The HSP World Podcast Ep. 43: Social Self-Care Strategies for Highly Sensitives

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Rayne: Hi and welcome to The HSP World Podcast, a place and space for Highly Sensitives.

With each episode we have a conversation about an interesting HSP-related topic.

We’re holding space with you because HSPs only make up 15 to 20% of the population, so most of the time HSPs are surrounded by non-HSPs and HSP only convos are a bit different than non-HSP convos. We feel it’s important for HSPs to hear this difference.

We’re not coaches or therapists. We’re HSPs holding space with you.

I’m one of your co-hosts, Rayne, and our other wonderful co-host today is Tonya.

Tonya: Hello everyone.

Rayne: Hey Tonya. So Britta couldn’t be with us for this one, for this episode, but she will be with us for the next one.

As you know we’ve started a mini-series on self care for Highly Sensitives, and it includes six topics on aspects of self-care we’ve been exploring with you. We’re on the fifth topic of self-care in our series, and it’s Social Self-Care Strategies for Highly Sensitives.

So first, what is social self-care? And it’s been defined as activities that nurtures and deepens the relationships with people in your life. So some examples are going, uh, with brunch with friends, going on a date, making time to call your mom regularly, et cetera. So that’s what it is and a couple of examples. So Tonya, are you, how do you feel? Are you comfortable with, uh, kicking us off on how, how you practice social self-care?

Tonya: Yeah, I mean this is something that is really… That I’ve really had to work on, you know, I’m quite introverted. Um, and so, yeah, so I think this topic is super important.

You know, cuz I think about it in terms of yes, it’s our connections with other people, but also, um, having boundaries, right, that are so important for us as HSPs. And I can be quite, um, socially awkward, and it takes me time to warm up to other people, um, and to be myself. Um, and it’s, you know, it’s always easier with some people than others, right?

Um, but it can be a struggle and, um, so for me, actually, using Zoom that was really kind of catapulted right, by the pandemic.

Rayne: Yeah.

Tonya: It’s made it a lot easier for me now because I can meet new friends like you Rayne and, and talk with people, but I’m still in my own space.

Rayne: Yeah.

Tonya: Which can be really comforting and um, you know, it’s easier for me to kind of retreat to my own space when, you know, when those encounters, when those meetings, when those chats are over. Um, yeah, so I think that that’s probably my first thing is that making sure that you have those types of boundaries set up for yourself as much as you can, so you can have that space to kind of pull back and, and take care of yourself when you need to.

Rayne: Mmmmm. That’s a really… Yeah, yeah. That’s a really, actually, an interesting point and, and pretty cool that that was one of the things that the pandemic helped us with really.

Tonya: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, with, with all of, of course, the difficulties and, and pain and adjustment and everything that kind, the chaos that it caused and is still causing, right? For me personally, that was something that really, something really positive that came out of it for me personally. It’s kind of launched a whole new aspect of my life that I feel probably wouldn’t have been available to me if it wasn’t for that.

Rayne: That’s really cool. I like that.

Tonya: How about for you?

Rayne: Well, you know, when I was thinking about this I, I… My thoughts kind of, because I’ve learned a lot in, in creating HSP World. And I didn’t, I didn’t do this alone at all. I did it with other HSPs, we’ve been co-creating it. And you know, it, it, it’s been, it’s been really fun and I’ve also learned a lot because, you know, for the social part, it, it, it really helped me understand and is still helping me understand, um, because it’s, it’s, you know, um, it’s, it’s, there’s so much to it that it’s so, so interesting to keep learning about it and…

So just, just to give a little background, how it first started was, um, I had written a book and, um, someone had reached out to me, Thomas had, and, um, said he really liked it and whatnot.

We started chatting and, um, he had, had, had learned he had the HSP Trait and so it was a really cool, um, you know, it was a cool social meeting point, you know? . So we just got really excited and, and started thinking of different things, things that were fun that, you know, to do that we could do that would help HSPs.

And so one of the things we wanted to do, um, was we wanted a place for HSPs that was online, but that didn’t have ads, you know, it wasn’t overwhelming, you know, it was quiet, that kind of thing. So we started playing with, um, I think it was a product, uh, it was, it was an off the shelf product.

And, um, so that was really fun and, uh, very social. And then we, we, you know, we added things to it. And then we invited, um, some HSPs in to ask them what they thought of it. And that was really cool, and through that we, there was about, oh, I don’t know, ten of us, and we started, we started, um, we started  writing like, kind of like long kind of little messages. They were basically like blog posts is what they were.

And it was really, really cool to, to see into their world and um, to, to, to read their thoughts and their feelings. And so, that was, that was really fun. And it was, you know, it was social basically, right? And then from that we, we then determined, okay, well Discourse is gonna, it, it would basically cost, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars to, to, you know, tweak this software so that it…

Tonya: That’s quite a commitment.

Rayne: It was quiet, it was too big of a commitment at the time, right? And we were there for fun, like it was learning and whatnot right? So we decided, um, so we asked them, you know, ‘Hey, do you wanna, you know, would you wanna write blog posts? Um, you know, for HSP World?’ They were all like, yes! We were like, cool!

So then we, we changed it and we made, um, the, what currently is the website for, for HSP World. And so through that, that then kind of morphed.

But I also learned, um, boundaries through this because after some time went on, you know, and, and you know, just naturally some people after they wrote, you know, maybe five or six articles, you know, over a period of, you know, say six months, they’d say, you know, I can’t commit to it anymore, I have other things. And I’d be like, okay, awesome. Thank you so much. Right? And then, you know, we’d do a Call Out and ask for another writer, that type of thing. So I was noticing though, as time was going on that the blog posts were great and they were interesting, but I was seeing some common things like common sort of, um, challenges that HSPs have.

And so I thought we need to change this so that it’s more solution-oriented, right? Because the way it is does not mean it has to be that way til the end of time. Or like, it can, it can change just like we do, right? So, or hopefully like we do so, so anyways, I, I, I, you know, chatted with our writers and, you know, and, and I also learned too, um, you know, it, it, because HSPs are very sensitive.

So when I was editing the pieces, because, you know, there did need to be, you know, a bit of editing sometimes. Um, you know I had to be, you know, you know, very diplomatic about, you know, how, what needed to change and why, and you know, that kind of thing. Right? So I was learning a lot about, you know, HSPs and all HSPs are different. Like no two are the same either, right?

So it was interesting because once I said, okay, let’s make this more solution-oriented, you know, and here’s the template, and geez half our writers dropped off. They were like, nope, that’s it. I can’t do that.

Tonya: That’s a lot of work.

Rayne: I don’t wanna do that. Right? It was like, okay, well I get it right because change, any kind of change… Sometimes we’re ready for it and sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we can, you know, like, inch ourselves toward it. Sometimes we can’t. Right? But it was interesting because that was kind of a boundary too, because I was feeling like, okay, I’m not growing, I’m not learning anything here, and I want to continue growing and learning more about it.

What things are helpful for us or, and me, right? So after half of them dropped off, it was like, ok. And then, and then kept working with them and, and so that was, that was really cool. So, so that was really cool. But I, you know, I also had to kind of stick to that boundary cuz a couple of them would say, you know, well, can’t we, can’t I just do you know, this or that, or, you know, that kind of thing, right?

And it was basically not going with the new format of let’s be solution-oriented here. What can we do? You know? And so I had to kind of stick to, to what, you know, the direction I felt we kind of needed to go in. You know, and then, so that was, that was cool cuz that was basically boundaries, and it was in a social, social way, right?

Because it’s, it was basically just, it was a fun thing we started up right? And uh, and also too, I noticed things changing with the, the social media stuff cuz I, I, I get a real kick out of, of doing the social media posts, right? Of making them up and finding stuff and that kind of thing. And I noticed like over time it was like, you know what?

Like you get told, like you know, ‘Oh, you know, if you’re doing stuff on social media, you need to be doing this and you need to be doing that.’ And it’s, you know, it’s very difficult for HSPs to kinda go, yeah, okay, you know, well, I see the way it’s being done you know, but I don’t wanna do it that way. That’s not the way that feels right for me, and I’m not doing it that way. You know?

Tonya: It’s not, uh, doesn’t feel authentic

Rayne: Yeah, yeah. It didn’t feel authentic, you know? So, but I, again, that was, it was like, I did it for fun, but it’s, it’s a social vehicle, right? And so, you know, it took me a little while to get to the point where it was like, no, you know, this, this doesn’t feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel right. And so I was like, No, not, not gonna do that.

