Being an HSP is a gift. Here's how you can use it to your advantage.
How to know if you're a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
Highly Sensitive People or "HSPs" tend to be acutely in tune with the people and environments around them. If you are an HSP, you might find loud noises or chaotic environments to be very challenging. You might struggle with violent movies, and you likely need lots of time alone to recharge your batteries. According to an MSN Health article, "If you are an HSP, you're generally more sensitive to the environment and social interactions, and you're more likely to pause and digest your circumstances before jumping into a new experience. You probably also read people well, are insightful, and understand your loved one's needs."
Being an HSP is a gift. The key when navigating career change is to utilize and honor that gift, rather than try to suppress it in order to fit the mold.
In working with a lot of HSPs (and being one myself), I understand well the frustration that can come into play when we want to make a change but feel stuck. Over the years, I've learned that this feeling of stuckness isn't an indication that something is wrong, or that you're not capable of the change you want. On the contrary, it is an indication to wait. The more I learn (and help my clients learn) to lean into this period of waiting, the better the outcome seems to be.
It is easy to compare ourselves to our less sensitive colleagues and their process of change. For some, it seems like they just do the mental calculation of the pros and cons, figure out the steps for change, and then just take them systematically and logically. For an HSP, we have to wait until our bodies are on board, and sometimes that takes longer than we would like it to.
The good news is that waiting it out almost always leads to the best possible outcome. When it comes to career changes, waiting for an opportunity that feels light, exciting, and aligned is always worth it in the long run.
Listen to your body
Tuning in to your body (and thus, quieting your mind), is a great tool for knowing what choices you would like to make in your career, and in life. Here's a way to practice this: Think of a time in your life when you knew 100% that this choice was a "yes" for you. Maybe it was a house to live in, a city to move to, a person to date or marry, or even something small like where to go on vacation. Pick something that you knew for sure was a "yes" and maybe you didn't even really know why. Now think back to the moment you first knew you wanted to choose that thing. How does it feel in your body? Set aside all of the reasons you had for choosing that, and just notice what happens in your body.
Most likely, you'll notice a sense of lightness, warmth, and happiness or peace. Whatever you notice, just know that this is how you can recognize your body's indication that something is a "yes" for you. Trusting your body in these choices almost always steers you in a positive direction.
You can do the same practice with something that was a "no" for you. When you do, notice how it feels in your body. Sometimes you may be offered an opportunity that looks amazing on paper but feels awful in your body. As an HSP, practice trusting your body, it's really smart, and it is good at communicating your intuition and inner truth.
Manage your energy by setting boundaries
HSPs tend to require a lot of alone time to recharge. This can be a challenge in the fast-paced world we live in today. But please know that this is a non-negotiable for an HSP. Ignoring our need for boundaries and time alone only depletes our energy, making it impossible to pour from an empty cup. Most HSPs feel a strong desire to do work that matters and make a difference in the world. We are incapable of doing this if we are burnt out from pushing ourselves beyond our natural boundaries. The biggest challenge here is to set boundaries and stick to them. Bosses, colleagues, clients, and even friends and family, will never honor our boundaries unless we do. So that might mean saying no to work events outside of work hours, leaving a social gathering early, or even turning down opportunities that don't feel good. The practice for HSPs is to become a little uncompromising in this regard and allow people to feel how they feel about it. That's about them, not you.
This may sound counter-intuitive in a work setting where our value can sometimes be wrapped up in our willingness to put in extra hours and effort. But the truth is, when we set and hold our boundaries, it opens the door for better opportunities that won't ask us to push beyond them. Holding boundaries sends a message to the universe about what you would, and would not like to receive in your life. So if your current workplace doesn't honor your boundaries, it might be time to dig in and start looking for a place that will.