Do you feel intensely moved by the beauty of Nature? Do you sometimes feel more connection with animals than people? Does the awareness of our widespread impact on animals and the planet leave you feeling heartbroken, anxious or overwhelmed?
According to research by Elaine Aaron, PhD, about 15-20% of humans and other species are wired a little different than most. (Ever relate to the ditty, “One of these things is not like the others?”) The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is exquisitely attuned to their environment and those around them, which provides an evolutionary advantage for species survival. Now that we no longer live in survival mode on the land, our exposure to endless sensory stimulation from crowded urban living, high pressure workplaces and 24 hour access to the Internet, has created a set up for feeling constantly overwhelmed. In order to thrive it is very important to understand the gifts and challenges of being an HSP and develop self-care practices that nurture and protect your sensitive nature.
Why is this so critical? Because within your sensitivity is a gift that is needed by the world now, more than ever. Along with being very aware of everything going on around us through our senses, many of us are highly empathic, that is, we are particularly astute at picking up what others are feeling. For some of us, this extends beyond other people to include animals, and even the Earth. Our deep connection with the more-than-human world can leave us anguishing over the mistreatment of animals and devastation of natural places. We feel the pain of the cows in a transport truck we pass on the highway, or the old growth forest as it is cut down for logging or development.
It is very easy for HSP's to end up in a state of overwhelm, which impacts us physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. When overwhelmed we exist in a constricted world of fight (anger), flight (anxiety), or freeze (depression, despair or numbness). I believe some HSP’s have been called by either the animals (sometimes a specific species) or the Earth to bring their gifts to the world on behalf of that cause that most tugs at their heart. The animals and the Earth want to work with and through us to bring change. For those who are struggling, I would like to help you answer that call by sharing ideas and guidance with you that have helped me along this journey.
In my next post I will share 3 essential practices to help HSP-A/N's move out of overwhelm and back into the flow of life.