What’s a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP?

Have you ever been told that you’re “too sensitive,” you think too much, or should be happy going to parties or dinners or after-work drinks ‘cause the more the merrier?
Do you hide you who are because you’ve been made fun of or told there’s something wrong with you?
You might be an HSP, a highly sensitive person.
In this fun and enlightening episode of Living From Happiness, Melanie (Dr. Melanie Harth) explains what being an HSP means, and offers lots of ideas and strategies for coping with too much stress, overwhelm, and an over-stimulated nervous system.
She references the work of Dr. Elaine Aron, the psychologist who developed the theory and who’s written several books on being highly sensitive. Her first book, “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,” is still the gold standard for understanding HSP.
One quote from the book that Melanie shares in this episode is
If you are going to notice every little thing in a situation, and if the situation is complicated (many things to remember), intense (noisy, cluttered, etc), or goes on too long (a 2-hour commute), it seem obvious that you will also have to wear out sooner from having to process so much so thoroughly. Others, not noticing much or any of what you have, will not tire as quickly [or at all!].
They may even think it quite strange that you find it too much to sightsee all day and go to a nightclub in the evening. … . Indeed this is often the behavior we and others have noticed most — that HSPs are easily stressed by overstimulation (including social stimulation), or, having learned their lesson, that they avoid intense situations more than others do.
Melanie shares information about what being highly sensitive can look like in different people, along with ways that an HSP can cause problems for themselves.
Other areas she covers include HSPs and narcissists, HSPs and shame, HSPs and psychological/mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, and ways to help soothe yourself.
Dr. Elaine Aron’s website here, including the free quiz to see if you may be an HSP: https://hsperson.com/.

Toxic Relationships and Being Highly Sensitive

If you’re one of the 20ish% of people who are a highly sensitive person, you are likely also more vulnerable to being being in toxic relationships.

Sometimes that toxic relationship begins at home within your own family. As you grow up and begin adulting, you’ may find yourself in toxic relationships at work, with business partners, and with friends, lovers, and life partners. Serene-looking Santa Fe adobe wall and door, lightly covered with a dusting of early snow. If you're extra sensitive to other people, overwhelmed by too much stimulation, can't handle too many people at once, you may be an HSP. The Santa Fe Therapist can help you understand your beautiful sensitivity and teach you how to protect yourself. You can thrive as a highly sensitive person. Online counseling in Santa Fe and throughout New Mexico. 87506, 87508, 87505

Until an HSP understands who she is and what makes her feel emotionally safe, she can be full of self-doubt. Confusion, low self-confidence, and low self-esteem become part of your decision-making when no one’s ever taught you what it means to be an HSP.

That makes it easier for you to agree to things and people that aren’t healthy and good for you.

Also, many, if not most, HSPs can tune in to how other people feel. Let’s say you’re in a relationship or a work situation that isn’t working well anymore. But because of your sensitivity to others, you may be pretty good at intuitively knowing that the other person or people aren’t going to be happy if you want things to change or move on.

In fact, you may be more tuned into how the other one is feeling than your own unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anxiety, and stress.

Your ability to sense how others are feeling is a beautiful gift. But it can also make it easier for you to ignore your own unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anxiety, and stress.

When that happens — and it’s super common — it’s easier for you to override your own wisdom about the situation and stay way too long.

It seems easier to ignore, dismiss, and discount your needs than to step away from a person or situation that’s keeping you stuck.

Guess what? The only what that ever works is for you to stay stuck forever. Not the best outcome.

Hate Conflict?

Finally, another reason that HSPs can be easy targets for toxic people is that we don’t like conflict (yes, I’m an HSP, too).

That’s also why it can seem easier to minimize what you need if it’s different from what the other person does.

I’m telling you, I’ve spent decades doing this to myself. And every single time, it comes back to bite me in the ass. Every time.

Because you’re always giving yourself away to …

  • people who don’t know how to treat you with respect;
  • work situations that aren’t the right fit for your fabulous skillset;
  • bosses who are abusive; and
  • intimate relationships that leave you unfulfilled, dissatisfied, and thinking it’s all your fault …

… your life can become miserable without you even noticing.

And it takes a lot more effort to dig yourself out of a deep hole you’ve dug for yourself than if you recognize the signs early on and say, “Nope, not gonna go there. There’s something or someone so much better for me.”

One of the unfortunate consequences of not understanding your high sensitivity is that you probably blame yourself when things go wrong, you shame yourself big-time, and all you want to do is get smaller and smaller, so you don’t get so hurt.

But there’s another option.

You can learn what it means to be a highly sensitive person and how to protect your beautiful gifts and vulnerabilities.

Narcissists Love HSPs

I’m on a rant about narcissists and HSPs because so many of my clients are struggling with it right now. Meaning so many of my clients are HSPs who’ve gotten snared by the traps narcissists set for them (us).

And while most narcissists don’t necessarily intend to be setting those traps, and HSPs don’t mean to get caught in them, it happens a lot. Wild grass sits atop a snow-covered, windblown dune in New Mexico. If you're extra sensitive to other people, overwhelmed by too much stimulation, can't handle too many people at once, you may be an HSP. The Santa Fe Therapist can help you understand your beautiful sensitivity and teach you how to protect yourself. You can thrive as a highly sensitive person. Online counseling in Santa Fe and throughout New Mexico. 87506, 87508, 87505

Here are three reasons that HSPs can subconsciously set themselves up to be victimized by narcissists.

  1. That exquisite empathy I talked just talked about.
  2. The people-pleasing pull that results from the combo of your ability to feel other peoples’ feels and the fear of conflict.
  3. Gosh-awful boundaries.

First, you don’t want to lose any of your ability to intuitively sense what others are feeling. But you do need to learn how to handle it and protect yourself when you’re feeling everything that’s going on — especially the stuff that’s not getting acknowledged or talked about.

And part of learning how to handle it means 1) accept that it’s how it is for you, 2) don’t be afraid of it, and 3) protect yourself from overstimulation and exhaustion (and frustration, resentment and anxiety).

Self-protection includes paying attention to how you’re feeling and what you need to do to take care of your energy.

Your Energy is your Most Valuable Resource

If you’re getting too tired, slow it all down. Focus on regaining your sense of emotional balance and wellbeing.

If you’re getting weird vibes about a person or a situation, trust those vibes and leave.

Let yourself own your wisdom and trust your intuitive knowing.

When you’re pretty sure the invitation sitting in your inbox is going to turn into a yucky evening, if you can’t bear the thought of showing up with 50 strangers or 30 work colleagues or Uncle Bob and Aunt Jane? News flash: you don’t have to go.

You can learn to say “No, thank you. I wish I could, but I can’t.” I promise you can do this.

This brings us to the last reason that HSPs can be easy marks for narcissists. Most of us have not one clue about what a boundary is, that we must have them in order to feel safe enough to thrive, or that our path to freedom lies in knowing how to set a good, healthy boundary.

Remember when I wrote earlier that it seems easier to just go along with the program, not make waves or rock the boat? But that never, ever ends well? Yeah … that’s true.

Simply put, boundaries are how we take care of ourselves and tell others how we need to be taken care of. HSPs learn very early that our job is to take care of other people, to help them feel better.

But no one teaches you how to do that for yourself. Good thing there are more and more professionals and resources to help you learn those things.

Bottom line?

Begin to give yourself what you need — because you know what those things are.

Securely hold onto the reins of your people-pleasing tendencies because conflict isn’t so scary anymore, and you know that it’ll deplete you too much to give more than you’ve got.

Be assertive about honoring and holding onto your boundaries.

I’m an HSP Therapist in Santa Fe, NM

I’m Melanie, the Santa Fe Therapist. I love teaching and mentoring HSPs — we’re fabulous people! Some of the most rewarding work I do is with women who know they’re a highly sensitive person and don’t know how to see beyond what’s holding them. Or helping someone discover this powerful new thing about themselves after they get in touch because of overwhelming anxiety or dissatisfaction with career, and who are struggling to get to the other side of what they think is wrong with them.
Woman sitting at a kiva fireplace petting her Australian Shepard, with New Mexico vista in the background. Listen to this podcast to learn how to use astrology to reduce anxiety.ow to reduce anxiety. Emotional health and wellbeing are possible. The Santa Fe Therapist / Living From Happiness podcast with with astrologer Elizabeth Grace. Online therapy. 87506, 87048, 87544, 87122

Profoundly positive things begin happening when you learn how to calm down your nervous system and understand how to manage your emotions.

Together, we’ll figure out what’s going on and what you need to begin feeling more in control and less stressed and overwhelmed. All the new neuroscience research gives us better and more effective ways to work with the strengths and vulnerabilities of being a highly sensitive person.

One of the most powerful ways to do that is to understand how your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are intertwined. When you learn how to

  • make friends with your feelings,
  • get more confident with conflict and saying no,
  • explore new boundary-setting techniques in a safe setting —
  • your life will begin changing in positive, healthy ways.

You’ll start believing in yourself again.

In balancing the science of therapy with the art of healing, I’ll create an innovative program for you that sets you on a path of success from the very first session.

Neuroscience, Eastern Wisdom, & Earth-based Practices

My compassionate, creative approach weaves together my ability to hear below the surface of the words, advanced degrees, years of specialized training, professional experience, and my own personal healing around anxiety and overwhelm.

One of my specialities is giving women the tools to cope with intense emotions. I use the latest neuroscience findings, and combine Western systems, Eastern wisdom, gentle Earth-based practices, as well as creative, innovative ideas to help you feel better as quickly as possible.

My clients usually work with me weekly for 6 to 12 months. As we work together, you’ll be getting tools for long-term success and learning and using strategies and techniques to serve you for many years.

You’ll work hard for sure. But won’t all be horrible and terrible! I love sharing ideas about good books and films and laughing together once in a while.

My hope for you is that you’ll feel safe every step of the way.

How to Get HSP Counseling in Santa Fe, NM

You don’t have to struggle alone anymore with feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, or somehow too different from others.

Working with a counselor who really understands what it means to be an HSP, and who’s spent years learning how to teach others to succeed using your special skillset can make a world of positive difference in your life. When you reach out for help in Santa Fe NM, you’re making an investment in yourself that can change in your life in the best of ways.

All you have to do is send me an email to schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: melanie@melanieharth.com. Let’s get you feeling better as quickly as possible.

The Santa Fe Therapist Offers Online Counseling in New Mexico

Online therapy helps busy women find the time away from day-to-day pressures to calm their nervous systems. It also makes it easy and convenient to process emotions and learn new neuroscience techniques to cope with challenges, heal the past, and begin building your future.

I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for clients every week. Click here if you’ve got questions about online therapy.

Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.

Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist

The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. I know that one size never fits all. My services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.

I offer individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe NM for: