HSPs, Animals and Children

HSP Relationship to Animals

I was thrilled to find some literature on this topic for a couple of reasons…

#1 – because it helps back my natural thoughts about how I have felt a deep connection with animals and kids,

and

#2 – because this is a really cool topic, and I think that HSPs should pride their relationships with animals and children, because it is such a special gift we possess!

It makes sense if you think about it… I have written before on how HSPs have a natural empathetic ability to relate to others by understanding their circumstance and experiences. We pick up on emotional cues, are often acutely aware of and affected by our environment, and notice changes in other’s moods and energy more frequently than non-HSPs.

These perceptions all have something in common – they arrive through non-verbal cues.

This exact point is why I think HSPs are able to understand and communicate with animals and children so deeply and effectively.

Let me share some examples of situations to give some perspective:

Animals

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Horses, Dolphins, Whales, Dogs, Elephants… these are some of the earth’s creatures that have been scientifically proven to have a high level of intelligence, especially emotional intelligence. Whales actually have an emotional part of the brain that doesn’t even exist in humans! No wonder these creatures are so social and connected with each other.

Do you know of the documentary “Black Fish?” Hearing the stories, and learning about the relationships that whales develop with each other and humans was incredibly powerful for me. The story is also very intense and sometimes upsetting, but if you’re an HSP with a love for animals, it is definitely worth watching.

I have been lucky enough to be around horses (from time to time) and dogs quite frequently in my life, and I have definitely experienced a deep connection with them.

For example, my mom, sister and I had an amazing golden retriever named Maggie while I was growing up. We called her our “family Angel.” Whenever my sister and I were fighting or arguing with our mother, Maggie would know. She would appear around the corner with a ball of socks in her mouth, or literally come up to one of us and lay at our feet. She wanted us to stop.

Sometimes if I was alone in the house with Maggie, I swear I could feel what she was feeling. I knew if she was agitated, sad, or content. I also felt her love. How special!

In particular though, I have one fond, outstanding memory of our precious family dog. I came home from grade 8 class one day quite upset about something. Maggie greeted me at the door.

She sat there (when normally she would be jumping up and down asking for a walk) and let me hug her. Her head was on my shoulder, and I cried into her fur. For 10 minutes she was there for me, sitting still, reassuring me it was going to be alright.

Now, don’t worry, I am not trying to claim I am an animal whisperer here…. (Though I think some HSPs probably are!)

I also know an HSP who is an incredible dog trainer. Through practice and years of reading, researching and observing, she has learned to speak their language. Watching her interact with dogs is fascinating. Major empathy and awareness of subtleties is required here.

I would bet money that most of the best animal trainers and care takers in the world are HSPs!

I have read stories about people with special connections to horses as well. They are such majestic creatures; highly intuitive, intelligent, and social. When reading some of Elaine Aron’s writing on HSPs and Animals, she wrote about HSPs and horses a lot. The “Sensitive” movie trailer features HSPs and horses too, and I am really excited to see that part of the film.

Recently, I visited a horse stable where  15 – 18 horses cohabited. One of the stable workers began to tell me about each horse, and how their temperaments and personalities varied and affected the group. I was fascinated.

AB6690-Horse-Trio--by-Robert-Dawson---

A couple of horses who were new to the group stuck together like glue. The more dominant one was very protective of the other, constantly watching over her and coming to her defense if she neared other horses. The story behind these two was that the protected horse was mistreated and neglected while the other one watched from a distance, unable to help.

Horses, like dogs, are also extremely affected by their past situations and environment, causing them to be molded for life, often in negative ways if they were mistreated.

Now, let’s move on to another type of animal…. little humans.

Children:

When I was younger and unaware of my HSP trait, I had a lot of anxiety and fears and of course, I was very affected by my surroundings. Children made me nervous.

Not only did I want to make sure they liked me, but there was usually the pressure of adults watching me and observing my interactions with them (HSPs often become nervous and perform poorly while under examination).

The biggest thing in those situations for me though, was the non-verbal conversations I was having with them…even if they were old enough to speak, it was the conversation on a deeper level through body language and an unspoken understanding.

Kids usually gravitated to me because I acknowledged them in ways that I don’t think everyone does. I would pay attention to them and seemed to know what they wanted… I would empathize with them on their level.

If I ignored them for a time to engage in the adult conversations around me, I would sense their confusion, and sometimes frustration. I felt them non-verbally begging for my attention. Talk about sensory and empathy overload!

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I actually recently spoke with another HSP about children, and sure enough, she was usually always the favorite. She said “I think it’s because I sort of connect with them, maybe it’s an HSP thing.”

Now that I am aware of my HSP trait, I am not as overwhelmed by children because I understand my interactions with them from an HSP perspective. I am easier on myself and appreciate my ability to relate to them, instead of feeling strange about it.

