Life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously

I don’t know about you, but whenever I am reminded of this, I feel lighter and more relaxed inside. There is so much power in these words. My dad used to say it to my sister and I when we were kids. I loved to be reminded of it, especially when I was a teenager. Back then, one pimple could ruin my day! I can think back to so many times in my life where I was so consumed with something that was difficult, stressful or anxiety creating. I was hard on myself. “What if I don’t figure out what I want to do in my life by the time I am 25?” “I just stained my brand new white shirt when I spilled coffee on myself,” “That magazine I submitted my article to didn’t get back to me…”

The concept of not taking life so seriously might be tricky to understand sometimes too… especially for those of us who are naturally hard on ourselves. Where are my HSPs and empaths in the room?! I know most of you have been too hard on yourself at some point of your lives. 😉

Pushing ourselves to go far and succeed can get us places, yes, but what if we don’t meet the extremely high expectectations we have set for ourselves because, well, we are only human?! Too often, we turn a corner right into a snow bank of self doubting thoughts.

“Life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously….”

Give yourself a break. Life in this skin we are in is short and I don’t know about you, but I want to feel as happy and content as often as I possibly can. We are going to let others down in our lives, and we are going to wind up doing something or taking a turn that we didn’t plan for or expect.

But remember, you have the ability to feel the way you want to feel. I am really practicing that right now. The difference between then and now is that today, when I start going down a road of fear or doubt, when I start getting confused about what is next I remember that I have the power to go back to being happy again by letting go; getting back to the basics. Whatever it is that we want, we usually want it because we think it will make us feel good and happy. But if stressing about getting it is causing it to be “un-fun,” then we are missing the point.

So next time you are taking a matter REALLY seriously, ask yourself:  “Where was I, before I started feeling stressed and unhappy?” Your response will probably be similar to: “oh yah, I was living in the now, focusing on my life day to day and all the blessings it presents.” Remember how far you have come. Think back to all that you have accomplished. And don’t take what you don’t know or didn’t do so seriously…. It is all a journey that unfolds as we go.

Thanks for reading this week,

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie

~Oh and thanks Dad, for telling me not to take life so seriously, and thanks to my boyfriend Matt for reminding me of it the other week when I really needed it hear it. ~

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Get a grip, and it let go

Society tells us to chase after the things we want – to push for them and work towards them: “Set a goal, achieve it, next.” And gods forbid we fail… because that can come down on our self esteem like a ton of bricks.

Have you ever become so obsessed with a goal that it takes over your life, and you can’t get it out of your head? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try for something it seems to slip farther and farther away? This is sign that sure, you are in a goal oriented head space as in… you’ll do anything for that…thing, you’ll KILL for it, but you’re probably not in the right what I call “heart space”.

If you’ve been chasing after something with your head in the driver’s seat and your heart locked in the back trunk, it might be time to step on the breaks.

Remember this quote? “If you love something, set it free, if it comes back, it’s meant to be…”

Get out of your head about that thing that you want, and go into your heart. Listen to it, what does your intuition say?

There is a very delicate balance to be had between actioning your goals, and setting intentions freely, letting them go so they can flow and grow organically.

This is  tough to do, and I have to consciously remind myself to do this daily, because I know that in the past when I have chased goals and got all caught up in my head about them (us HSPs can certainly slip into that mind trap of over thinking), my world gets crazy and out of balance and I tend to lose myself in the pursuit. I lose sight of what really matters. I find that I am unhappy, and even after getting what I wanted, I am still not satisfied.

When I chase goals with my heart, I am relaxed and content. I am open to the universe and I don’t miss anything that the tunnel vision of my mind might have blinded me from. I am also more ok with my path bending in ways that I did not plan for.

It is easy to loose touch with our heart space because the mind tends to over power, so we need to actively check in with ourselves when our head starts running and trying to control things.

So what I am saying is yes, you need to do the peddling and work towards what you want, but your heart should be doing the steering.

I challenge you to get a grip of your heart, and let go of your mind…. You’ll know what to do.

Thanks for reading my blog post this week! I have so much more in store for you on www.thesensitivetrait.com, and I deeply appreciate all of my followers and viewer’s support.

Until next time,

XOXO your fellow HSP, Chelsie

9 Ways to THRIVE as a Highly Sensitive Person

Article written by Chelsie Aichelberger, (previously published with Ageless Living Magazine)

Dear followers, I thought that this week I would re-post an article I wrote a few months ago for Ageless Living. Re-reading it  again was a great reminder of how we can maintain a balance and and take care of ourselves as highly sensitive people. Print some of these points out, or write them on a whiteboard or chalkboard you have at home as a daily reminder! (I also like to write words to live by and positive reminders on sticky notes and stick them on my bathroom mirror).

Are you empathetic? Easily overwhelmed? Need time alone? Startle easily? Acutely aware of other’s emotions? Feel a little…different than most people?

That’s OK. These characteristics are often associated with an inherited trait (just like eye color and skin color) called high sensitivity. With this trait, our human nervous system responds slightly more intensely to our everyday experiences.

Highly sensitive people, also known as “HSPs” are usually very creative beings who enjoy the outdoors, and find peace and clarity when near water and in nature. They are often light sleepers, excellent listeners and good friends, but they are also prone to anxiety, fears, and frequently undervalue themselves.

Does this sound like you? Or maybe someone you know? If you’re not sure, take the HSP self-test here, or send it to a friend.

Elaine Aron, a research psychologist and author of the book The Highly Sensitive Person, coined the term “HSP.” She has shed an immense amount of light on this topic and has helped many others, including myself, learn about the trait of high sensitivity in humans.

The term “sensitive” is often associated with words such as “weak,” “touchy,” or “difficult.” We need to change this negative connotation in society because HSPs bring such positive characteristics to the world. They are passionate teachers, great leaders, and often pursue careers that help make the world a better place such as social work, life coaching, etc. In order to function as their best selves, it is imperative that HSPs take care of themselves so they can maintain a calm, healthy, optimal state of being.

Nine activities that will help HSPs to thrive:

  • Make time for downtime. During particularly busy days or weeks it is crucial that HSPs take time to unwind in a quiet space so they can consciously (and subconsciously) process the information and different energies they’ve absorbed throughout the day.
  • Get enough sleep. Whether  7 or 12 hours a day, it’s important that highly sensitive people listen to their body and get the amount of sleep that is right for them. Sometimes they may find themselves wanting to sleep and rest for an entire weekend! That’s totally ok – it’s their body taking the time it needs to re-charge.
  • Intuition check-in. HSPs have the ability to be very intuitive and connected with their inner selves. This is such a useful and important gift to have; whether considering a new job opportunity or deciding whether or not to go out or stay in on a Friday night, they should always listen to what their intuition is telling them.
  • Meditation is good for everyone, but it can have an especially positive effect on highly sensitive’s. When overwhelmed, meditation can be an excellent way for HSPs to calm their minds and nervous systems. Because HSPs are so intuitive, they are likely to cultivate a very soothing inner peace and connection with themselves through meditative practice.
  • Take intermittent breaks. Instead of go-go-going until the ultimate crash, taking intermittent breaks from daily activities is a great way for HSPs to self-regulate. For example, someone who isn’t particularly sensitive to their environment can probably make four errand stops and then go out for lunch in a busy restaurant with a friend. HSPs, on the other hand, might need to take a break in-between stops and drive down to the ocean, or grab a snack and sit on a quiet park bench for 20 minutes so they can re-charge.
  • Spending time in nature is extremely therapeutic for HSPs. Natural elements like plants, trees, water and sunlight have been said to absorb negative energy. Spending time in nature will help HSPs diffuse sensory overload and recharge in a quiet, beautiful place.
  • Pay attention to nutrition and eating habits. HSPs are sensitive to their external environment and to the feelings of others, but they are also sensitive to the foods they eat. In general, food can often affect HSP’s moods and feelings of well-being so it is important for them to pay attention to what may be affecting their bodies both negatively and positively. Sensitive’s may also be more susceptible to food and environmental allergies.
  • Engage your creative being. It’s in them, whether they know it or not. HSPs have the beautiful gift of appreciating art and music in a deep way. Creation, in all of its forms, is a wonderful experience for Sensitive’s. Whether HSPs express their creativity through art, photography, gardening, building, dancing, singling, cooking, organizing, or writing, it is deeply rewarding for them.
  • Write it down. HSPs often experience the overwhelm of picking up on subtleties and energies in their environment, including other’s emotions. They also think deeply about their experiences. As a way of sorting and processing all of this information, journaling can be a great tool for HSPs to use. The process of getting thoughts and feelings out of their minds and bodies onto paper can help calm and actually rid them of any extra baggage they are carrying.

