The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Instruction Manual

A lighthearted way to communicate about your needs as an HSP

Model No. BF270786

FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTION

The BF270786 HSP contains a highly sensitive central nervous system. With
great care you can ensure optimal functioning and longevity, and enjoy the
benefits.

FEATURES

Enhanced sensitivity to sensory stimuli
Automatic pause-to-check mode
Built-in intuition and empathy
Increased intensity of emotional experience
Automatic reflective processing mode

To ensure maximal operation of your HSP adhere to the following instructions:

• DO NOT rush your HSP. Allow time and give advance notice of future
plans.
• DO NOT overload your HSP with multiple tasks. Your HSP will attempt to
cope with tasks but will become more easily over-stimulated.
• DO NOT expose to strong smells, bright lights or unexpected loud noise.
Provide extra care during trips to supermarket or in crowded areas.
Reduce overexposure to television or computer activities.
• Acknowledge and respect differences in emotional reactivity and reflective
processing.

OVER-STIMULATION

In cases of heightened emotional experience your HSP is likely to burnout. Be
aware of how you express negative energy, as your HSP is very sensitive in
this aspect. Provide calming environment and soothing voices.
In the event of coldness or tiredness, which will increase sensitivity to
coldness, provide your HSP with blankets/bedding/warmth.
In the event of overheating, remove your HSP to a cool area. Hydrate and
leave to rest until your HSP returns to normal temperature.

You are perfect exactly as you are

 

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TO RESET YOUR HSP

Give your HSP space and time, herbal tea, regular healthy food, natural environments, relaxing music and plenty of rest.

ENJOY BEING WITH YOUR HSP!

Additional information at http://hsperson.com

Barbara Allen

Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Permission to be yourself

In current times, it has to be said that things for HSPs are showing potential for improvement. More people know about the trait’s existence, some of those understand what this trait actually is in genetic or scientific terms and some understand it in bigger than scientific terms, of how we fit into the expression and purpose of the larger tribe of man. And yet ….

Sometimes, we are struggling, despite our knowledge and education on the topic, to actually express our highly sensitive nature in our normal, everyday lives. It’s often when I see those HSPs who are exhausted, or constantly stressed, or with unhealed wounds, that I wonder what is going on – they know the facts of who they are, yet are failing to truly thrive thus far. But that’s not all – a lot of these HSPs out there are successful, going to work, building businesses, gaining respect and recognition for their gifts, fulfilling parental roles and so on, but even so, I don’t think the majority, in their heart of hearts, could say they feel perfectly well or perfectly aligned to their natural needs and activities, even now. I wonder why this is? When a perfectly healthy HSP, with a good job, lovely family and nice life-style chooses to come and see me for mentoring, about ‘managing life more effectively’, it makes me stop and think – what exactly is making these HSPs think that they need more of anything in their lives right now? And when they say ‘managing more effectively’, what does that mean, really? Is this their way of saying they are unhappy?

I’m in a privileged position of having met, in my lifetime, hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful HSPs. In my twenty years as a therapist, I met many, often presenting with anxiety, low mood, sometimes addictions, who at the same time as needing to be somewhere where they could be understood and supported, were leading some quite astonishingly successful lives, or at the very least, lives that most people would love to have (looking from the outside, anyway). Later, as I moved slowly into specialising in education of professionals about our trait, and providing more varied spaces and settings for HSPs to get support and to meet each other, I began to realise that this was about more than educating with information about the HSP trait (information is power after all) – it’s actually about an internal war against external culture. This is a very interesting topic, since studies have shown that HSPs are less influenced by cultural systems than others (I suspect in part due to their deeper processing, in particular, the processing of their value system) [Aron A. et al. (2010)].

So, what is happening, that makes apparently-empowered HSPs, struggle so hard to find a sense of true wellness or peace? Is it simply that they are expressing the typical experience of the minority in a majority-dominated environment? Certainly, living non-HSP lifestyles can be precarious for HSPs due to over-stimulation, lack of down time (and the extravert imperative that might not suit the 70% of introverted HSPs). There is also the pressure to adapt to the way the other 80% live their daily life, plus the pressure to meet the mile-stones of life that feel normal to the non-HSP, at a time that feels right for them, but maybe not HSPs. In theory, if we are aware of these pressures, why is it so hard to get a real sense of wellbeing and make choices that benefit us and help us to live an authentic HSP life?

