Thriving as a Sensitive Person
Are there downsides to possessing this innate trait? Of course. But with some forethought and intention, you can employ your high sensitivity as your greatest strength.
Get more comfortable with feedback.
Most highly sensitive people, despite being good communicators, don’t fare well when caught off guard in meetings or presentations. Similarly, one critical comment may shake them for days or weeks. If you’re an HSP, get ready for high-stakes interactions by anticipating questions that may arise. For example, create a bank of stories to address common job interview questions or retorts to use:
- “Let me get back to you about that.”
- “Great question. What’s your sense of the situation?”
- “Thanks for the feedback. Give me some time to digest what I’ve heard.”
Life doesn’t always go according to script, and as an HSP, you need to hone your resilience skills in response to surprises. To curb panic and emotional flooding, practice putting space between the triggering event and your response to it.
For instance, when your partner leaves their dirty dishes in the sink again, don’t let stress get the best of you. HSPs feel more deeply and intensely, which can led to a heightened stress response.
Lashing out—or worse, saying nothing—is not constructive. Instead, count down from five or take a deep breath before responding. These moves help stop downward emotional spirals and get the prefrontal cortex (the brain area responsible for impulse control) back in the driver’s seat.
Ask for a do-over if you say something you regret or didn’t mean. Request a time-out, and return to the conversation later. Write down your thoughts before responding. There’s no shame in pausing before engaging again. In fact, it’s a sign of your maturity, thoughtfulness, and healthy self-control.
Be bullish with boundaries.
As a highly sensitive person, it’s essential to conserve your energy. You spend the day picking up on the feelings and moods of your peers. If these interactions skew negative, they can leave you feeling drained. Noisy, busy environments (even bad music—yes, seriously) also take a toll on HSPs.
Simple shifts can make a big difference. Try getting to the office early so you can have some quiet working time before the hustle and bustle of the day takes holds. I put a 15-to-30-minute buffer between all meetings to ensure I have time to decompress.
Managing your energy effectively comes down to creating solid boundaries and paying close attention to the inputs you allow into your life. Limit time with toxic people, be careful about the media you consume, and be bullish about self-care. If you demand a lot from yourself (which most HSPs do), then building in periods for rest and recovery is nonnegotiable.