About 20% of the world’s population has the trait of high sensitivity, and the positive characteristics of HSPs definitely outweigh the negatives. If you have discovered the HSP trait in yourself, use this article as a reference point for whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or the need to take care of yourself; and go ahead and be proud of being sensitive – you have so many special gifts that this world needs.

For more articles relative to highly sensitive and empathetic people, visit http://www.thesensitivetrait.com and subscribe to receive new article posts by scrolling down to the bottom and clicking “Follow”.

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie

 

What if we were raised by our own hearts?

What if we grew up following our own inner compass, with no one and nothing imposing on our path, or steering us away from living as our authentic selves?

What if we were raised with the reassurance that however we felt, no matter what, our feelings were valid?

What if as children, we got to choose what made us the happiest, rather than being influenced to choose what ‘normal’ people choose?

What if when we cried or raged after a long day of noise and overwhelm, that we were comforted and protected instead of being viewed as weak, or punished?

What if we were born into an environment conducive to discovering our highest, truest selves, and what if we were taught that whatever the amount of time we needed to grow and transition was OK?

These are some questions that come to mind when I think about the delicate, beautiful little souls that arrive on this planet with a blank slate every single day. They don’t all get the opportunity to be raised in a way that caters to their authenticity. Society isn’t really set up that way…

I think that in many ways, our authenticity intertwines with our personality and as humans,  part of our personality is predetermined by our genetic makeup.

An example of predetermined/inherited personality is the trait of high sensitivity: approx. 20% of us are born with it (among many other traits, of course). Yes, you read that right; we are born highly sensitive, or not so much – it isn’t something that we choose, or have the power to remove.

Other parts of our personality develop as a product of the people in our lives and our experiences. Our parents, siblings, teachers, and neighbors all play a part in shaping us. So do influential experiences, like that time on the playground when you were deeply embarrassed, or that winning goal you scored in soccer when you were eight.

I truly believe that the personality traits we are born with are there for a reason, with a greater purpose. These innate traits in turn, make up a portion of our authenticity.

Being sensitive allows us to feel and absorb things deeply, to analyze on high levels, and to care a HECK of a lot.

Many great leaders in history were HSPs. They were naturally sensitive to their world; the needs of people, and the planet. Martin Luther King, Jane Goodall, Princess Dianna, and Abraham Lincoln, to name a few, were highly sensitive people.

Unfortunately, some HSPs might have grown up being told to “not be such a softie” or to “grow up” and quit being a cry baby.

These words can be like daggers to a young sensitive child, and their affect may cause our hearts to harden as we grow up. Because of this some HSPs may NEVER cry. They have been conditioned not to. This is an example of how we are often raised to hide or avoid our true authentic selves.

Maybe some of you are angry because of that. And I say, rightfully so!!!

It‘s not fair that our societal norm has been to hide our true feelings, to play “the game” and compete to be the best, hiding any signs of weakness. The kinds of masks we are taught to wear rob the world of our truth, and I think that is sad.

It’s time for a change.

Its 2016!!! We’re smarter than this. 

I am so glad to see that books are being written, and that leaders are coming forth to show that true success and leadership should actually come from authenticity, from the heart. Authors such as Robin Sharma and Danielle LaPorte write on this, as do many others.  I have seen social media communities pop-up to support being authentic, vulnerable, and open as well… even just very recently.

So keep shining – soften up and let your heart and soul pour its grace into this world! That is your truth, and your authenticity is needed. By following your truth you will live your best life, and you will create space for others to do the same.

How in touch are you with your true, authentic self?

Stick with me, we will go far on this journey.

XO Chelsie

Expel your Guilt

Ok, this week it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. It won’t be too bad though, I promise!

Guilt as it relates to people with the trait of high sensitivity is a new topic for me; something that I have only really begun to explore over the past few months. I have had a few HSPs mention their various feelings of guilt to me in the past… Some have explained a certain scenario in their life where they have felt significant, debilitating guilt, and others have told me they feel very guilty about choices they make on a regular basis.

Guilt is not a fun emotion to feel, so people (both HSPs and non-HSPs alike) try and avoid it at all costs. I also believe that much too often, we are feeling guilt for the wrong reasons.

Elaine Aron, Author of The Highly Sensitive Person, believes that HSPs are more prone to feeling guilty than the average person.

 I do agree with her.