So then, so then I finally kind of worked it into a, a pattern that feels good for me. It’s like three times a week, you know, you know, uh, you know, a funny, a funny, uh, a funny one on Monday, a serious, more serious type one on Wednesday, and then a question on Saturday.

And I thought, no, that, that feels right for me. That feels comfortable for me. Um, you know, I don’t wanna be hammering stuff out and because it’s, that’s just doesn’t feel right to me. It doesn’t feel like I’ll be putting something of quality that I enjoy, you know?

Tonya: Yeah, I get it.

Rayne: You know, and give me the space that I need and want so that, um, you know, if I hadn’t have given that space for myself to go, okay, three times is enough, that’s it, done right?

Because again, you’re monitoring, you know, you’ve gotta monitor it, right? And if you got, you know, trolls or spammers or whatever going on, you gotta deal with it, right? So, so it was like, no, I don’t wanna, you know, this is how much time I’m willing to give this, and you know, this is what I’m, this is what I’m gonna do right?

And, uh, and it was really interesting because when I kind of went that route, that’s when I was like, you know, I, I love art, you know, I love, um, and I wanna support artists in any way I can. You know, the majority of them are HSPs and that’s when the… It came up for the Wednesday post to start featuring an artist, you know?

Because most HSPs love art, you know? So it was like, wow, that’s kind of cool. You know, kind of marry a couple things together there, you know? And so it, it, it’s just, I guess for me it’s a continual, it’s a continual learning. You know, it’s a continual learning and feeling into, and getting comfortable with, you know, what, what is good for me, what is okay for me?

And then putting that out there and being okay with whatever comes. Because you basically have to be like, I don’t care what anyone…. You know… you really do. It’s, it’s, and and for me it’s like, no, this is something that I enjoy that’s fun for me and I’m gonna do it my way.

And if you, you know, if someone likes it. Okay. If they don’t, then it’s not for them. You know?

Tonya: Yeah. Learning, learning to say no to things, people, events, situations that aren’t good for us and learning to say yes to the ones that are right? And that’s really true about social media in any way, shape, or form I find.

Rayne: Yeah, absolutely. And um, so that was really, really cool because, and I also, um, dropped one of the social media channels cuz we were doing three and I dropped one because I was like, no, that’s enough, you know, because I size them for each one kind of thing. So I was like, no, that’s enough. I’m not doing that.

So where we are is where we are. Right? And, and so that’s been really cool. And it has been an exercise in boundaries, though, not, like socially in, you know, again, with social media, but also it was with the writers, you know? And it was also learning what my boundaries were, what I felt comfortable with because you know, it’s kind of like this thing was stuck in my head where it’s like, okay, well, you know, if you put your boundaries down, then that’s it.

And you know, it’s interesting because what I was comfortable with, say like five years ago, I’m not comfortable with now, you know?

Tonya: Yep. Our boundaries definitely shift and change and we have to kind of go with the flow.

Rayne: Yeah. And it’s uncomfortable. It feels uncomfortable. It feel, it feels weird and uncomfortable. So it’s almost like you gotta get used to feeling weird and uncomfortable.

Tonya: Yeah. Like, you know, deciding, deciding when you’re, you know, when you’re twelve years old, that when you grow up you’re gonna be, you know, you’re gonna be a doctor. And then when you’re thirty you decide, no, this is not right for me.

You know, then we, we change and grow as people, and that includes our boundaries for sure.

Rayne: Yeah. Hopefully we change and grow as people. You know, there’s, there’s people I’ve met that do not change, you know?

Tonya: That’s true. Very much.

Rayne: And, and it’s, and there’s nothing, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.

I’m just saying it’s, you know, it’s… That’s one less person you can look to, to see as an example. How, how do, how do I do that? You know what I mean? So it’s, it’s, um, yeah. So that’s why it, it, you know, it, it can feel uncomfortable for me anyways. That’s how it felt.

And you know what, I think for me it’s also helped, um, in social situations for different, in different things too.

Like, I think it was like about, it was about a month and a half ago, and someone like, I didn’t know them that well. Like I, I, I kind of knew them, but I didn’t know them that well and they started sharing something, you know, pretty um, uh, well, let’s just say it was inappropriate, you know? It was like very personal, very negative, you know, and that kind of thing.

And it was interesting because when they very first started to, I knew, you know, I knew what they were, I knew kind of what kind of direction that conversation was headed in. And I just stopped them. I just interrupted them. Which people tell you is rude, but you know what, whatever. And I just said, I’m not, I’m not willing to hear this. This is not appropriate for me to hear. I don’t feel comfortable hearing this at this point.

You know, maybe you should talk to, you know, a professional or somebody about this, you know. And I had to say it a couple of times, you know, they were pretty, you know, they, they pretty, they wanted to say this, that I was pretty, you know, you know short of putting my fingers, short of putting my fingers in my ears and going, la-la-la-la. Um, you know, that was, that was pretty it, you know, that was it. That that was it, it was not happening. I was not, Yeah, it was not, it was not gonna be productive for them and it was not gonna be helpful for, you know, me. And it was, it was not gonna be good for me, you know?

So it was like, no, this isn’t happening. And um, I. . And it was, you know, it was funny because a couple of days later I thought about it. I thought, geez, you know, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever done that, you know? Like said, I’m not not ready to hear this. You know, this isn’t appropriate kind of thing, you know, I’m not comfortable hearing this. And, you know, it was in a, it was a social situation and it was like, I felt really, you know…

I think that’s a thing too is, a lot of the little victories, you know, for us that we, that we have… it, you know, I guess I, I thought to myself, geez, you know, this, you know, I’m so proud of myself for doing this because I know for me, you know what a big deal boundaries are for me and, and looking after myself is, and I thought, you know, for somebody else they’d be like, ‘Yeah, big deal. So what?’ You know? But, you know, but I think, um, especially in social situations, right?

Because one of the main things that all humans want is acceptance, you know, and for HSPs, um, I think it can be even more so because we do feel different, you know? So I, for me, I felt like, you know, geez, that that was a really, that was really cool. That was a, you know, good for you that you did that, you know, and, and so I hope any HSPs who are listening, you know, when you, when you catch yourself, you know, changing a pattern or, or doing something a little bit different, that feels good, but it’s kind of scary, you know?

You know it feels kind of weird and uncomfortable that you, you give yourself props and, and notice that, you know, for what it is. And, and you know, it, it’s a, it’s a big milestone because it took a lot of steps to, you know, to reach some, you know, to reach the, you know, those kind of moments.

Um, and to not like, disregard them as nothing because, you know, they are, they’re important and, and self, and, you know, self-care is super important right.

Tonya: For sure. Yeah. I totally get it. And it takes, you know, and also not comparing your, um, your, what we’ll call it progress, for lack of a better term, right. With somebody else’s.

Rayne: Yes.

Tonya: Like I’m X amount, I, you know, I’m X years old and I still can’t, you know, stand up to my whatever it is, mother or something like that, or I can’t set boundaries. There’s, you know, try not to place judgment on ourself when it comes to that type of thing, because it is hard work. And you know, everybody is gonna handle it different and in their own space and time. So have a lot of patience and self-compassion, um, for any little step that, that you can make for sure.

Rayne: Absolutely. Yeah. And, and the self-forgiveness thing too, right?

It’s like, you know, I, I, I, um, I like playing Wordle, right? And I do it, I only do it once a day. Well, you’ll, you can only the New York Times one, you can only do it once a day. And it, sometimes I’ll get the word on like the third try, you know, and then, you know, could be the next day I, I, all six tries and I didn’t get it. You know, and it’s like, what the heck? You know?

And, and it’s, um, you know, so it’s, it’s in a way it’s kind of like that, you know, just the trying is, is sort of where you’re winning, you know, that you’re trying, you know, and, and you can’t, it, it’s just impossible to compare. Like, I can’t compare myself with anybody else cuz I don’t know anybody else like me. You know what I mean, you know, and, you know, with the, with the, you know, same life experiences and that type of thing.

So I don’t, I, you know, I, I don’t have too big of a thing comparing myself, but where I, where I do have a thing is, is like, I have to watch it and, and do what you’re talking about Tonya, with self-compassion is when I’m too hard on myself. Like I, you know, I figure like, oh, you should have done that better, or you should have known better.  Or you, you know?

Tonya: Yeah. That’s an easy trap to fall into for sure.

Rayne: Yeah. That the, the, you know, they… Someone once told me, when you’re should’ing on yourself, you’re shitting on yourself. Yes. We don’t normally swear all over yourself. Yeah, I know that. And it’s a good thing to remember, you know, because it’s, um, you know, we’re, we’re all at different levels of acceptance of our HSP Trait and then learning the tools that are gonna be helpful for us and be supportive for us.

And, um, and, and that’s why I think social is really important because, you know, it’s, you know, a lot, a lot of the time we can look externally, um, you know, to see how other people are doing. And that’s like you said, Tonya, where the comparing stuff comes in right? And it’s just, there’s really is no, there really is no way to compare it. You know, I, I mean, there’s… people are different across all walks of life and, you know, so it’s, it’s, uh, yeah, it’s pretty, pretty, uh, futile to do that. So…

Tonya: Yeah. I mean, something, I’ll share something really kind of like practical, um, that I used to do when we talk about comparing, um, is, it’s kind of a, kind of a two-fold thing.

You know, first is kind of scheduling social time, um, ahead of time. So I’m prepared for it mentally, emotionally, physically. You know, so I can kind of know, and it lets me have more control over the amount of time as well.

So like impromptu meetups or somebody knocking on the door, you know, without me knowing, it’s not usually my thing unless, you know, I know you really, really well. Um, and that’s a very small handful.

But also, you know, when I, I live outside Seattle now, but I used to live in California and I had a group of friends, you know, coworkers. We’d go out and, um, I would almost always drive myself.

So even if it was like an hour plus drive, they would think I was such… Well, basically kind of a weirdo, right? Like, why would you drive an hour and a half to the same place we’re going to, right? Um, because I wanted to be sure that when I needed to leave, I could leave. Right? And so sometimes it wasn’t very economical.

But it was really vital for my, for my mental and emotional health to, to have that, that knowledge that I could, you know, pull myself out whenever I needed to. And I think that really goes back to, um, another, kind of really every day, um, way to set up some of those boundaries.

Like even if you love the people that you’re, you know, spending time with, you know, you know when enough is enough and to kind of have your, um, well, your exit strategy, for lack of a better word, right?

Rayne: Yeah. Abso, absolutely. And, for me a lot of that had to do with being, well, some of it has to do with knowing, because it’s not going to be, no two days are the same. You know? One day I, I can have the energy for it and be cool with it. Everything’s fine. Awesome. Right?

And, but the next day it could be, my energy feels low. I don’t know. I’m not quite sure why I need to kind of look at what’s going on here. Maybe I didn’t have a good sleep. Maybe something, um, you, you know, maybe I had a really emotional conversation or you know, who knows what it was. Right? Uh, or maybe I’m working through something myself and it’s taking, you know, a lot of emotional energy for me.

So, and that’s okay. You know, And I think that’s where, um, where I had you know, I’ve really had to become okay with saying, you know, you know, with me saying to myself, it’s okay for today that this is what you can do.

You know? It’s, it’s totally 100% okay. And because of course, you know, people are gonna say to you, you know, come on, ten minutes more, just a little bit longer, you know, or whatever it is. You know, which is, it’s really nice, you know, that’s really nice. But I think it’s kind of a, you know, then it’s, it’s, it’s again the boundary thing where it’s like, ‘Ah, you know, thanks so much, next time, you know,’ or whatever it is.

And, um, you know, so that it’s, um, so that you’re looking after you, because you know, in the end that’s, you know, you, you’re responsible for your self-care, right? Nobody else is. And nobody, nobody else can fully know what you’re feeling and you know, what you’re thinking and what your energy levels are at, and you know, all that kind of thing, right?

So, so, yeah. Yeah. Cool. Okay, well thank you Tonya for sharing your experiences and thank you Highly Sensitive listeners for sharing your space and time today. Feel free to join us on Instagram or Facebook and join us for our next podcast where we’ll be chatting about Spiritual Self-Care for Highly Sensitives.

Okay. See you next time. Bye, Tonya.

Tonya: Bye everybody. Bye Rayne.

Music credit: Journey Starts From One Step – Musik av Gvidon


  • Alexander Lewis

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

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