Have you been labeled by coworkers or family members that you are “too sensitive” or “overly emotional”? Do you often feel overwhelmed when working with certain people or being in groups, and need time alone to revive? Are you fine one minute then go somewhere and feel drained and depressed the next without an obvious reason?
Many times we may not understand why we are feeling so overwhelmed by things that other people don’t seem to be impacted by. You may be what some are now calling a “sensitive or highly feeling person”.
I certainly fit the category, to a tee. And it has been a blessing and a curse. Growing up, I was often labeled as too sensitive, too emotional, and too introverted or “shy”.
I quickly learned to stuff my emotions and toughen up my skin. I was so good at repressing how I felt, once in an argument with a boyfriend years ago, he was demanding I tell him how I feel and I couldn’t even respond! The feelings were so buried I had no clue how to unearth them.
Unraveling this pattern of trying to manage my overwhelming emotions and inexplicable sensitivity has been the focus of much of my personal healing journey.
Dr. Elaine Aron has coined the term “Highly Sensitive Person or HSP” and states they make up 15-20% of the population, both human and animal. You can check out the full Self-Test at www.hsperson.com, but here are some key features:
- easily overwhelmed and stressed by outer stimuli, like loud noises, strong smells, chaotic environments
- extremely perceptive
- very sensitive to pain
- have rich and often intense internal lives, and
- need plenty of quiet time to maintain their equilibrium
Oh how I wish Dr. Aron was around when I was growing up! However, my own personal challenges learning how to manage being a highly sensitive empath has led me to develop and refine energy tools to help many healers, therapists and intuitives stay balanced and centered.
I have learned many great ways to decipher what is happening, and then manage and clear your energy so you can become more detached when other people’s thoughts and emotions are bombarding you.
The good news—you can do this without shutting down your own feelings, or cutting off your connections and relationships. I am now able to clearly identify and voice my feelings as they are happening in present time—quite an achievement for me.
But now comes the tricky part. Is it heightened sensitivity or heightened awareness? Or both?
Now that we have defined what a “highly sensitive person” is, you need to distinguish that not everything you are feeling is yours! As your awareness grows, so does your sensitivity, and this can be both very helpful and extremely challenging.
Several times in my spiritual journey I have been in extreme states which are marked first by tremendous expansion or opening to higher states of awareness and consciousness. It is as if an old cloudy layer peels away, and everything seems to scintillate with a diamond-like clarity, and a great sense of peace and love and well-being emerges.
Then the other shoe falls quickly afterward. My already extreme sensitivity climbs to a new high—everyday happenings feel like nails on a chalkboard. I feel like one big raw nerve, and everyone is on it with broken glass. I am unusually exhausted and want to be in a cave. Some people feel like they are vampires, draining my energy.
The last time I recall this transition, I was at a fire ceremony about 9 years ago. We were chanting and I felt something like a peeling of saran wrap from my skin. Then everything felt exquisite—like I could “see with new eyes and hear with new ears”.
Only a few moments later however, someone left the circle and sang separately, with a bit of attitude. I literally felt his energy like a butcher knife in my heart! I had to leave the circle and walk around as I could barely breathe. I even knew it was nothing aimed at me personally but it didn’t matter. The energy was unbelievably sharp and cutting and took a while to soften and release.
So I asked my guru about it and she explained: “Whenever you reach a new level of awareness, you have heightened sensitivity to both positive and negative experiences, until you acclimate.” While it took several weeks to “acclimate”, it helped to know that ultimately I would learn to breathe easier in the upper stratospheres.
**Coming next in this Series: How to recognize when you are being affected by other peoples energies