Social Habits of the Highly Sensitive Lightworker: 9 Tips for Self-Care
by Cassendre Xavier
I recently discovered I'm an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).
I was watching Arielle Ford, author of the Soulmate Secret, giving a talk on her latest book Wabi Sabi Love, when she mentioned she was an HSP and that the bright lights on the stage upon which she stood to talk were “driving [her] crazy”.
I thought I was weird for being so antagonistic towards bright lights (especially in restaurants)!
She also went on to talk about how it also really upset her that her husband Brian Hilliard would often leave a television on in a room of their home even when he wasn't there to watch it, and how she reached a breaking point/breakthrough when she arrived to an empty home one day to find a television on in every room!
I was completely shocked and relieved because I recalled babysitting my brother's children once and finding lights and televisions on in every room! The noise and lights bothered me so much, and I was sure the problem was with me! I felt so strange, high-strung, and out of place.
Well, I've since discovered there are many of us. There are even characteristics, most of which I found I have, including making mistakes in typing if someone is looking over one's shoulder, and carrying around earplugs because of significant discomfort with loud noises. (Although another reason I carry and often use earplugs is because I want to have all of my hearing intact when I'm in my 60s and most people I know even in their 30s are darned near deaf, thanks to listening devices and loud music which the users don't seem to sensibly restrict the volumes of. I did a show a few weeks ago and wore the earplugs until I reached the stage, where the drums alone nearly made me deaf. It was very difficult indeed to sing and play an acoustic guitar with that kind of noise pollution in the background. I'm sure another HSP would understand!)
In realizing my status as an HSP a lot of things about my social life have begun to make sense. I wrote an article some time ago about how I learned to deal with the frequent loneliness that comes with being a lightworker/artist. It was called “Refusing to be Lonely at the Leading Edge of Thought”.
Now, I'm revisiting that topic with a new twist: How does an HSP lightworker take care of her or himself, and set boundaries around time to be social with others deemed essential to one's health and progress?
I'm sharing what I've learned so far:
1) Figure out what you need to feel comfortable. You may need:
a) A lot of time alone every day.
b) To turn your mobile phone off for several hours daily.
c) To set a start and end time with your friends wherein they can call or text you.
d) To have a 24-48 (or even more) hour turnaround time from when you receive contact from friends and/or associates and when they can expect a reply from you.
e) To adjust the lighting in the room you're in, or ask the persun who's driving you to lower or turn off the music. Sure, sometimes people will get annoyed, but that's of small consequence ¨C what matters is you are speaking up for yourself.
2) Take better care of your physical body. You may need to:
a) Make improvements in your diet.
b) Exercise more.
c) Get more massages.
Whatever you're doing, add more to your routine. Doing these things will increase your self-esteem and help you feel less odd about being different than most.
3) Increase your spiritual practices.
Doing this will help you have the courage to set personal and professional boundaries when you need to.
4) Feel okay about being who and how you are.
If or when you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or ashamed for having “special social needs” and making so many more requests or demands than your peers do, remind yourself that you're no worse or better than anyone else. We all have needs, and we ought to congratulate ourselves for having the courage and self-esteem to state and enforce them!
Also, setting these boundaries helps others feel safer and stronger in the world, to be themselves and to set whatever boundaries they themselves need to feel more comfortable and effective.
5) Design your own social style and schedule. You may need to figure out:
a) What kinds of movies you like to see with friends, and why.
b) What kinds of cafes or restaurants you like to m/patronize, and why.
c) That you choose to avoid bars and why.
d) That you prefer to avoid staying out too late, and why.
e) That you don't like clubs, or being around people taking illegal drugs.
f) That you prefer not to attend very loud concerts, and why.
g) That you like to try new and different things, like attend classes with your friends, go camping, bike-riding, or doing a lot of things alone and meeting new like-minded friends that way.
6) Feel free to change your mind and/or request(s) at any time for any reason.
Just because you ask for something to be one way today doesn't mean it has to be that way next week, next month, or next year, let alone forever. Having the courage to state a boundary includes being able to change it whenever you feel you want or need to.
7) Feel okay about being friends and/or associates with people with whom you feel comfortable. It may be a while before you can have a lot of these people in your life, but it may help you to remember that even the most successful people in the world can count their very good and close friends on one hand, and they don't feel bad about it one bit.
Don't rush to spend time with people who are not a good fit for you. And how will you be able to tell if they're not a good fit for you? It's simple: you feel bad when you're with, or after you leave them.
They may not mean it, but the fact remains the same, and you need to take care of yourself by moving away from what hurts you and stunts your growth and progress, and moving closer to, and making sure you have in your life what feels good and adds to your growth and progress.
8) Learn to say NO and say it often. For example:
a) A beloved friend wants you to start a support group with her/him, and you know you need this time for self-growth and to create your own support system based on your work and your new support team? Say no, with love.
b) You meet people who are attracted to you, and you also find them attractive, plus, you're low on lover companionship, so even though you don't really want to and you know the time isn't right, you consider sleeping with them anyway? Say no, with love for yourself, and for them.
c) You sign up for a project you discover halfway through is significantly too large to complete in time for their deadline? Say so, and after you've done your job, even if they didn't meet their deadline, get your pay anyway.
Saying NO is a pathway to the highest level of self-esteem work we can do. It's saying yes to love for ourselves, and that love reaches out and touches everyone around us.
9) Allow people around you to be upset when you ask for what you need.
Not everyone will be gung-ho about you stating your boundaries with love. Some will feel threatened or annoyed that you are so “demanding”. (I find the ones who get most upset are the ones who feel the most fear about, and rarely speak up for their own comfort needs.)
Don't be afraid if people show their resentment towards you for asking for things and situations to be adjusted for your comfort. If you are acting within reason, you can feel confident about your behavior and let it go if they in turn choose to express their boundary that they don't wish to allow you yours.
Let it be alright for them to disagree, but don't tolerate any hatefulness or severe or inappropriate expressions of anger.
May you travel this world with a little more comfort as you discover your needs as a highly sensitive persun, lightworker, and/or artist!
Cassendre Xavier (aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls) is a Philadelphia-based multi-media healing artist. She is author of Expanding Your Capacity for Joy: A Raw Vegan Comfort Book, Sourcebook & Journal (2009/ARtivist Publications), and the creator of the Affirmations for Survivors guided meditation series (featuring Music of Light by Thaddeus), with “Self-Love,” and “Spirituality” (2007/Amethyste Affirmations), “Sexuality” and “Life Skills” in progress. Cassendre, a Reiki practitioner certified by Dr. Geryll “G Love” Robinson, is also the founder and former facilitator of several community initiatives including Sisters Healing Together (a peer support group for women survivors of incest with a special focus on compulsive overeating), and AIM: Artists In Motion (a peer support and accountability group for artists). For more information, please visit http://cassEndrExavier.com.
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