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Interested in this topic? Listen to The HSP World Podcast Ep. 5: How Do You As An HSP Approach Your Health?
Thomas: Hi and welcome to the HSP world podcast. With each episode, we invite a guest with the HSP trait to have a conversation about a burning HSP related question that they have. We’re not coaches or therapists. We are HSPs holding space with you. I’m one of your hosts, Thomas and your other hosts are…
Rayne: and Rayne
Robyn: All right. Welcome back everybody for another episode with us today, and we have our guest, Jas. Hi, Jas. How are you doing?
Jas: I’m well, thank you.
Robyn: Great. Thanks for coming on the show today.
Jas: Thanks. Thanks very much for having me. I’m looking forward to this.
Robyn: To start us off could you maybe tell us a little bit to your HSP story, how you first learned or heard about the trait?
Jas: Yeah, sure. I think like a lot of people, I just felt a bit odd and couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I felt kind of strange as a kid and then a teenager and then that carried on into early adulthood and I fell into a career in sales of all things, and I was unfulfilled and just really tired and all this stuff.
And, um, I kind of gorged on self-help and psychology stuff, I think, because I was curious chap like a lot of us are, but also, probably without realizing, just trying to diagnose what the heck was “wrong” with me. And then, yeah, it was kind of my early, mid-twenties initially I discovered I “was an introvert and that was a massive aha moment.
And then the second massive aha moment was when I came across Dr. Elaine Aron’s High Sensitivity test. I think through that kind of combined being an introvert, being a Highly Sensitive person, of course they’re both different things, but I feel lots made sense for me, because both of those had this element of they’re kind of being drained and energy and all that sort of thing.
So kind of since then, it’s been a case of further aha moments and really I’m just try to feel better and manage things better on a day-to-day basis. But yeah, that discovery was quite an important one for me.
Robyn: Thanks. Yeah, I can relate a little bit to that idea of going through all the pop psychology and self-help books and trying to say what’s going on here?
Yeah, so I think you brought us kind of close to today’s question. Could you tell us what it was that you wanted to ask?
Jas: Sure. Something really, I guess, kind of close to my heart as it were, in all sorts of ways, how we can manage our sensitivity. I know I mentioned energy, kind of energy sensitivity, all this stuff. Yeah?
I’m always curious to hear from other HSPs how they do that? Because it’s something I continue to try and manage on an ongoing basis.
Robyn: Good question. Yeah. And I think you’re right. That we can use different words here, depending on whatever makes sense to whoever’s listening. So you could say, how do you manage your sensitivity, your energy level, your stimulation level? Some people talk about stress level, but it’s a little bit wider than that I think. But it could, you know, the concept of stress management could also kind of fit in there as well.
Rayne: Jas, so what part of it, because I, and, you know, correct me if I’m putting kind of words to it, I’m just kind of wondering more, is it because there’s certain aspects of managing your energy, that you struggle with sometimes, or kind of, what, do you mean by, ‘manage your sensitivity’, ‘manage your energy’?
Jas: Yeah, I‘ll give you an example. So I met a couple of friends yesterday in a safe manner with everything that’s going on here in the UK and across the world. Um, you know, before that, I kind of had a couple of calls and I woke up this morning and I could tell that, you know, I had a social day yesterday.
Rayne: So you had an introvert hangover?
Jas: Well, introvert hangover slash HSP hangover. I don’t know if that’s your thing. This is where I’m saying, I honestly think it’s kind of like a double whammy, a double whammy makes it sound negative and it’s not a negative at all, but, but in that way, yeah, it is just like, well, like, um, yeah, I’m feeling pretty, I’m feeling pretty tired today, you know?
I packed up this evening a little bit, so you guys don’t need to worry, but, um, but yeah, I guess, I guess just broadly speaking. I know for yourselves, each of us has a different experience with stimulus, overstimulation and feeling tired.
But I guess I just wanted to ask that question in the broader sense, it’s kind of ‘however it lands’ with you really? Yeah? I’d just love to hear your own experience.
Thomas: I like the distinction between introvert hangover and HSP hangover because I think there’s something to that. The way that I interpret introvert hangover is that, when this happens to me, when I’m social I feel drained after awhile. And then I just have to go off and recharge by myself.
Whereas the HSP hangover is more like I continue thinking about what happened and the stimulus. And, you know, I start thinking like, ‘did I say the right thing?’, or ‘did I say the wrong thing?’ Or ‘did I forget to say something?’ That to me is like the HSP hangover part.
Robyn: Oh, cool.
Rayne: The processing of the information.
Thomas: The processing, right. Precisely.
