Despite my valiant efforts to do so, I have come to recognize that clarity cannot be forced.
While 2013 was a year of incredible personal growth for me, punctuated by several aha moments and many life changing lessons, I still find myself wishing I could see my future. I've always looked ahead, honestly for a long time I knew no other direction to look, and as much as I now attempt to live right here in the present moment, there is a part of me that wants to leap ahead.
Like yoga, learning to live in the moment and allowing life to happen is a practice that requires a concentrated effort. Apparently reformed control freaks like me don't give up our control easily, even if we know it is the healthy and right thing to do. As part of my attempt to focus in the present and not ruminate away all of life's joy and spontaneity by worrying about the future, I have embarked on a mission in 2014 to write my way to clarity.
I'm starting by sharing a life changing moment from 2013, one that forever has altered the way I interact with the world around me. I am a Highly Sensitive Person.
One Defining Moment
While listening to Susan Cain's book Quiet, right after realizing that I am not the extrovert I always thought I was, I heard the term highly sensitive person for the first time. Some of the characteristics of an hsp Cain mentioned did resonate with me, but I was so focused on learning that I was an ambivert (not an extrovert), I promptly forgot all about it. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I actually heard the term again and discovered there was a whole book written about the characteristics of a highly sensitive person. Turns out it fit my personality description a lot more than I originally thought.
Elaine Aron's The Highly Sensitive Person and Barrie Jaeger's Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person are two books I will never stop referencing. They have changed my life and also allowed me to help others understand themselves better as well. Not to mention how important they have been in helping me come to terms with what I considered a huge failure of mine -- quitting my last job after only a year.
For those of you who think that being a Highly Sensitive Person means you cry all the time; think again. It can mean that you are very emotional, but in many cases it is really about how you process the world. While 80% of the people in the world process using a sense or two at a time, an hsp experiences life through all their senses, all the time, making us more susceptible to overload. HSP's generally share some common traits; we think too much, border on perfectionism and are super self -critical, yet we are also uniquely different from each other. All hsp's are not created equal, which makes this harder to pinpoint.
In a strange but awesome twist, it seems that 'like attracts like' in the case of being an hsp. Most people that I have made an instant and deep connection with previously in my life are now reappearing and testing as highly sensitive people; some who have surprised even me. As I meet new people in my yoga classes and in other parts of my life, the majority of them are turning out to be highly sensitive, too.
The reason I am posting this on my blog today is twofold: one, if my writing resonates with you --you might be an hsp yourself--to be sure, take the test. And two, if you are struggling with any of the things I mentioned above, I want you to know that I can help you. There are a few important tips I have come across that ended the struggles I once had. As a holistic mind, body + spirit coach, it only makes sense I should focus on what I know, and that is how to navigate through life as an hsp. Maybe some of what I have experienced will help you learn to appreciate your unique self, make better decisions about your careers and lives, and help you do it faster than the 50 years it took me.
Not sure if you might be an hsp? See if any of these characteristics sound like you.
A Highly Sensitive Person* is:
- Better at spotting errors and avoiding mistakes
- Highly conscientious
- Able to concentrate deeply
- Especially good at tasks requiring vigilance, accuracy, speed and the detection of minor differences
- Often thinking about our own thinking
- Able to learn without being aware of what we have learned
- Deeply affected by other people's moods and emotions
- Specialists in fine motor movements
- More"right brained" and less linear, more creative in their thinking
To be sure, I recommend you take the test and then check out the books. Even if you don't test as a highly sensitive person, the information uncovered can still be extremely valuable. Chances are someone you live with, love or work with, is an hsp. It would be to your benefit to understand how they are different from you. And if you are an hsp and need a coach who understands the unique way your brain works, and has experience with your specific challenges-- please shoot me an email or give me a call.
My plan is to share more of what I have learned about living life as an hsp in future blogposts, for clarity and all....
*Excerpted from p. 10 of Elaine Aron's book The Highly Sensitive Person.