7 Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person

In this blog post I will share with you 7 common traits among highly sensitive people.

Today I came home earlier to run away (again) from dealing with an energy that I can only tolerate for a short while at the moment. This energy is a mix of anger, frustration, and an achy sense that I’m still the odd one out at the age of 29.

I reached out a friend when I arrived home and asked her “Why can’t we be like everyone else?”. There are these moments in which the blessing of sensitivity transforms itself into a really ugly and bad curse. Then all I know is that being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is too hard, too much, and too painful.

Being highly sensitive, we know what people feel, think, and intend without even knowing them. We can feel what others are going through, even if they are standing on the other side of the road and separated from us by a high fence. This happened to me last Saturday: I went to my office so I could record some YouTube videos. As usual, the building was empty. I suddenly started to feel very anxious for no reason. I realised then that the campus was getting crowded, full of students and families. Freshers were settling in and I could sense the anxiety and fear of students and their families. That’s why I was feeling overly anxious too.

The feeling got so intense that I could not record or do any work here on my blog. I packed my stuff, took a foot path to come back home, and spent a few hours working on my energy field until I felt like I was back to “normal”. This is why sometimes the blessing instantly becomes a curse. As you may guess this way of functioning can be very debilitating sometimes. We become overwhelmed and distressed not necessarily because something happens to us, but because it is our very own nature to be in tune with what and who is around us.

 

Join the Wellbeing Tribe! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more free content on Psychology, Food, Fitness, Work Design & Spirituality!

 

I believe HSPs come to this “overwhelming stage” every once in a while because no one taught us how to manage our energy field. I still don’t know how to handle it sometimes and when that happens I think we feel really isolated, because the majority of people do not understand the way we perceive and sense reality, and therefore can not provide us with the right support.

For all this, I thought it would be helpful for me and others to write a little bit more about the traits of HSPs and explain them the best I can. If our differences make us feel weird, we might as well use them to empower us, so here are what I believe to be the seven most important traits of highly sensitive people.

1. We Are Aware of the Invisible

My favourite book, “The Little Prince”, has a passage which says “what is essential is invisible to the eye” and HSPs feel this to be very true. We can tell whenever there is something going wrong with someone because somehow we assimilate, even though unconsciously, certain signs and details that give us a lot of information about others.

2. We Can Read People

We can indeed read people because of what I explained in the previous point – the fact that we are aware of subtle forms of expression allows us to know what other people feel and even think. I believe this has simply to do with our awareness and I also think that anyone can become highly sensitive as long as there is some kind of training of one’s own level of awareness. That’s why people who start meditating or doing yoga often find themselves more sensitive and aware after some practise.

3. We Are Affected by Other People’s Mood

The fact that we have access to subtler forms of information makes us very sensitive to other people’s states and moods. More often than not we do not control this and I believe that the more we, as a society, learn and accept the way HSPs function, the more we can advance in terms of understanding and finding effective ways to use this ability on demand.

4. We Spend a Lot of Time in Our Heads

Most of us are born-observers and we use or learn to use telepathy a lot. There is a giant, complex and unique world inside each HSPs’ head and that’s why we get lost so often. If there is too much stimulation, we also struggle to stop our thoughts and “hypothesis” test in our minds. This is when we need to get out of our mind and get into our body.

5. Loud Noises, Strong Smells and Tastes are a Big No

I was never able to deal with perfumes, something that most women adore. I also always run away from drugstores and any supermarket’s detergent section. Abrupt noises also annoy me a lot and make my ears and head hurt. I think I’m not so affected by strong tastes, but that’s probably because I use food all the time. I’m very sensitive nonetheless to spices and I can have a hard time with even “mild” flavours.

6. The Experience of Being Hungry and Uncomfortable is Magnified

This is so true… the only time that either being hungry or uncomfortable do not bother me much is when I’m doing something I love such as writing this blog post. Right now, I’m hungry, but my wish to write is bigger than the discomfort of starvation. In most cases, however, whenever I’m hungry or uncomfortable I don’t seem to be able to tolerate it. If the problem is being hungry, I easily become “angry”. If the problem is being uncomfortable, the experience in itself becomes very painful and more often than not bruises or aches do follow it.

7. We Feel a Deep Urge For Being Creative

Our thoughts and feelings run so wildly that using creativity is often our favourite way to manage or balance our energy. From creative writing to painting, dancing, or any other form of creative expression, we do enjoy the feeling of expansion that such activities provide us. It is also a way for us to get “out” of our head and be more in our body.