I hope this week’s post has guided you to think about your relationships with animals and children! HSPs are well equipped to support, understand them and relate to them. That is a beautiful thing, and one of the many reasons why HSPs are so needed on this earth. 🙂

Have a great week everyone!

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie

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Misunderstood

Hello HSP community! My apologies for missing last week’s post. In it’s place I shared the following paragraph on The Sensitive Trait’s Facebook page, so I thought I would share it here as well. 🙂

“In the past week I have learned more than ever about how we can become overwhelmed by excitement, joy and love just as much as we can by stress and unpleasant, chaotic situations. From wonderful summer vacations, birthday celebrations and heartfelt conversations, to future planning for The Sensitive Trait, my introversion is pulling on me this week. You may have noticed that The Sensitive Trait missed a blog post! I gave myself permission to do that as I knew it would be too much for me.”

I will admit I struggled to decide whether or not to write a blog post last week (I can be really hard on myself, and extremely loyal and committed… to you guys, and everyone I care for in my life).

I went back and forth on the decision for a bit, but then I just gave myself the permission to skip it, and my worries went away.

Sometimes that all it takes; to be gentle with ourselves, and remember how we get as HSPs when we over commit.

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Now, on to this week’s blog post topic… “Misunderstood”

We have all felt this way in our lives, especially HSPs, probably on many occasions.

As a Child:

When you were growing up as an HSP, you may have been told that you’re “too sensitive for your own good”, or called “shy.” Maybe you were referred to as the “teacher’s pet” or “mama’s favorite” because you clung to the adults in your life for protection.

You may have experienced extreme frustration from your parents or teachers because of your uncontrollable crying bouts. Maybe you were put into situations that were much too overstimulating for you but despite your resistance, you were told to do what the other kids were doing.

As a Teenager:

Later on in your teens as an HSP, maybe you just couldn’t understand why you’d prefer to stay at home and hangout quietly in the backyard rather than go to the beach with all of your friends.

Maybe one sleepover on the weekend would be fine for you, but when your friends begged you to stay for the second night, you were torn and went home upset, with your friends (and yourself) not understanding why.

As an Adult:

Perhaps still, some of the loved ones in your life don’t understand you…

Guess what? The knowledge I am sharing with you can help! 🙂

Once we understand our trait of high sensitivity and start to acknowledge and notice it in our lives, we will better understand ourselves AND others.

We can accept and respect others for their non-HSP tendencies, and help them understand our tendencies as HSPs to create a mutual understanding.

If you’re an HSP in a romantic relationship or a friendship with a non-HSP, you’ll probably relate to some of the following examples I am going to share.

Example one:

You notice when your friend/partner’s mood changes, and then ask them if they are OK. They respond “yep, I’m good.” And change the subject.

You’re a little shocked that it can be such a simple answer… but rest assured they usually are just fine. They would probably tell you if otherwise!

Example two:

You suddenly feel overwhelmed and a little hurt by a comment your partner / friend made a few minutes ago.

You’re trying to move on from it, but it’s bothering you. Then, when they don’t notice you’re upset, you feel even worse and become resentful that they don’t notice things like you do.

HSP’s emotions can run strong, but forgive your non-HSP partner or friend. They may not pick up on little cues like you do!

You’ll have to tell them you’re upset, and it is key to do this BEFORE your emotions escalate – “nip it in the bud” right away.

This might be scary at first, but I am sure they will appreciate you telling them (before it turns into a huge deal that has been killing you for three hours). They will give you some reassurance, and apologize.

I have learned to do this and it makes the world of a difference. There’s something about just having your feelings validated and acknowledged. Once that’s done, we can dust our hands off and move on! 🙂

Example three:

Your partner might plan a whole weekend for you, but if they don’t know you’re an HSP or understand your trait, you’ll probably be totally overwhelmed by the end of the weekend.

You might cry or get angry, leaving your partner upset because he/she thinks you didn’t have a good time, when really the activities and all your happy/excited emotions were just very overwhelming for you.

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So, the title of this blog post “Misunderstood” goes for both parties – HSPs and non-HSPs alike. Neither of you are in the wrong, you just think and feel a little differently from each other.

If your partner, close friends, kids or family don’t know about your trait of high sensitivity (you may just be discovering it as well!) start by observing your relationships with your HSP trait in mind.

I bet you’ll begin to notice something … for the first time in your life you may see  yourself and others in a different, more accepting way.

This post was actually inspired by a conversation I had with an HSP friend of mine. She told me that now that she knows she’s an HSP and understands what that means, she is just so much happier and more accepting of others in her life!

To me that is true, positive progress and I am SO proud of her.

It also resembles the mission I am on to “Help HSPs understand their trait of high sensitivity in themselves and in others so they can live improved lives.”

Until next week…

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie.