By the time you get this far in this article, you are probably thinking, ‘yes, Barbara, that’s exactly what it is like, I read Elaine Aron’s book cover to cover, I studied articles about my trait, I’ve made quite a few changes in my life already, so why is it? Why don’t I feel ‘right’ yet?’.

Well, that’s a great question and although I don’t claim to have the answer, I do think it’s worth sharing some thoughts I am having about this, to see what others think. My over-arching and general heading for my ideas on this is ‘we are still not doing enough to be our real selves.’ Yes, by all means, eat healthily, it will help. Go to bed an hour earlier, it will help. Choose your friends or partner more wisely, it will help. Reduce your work hours a little, it will help. Visit nature more often, it will help. But is that it? We may not realise it, but that is the kind of thing that helps non-HSPs – they benefit greatly from ‘little’ changes like that. But us, highly sensitive people, is that really enough? I really wonder if we are being brave and clear enough about what really is an authentic way of living for a highly sensitive person.

Is there a little voice in your mind now, saying ‘What? You can’t really expect that HSPs just pick up and seek a life of solitude and creativity, surely? What about everything they have built their foundation on? What about the mortgage? What about the people in my life? What about my friends? What about money?’.

Well, no, I wasn’t thinking every HSP should throw their hands up and vacate the modern world and leave everyone they love, so you can breathe a little easier – certainly not all HSPs are the same and neither are their needs. But – I am saying that there is a possibility that we are ‘tweaking’ our lives a little here and there at the edges and hoping that this will be enough. Clearly, if we are still not feeling ‘right’, its not enough, is it? I imagine that might sound like bad news… at least initially. You see, one of the most pressing issues that all of us have when we say we want to make changes, is that we want to make changes whilst not really making changes – its human nature, not just HSP nature. And we as HSPs do it just as much as anyone. In reality, we need to get a grip on the process of real change – or forever feel like somehow some kind of mark is being missed. Don’t know if that makes sense to you? Let me give you an (anonymised) example of the way these things often go for HSPs:

A number of years ago, a talented young man in his twenties came to see me. He knew what high sensitivity was and was relieved to have found out about it. It made sense of his life as a teenager, feeling out of sorts, anxious, not sure he fitted in. It made sense of the ‘kind of breakdown’ he had suffered in the first year of his degree. At the time, he had gotten through it. His life had been one of doing the right thing, making his parents proud, getting an education and going to the big city to be the success that everyone could see he would be. Well, that was fine for the first two or three years at work in London. Then breakdown number two arrived. His was a typical HSP breakdown – anxiety and constant activity, followed by exhaustion, depression, work-phobia and getting signed off by the doctor for a number of months and taking mild anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds (which were helping a bit).

We talked about HSP life-style, the pressure to socialise in his job, the number of hours he was working, the need for downtime, good food and suitable friendships. Also, what type of work and work environment did he need? At this stage there was no partner, no children, so options were fairly flexible. So, as the weeks went on, much resting and re-framing, this HSP began to recover, to make plans to go back to work, a little more on his own terms.

The focus was mostly around work, this was the remit I was given and the one he worked to – and that is where I think things were ‘not enough’. The fact was, this lovely HSP needed a life transplant, not a different way of working. Ultimately, two years further down the line, with now a lovely fiancée and so much ‘going for him’, the inevitable collapse happened again, despite adjustments to his work schedule and social life. At what stage, I wonder, should both he and I have been thinking about what was the real extent of his natural, authentic need as an HSP in terms of his home and work environment? Needless to say, after a couple more years of not feeling well, he finally decided that a space in the country as opposed to the city was probably the best place for him, along with part time, but reasonably paid work. His fiancée decided that the countryside and a quieter life wasn’t for her and they parted company soon after he moved to a peaceful haven. Her leaving was one of the ‘inevitable losses’ that often take place when we make changes in our lives that really matter – sometimes we lose people, friends, fiancées – sometimes we lose ideas, plans, money, hobbies or work options. I imagine at this moment, you are thinking with horror that it’s all too much. But wait…..

