A Survival Guide For The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

HSP is a term many psychologists use to describe people who are endowed with an unusually high level of sensitivity. This is frequently attributed to an individual having a finely tuned and refined nervous system.

Psychologist Carl Jung originally coined the phrase “Innate Sensitive”, which evolved into Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP.

From Wikipedia:
“A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensory processing sensitivity (or innate sensitive as Carl Jung originally coined it[1][2]). Some common signs are sensitivity to loud noises, bright or fluorescent lights, and strong smells. HSP’s often describe themselves as having a rich and complex inner life. They may startle easily and get rattled when required to accomplish a lot in a short time. According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, who compose about a fifth of the population (equal numbers in men and women), may process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems.”

Being an “innate sensitive” can be comparable to receiving an incredible gift, yet having no idea how to use it, and no one to educate you about its operation. If you identify yourself as being an HSP, here are some tips that may help you in your growth and development.

1. Start to Develop Yourself:

The Bad News: Many of us don’t receive the guidance, nutrition, exercise and education we need while we’re in our prime developmental years to reach our full mental, emotional, and physical potential.

The Good News: We’ve learned the brain and body are both capable of extraordinary development even after childhood and adolescent years. The human brain and body can be self-directed into powerful growth at any age, once you learn how to unlock that dormant potential.

2. Avoiding Drugs & Alcohol:

Frequently, HSP’s posses a sensitivity that is not compatible with typical behaviors that the rest of our species (generally speaking) has no problem with. This can be challenging while maintaining a social life.

As a highly sensitive person, it’s important to understand how your nervous system works, how to tune it, and how to avoid damaging it. Most HSP’s are so finely tuned, that a night of binge drinking or substance use can actually cause considerable harm to your neurobiological system. I personally advocate for HSP’s to avoid all psychoactive substances entirely.

3. Working with the Brain and Mind:

Avoiding self-destructive behaviors is one thing, but refining your sensitivity and developing your functional capacity is another story. Self-discipline is the path to development no matter what it is you are working towards.

When you are working towards developing the brain & mind there are two concepts which are important to learn and understand. One is neuroplasticity, and the other is neurogenesis.

Neuroplasticity is a term describing the brains ability to wire and create new pathways based on attention, effort, perseverance and preference. The brains capacity for plasticity can actually be increased through self-effort and discipline at any stage in life.

Neurogenesis is a term describing the brains ability to generate new neurons (brain cells). This is another recent discovery in neuroscience.
Your brains capacity for neurogenesis can also be effectively increased through exercise, nutrition, meditation, yoga, effort, and lifestyle.

4. Working with the Body.

Your body wants to be expressed.

Whether its through fitness, body building, yoga, swimming, surfing or dancing, its very important you find a way to express your physical form and physique.

You are a finely tuned sensitive organism, and your cardiovascular system, nervous system, and neuromuscular system all work together in a miraculous way.

Work on developing the relationship and integration of these 3 systems. Once you start to figure it out and master your physical integration, stay far away from things that can upset that balance and integration (i.e. emotional stress, psychoactive substances, Drugs, Alcohol)

5. Serving Others.

While we develop mind & body, we must also work to develop the heart.

Many innate sensitives are exceedingly advanced, have many talents and advantages, and are capable of becoming highly evolved individuals.

The important thing to remember is that no matter how much you develop and cultivate yourself, there is no such thing as superiority to others.

Being advanced, higher functioning, stronger, or more intelligent does not make you superior to any other human being. This is a critical understanding to cultivate.

Serving others with no desire for personal gain, allows us to cultivate humility, compassion, open-heartedness and benevolence.

6. Self Love:

Many of us are born in to challenging situations, and the path to self love can be perilous at times.

As important as it is to cultivate love for others, we must also learn to accept and love ourselves as we are, no matter where we are on our path to development, self-expression, and fulfillment.

7. Self Protection:

Self protection is an aspect of self love. We should cultivate a strong desire to protect ourselves from harm.

Our species is still fairly primitive.

This can be observed in religion, technology, politics, spiritual practices, social structures, human behavior, and in a general lack of concern for the wellbeing of others.

Trust is an important quality to cultivate, but we should never be naive nor blind to the corruption and ignorance that is inherent in humanity at this evolutionary stage.

Discernment is a fundamental skill that we can use to keep ourselves out of harms way and keep our development heading towards the most positive outcome.

While we must learn to trust others, it is equally important that we become experts in discernment.

Author: Joshua Hanna

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