Very often, HSPs have a sense of over-responsibility when it comes to ensuring that other people are pleased and happy. Because HSPs are highly empathetic, this sense of over-responsibility and need to over-achieve is almost like a protective mechanism.

Why? Because we HSPs feel the disappointment and pain of others SO deeply that even though the feelings are not our own, we internalize them, creating the aftermath emotions of guilt or shame when we know that our actions or choices have disappointed others.

In the same way, HSPs feel disappointment in themselves more deeply, and so the cycle continues.

Unfortunately, this is a very difficult part of being sensitive and empathetic, and I feel so much for those who take on guilt that stems from all these feelings. I empathize with you, and I want to help you – I want to lessen that burden.

Your triggers for guilt and shame may also root back to childhood. As I have explained in other posts, HSPs who have had difficult childhoods were probably extremely affected by them, more so than the average person. It’s possible that as a child you may have blamed yourself for “being too sensitive” (and maybe you still do), or “crying too much” or for your parents’ fights or stress. These feelings of guilt can live on.

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios that may provoke feelings of guilt for an HSP more closely…

I think that if we strip these situations down and analyze the triggers for why we may feel guilty, we will see that feelings of guilt are surfacing for the wrong reasons.

We may feel guilt about…

Making a mistake at work and causing a delay.

Sure, it is natural to feel bad about this, but don’t torture yourself over it. HSPs are usually very hard workers, and mistakes happen. It may not be entirely due to your actions, either. Don’t be so quick to blame yourself. If your boss becomes upset with you, remember – you don’t make mistakes often, and your boss will probably be over it before you are. So don’t worry your head all weekend about it. Let it go, the mistake is in the past and now out of your control.

Don’t beat yourself up. Free yourself of the bad feelings!

Missing a friend’s party after a long, busy week because you need downtime.

In this scenario, HSPs might start to feel guilty about even considering missing the party. What’s worse, these feelings of guilt might even be scaring you into going. But think about this logically – you won’t be seriously harming anyone by not going, and you will be improving your well being if you choose not to go, because you will be doing whats best for you.

And, I bet that once you make the decision not to go and let your friend know with a sincere explanation, your feelings of guilt will subside.

There is no shame in that!

As a way to combat  feelings of guilt in these situations, try and set your emotions aside for a second, and ask yourself…

“If I don’t go to the party, will I be seriously wronging anyone?”

“Did I make a mistake on purpose to cause harm at work?”

“Will I be going against my own set of values if I make this decision?”

“If I don’t do this will I be committing a crime?”

“Did I consciously do something to harm something or someone?”

If your answers to these questions are “no,” then you are doing nothing wrong, and there is no need for guilt.

You can ask yourself these logical questions in any scenario that you may be feeling guilty about. This is a great way to check in with yourself, and expel any unnecessary guilt.

Through my work and writing to you, I not only want to empower HSPs to understand the gifts and talents they posses with their trait; I also want to help them work through anything that may be shielding their light so they can shine brighter than ever. Thank you for reading this week. ❤

Until next time,

XO, your fellow HSP, Chelsie

Love & support is always here

My dearest highly sensitives and HSP supporters,

I haven’t written for you via this avenue in a few weeks; I’ve been busy with a few coaching sessions, some future planning for the Sensitive Trait and well, life – you know how it goes ;).

I have been working hard to maintain a healthy, optimal balance.

Over the past week I have been running a Facebook campaign on The Sensitive Trait’s Facebook page. This was inspired by an article I recently wrote for Ageless Living Magazine: Nine ways to THRIVE as a highly sensitive person. Check out the campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSensitiveTrait

If you haven’t visited The Sensitive Trait’s Facebook page in a while (or ever), I encourage you to. Here, I am developing a community of highly sensitives from all over the world – we have 300 likes on this page to date, and we’re working to reach more HSPs to spread the word, daily. Feel free to drum up conversations in comments to posts, or reach out to other HSPs through the page.

The Sensitive Trait’s mission is all about connecting HSPs and non-HSPs who are curious to know more about the trait of high sensitivity, so that we can better understand our selves and others, ultimately improving our lives. Knowledge is freedom 🙂 and the support is here. Help me spread the word!

If you know someone else in your life who you think might be an HSP, invite them to like the Facebook page! (option to do this at top left hand corner of our page) or send them a link to thesensitivetrait.com.