Looking at him now, ten years on, I see a man with a loving partner who also enjoys and needs the peace of the countryside (in her own, more extroverted way), two little children with parents who have time and energy for them. Yes, he is not the high-flying city-guy that he set out to be, but I think he is happy. What’s more, his job actually entails helping families move out of the city to find homes in the countryside – a job he is well suited to both as an HSP who can intuit the complex needs of his clients and whose own history of growth and development provides a wonderful education that underpins his craft. Would he say, if you asked him, that he misses the old life? I don’t know. I imagine perhaps there might be some things he misses – the fast car and the kudos that big bucks brings, perhaps – the external version of success. But overall, I like to think he feels he made changes that bring him closer to who he is – and as a result, closer to who and what he loves.

So, what am I saying after all the above? I guess I’m saying, take a good look at your life over the last few years and check if there are any unmet needs that you really could do with attending to. Think about whether you are dallying at the edges of changes rather than taking yourself seriously.

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Above all, don’t wait for permission to be yourself – or if you do need permission, be your own best advocate and weigh up your choices with fairness, kindness, patience, intuition and truth as your guides. Learn to differentiate between what ‘looks’ like you being happy and successful and what ‘feels’ like it. Enjoy the process and good luck .

Barbara Allen

Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Attending Elaine Aron’s Advanced Training

In March this year I was invited to attend an advanced training on Sensory Processing Sensitivity (the technical name for high sensitivity) with Dr Elaine Aron, the person who has conducted important research and written books that have helped us to understand and make the most of our genetically inherited trait.

Not being a scientist, I expected to find myself a little overwhelmed by the in-depth information, but was pleasantly surprised that despite my lack of familiarity with the ‘lingo’, I was able to understand, with the help of Dr Aron’s explanations, more about our trait and why it’s important that we understand even more about it.

We looked at many studies, including those of UK researcher, Michael Pluess and his colleagues, and grasped interesting insights into the neurological and genetic components that relate to SPS, (our differential susceptibility), what SPS is and equally importantly, what it is not, bi-modalilty and tri-modality.  I won’t go into all the ins and outs of the information here, its a bit complex for a short piece, but hopefully you will have the chance to look at some of the papers we studied at one of our events and take away a list for further study.

I was surrounded at this two day event, by 12 amazing colleagues from around the world, many of whom have researched and written books on the trait, are consciously working with HSPs and who like myself, had been invited for a reason.  It was clear that Dr Aron wanted to impart the ability to be able to talk about high sensitivity more fully to both the media and other professionals about our trait and most importantly, why it matters that we both understand it and make room for it in the way we design our world. Needless to say, it was an inspiring training and left me with renewed enthusiasm to return to the UK and do what I can to help educate and support both HSPs and non-HSPs to appreciate how we can improve the day-to-day experience of HSPs both adults and children, and also think about the roles they can play in families and  society as a whole that perhaps they feel they are limited in just now.

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So, onward and upward.  There’s a lot to do in the next couple of years, not least of which is trying to find some funding to help underpin the NCHS and its fledgling work in supporting highly sensitive adults and children.  Please don’t underestimate how much a small donation can do, to help us in reaching out and spreading accurate, useful information and appropriate support to those who need it.  If you would like to donate or know someone who does, please ask them to email me at accounts@hspsensitive.com and I will send the bank details so they can make a contribution.

Enjoy the summer and I hope to see you at one of our events later this year 🙂

Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

The Highly Sensitive Person – CPD for Professionals

sensitiveboy-smallWould you like to be able to help more of those minority of people who could be the majority of your clients? It is not widely known that almost half of therapy clients have sensory processing sensitivity according to Dr Elaine N Aron. The NCHS is often running a CPD training for therapists, coaches, educators, social workers, health care professionals and others who work with highly sensitive clients. We will look at what sensory processing sensitivity is, how we can identify a client with this trait and ways of working that are effective and appropriate for this client group. All information is based on the seminal work of Dr Elaine Aron, renowned research psychologist and Jungian analyst.  Professionals attending this course can get a free entry to the HSP support directory on the NCHS website and also referrals from the NCHS, as many HSPs approach us to link them to professionals aware of the highly sensitive trait. You can find out more about this training (quality checked by the National Counselling Society) at our last CPD held for professionals. Please also consider forwarding details on this training to any professional or organisation that would benefit from understanding more about highly sensitive people.  ildiko_davisThis training day can be presented at your own venue, in most parts of the country, if there are at least 10 people attending. We would especially like to arrange this CPD in London, since this is where we receive most enquiries from clients looking for appropriate counsellors and other professionals. Please enquire more about this from Barbara Allen – Williams.

Written by Ildiko Davis (e-mail: ildiko.davis@yahoo.co.uk)

Highly Sensitive Children at School

One of the most common enquiries I receive here at the National Centre for High Sensitivity is from parents of Highly Sensitive Children (HSCs) who are struggling at school. In a way, those who are reading this Newsletter are quite likely to understand the very real challenges HSCs face during their education – after all, most of us are HSPs and remember all too well the joys and tribulations.Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who, for quite an extended period, find themselves working through a maze of concerns and explanations for their child’s behaviour and responses and often come to the NCHS after years of worry or frustration. Reading Dr Elaine Aron’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Child’, or coming into contact with an aware parent, therapist or teacher provides the impetus to reframe what is going on for their child and gives hope and direction for support.

Some children are fortunate to have parents like us, who with proper information and understanding, can attune to the needs of the highly responsive child – but others are not so fortunate. Although we as individuals cannot help each and every child we come across, something we can do is talk about high sensitivity (or high responsivity, sensory processing sensitivity) more freely. Even if our child is doing well in school and at home, let’s remember that this may be because we know how to support them to be all they can be. That is information that is very useful to share when the time is right.

It is becoming more and more important to help schools and their staff to understand the appropriate needs of HSCs. They have as much right as anyone to enjoy their schooling and to have their educational and welfare needs met in appropriate ways. Making up at least 15% of the school population, they are a significant minority who have lots to offer and whose failure to reach their full potential is often missed due to their better than average achievement levels and ability to hide or mis-define their stress.

If you have the ear of any professional person, do point them in the direction of Dr Elaine Aron’s books and remind them that they can access training and guidance through the NCHS (www.hspsensitive.com). We train professionals and also keep a list of people who have an interest in supporting highly sensitive people, children and their families. You can also help by volunteering to take part in important studies around education and highly sensitive children that are in the process of being set up at this time (contact us for more details).

In particular we have a fledgling project underway that is looking to provide more input for teenage HSCs. Although this is tiny at the moment, in the planning stage and working on a micro-budget, any input will help us to start thinking about how we can appropriately support highly sensitive teenagers at a time when pressure is on and identity and confidence are major growth areas.

barbara_allen-wIf you have any comments on the above, do please share them with us; and to those of you who have already started fledgling work projects, THANK YOU! My appreciation goes out especially to Nina, Nicole and Nicola who have all begun the worthwhile journey towards mentoring the next generation of parents and highly sensitive people .

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)

Introduction to Floating

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HSP Pathways – May 2016

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Carl Rogers

Living in a world dominated by sensory overload and ‘busyness’, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time necessary to enable our bodies and minds to return to their natural state of relaxation, particularly following a busy or stressful day, event or time in our lives.

I began to explore the world of ‘Floating’ after my physical and mental health began to suffer from working in a stressful job and studying and I remembered having read something in one of Elaine Aron’s newsletters ( http://www.hsperson.com/pages/2Nov10.htm ) about floatation tanks being helpful for HSP’s and stress and decided to investigate further.

Two and a half years and five or six floats later, I can say with absolute conviction that the one-hour experience of being able to ‘let go’ within the floatation tank is like having an intensive spa break. It enables the deep feeling of relaxation you feel after a power nap, loosened muscles felt after a lengthy massage and a mind free to wander without being tied up in knots that you feel after an extended break away. All this, within the privacy of your own suite and without the stress or discomfort that can sometimes be experienced when having a massage.

FloatingThe facility I went to in Kent
(Cornmill Health Centre) provided comprehensive written information about floating and on my first visit the helpful staff talked me through what to expect. I had my own private suite with a shower and although the float lasts an hour you can have the suite for 90 minutes. The float costs £25 (cheaper if you book in blocks of 5) and you have control over how much, if any, light you wish to keep within the floatation experience. I have experimented with different settings and find that it varies according to how I’m feeling on each occasion as to whether I want to have the space completely dark or with some gentle background light on.

