I am very blessed to have come from a long line of dedicated, hard workers. My Mama & Papa worked very hard to give us kids a good life. Dad toiled away on the farm day in and day out. Mom joined him at his side and devoted 45 years of her life to nursing. Despite a life of long hours, physical labor, and little sleep, they persisted on. Thankfully, I learned the value of hard work and never giving up.
I carried these values with me into adulthood. If it needed to be done, I did it. I also watched my Mom live a life of self-sacrifice. She gave everything for her children, family, and patients. She wouldn't hesitate to pull out her checkbook and give if she felt someone needed it. Out of love and service, she led a life of dedication. My father did the same with that Love being for family, God, the Land, and the farm he grew up on with his mother & father.
I am realizing now that while sacrifice & dedicated hard work are required to fulfill your dreams, one has to learn how to Master the Art of Balance. You cannot give if you do not fill your cup first. This is especially true for highly sensitive, empaths who experience the world on an amplified level and are prone to sensory overload & burnout without proper downtime.
What is a Highly Sensitive Person? What is an Empath?
Highly sensitive people and empaths experience the world differently due to the composition of our nervous systems that are biologically different. They are often the dreamers, writers, artists, healers, teachers, and avid nature & animal lovers. Due to our heightened nervous systems, we see colors more vividly, can taste and smell more acutely (I have a wolf-like nose), feel others thoughts & emotions, sometimes before they can, and need a lot of alone & nature time to recharge. We also have compassion and empathy for all creatures large and small, because we feel others & energy so strongly. We can feel how it feels to be in "their shoes." We can sense the energy in a room or among people. Inspiring music, words, and films can easily move us to tears.
I was always called sensitive as a child. Approximately, 15-20% of the population are HSPs or Highly Sensitive People. Now science refers to the trait as Sensory Processing Sensitivity. An even smaller segment of this 15-20% are also Empaths. Combine HSP with Empath and you have the makings of an extra-sensitive, highly intuitive individual.
When I first started learning about these traits, so many lightbulbs went off in my head. I finally no longer felt alone. No longer the Black Sheep. I found a community of people that understood my experiences in life. Elaine Aron has done tremendous research and writing on the topic. Please refer to her website for more information. https://hsperson.com
According to her website, "In her national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people. According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. But the key quality is that, compared to the 80% without the trait, they process everything around them much more—reflect on it, elaborate on it, make associations. When this processing is not fully conscious, it surfaces as intuition."
Her books and workbook truly changed my life. There is another personality type called Empaths. I love Anita Moorjani's book, "Sensitive is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World." (I have one left on my bookshelf at the shop.) According to her book, "Empaths share all the traits of HSPs but have a much more intense experience."
Moorjani also references Dr. Judith Orloff's book, "The Empath's Survival Guide," which is another good read for folks in our clan. Moorjani goes on to explain in Orloff's book, "empaths not only feel but absorb the positive and negative energies around us. We don't have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. We are so senstive, she explains, that it's like holding something in a hand that has fifty fingers instead of five."
Moorjani futher explains, "empaths can even experience the energetic fields around other people. It's almost as if we're able to tune in to multiple radio stations at the same time, though it can be difficult to differentiate between our station and the stations of others. This creates static, confusion, and even exhaustion, as the needs of other people eclipse our own and we absorb their frequency and energy."
Before I learned about all of this, I often struggled in life. I didn't realize I was absorbing a lot of energy that was not mine. I was also always trying to keep the peace wherever I went, even at my own expense, because I didn't like being in environments where there wasn't harmony. I always knew I was different, but I struggled with feeling like something was "wrong" with me. Unfortunately, our culture isn't aware of this topic and can further contribute to these feelings. It is my goal to bring awareness to these personality traits and foster a new culture where it is cultivated. Now, I realize God created me this way for a very specific purpose, to be a nurse and energy healing practitioner.
Knowledge & awareness truly are power. Once I learned about our tendencies, strengths, and potential weaknesses if the ability was not managed properly, I was able to create a toolkit and am now thriving. I will be sharing this toolkit with you all in the future. I also want to help parents who maybe are not built this way, but feel they have a child with these traits.