Jas: Interesting. And I wonder if there’s any overlap. I really liked what you said there, Thomas, but I wonder if there’s kind of any overlap between?
Thomas: Well, I think there is. But we do know that about 30% of HSPs are extroverts and I’m willing to conjecture that they also have a hangover of sorts from overstimulation.
Robyn: Oh, okay. The one in three will go here. Um, yeah, there can be overlap. And yeah, when you have the two traits at the same time extroversion and a high sensitivity, you look a little bit different from less sensitive extroverts, as well as from the introverted highly sensitives.
I mean I think I probably look more like an introverted HSP than I do a non-HSP extrovert. I do like to go out. I do like to see people, to be connecting with people as much as possible. But then it’s the “possible,” what’s possible. That’s what is different between me and someone who would be less sensitive because this is where those two things overlap. Right?
So when I go out or I’m surrounded by a lot of people, my need for extroversion, for taking in what the outside world is giving me, that need is met, but because I’m processing what I’m getting more deeply, that threshold can be reached more quickly. So it depends what’s going on, right?
Like, let’s say, this is where quality becomes a concern. I think we’ve mentioned this before but I think it’s definitely relevant to our discussion of energy and simulation as well. Right? Because how do you manage your energy? Well, the, the fine balance that HSP extroverts are always walking is the very same things that can feed you energy can drain your energy.
So you have to be really careful in choosing what you do, you have to think, okay, you know, where am I at? Where am I starting? Hey, it’s a Friday evening after, you know, my whole week. How do I feel? Do I feel just like really tired and drained and depleted from my week. Um, and I go hang out with my colleagues after work.
Let’s say, will that improve my level of energy or will it reduce it? It’s always going to be both. This is the thing that’s interesting, because again being around people you’re going to be processing things deeply and it’s going to take a certain level of energy.
So that’s where choosing the right people and the right settings and the right types of socialization is going to be really important.
I know there’s some people that even if I’m tired, the quality of conversation with them, or just we’re going to laugh together or we’re going to, you know, just have such a good feeling of connection that even if I’m tired, it’s worth pushing through that a little bit, because the human connection element is going to sustain me for a very long time.
And then, probably the next day, you have to spend the whole morning just inside, being very lazy, not talking to anybody, just kind of reflecting on everything. But it is, it is very nourishing. So I guess my first takeaway in terms of how do I manage my energy, and I’ve become more deliberate about this in the years where I started reflecting on how sensitivity, um, plays out in my own life.
Um, really emphasizing quality interactions. So paying very close attention to how do I feel around certain people? How do I feel in certain settings? And it’s not black or white. It’s interesting. Even some people that I really like finding what’s going on. Sometimes the interaction leaves me feeling a bit drained, or activities, you know, like I’ve talked before about social dance, but there’s some evenings where let’s say it’s more about a competition or something like that.
Those evenings, you know, I have to expect that it’s going to be a mixed result. So I think just knowing that and being very deliberate about observing and not having premeditated ideas. I like, I was really surprised to hang out with a friend that after the interaction, I didn’t feel so great.
This is the person that I should have liked, and I consider a good friend. But I suspect it may have been I was picking up a little bit something else going on with them, something with me and it just wasn’t a good fit in my mind. So, you know, just observing everything and taking notes and then, you know, kind of acting on it in the moment.
Again, you don’t have to generalize. You don’t have to then say, ‘Oh, this person is bad for me’, or, ‘I don’t like being around people,’ like just, you know, taking it as another piece of data and adjusting as you go along similar to what we said in the health episode.
Jas: Can I ask Robyn, that was really interesting to hear by the way, so thanks for sharing that. Do you feel there are things you do differently as an extrovert who is a highly sensitive person, as opposed to an extrovert who isn’t a highly sensitive person.
Robyn: Okay. So compared to a non-HSP extrovert?
Jas: Yeah. I guess., and in terms of, we’re talking about managing your energy specifically. Yeah.
Robyn: I need more alone time. Yeah. So that’s what I do share with introverts. I need more alone time. I have to expect that certain situations are going to overwhelm me or going to, let’s say, push up the level of stimulation.
I won’t necessarily hit my feet or I won’t necessarily, you know, cross into overstimulation, but they will add and amplify the level of stimulation. So like I already mentioned competitions or being around people where there’s like stress or tension.
What else? I mean, just, I need more space to think. I need more time to think about things, what Thomas was saying about, uh, the reflecting, and post-processing the things. I do that a lot more.
I just, I always say I have this one friend for me is such a classic, like nonsensitive extrovert. Um, you know, when we were younger, when I felt my sensitivity less, because typically when people like are in their late teens and early twenties, that’s when they feel that the least, um, we would go out a lot, you know? But then we’d come back and I would be like, thinking about something that someone said or something that I did, or like just, I don’t know, having some kind of existential crisis.