To start with, I found it difficult to relax, however with each float I had, my body and mind became more accustomed to what to expect and now on entering the water and lying back, my body begins to relax much quicker and the ‘mental traffic’ fades away. As the water is highly salted your body is fully supported and you do not actively need to do anything to remain afloat. The water itself is shallow (approx. 25cm) and you can use a neck pillow for additional comfort if you prefer.

The facility I visit provides what I would call more of a ‘personalised floatation pool’ which is tall enough to stand up in and although I’m nearly 6 feet tall there is enough space lying flat to do an extended star stretch and just about reach the all 4 corners of the pool! I have not tried what might be called flotation pods or tanks you have to climb into and lie flat as I enjoy the space of the flotation pool and the opportunity to move around. However, there does not appear to be an industry standard, so it would be worth checking out what facilities exist within your local area if you are thinking of trying it out. Some flotation ‘pods’ may not be suitable for people who dislike being in confined spaces.

Experiencing floating has provided me with an addition to my ‘HSP self-care toolkit’ and although I do not have the opportunity to go on a regular basis, I find that going as and when I feel in need of some more intensive relaxation provides the opportunity for some valuable ‘me’ time and the chance to literally let the stress and tension from daily life melt away.

Article written by Liz Fraser (e-mail: HSPpathways@outlook.com)

 

HSPs and Self Care

I have been doing a lot of work around the topic of HSP Self-Care lately. Not that this is a new thing, but I have noticed that more and more of my work with HSPs relates to this.

Why is this topic so important and what makes it something we have to return to again and again?
One of the reasons, I guess, is that the very thing we are trying to reduce (our holistic stress), prevents us from feeling able to consistently plan for or work with ideas that relate to our self-care. Further, finding time in the diary to include things that are good for us means being able to use our logistical brain. The trouble is, stress makes it hard to focus and use our working memory effectively. Then, the other difficulties, our physical and emotional fatigue, come into the picture – how can we work up enough confidence and energy to actually give ourselves the space and permission to do that logistical and subsequent self care work in the first place? Why is this all so damn hard?!

Well… its a complex story, and not possible to explore fully in a short piece like this, but we can make a start by going back to basics. Whatever is going on, it’s really important to remember that everything we experience is filtered through our four HSP sub-traits – Depth of Processing, Emotional Intensity, Sensory Sensitivity and our potentially Over-stimulated nervous system (D.O.E.S. – E A Aron PhD). So even our attempt at Self-Care comes via these four areas.

We also need to remember that our attitude to our sensitivity and our normal needs is influenced by our upbringing and experiences. If we have been told we are not tired, when we actually are, we may have learned to ignore and in fact not plan for taking care of fatigue. The stress this neglect brings about causes an increase in our cortisol levels, which in cases of long-term and chronic stress, actually makes it hard for us to focus and even to remember things properly. With what attitude do we observe and act on this neglect and its effects?

If you are someone who was criticized for your emotional sensitivity or intensity, have you spent a lifetime failing to make room for those emotional responses in your life – both the joyful ones and the sad or frustrated ones? Self-care isn’t all about the physical, eating a good diet and getting the right amount of sleep – its also about making space and honouring your natural feelings, the beauty of their intensity and the role they play in directing you towards what is good for you. It’s also about surrounding yourself with positive people.

There are also your gifts – potential skills and experiences that need good, healthy soil in which to grow. Self-care, of course underlies the development of your abilities and even deeper, gives the right environment to accommodate and reference your soul, (whatever soul means to you).

barbara_allen-wI think you are getting the picture here, that Self-Care, especially for HSPs is a complex and holistic matter. It includes the past, even though the focus has to be in the present. It includes the future because that is the way to your authentic self-hood. It includes making space for all that you are as well as who you are to others. Above all, Self Care requires as much respect and attention as anything else – its part of our life-blood, keeps us strong and able to contribute what highly sensitive people offer the world when they are well. ‘What’s that?’, I hear you wondering – Well, that’s for another piece….

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)