I am very blessed for my life and upbringing. However, I recognize now that if you have a parent that is aware of this trait, it would be beneficial for them to have a toolkit for these children that likely need extra guidance & support during the developing years. It would likely circumvent negative coping mechanisms, family conflicts, and contribute to the child's overall well-being.
So how do you know if you are an HSP, empath, or both? Elaine Aron has a self-test on her website and Moorjani also includes a quiz in her book, Sensitive is the New Strong, pp.24-28. The following questions are from her book:
You fear hurting other people's feelings, disappointing them, or letting them down because you can feel their pain (possibly to a greater degree than they do.)
You have a willingness to accept full responsibility for your actions, sometimes to the point of taking blame for something that is not your fault.
You can be easily manipulated by others and often feel taken advantage of or exploited.
You have difficulty receiving compliments, gifts, services or kindness from others. You feel obligated to repay them immediately.
You're highly compassionate toward other people and tolerant of their weaknesses, insecurities, and mistakes. You treat others with kindness whether they deserve it or not.
You understand other people better than they understand themselves, so people often come to you with their troubles.
You're deeply intuitive and just know things without being told. It's a depth of knowing that goes beyond just a hunch.
When someone says one thing and means another, you can easily tell.
You're gentle on people and on the planet.
You're attracted to the healing arts in all its forms, including holistic therapies.
You tend to support the underdog and are very quick to spot that person in a group.
You have a tough time wearing pre-owned clothing because you can feel the energy of the person who owned them before you.
You love daydreaming and have a deep and rich inner world. You're highly creative, a visionary, and need the space to create.
You find routine, roles, and control extremely claustrophobic, and like the freedom to do your own thing in your own time.
You're attracted to all things metaphysical and spiritual.
You're very service oriented. Helping people brings you great joy.
You're very interested in self-growth, self-help. You want to evolve. You want to learn. You want to grow. You not only want to evolve yourself, but you have a deep interest in evolving humanity as well.
When in certain geographical locations, a sacred spiritual site, a battleground, or the home of a historical figure, you sometimes feel flooded by the emotions of those who were there before you.
Being in nature brings you great peace and a sense of calm.
You hae a deep affinity for plants. You just know what a plant needs--a certain nutrient, water, to be moved to a specific location--when no visible signs are apparent.
You sense the energy of food and know whether it will give you energy or deplete it.
You have a deep connection with animals. They just gravitate toward you.
You've always struggled with trying to fit into society or the world. You observe much of what goes on in life as though watching an ad on TV, as if these goings-on don't involve or apply to you.
When you're near someone who's not feeling well, you find yourself feeling their symptoms.
You have difficulty relaxing when people are around you. You have a need for solitude and a space to regroup from other energies, and get aggravated if you can't have that space.
Crowded places, such as malls, are especially difficult for you.
The list continues, but you get the idea.
As you can see, for a HSP and/or empath, sacrifice & hard work HAVE TO BE BALANCED with self-care or you will end up prone to burnout. However, this applies to EVERYONE. The body will literally stop you if you push too hard. Drive and passion have to be tempered with rest, exercise, nature, proper nutrition, and my personal favorite, baths with my homemade essential oil epsom & sea salts.
We have been a bit programmed in our culture toward the "overachieving" mentality at all costs. How much can you get done? How much can you accomplish? How much can you accumulate? Our culture promotes a society fueled by caffeine and sugar, but this affects our abilities to TRULY THRIVE physically, emotionally, & spiritually, not only individually but collectively. I like to promote honoring our natural energy cycles. Nature does not Hurry, yet Everything is Accomplished.
HSPs & Empaths will be a topic of further discussion in the near future as I want to help those who are built with this extra-sensory nervous system. I also want to help parents who have children with these traits who are unaware of their different needs & abilities. If you are unaware of these abilities & how to manage them, one can turn towards negative coping mechanisms & fall prone to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. If it is respected and cultivated, these folks can greatly contribute to bringing in more Light & Love to their families & communities. With awareness, this trait can be harnessed into a great strength and asset.
All it takes is a bit of patience, learning, and practice, and I promise this trait is very manageable and a true Blessing.
Thank You Very Kindly for Tuning into This Week's Episode!
Until Next Time,
the driftless shaman