Like every week I’d have one like, wow, what are you doing? Why are you thinking about this? Just kind of get out there and have fun. Not think about anything. And so for me, that, in this kind of, not, I’m not saying every non-HSP extrovert is like that, but that was a big difference between us where he was like, ‘What’s all this like, thinking?’ and like, ‘Come on, get off of that. Just go out and have fun.’
And sometimes he’s right. Sometimes I have to, sometimes I do have to. So again, it would be a second thing that I tried to do to manage energy is to not. Say, okay, I’m experimenting with this thing recently where I’m trying to cheat like that part of my trait as almost like a little kid that just kind of wants to keep going and you kind of have to check it, check the impulse right?
Where it wants to keep thinking, or it wants to keep maybe ruminating about something at some point you have to dial it. ‘Okay. Hold on. We’re going to take a break. We’re going to go for a walk. We’re going to have a nap or we’re going to have a snack or we’re going to put you aside for a second, pay attention to, you know, what’s going on with your body, not just your mind and then maybe we’ll come back to the mind.’
That’s another thing I’ve been trying.
Thomas: Robyn that just brought such the biggest smile on my face. When you say, you know, stop all that thinking. That’s such a thing to say to an HSP, to a Highly Sensitive person, like, ‘stop thinking, I’m thinking so much!’
Robyn: Well, okay, but it has to be done. And that’s why I say, you know, maybe the image of a kid, or even maybe like a puppy or something, you know, is important because it has to be said with love, right? And this is one of the issues is that a lot of HSPs dismiss.
Like, why are you thinking? Or like all this thinking can only lead to a bad place. Right? That’s simply not true. Um, and we also don’t want to, let’s say, put that part of ourselves out of commission forever. Then we’re cutting ourselves off from something very important.
But, you know, it has to be given its proper due, its proper space and I think having it better connected, better grounded in the body and then the physical realities, I think that can, it can only help that part and actually calms it down too, you know.
I find that if I do exercise enough and sleep enough and drink enough water and stuff like that, I find if I do that, my mind is a little bit quieter and it’s, you know, my sensitivity goes to better places.
I think, you know, it goes more to, ‘Oh, I’ve noticed these, you know, pretty birds and isn’t the weather lovely today.’ Instead of like, uh, ‘What was that thing that I said 10 minutes ago that I shouldn’t have said?’
Thomas: Well one thing that I’ve discovered that is helping me a lot manage my energy is taking that “me” time, that alone time and making sure that I get enough of it in every day.
And the way that I do that is to basically grab it in the morning. So before work, you know, I used to just, you know, get up, get ready, eat breakfast, and then started work right away.
What I found was that if I didn’t have that “me” time somewhere in the day, and often, you know, that as the day goes on, there’s less and less opportunity to get that “me” time. Then I, then I found that that my energy was off.
So by doing this, by basically saying, okay, you know, um, every morning I’m going to have, I’m going to be alone. I’m going to do my meditation. I’m going to do some of my own work, whether it’s working on art or working on whatever, writing.
Then if I have more stimulation later on in the day, by the end of the day, I can say, you know, I still feel good though, because I got that “me” time in. So that it’s almost like a, you know, like a cup that fills up for me.
If I can fill up that cup for me in the morning, then I can let it drain during the day. And I’ll be okay by the end of the day.
Rayne: Yeah. I like what you said about that Thomas and I agree with a lot of what you were saying too Robyn. I find for me it’s, um, relationships.
That’s where I have to be pretty mindful. Um, I don’t know if it’s like that for you Jas or not? Where, you know, relationships or interactions can be pretty draining. You mentioned you were in sales and you found yourself super drained at the end of the day, right?
Jas: Yeah. Oh yeah. I mean, relationships is a big one for me, Rayne. And actually just in general boundaries and that’s both online and digital boundaries, um, social media, emails.
I’m realizing that I actually need to be conscious of digital. Like I never thought I could be exhausted from, you know, emailing or being on Twitter, for example, but yeah, again, and especially with a lot of what’s happening in the world right now, I’ve had to distance myself from social media, but yeah, relationships and people in general and boundaries are a big one for me.
Rayne: Yeah. And that’s the one that I’m finding actually the most benefit from, from actually setting boundaries. Because, I mean, I can do all the self-care things, you know, like I can exercise and get enough sleep, I can do, you know, eat properly, you know, eat healthy and I can do all these things.
But if I’ve got one or two people, you know, whether it’s online or in person or whatever that are just demanding too much, um, time, then really it’s a matter of me stepping back and going, “What am I getting out of this?” Like, what am I getting out of this then? And, you know, “Are we on the same page here?” And you know, how are things, how’s this working out? And then basically, you know, putting a healthy boundary in place.
It’s protecting my time. That’s what it’s doing. You know, it’s basically kind of saying, you know, which, and I know, I know a lot of HSPs struggle with it, and I know, you know, when I first started to do it, it’s getting a lot easier now, I really struggled with it because it was kind of like, gee, you know, that’s a really, you know, kind of an unfeeling way to be about it.
But I think because being an HSP you know, most of the time we do have quite a bit of empathy for others, you know? And we, you know, we can understand how they’re feeling, you know, but at the same time there’s only so much of you and if you’re going to function at your best, then that’s sort of how I’ve been viewing it.
If I’m going to function at my best I have to protect my time, and who has access to me, when, and for how long, you know? And it’s, and then it’s sort of like a constant, you know? It’s kind of, you know, which it’s very, you know, it’s hard to do, you know?
I mean, I know I’ve had a family member or two where it’s like, you know, they’re pretty demanding and I’m not getting too much back out of it other than it’s a drain on me, my time and energy and resources. Right? And I’ve, you know, kind of had to, you know, step back and go, “No, you know, there’s other places I can put my energy.”
A lot of the time it’s back into myself. Right? And into other relationships that are, um, where we’re at the same level, you know what I mean Jas?
Jas: Absolutely, yeah, I can relate to everything you just said there. Yeah.
Rayne: Yeah. It’s tricky though. I don’t know. I do find it kind of tricky and it’s kind of an HSP thing where, you know, when I was doing the HSP Discussion Groups, the last meeting we would spend the meeting talking about, you know, how we weren’t going to be seeing each other, you know?
And, um, and that’s something that’s, you know, it’s important for HSPs that we, for us, you know, it’s a process. You know, the closing of things out is a process. Whether we can or cannot do that with the other person or not, it’s still a process for us, that for me that I know I need to honor it. Otherwise it’s just kind of left hanging out there in limbo somewhere.
Jas: Yeah. I think someone described to me once, uh, she said it a lot more delicately, but that’s, I’m attributing to like cutting the cord, like emotional cord cutting. Um, and yeah, I can relate to that and like leaving things open or kind of in limbo or just on a sour note, isn’t ideal for me personally.
Rayne: No, no, it’s not ideal. It’s definitely not ideal, but at the same time, you can’t always control how somebody else is going to respond. Yeah? That’s not something you can always end on a good note with everybody all the time, you know?
And for me, I mean, that’s okay. You know, it’s life, life is messy, it’s messy. And we just, you know, we just do the best we can.
Robyn: Yeah. I’m wondering because you know, I guess at least two fronts, two main fronts on what you can work to manage your energy. And one is the internal stuff. You’ve mentioned meditation and exercise, and a lot of those things that come back to health.
There’s well, I guess maybe something that would be like in between, like bridging, like when we talk about, okay, boundaries, or learning how to manage certain relationships, I guess that would be kind of like the connection between the inner and outer, but I’m wondering, um, how often do you guys go for external management?
So for example, just saying, okay, I dunno, I’m going to work less hours or I’m going to go out less often, take on less activities. How often is that one of your coping strategies for reducing overstimulation?
Rayne: Hmm. That’s a good question. Go ahead, Jas, go ahead. Do you want to answer?
Jas: Yeah. Sorry. I just meant I missed the end. The end part. Was that working less or doing less?
Robyn: Oh yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Like you work less, you just take on less commitments in your life.
Jas: Yeah. So 100% yes. And kind of, I’ve got a couple of things to say there. So I’m fortunate, you know, I said five years ago I was working in the city. And now I work remotely and that’s been amazing, just not having a commute, just being in control of my time. And I think it’s like a, I was thinking about this recently, I think it’s like a two-fold benefit.
For myself as a Highly Sensitive person, because not only am I more in control of my day-to-day stimulation, if you like, and then working remotely and being able to kind of choose where I work and then all that sort of stuff. But I get all that time and energy back from what I was expending on commuting each way.
So that’s been great for me. And then, yeah, just on like, kind of, I guess on a life level, away from work, I’m quite conscious about how I spend my time. So, you know, I mentioned yesterday, going out with my friends and what have you. I am much better at knowing what my limits are and being able to anticipate in advance.
Okay, I’ve got this thing coming up. I’m going to need to have a more chill day the next day, for example. And also journaling helps me with that, it helps me to kind of check in with where I’m at and how I’m feeling.
It’s just a three question, journal prompt.
How do I feel? What do I need? And what would I love to have?
And that’s a really handy way for me if I’m feeling a bit feeling a bit frazzled and I’m not sure why just to be like, okay, yeah, this is starting to make sense now.
So yeah, just being more intentional has been really important for me. But you know, I completely appreciate that.
I feel a lot of people are, maybe not right now, but you know, kind of working in offices and what have you, so you say that that can be quite typical, but even so, if you’re working in an office, I feel like there are ways you can just manage better.
And I like what Thomas was saying earlier cause that’s something that I do myself. I used to have to spring out of bed at the crack of dawn and head straight into work. And now I’m slow, I like to really kind of ease into the morning gently. It’s just really nice. And yeah, it just keeps me calm and settled going into the day rather than kind of just feeling a bit on edge or anxious or overstimulated.
Thomas: I tend to push myself quite hard sometimes. And so managing stimulation, managing my energy can be difficult because of that. And so what I’ve found is by doing meditation and practicing mindfulness, that mindfulness helps quite a bit because now I can sort of respond to what my brain is doing, what I’m thinking about and say, ‘Oh, you know, look at that.’
But I tend to push myself a little bit too hard sometimes and so it’s just a matter of me noticing when I’m pushing myself too hard.
Robyn: Definitely one I can admit to struggling with. I’m sure there are a lot of ambitious HSPs who set lofty goals for themselves. And, yeah. Yeah. I think sometimes maybe I do cycles that are more suited to a non-HSP. And even with everything that I know about my sensitivity, sometimes it can be really tough to manage those expectations and to not feel like I’m falling short, you know?
Rayne: Yeah. It’s like, well, you know, we’re what, 15 to 20% of the population? So, you know, the majority of the time that’s, you know, we’re told what the norm is, according to what non-HSPs are doing. Right?
Thomas: Particularly in Western cultures, right?
Rayne: Yeah, so there could be a tendency there to, you know, compare and “Why can’t I do this?” That most other people can do kind-of-a-thing. Whereas, I know for me, removing a lot of stuff out of my schedule really helps me to, I think it’s focus, focus more on what’s important to me.
For me, it’s part of accepting that I’ve got the trait, you know? If I’m not accepting I have the trait then I’m trying to, you know, I’m trying to do my life like a non-HSP, which doesn’t work for me.
But if I’m just accepting that, no, that’s not what’s going to work for me. I’ve got to find my own groove, you know, and sort of feeling into that then that’s what tends to, I don’t know, bring me more satisfaction and I don’t know, just an overall sense of, I guess, accomplishment you know?
That I’m accomplishing things that are important to me that may not be considered important to the other 80%, but they are important to me and, you know, that’s who I’ve got to look at in the mirror every morning, right?
What do you think, Robyn?
Robyn: I think it’s one of the… well, I don’t want to say struggle, cause that sounds super negative, but yeah. I mean, look, every, every trait has its upsides and its downsides. Right? And it’s… yeah, I think it’s something that I am still working on. You know, having moments of saying like, ‘Oh, it’s all just how it’s presenting itself. ‘And I have to be more mindful of my energy level and that’s it.
And it’s not, again, it doesn’t ever predetermine what you can and can’t do, right? Because there’s HSPs who are doing well in every facet of life. But yeah, you do. You as an individual and me as an individual, we have our own limits and we do have to find them and respect them.
It’s part of the process. Some days it’s easier than others to acknowledge that.
Rayne: Yeah. I agree with that. Some days it’s easier than others to acknowledge it and accept it.
Thomas: Well, Jas, I want to thank you for today’s conversation. I really enjoyed this and I’m curious to know how you feel about the conversation, were there are some points that resonated with you?
Jas: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, thank you. Thanks for inviting me on to ask the question. Yeah, no, like I say it’s one which I know will be like an ongoing thing, as opposed to, you know, something I can just check off and be like, yeah, I completed that. But no, yeah I resonated with lots, there’s lots of what was said by the three of you. So yeah. Thanks very much.
Thomas: Thanks for joining us.
Rayne: Yeah, thank you Jas, for your courage to ask the question, I enjoyed chatting about it and I know your question’s going to be helpful for other HSPs too.
Jas: Yeah, I hope so. Thanks Rayne.
Robyn: Well, thanks everybody. And thank you to our listeners. So please join us for our next episode where we’ll be having another interesting HSP conversation.
To any highly sensitive listeners out there who have a burning HSP related question, big or small, we invite you to ask it on the HSP world podcast, just email email@example.com.
Music credit: Intro and Outro music from the YouTube Music Library. Song is Clover 3.