 

The Wellbeing Blogger (5)

Stop Denying Yourself: Tips For Highly Sensitive People

In this blog post you will learn about:

  • Highly Sensitive People (HSP)
  • How is it like to be an HSP
  • Why is it so important to express yourself just as you are

The other day I was on the bus and a little magic happened. I have been feeling extremely heavy and “dragged down” over the last couple of years. I’m not going into details now on the reasons behind that feeling, but I just want you to picture me as someone who has a meteor attached to her right foot! Got the picture? So there I was on the bus, carrying that meteor, when suddenly I looked through the window and there was a beautiful sun ready to settle down for another day.

When I fully engaged with feeling the moment instead of perceiving it through my mind’s filters, I suddenly felt light like a feather and as if my body and my mind were now totally merged and floating together in the ether. Of course, tears started streaming down my face, and I honestly let them roll behind my aviator sunglasses.

And then a question came to my mind: when was the first time that I felt this “tight”, as if I was constantly wearing a corset? When did I start denying myself, my emotions, and my feelings? When did I convince myself that it was not ok to be “just me”, this being who embraces the full spectrum of raw emotions?

I’m what researchers now call “highly sensitive person” (HSP) and to explain you what that means nothing better than provide you here with a description I found on Dr Elaine Aron’s website, the author of the book “The Highly Sensitive Person”:

(…) the highly sensitive person has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. But the key quality is that, compared to the 80% without the trait, they process everything around them much more—reflect on it, elaborate on it, make associations.  When this processing is not fully conscious, it surfaces as intuition.

In a nutshell, HSPs feel “everything in every way”. That makes our lives a bit chaotic but it also explains the richness that more often than not we can only convey by putting our creativity to work. According to research, we represent only 15 to 20% of the population. I guess that’s why for me it is always so hard to find people I can deeply relate to and become friends with. HSPs crave those raw, deep connections from the heart.

Join the Wellbeing Tribe! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more free content on Psychology, Food, Fitness, Work Design & Spirituality!

However, the social norm most of us have been raised in does not accept or understand the way HSPs perceive and interact with the world. We are often categorised as “shy” and “introverted” people, when actually we just need to have periods of time in which we can disconnect from the wide range of stimuli we face nowadays. And to be honest again… we don’t really enjoy being stimulated all the time. In fact, overstimulation is basically the death of our sanity.

The hardest part, I think, is to make people understand that we feel intensely not by choice but by nature. I now understand too why so many guys couldn’t simply “handle” me. They were half-right when they said that “I am too much”, because I do feel indeed too much. They were also, however, half-wrong, because HSPs have the same right of being as anyone else and we shouldn’t be forced to shut ourselves down just because we use different strategies in life.

Moreover, trying to fit in as an HSP in a world that is currently led by robots-alike can be very draining and destroying. The more we try to fit in by hiding our intense emotions, the sicker we become. The more we convince ourselves that there is something “wrong” with us, the more we despair and the more wounded our core gets. That’s why we need to stop denying ourselves completely and to come clear about our true nature. We are so few that we do need to be each other’s lighthouse.

Stop denying yOurself

For more information on my own experience as an HSP, please watch the YouTube video above where I share some more personal details and please let me know whether you would like to learn more about HSPs and the way we “function”. If you think you might be one, say ‘Hi’ in the comments and let’s connect.

3 Important Steps When Meditating at Home

In this blog post you will learn about three important steps to make your meditation at home work for you. 

Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.

Thich Nhat Hanh

From time to time I get some messages in my inbox about practising meditation and the first steps to integrate meditation as a daily habit. Most of the messages I get are from people who are not sure about whether they are doing the “right” or “wrong” thing so, with that in mind, I recently recorded two Youtube videos in order to provide (hopefully) some answers:

Continue reading “3 Important Steps When Meditating at Home”

Sitting With Pain: Psychospiritual Meanings of Neck & Lower Back Pain

Join the Wellbeing Tribe! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more free content on Psychology, Food, Fitness, Work Design & Spirituality!

For two days in a row, I have been sitting at my desk with a very spacey mind and a very achy body. While trying to relax yesterday in the office by doing some stretches, I managed to get a stiff neck. Coupled with my inflamed sciatic nerve, I can say I’m having the time of my life.

I can’t turn my head to the left and I can’t sit for long hours without a painful reminder on the right side of my lower back. I have been taking pain killers, which I don’t like at all, and instead of getting better it seems that my body is showing me the consequences of treating myself so poorly.

As spiritual as you might know I am, I dived deep into the web and searched for potential spiritual meanings of pain. I wasn’t very surprised when I read that pain might be a result of accumulated unhealed emotions and unforgiven hurts. I narrowed down my research to “neck pain” and “lower back pain”. In a nutshell, here is what I found out:

  • neck pain: it is usually related to taking too many responsibilities (check), having a hard time making decisions (check), and going in the wrong direction (check?)
  • lower back pain: fear for my survival (check), fear of losing freedom (check), fear of material loss (double check), feelings of not being supported enough (check), the belief that one has to “have it all” and not wanting to admit it (check!)

Now I’m indeed surprised with how all of these “symptoms” match with what I have been feeling over the last month. I believe that if the symptoms persist and the painkillers are not working, then I’m probably not doing a great job on managing the way I perceive and live life right now.

The astonishing truth is that deep inside I know I haven’t. There is still a lot of work to be done within. There is still a lot to learn – perhaps not so much intellectually but practically. I already know that prolonged negative emotions lead to dysfunction and physical manifestations. I guess what I don’t know yet is how to tame my own beliefs, emotions, and actions when everything becomes overwhelmingly confusing.

Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn:

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

I was first introduced to Mindfulness in 2009, when I decided to take a module on Positive Psychology. By that time, few people talked or knew about mindfulness. No one was running or competing to be the best mindfulness meditation teacher and the researchers who were investigating it were on it because they had experienced the benefits of mindfulness for themselves in the first place.

So much has changed. To be totally honest with you, Mindfulness didn’t create much of an impact on me when I was introduced to it – it was a concept easy to embrace and understand at that point in time, living in Lisboa. Little I knew though that a couple of years later I would be conducting experimental research on it as a disguised way to help myself cope with stress and anxiety or that I would even be today teaching it to students and communities in my second language.

For the last 6 years, I have been doing research on Mindfulness, three of them in the UK. My results have shown that mindfulness meditation can not only reduce momentary stress and anxiety, but it can also contribute to a better society by reducing personal prejudiced beliefs and biased reactions. I confess that I particularly love this last aspect!

I deeply believe that Mindfulness can be life-enhancing when embraced at the right time. It can be a powerful tool for both personal and social change. As such, I decided to make a totally FREE mindfulness meditation online workshop for beginners, based on the several workshops I have been leading face-to-face over the last couple of years. My aim is to reach those who can’t travel or attend my classes but still want to learn and know how to start practising mindfulness meditation in their day-to-day life.

Here are some of the benefits you may experience after attending the workshop:

  • lower levels of stress and anxiety
  • greater awareness of your own thinking pattern
  • increased emotion management skills

And there are a lot more which I will share with you in the workshop! If this is something you are definitely interested in, you can book your place for free here.

**UPDATE** You can now watch my introduction to mindfulness meditation on YouTube.

As a final note, I would also like to remember that I do a free meditation class every other week on Youtube – you just have to subscribe to my channel in order not to miss any of them.

The 6 Paradoxical Human Needs

Anthony Robbins has suggested the existence of six core human needs. He divides these needs into personality and spiritual needs. Within the personality needs, he identifies the needs for certainty, uncertainty or variety, significance, and the need for love and connection. As for the spiritual needs, Anthony talks about the needs for growth and contribution.

This framework or way to categorise human needs makes sense to me. Of course, it’s not an extensive categorisation of our needs as human beings but it’s a simple way to start to get to know ourselves a little bit more. Using Anthony’s suggestion with a twist, I think the following are indeed 6 paradoxical human needs:

The Need for Certainty and… Uncertainty

We like to have some control over our life and work. Imagine how stressed you would feel if I told you that tomorrow morning you need to pack all your office stuff and leave. And imagine if you returned home just to find the notice that your building is about to be demolished in one week. How much would your life suddenly change thanks to these unpredicted news? So we do like to have some predictability; actually we need some of it to remain sane. However, we also like to be surprised from time to time. We like to feel the mystery of the unknown and have some unexpected (good) news knocking on our door!

The Need for Individuality and… Connection with Others

We want to feel and be seen as unique, special or one of a kind. We want to be acknowledged by our personal talents and own character. We want our individual experience to be validated. However, we also want to connect with others and be part of a group. We want to have a sense of belongingness and be part of the whole!

The Need for Expansion and… Grounding

We have a natural tendency to want to develop ourselves. Our human curiosity is present in us from a very early age. Just think about all those babies who look at the world for the first time – their eyes screen reality with intense curiosity and admiration. As we grow up, such curiosity takes different shapes and forms, but it remains within us, making us expand in different areas of life. But while we may have the need to expand and learn new things, we also have the need to ground ourselves, to have a reference and core sense of who we are. We like to have some inner experience to which we can call “home”.