I will be back again soon with another blog post for you. Topics to come in the near future: HSPs and Leadership, combating guilt as an HSP, and more!

Have a wonderful week everyone. As always, please reach out to me in a comment or personal message anytime to continue a conversation, or to start a new one. ❤

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XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie.

Exercise and Mental Health

Even before I learned that I was an HSP, and before I fully understood how important mental wellness was for my life, I enjoyed exercise.

Now I know this isn’t the case for everyone…some people just don’t find it fun! (And believe me, some days I don’t either) but do read on – I have some tips and advice that may help because hey, whether we like it or not, it is good for us. ❤

Exercise has been an escape for me throughout my life.

If I had a bad day at school as a kid, I would go to rhythmic gymnastics practice after school knowing that I would have a very different experience there.

I would find a calm, centered place in my stretching, excitement and pride in my routines; it was just me and my body, and my determination…mind over matter a lot of the time.

As I grew up and moved away from gymnastics and dance, I discovered long distance running. Again, I found it to be an activity of solace, something in my life that I could take control over and give to myself. Perhaps it was a form of alone time for me before I really realized how much I needed it.

*Disclaimer:

As a typical HSP who thinks of all sides of the story, I would like to say that I am also aware that exercise can correlate with mental health in an unhealthy way too – i.e. over exercising, body image issues, etc. This is an entirely different issue than the angle of my topic today, though of course worthy of just as much attention.

Today, I would like to focus on how exercise can help improve our mental health and combat anxiety and depression. It is also a good activity for HSPs as we process our thoughts and experiences.

When I endure changes and have decisions to make in my life, I know that ideally I should be giving myself a lot of mental space and time to think and to process. I also feel this way about experiences such as a great weekend getaway, a fun girl’s night, a deep discussion with my partner or a good friend…

If I don’t give myself the time to absorb the aftermath and dive deep about certain points and moments, then I miss out, in a way… I don’t get everything that I could get from the experience… if that makes sense!

Exercise gives me the space I need to do this. I actually thought of this post while on a run!

When we exercise, we create space in our minds.

Sometimes while running or at the gym I am surprised at what comes into my head – little things that don’t seem significant. But hey, those are thoughts for you, and I don’t think thoughts should be taken so seriously.

They usually just need to be acknowledged and taken for simply a thought, and nothing more (it is when we let our thoughts turn into feelings and our reality that they can take control of us).

So, just recognize your thoughts as a thoughts, and let them drift away. What will you have left? A cleansed mind.

Exercise also naturally increases serotonin function in the brain which is a recipe for happier moods, ultimately combating imbalances that lead to anxiety and depression. For more details, check out one of the many articles on this topic here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/22590-effects-exercise-serotonin-levels/

Unfortunately, HSPs are more prone to anxiety and depression if they’ve had a difficult childhood or experienced trauma at some point in their life. Exercise can be extremely beneficial and effective for HSPs struggling with mental wellness issues.

And remember, your physical activity of choice could be anything: a brisk walk in the park, yoga, pilates, long distance running, hiking, biking, weightlifting, water aerobics, whatever you are drawn to! Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like, take time to explore and find an activity that you enjoy.

I would like to tie back into one of the first posts I wrote for The Sensitive Trait: Self Care and Refueling for the HSP, for a moment. Exercise may fit well into your self care and refueling practices, but if you’re like me, you’ll need alone time and down time as well. 🙂

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I would like to take this opportunity to extend a special offer to all of my HSP followers:

As you may have seen from The Sensitive Trait’s Facebook page, I am holding a draw for you to win three FREE HSP Coaching sessions!

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The Details:

As an aspiring HSP Mentor & Coach, my intention is to help Highly Sensitive People not just survive, but thrive in this world and hone into their abilities and talents. I will be selecting three volunteers on October 27th, 2015 with whom I will conduct three FREE one-hour Skype or phone call sessions.

During these sessions we will discuss what being an HSP means for you and identify some areas where you would like to thrive instead of struggle as an HSP.

Why am I doing this and why is it free?

I am doing this in order to get more experience and to learn and grow as an HSP mentor and coach by helping others individually, one on one. So it will be a bit of an exchange – you will help me learn and experience this next step in my journey to help other HSPs, and I will do my best to help you in return.

To enter the draw, please send me an email at: thesensitivetrait@gmail.com with some words about why you feel drawn to this opportunity! I look forward to hearing from you ❤

Until next time,

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie.