If you’ve been practicing the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) and slept on the 2023 Sensitive Success Summit, an online international celebration of the HSP Trait created by Frida Kabo, you’re in good company.
If you missed Week 2, here are the Highlights from Week 2. I couldn’t watch and participate daily, but I did want to take the time, at my own pace, to benefit from the gems dropped in these half-hour interviews.
All speakers are Highly Sensitive, and each shared their stories, along with what they’ve been learning and finding helpful.
Here are the highlights of these conversations.
Joanne Kim – Emotions
An LMFT specializing in Enneagram and Brainspotting techniques, she excels and specializes in helping people transform their biggest feelings into their most incredible superpowers.
Emotions are a significant part of our lives. She offers valuable tips, insights, and strategies for managing your feelings better.
Joanne recognized there are patterns to how feelings work. She matched feelings with needs and that feelings aren’t random and chaotic; there’s a logic behind our emotions.
She defines emotions as good and as an ‘alarm system.’
So we all have these big tanks within us.
Each tank represents a legitimate need we have: comfort, connection, agency, freedom, etc., and our feelings are alarms attached to these tanks, and these alarms tell us when these tanks are doing well (running high, which corresponds to positive emotions), or when the tank is running low (negative emotions).
The main thing is to pay attention to the alarm or signal so we can neutralize the alarm and take steps to address the need.
She relates there are ‘five big emotions’: mad, glad, sad, scared, and numb.
So when a feeling comes up, we need to first acknowledge that feeling, and then we can pinpoint which one of the ‘big five’ we’re feeling. She notes there are certain emotions that we may label as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that are really just a reflection of our environment.
She notes that especially for HSPs, it’s essential to recognize that HSPs tend to absorb a lot from their environment, so we may be prone to feel extra guilty, not because we’ve done something wrong, but because we’re socially trained (when we have a feeling we don’t want to feel) that can have to do with being in a particular environment.
When we have a feeling we don’t want to feel, a lot of the time, that can have to do with the environment we’re in.
Joanne relates we may decide not to address or express our emotion at the time, in that environment, because it may not be safe (or the right time) to express that emotion. Still, it’s essential to process and act upon that feeling later.
She notes that when anger and/or guilt show up, it’s essential to check to see if the feeling matches the situation. E.g. if a friend comes to your home and knocks over your lamp and you feel guilty, the feeling doesn’t fit the situation.
In this case, it’s part of your emotional habit, and it’s good to repair some of those wounds from blurred boundaries or family-of-origin issues.
Joanne believes our own feelings are evidence that we are unique individuals.
Highly Sensitives have a head start in that we have a more profound sense of knowing what really matters; it’s just that not everyone has learned how to make room for that because we’ve been trying to conform to a society that isn’t well designed for us.
She suggests we assume our emotions are good and valuable and learn how to work with our feelings and be aligned with them, which will allow us to grow and thrive.
Joanne offers a helpful resource we can start with – www.intelligentemotions.com/firstaidkit.
Michelle Rowihab – Being an Empath
A dedicated Trauma-Informed Certified Coach, Michelle specializes in assisting empaths and highly sensitives on their healing journey, empowering them to transform their pain into a powerful purpose.
Michelle relates the HSP Trait allows us to better understand our neurological makeup – empaths embody other people’s feelings and have a higher level of emotions within themselves.
She believes empaths are at the high end of the HSP scale.
A healthy empath feels what other people are feeling, but an unhealthy empath feels guilty for what other people are feeling.
Empaths are typically the emotional heavy-lifters in their relationships.
Co-dependent and narcissistic relationships tend to show up more for empaths and highly sensitives. When they’ve developed co-dependency habits (as a survival tool they’ve used since childhood), they can have tendencies to enter into relationships that aren’t healthy for them.
Co-dependents tend to lose their sense of self, so the first step is to develop a sense of self and heal those co-dependent tendencies.
It’s a discovery of reconnecting to your body and learning your needs.
Two good ways to do this are learning self-regulation, learning how to have moments to connect to your body and what it needs at that moment, and secondly, setting boundaries to give yourself space to reconnect to who you are as a human being.
Setting boundaries can mean setting boundaries with ourselves to not overbook ourselves at work or limiting our time around narcissistic individuals.
Individuals who have narcissistic tendencies rarely take responsibility for their behaviour. We need to say what behaviour we’re willing to tolerate and then follow through with a consequence.
If you have to ask yourself if you are a narcissist, then there’s a high probability you aren’t. Narcissists typically need to be self-aware enough to ask themselves this question.
Most people have a degree of empathy for others, and empathy is a tremendous gift to have.
So, we don’t need to be less sensitive; we need stronger boundaries and more empowerment.
Michelle offers free video training for setting boundaries – www.michellemindsetcoach/freevideotraining.
Matilda Heindow – The Art of Feeling Better
An artist and author known for ‘The Art of Feeling Better,’ a book that blends personal memoir and self-help to enhance emotional well-being.
Art can boost emotional well-being. Uncover the creative techniques and invaluable tips to connect with your feelings through art.
For many, the stigma and misunderstandings around depression and anxiety can cause people to feel alone and like they can’t talk about their mental health, mental illness, or even their emotions.
For those who don’t understand mental illness, it’s essential to inform yourself about mental illness and how to respond to people. To be an active listener and not try to “fix” anyone.
Art is a safe place to express feelings.
Art can be cooking, art can be choosing what clothes you want to wear, there are many forms of art, and we can incorporate art into our everyday lives.
There are no rules to art. It’s about finding creative ways to play and feel better daily.
Matilda relates it’s vital for highly sensitives to develop and nurture self-compassion, to be nice to ourselves. It’s okay to give ourselves love, empathy, and compassion.
She also notes it’s essential we recognize that a bad moment doesn’t have to equate to a bad day. When we practice self-compassion, we can use self-compassion to uplift us moment-to-moment.
You can follow Matilda on Instagram at @crazyheadcomics, where Matilda posts a lot of her art relating to mental health.
Melissa Renzi – Connecting with Community
Melissa is a Licensed Social Worker, Certified Yoga Teacher, HSP Retreat Organizer, and Community Builder. She has led over 20 retreats in seven countries, benefiting more than 200 travellers. Connecting and participating in a community can significantly elevate your overall well-being.
Melissa relates how when HSPs gather together, even virtually, we tend to notice and learn from one another and, see sensitive strengths in one another and admire them. We can then see some of these strengths in ourselves and celebrate it.
She notes that community can be defined as relationships that provide a true sense of belonging, mutual support and reciprocity and a sense of purpose.
It’s essential to have community because it contributes to our own well-being and societal well-being. We must recognize that our nature is interdependent instead of believing we must “do it all on our own.”
A community for HSPs really allows us to ask those profound questions. We’re often the ones questioning the unhealthy patterns taking place in our society and how we feel about them.
Melissa relates when we put ourselves in situations (groups) that have a purpose and are open to the connections that can unfold from there, e.g., a community garden, a local art class, a local proactive environmental group, etc. Deep connections can form from these activities.
She relates that Meetup groups are an excellent place to start.
You can find out more about her monthly HSP Resilience Circles at www.melissanoelrenzi.com/hsp-resilience-circle.
Ann Harikeerthan – Meaning in Suffering
A writer, poet, and doctor from India, Ann helps people reflect on and rewrite their stories. Ann relates how we can explore the meaning of suffering and find ways to navigate hardships and build resilience.
Ann relates how Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, relates how we can find meaning in suffering and that it’s up to us to decide what meaning we want to assign to our suffering. We can give a positive purpose to our suffering.
She suggests it’s not a good idea to compare suffering.
Highly sensitives, when experiencing suffering going through something challenging), are often told to think about how other people ‘have it worse’. This doesn’t help an HSP at all and only makes them feel worse. This is an example of how comparing suffering isn’t helpful.
Ann suggests if an HSP is in a difficult place right now, they focus on loving themselves and being willing to feel their emotions (instead of distracting themselves, which is a way to invalidate what they’re feeling) and reach out for support to process their feelings. Then, they can give meaning to their struggle.
She relates it’s crucial not to blame yourself or fall into the trap of guilt or shame. Whether that be because you are in an occupation that isn’t fulfilling, or a relationship that isn’t fulfilling, etc.
Ann suggests that not meeting others’ expectations is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to honour a decision you make that benefits you.
Growing and making different choices means we accept and have compassion for the stages of growth we experience.
Ann relates how forgiveness of ourselves, as well as others, is important.
She notes that once we heal and give meaning to our struggles or challenges, we can then practice forgiveness of ourselves and others, which leads to a peaceful, freeing feeling that allows us to move on.
First, we must focus on healing ourselves, and then forgiveness will result from healing.
She recommends journaling about your feelings.
You can find Ann at www.annharikeerthan.com.
Belinda Davie – Clearing Stuck Energy
Belinda is an energy healer and intuitive guide with years of experience in coaching and healing. She’s an expert in transforming stagnant energy to help you achieve balance and well-being. Belinda gives insight into unblocking stagnant energy for a more balanced life.
Belinda relates that we can move from a survival state (which many HSPs are often in when they try to fit into the mainstream) into an empowered state.
She describes ‘energy’ as having different bodies. We have our physical body that we can see, we have an emotional body outside of that, and we have an energetic body (or aura) outside of that.
So, if we look at illness, the medical field will focus on the physical body; however, the energy we put into the world, the energy we’re absorbing from others, our emotions, and our subconscious beliefs originate in our energetic body. For this reason, we must focus on the energetic body.
You’ll know you have ‘stacked’ energy and need to clear stuck energy when you have a lump in your throat or something that feels wrong in any of the seven chakras (crown, heart, etc.).
There are many different modalities you can try if you have stuck energy. Inner child healing is a powerful modality to begin with.
Somatic healing and embodiment work are other modalities to try (getting back into your body instead of overthinking). Theta healing and reiki healing are also promising modalities to begin with.
You can find Belinda at https://linktr.ee/belinda_davie.
Jessica White – Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
Jessica has experienced personal growth, enhanced self-confidence, and improved relationships through Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and is eager to assist those who resonate with its principles. Learn how mindful dialogue can improve your interactions and relationships.
Jessica relates that nonviolent communication is a practice where we look beneath the behaviour, why people say what they say, do what they do, and how they are in the world.
Every word that we say, every action, every thought we have, and every emotion – is trying to satisfy a need we have. There are many ways to meet one need.
Through nonviolent communication, we can recognize there is no right or wrong, or good or bad.
Nonviolent communication is a way of becoming curious about why we do, say, act the way we do.
Jessica relates nonviolent communication as a way of viewing the world and understanding ourselves and other people. So, it becomes much more than a communication tool. It becomes a transformative tool.
It’s a matter of engaging with our consciousness first and then being able to engage with others’ consciousness.
She relates that within nonviolent communication, labels are avoided because we all share these same universal needs. We go about meeting these needs in different ways.
Excellent resources are available on YouTube if you search ‘nonviolent communication.’
The idea is that we can find creative ways to meet our needs and create ways to meet others’ needs.
The idea behind it is to not assert your needs above someone else’s and not to abandon your needs to accommodate someone else’s needs. It’s about finding ways where there’s an equal balance of power, and all needs are met.
We can first become aware of our needs, then recognize that no one is responsible for meeting our needs; it’s my responsibility to meet my needs and start making requests to get our needs met. When we make “requests,” we must be open to receiving a “no.”
We need to remember that everything that anyone does is to meet a need so that, in turn, we can open up a conversation.
All our emotions are sacred messengers, even the harder-to-feel feelings, that we can become curious about to learn what need that feeling is trying to help us with.
You can find Jessica at www.flourishinginflow.co.nz/about.
Let us know if you found any helpful gems. The next blog post will review the Highlights of Week 4.