even if paid by our insurer.

When we have major storms, it is obvious how much damage is done to the physical plant of a community but also how disruptive of the ives of the people affected it is.

It takes no imagination to grasp the horrendous losses created by wars.

Occasional major emergencies create small disruptions.

Large and continuous emergencies do much more:

  • they make it impossible to plan. What is the point of planning anything if those plans will be destroyed by the next emergency.
  • they create a situation where people lose planning and life creating skills.
  • they consume resources that would be allocated differently without the emergency. Sometime they even take basic necessities. When you are taking care of an emergency, you may need to neglect rest and healthy food. If you do so as part of an emergency lifestyle, then you will end up sick and become an emergency yourself.
  • as people who have studied evolutional psychology will tell you, war stops all growth. So if you want to keep a people down, start a war or other major emergency. They keep people from thinking beyond surviving for the day – day in and day out..
  • they consume everything around them. The giant sucking sound that we have been hearing for a long time is the sound of emergencies taking over our lives.

Emergencies And Highly Sensitive People

Emergencies can be particularly damaging for highly sensitive people. Not only are they intense and overstimulating situations, but they are exceptionally harmful as a lifestyle.

Highly sensitive people are unlikely to make emergencies their chosen way of life because:

  • the continual adrenaline rush is very damaging to us.
  • we already suffer from stress. Emergencies are stressful situations on steroids.
  • it feels like a superficial way of living
  • emergencies do not bring out the best in us.
  • stress is so debilitating that we will not be able to work in a constant state of emergency
  • they do not use our best attributes: our intuition, insights, wisdom and creativity.
  • we cannot sustain them.
  • we do not want to sustain them

It is unfortunate the degree to which emergencies dominate our lives.

Highly sensitive people cannot afford the effects of continual crises. They are damaging in too many ways.

HSP’s are wise to notice emergency creep and work to minimize it in their lives.

Get The Monkey Off Your Back!

 

You know the feeling…

You are bone weary. You are not sure that you can move. You look at your limbs like they do not belong to you and they have no interest in doing what you want.Your energy is on strike and you can not afford it.

We have all felt this way. It has a cause and it has a cure.

The Burden You Are Carrying

It is easy enough to write off the symptoms of fatigue to bad diet and too much work. If only it were that simple. It is easy enough to fault the individual for some weakness that causes them to not be “strong” enough or responsible enough or whatever enough. It is easy enough to blame bad genes or the weather or some other factor outside of our control.

The reality is that we are living in an unusual time in human history and understanding context is key to making your life more manageable. There has never been this number of human beings on this planet that has grown so complex that no one can manage it any more. Our world is out of control in more ways than one, and you are feeling the effects.

It is not your fault.  But you still need solutions.

Short-term Solutions Make It Worse

Most short term solutions for fatigue are nothing more than one form of stimulant or another:

  • stimulants like coffee and sugar snacks do a number on your body by upping the sugar that sets you on the road to metabolic disorder and diabetes. It’s a high price to pay for a temporary boost that depletes us later.  It’s a kind of deficit spending for the body.
  • working harder is another often used approach. We have all heard the expression that there are not enough hours in the day. One Ayurvedic doctor told me that working six hours a day was considered far superior for health and more natural for us than our current culture of long hours and 24/7 availability.
  • distraction can help us pump ourselves up.   Loud music and entertainment can create a high of sorts which is not actually restful and may negatively affect the nervous systems of highly sensitive people.
  • reaching for food is actually a rational instinct since food supports our health and ability to function.  Unfortunately one of the challenges extremely busy people have is that much of our food supply is processed and full of all sorts of chemicals as well as corn syrup and other ingredients that increase weight and act as stimulants to the body.  Because processed food is so high in calories and low in nutrition it can cause people to want to eat more to meet their nutritional needs and when they are tired their nutritional needs rise.  Fatigue can therefore contribute to weight issues.

Fatigue is important information that needs to be listened to.  It provides valuable information about how to manage ourselves and our work that can support long term effectiveness. It can help us learn how to pace ourselves. All of the unhealthy ways we have of handling fatigue in the short term affect our perseverance and staying power in the long term, because they take a weakened state of being tired fatigue, and make it worse.  Over a long period of time, inevitable chronic problems will develop.

Highly sensitive people are very conscientious which can make them more easily tired. By taking poor fatigue handling strategies off the table and working with the body’s nature, HSP’s start to level the playing field on fatigue management.

How To Take The Monkey Off Your Back

Getting the monkey off your back is not a quick fix.

  • you need to accept how out-of-control the world is and accept that you probably will not fix it.
  • you need to put your health ahead of saving the world.
  • you are not responsible for other people’s expectations including their expectations of a perfect world.

Once you have accepted these things you are ready to work on your life. You must start by making a list of priorities putting health at the top of your list. Getting on a health maintenance plan that supports your highest functioning will help you handle work better and help you feel better at the same time.

MAPI, the Ayurvedic website,  recommends strategies based on the type of fatigue you are experiencing: mental, emotional or physical. Their article,  Wiping Away Fatigue, and offers some tips and case histories of how some individuals were able to recover from fatigue. (You can check your dosha type below.) Next you need to get serious about simplifying your life.

  • what do you take on that is unnecessary?
  • when do you help others when they should be helping themselves? You do not want to deprive others of empowerment opportunities!
  • what do you do that pleases others but is totally draining to you?
  • is your home and office cluttered?

See if you can reduce one “obligation” or source of clutter a day.  Decluttering your life takes time, which is a good thing because freedom takes time to get used to.

But it is worth it and you are worth it. And by the way, when someone brings you a monkey, say no!

 

5 Reasons Being A Control Freak Is Good For You

Are you a control freak?

Do you get teased for being organized?

Do you receive disapproval for needing a neat environment?

Do you feel that you are “wrong” to be this way?

Would you be surprised to learn that you are right to want to be organized and neat?

Being Neat Is Not The Same As Being A Control Freak

Being organized has acquired the perception that it is about being self conscious rather than being effective. It has come to mean uptightness and social ineptitude. It goes against our cherished cultural ideal of relaxed confidence and in doing so robs us of needed opportunities for growth.

Here are five reasons why being organized and neat can help you particularly if you are an HSP:

  1. being organized makes it easier to be focused.
  2. being organized helps you bring your best attention to what you are doing by clearing the space around you.
  3. being organized minimizes distractions from things and people which reduces stress and makes work easier.
  4. being organized helps you use your time well so that you can attend to the most important priorities in your day.
  5. being organized makes it possible for you to live your dreams by getting rid of all the problems you don’t have to have in favor of the ones you do have to have.

Being A Control Freak Helps Personal Growth?

Perhaps we have become too task oriented to perceive the larger implications of organization. I continually remind myself that cluttering up my life with problems that are unnecessary is a great way to not get to the “problems” of growing and creating that I really need. Having the problems I do not have to have is a great way to avoid putting myself out there and it does not feel very good.

For highly sensitive people, the problems of distraction and clutter are more acute. Highly sensitive people have a particular set of issues which show up in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual ways that require mindful attention.

HSPs experience a higher level of intensity which requires different life  and work strategies:

  • every aspect of life for highly sensitive people demands more of them and as a result, HSPs need to be careful about what they give their attention to.
  • because of the HSP tendency to sensory overstimulation, they need to manage their lives to minimize stress.  All aspects of life: work, social, family, and management of daily life require careful consideration.
  • in a culture where people are expected to put up with significant amounts of stress, which is often perceived as “normal”, HSPs may be treated with disrespect and be perceived as weak because of their need to minimize stress in their lives.
  • simple ways of living to minimize complexity including simple diets can help HSPs. Simple living can be life saving and freeing for a highly sensitive person.
  • herbal remedies and health practices like meditation can help to minimize the chance of disease and illness which plague many highly sensitive people from unavoidable sensory overload.

Highly sensitive people are often creative and have the potential to achieve great things. Many are geniuses with special talents. By getting a handle on their daily lives, physical problems and stress issues, they have a chance to have the wonderful “problem” of developing their considerable gifts.

Being organized in a way that suits the highly sensitive person may be called control freak by others. However, it offers highly sensitive people the potential to blossom into the person they were meant to be.  Having the problems you don’t have to have helps you have the problems (of growth) that you do have to have,

For More Information:

Why The Skill Of Focusing Is Important For HSP’s

Overstimulation: How Subtle Energy Overwhelms HSP’s

Subtle Energies – The Path To Health

Subtle energies are what you notice when you are in stillness.

Subtle energies are precious information.

Subtle energies have truth in them, but they don’t scream and yell their message. They are there to be discerned. They are where highly sensitive people live.

A Lost Skill

A subtle energy requires good listening skills. Somewhere in the progress of the human race, we seem to have stopped listening.

Our early ancestors may not have had our material sophistication but they knew how to listen to the energies around them. A tracker for a tribe, any hunter, and shaman or medicine man knew about subtle energy and what the various energies meant. Their knowledge was a matter of life and death.

Subtle energies are fluid and moving. They are not tied to anything. They just are.

These energies are present everywhere and in everything. They include everything. They include time, space, materiality, qualities – hard, soft etc., attitude, and direction.

Subtle energies are our path to the flow state. They are also our window to the connection of mind and body that many of us have lost.

Subtle Energies At Work

One of the best examples of a great use of subtle energies is Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing system.

Ayurveda categorizes everything by its subtle energy.  Each of the three human body types of doshas is a group of individual unique energies.  All three exist in each of us in different combinations.

When Ayurveda suggests food for a dosha, it is recommending the best subtle energy choices that will support health in a particular individual. Each of the seasons and stages of life represent different subtle energies as well. This is the reason that Ayurveda has become a great resource for people seeking a way to manage their health themselves.

Understanding subtle energies can help us respond intelligently and in a life affirming way to what is in front of us, in our culture and in our daily lives.  Ayurveda and the energy healing fields are pointing us increasingly towards effective methods of health and healing by helping us relearn and master subtle energy skills lost by our cultural disconnection from nature.