Let me tell it straight.
I FEEL IT ALL.
The sadness, the injustice, the deep love, and happiness. The subtle, the loud and strong.
The whole lot.
As a kid, it looked like lots of tummy aches, a sense of fragility and the constant perceived feedback that I was just ‘too complicated’ for the world.
During my teens and early twenties it turned into friends saying I was ‘too deep’, ‘ I thought too much’ or just the general feeling that the world would overwhelm me a lot. Boyfriend breakups felt like death and happy moments felt like blissful Nirvana!
Luckily, I believe nature is designed to heal itself. So in my mid-thirties during my studies at Business School, I stumbled upon a brilliant career coach. In one of our sessions, she asked if I had ever been tested for being ‘Highly Sensitive’. I went, what?? Is that a thing?.
Till then, I had held my high sensitivity with absolute shame. It was a thing to work on, to overcome, to apologise for.
Turns out Highly Sensitive is more than a thing.
Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS), the trait’s scientific term, is more generally referred to as HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).
Brain imaging and genetic testing among many other studies have confirmed that roughly 15% to 20% of humans have a high sensitivity to stimuli. Anything that enters the senses is perceived and processed in a deeper way; therefore, the nervous system can be easily overstimulated and aroused. These individuals, not only receive data from the outside world at higher volumes, but they are also highly aware of data coming from inside their body (and their mind) at higher rates too.
In fact, biologists have found the same trait in over 100 species.
Some call us ‘the canaries in the Coal Mine’. Others use terms like ‘Empath’ to describe the same phenomena. The world of energetics has many more ways of describing it.
Kelly Brogan, one of my ultimate heroes and an incredible leader in the world of female mental health, describes highly sensitives as the feelers, the thermometers that tell us when our food and water is poisoned, when our society is ill, when our surroundings are out of balance.
Over the past years, a big part of my inner work is accepting, loving and embracing my sensitivity. Seeing it as a superpower, rather than a curse. But like anything, to master something we have to study it. So I’ve had to go deep into observing my rhythms, my energetic pulse. In the process, I’ve been blessed to attract incredible teachers and mentors that have helped me understand and walk this path with more grace.
As part of my work, I have decided to also raise the profile of HSP. Share it, wear it vulnerably and talk about it. My heart is also with parents raising HSP who can greatly benefit in understanding it even more!
Being Highly Sensitive makes me great at my work. I pick up on stuff that clients might be thinking but not saying. I consider subtleties that can impact brand building in a big way, I feel colour and sense images in ways that has helped me craft beautiful stuff.
Not surprisingly, many of my clients are Highly Sensitive too.
And let me tell you, Brand building with High Sensitivity can be quite an intense path, so I have decided to share what I would call a ‘Survival Guide’: the things that I see help me and my clients to sustain us, protect us and nourish us on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
HSP Brand Building Survival guide:
The Highly Sensitive Person
The Highly Sensitive Child (highly recommended even if you don’t have kids. It’s helped me reparent myself in multiple ways).
Sensitive, the Untold Story
More and more work is being offered on this topic. If you are in Perth, the wonderful ladies from Be Alive Physiotherapy are offering some great workshops on this topic.
Low social media. I would say this is one of the biggest ones. We perceive more and get stimulated much more, so having strict boundaries around social media can be instrumental in working on our wellbeing.
Meditation or Mindfulness of some kind. I know that if I had taken a more serious meditation practice earlier on, the world would have taken less of a toll my mind and nervous system. For HSP, I believe this is a daily non-negotiable.
Nature. The ultimate healer. If you have big work to do, a launch, a website, make sure you schedule a regular visit to nature or a walk at the park. It really is excellent for balancing the whole body!
Essential Oils. Both in a diffuser and applied topically, I find certain oils incredibly grounding, especially when I have a lot of movement around me. Vetiver, Cedarwood, Geranium and Clary Sage are some of my favourites for creating a bubble of soothing calm around me.
Clean Food. Multiple studies have shown that highly sensitive ones experience toxins in food in a deeper way. Our bodies just scream louder. For this reason, as part of high performance, clean food is a must. Understanding inflammatory food, possible allergens and particular routines that work best for your mind and body are crucial for balancing this one out.
Connecting with other HSPs. This one is so important. My guilt and shame around the topic went right down when I started learning about HSP and meeting others. Discussing our common experiences and seeing how they also crafted a lifestyle that helps soothe and sustain them in the best way was so validating and important to me.
Boundaries. This is huge, especially if you are in your early twenties. Saying no to parties, alcohol, business opportunities, promotions, etc, can be really hard. No one but you understands better what you need to thrive. Crafting an environment where you access your gifts often and deplete yourself less is instrumental in the brand-building game.
Regular energetic tuning. Kinesiology, acupuncture, shamanic work, reiki, myofascial treatments, massage, etc. - All of those are instrumental in balancing the nervous system and energetic body in a powerful way.
General Business Practices
Talk to your team about HSP. Explain to them your gifts and challenges so that every time you need a rest or quiet time, you don’t experience shame or guilt in such a big way.
Structure your week with plenty of quiet, solo time. A bigger buffer between client’s sessions, a quiet night after a speaking event, a calm weekend after teaching a workshop are all great ways of staying well.
I believe the HSP can build a great business and brand, but words like ‘hustle’ ‘push through’ ‘grind’ might not be our best way to get there. Sometimes I have to re-adjust expectations about what I can and can’t achieve in a particular week, in order to keep the balance within me. Comparing with others, will just not go well.
Your workspace will impact you a great deal. Quiet, calming colours with soft music and oils might be the perfect soothers for your nervous system to balance and do good work.
Self Care will have to be seen as a business investment. You, the greatest asset, matter more than anything else, so scheduling massage sessions, yoga, or walks in nature as part of work will be a game changer for sure!
I would love to know if you are HSP and if you find any of the recommendations below useful!