PS – of course you know this already, but ANYTIME you feel compelled to reach out to me in a public or private message, I am here. No strings attached.

 

HSPs in the workplace, Part 2: Maintaining a work environment that suits your needs

If you had the choice to work in a modern downtown Toronto office with open-concept working stations, computer screens everywhere you look, and the constant buzz of elevator bells and clicking heels…

OR

A quiet backyard terrace with flowers in bloom and birds chirping, and a lot of time to work quietly on projects without any interruptions…

What would you choose?

There may not be a black and white answer for HSPs. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, 30% of HSPs are actually extroverts, so the first office setting may sound exciting to them.

But, after three days in a row of constant stimulation with no relief, any HSP (introvert or extrovert) would find themselves feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Ok, pause and dream with me for a minute here…

What if you could have a job set up perfectly to suit your own individual HSP needs?!

I am an HSP with both introverted and extroverted qualities i.e.: alone, quiet time definitely recharges me, but after so much of this down time, I seek high-energy and engaging social situations.

My perfect balance at work would be two days of the Toronto office setting, and three days of the garden terrace office setting per week.

What would your perfect balance be?

Some of us have been lucky enough to have a career that reflects the balance we need, while others have had to buckle down and make money no matter what the environment. Well, there is still time, and it is never to late to make a change!

This week I encourage you to think about your work setting in a way that you maybe haven’t before….is there anything you could change to make it more suitable to your HSP needs?

Is there clutter around your workspace? Are you by a window? Do you have a place you can focus quietly? Are there any constant sounds that are bothering you?

HSPs pick up on subtitles in their environment, and whether or not they are aware of it, they can be tremendously affected by them both positively and negatively.

There may even be the smallest change or request you can make so you feel calmer and more focused at work, and therefore less overwhelmed by the end of the day!

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In the second half of this post, I’d like to share some of the types of jobs and work situations that are well-suited for HSPs, and other situations we may want to avoid.

Chances are that if you have been aware of your high sensitivity for quite some time, you may have already chosen a career that suits your needs and talents!

For those of you who find that maybe there is another job or career choice that could suit your needs better, there are always ways to modify your current situation, and it doesn’t mean outright quitting your job. 🙂

Career paths that are well-suited for HSPs provided they take place in a positive, healthy and conducive work environment:

  • Entrepreneurial: Self-owned business or practice (working from home and/or on your own hours can be a dream for an HSP)
  • Health-related careers: Medical Records Technician, Alternative Medicine/Holistic Medicine Practitioner, Naturopath, Pharmacist, Massage Therapist, Ergonomic Consultant, Speech Pathologist
  • Care-taking careers: Nurse, Childcare, Elderly care, Teacher
  • Animal-related careers:Veterinarian, Dog Sitter/Walker, Zoologist, Dog Trainer, Groomer
  • Nature-related careers: Biologist, Ecologist, Botanist
  • Technology careers: Graphic Designer, Social Media Manager, Programmer, Software Developer, Healthcare Systems Analyst
  • Artistic careers: Artist, Actor, Musician, Music/Art Tutor, Interior designer, Fashion Designer
  • Writing-related careers: Writer, Technical Writer, Editor, Proofreader, Blogger
  • Financial careers: Accountant, Financial Analyst, Controller, Purchaser, Market Researcher
  • Trades: Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber, Gardener, Construction
  • Career/Life Coach
  • Psychologist/Counselor
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Non-profit/charity work
  • Criminologist
  • Travel agent (especially for extroverted HSPs)
  • Court Reporter
  • Researcher
  • Farmer
  • Antiques Appraiser
  • Librarian/Archivist
  • Housekeeper
  • Janitor
  • Mailman/Mailwoman
  • Truck Driver
  • Clergy member

Career paths that HSPs may want to avoid:

  • Primarily sales-focused careers
  • Jobs that include a lot of confrontation
  • Job that requires dealing with people non-stop
  • Strictly measured / timed / controlled positions
  • Roles that require us to be cutthroat or competitive
  • Jobs that take place in a loud, hectic environment
  • Roles that are comprised of ongoing, monotonous work, rather than discernible projects
  • Jobs that are only about making money (and don’t reflect your principles and interests)
  • Jobs that require you to work a lot of overtime
  • Jobs that don’t support a cause or purpose that is meaningful to you

I hope some of these points have helped! It makes sense that HSPs would excel in career paths that require passion, analytical thinking, empathy and communication because of how we are wired.

That being said, no matter what career we are in, HSPs need more alone and downtime than non-HSPs. I suggest finding time daily to relax and re-charge so your over stimulation doesn’t pile up and explode. Refer to my post “Self-care and refueling for the HSP” for some tips on managing this. 🙂

Are there any careers that you think I have missed on these lists? If so, let me know by commenting or sending me a private message.

Have a great week everyone.

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie