The world is changing at an accelerated pace, in unpredictable ways, thanks to climate disruption, natural disasters, migration, conflict, outbreaks, and other intertwined destabilizing forces. Sensitives, such as highly sensitive people (HSPs) and introverts, can help and we don’t have to burn out. I’ll explain.
Acceleration of instability is a scary thought to my human brain that craves stability. The sensitive side of me craves more ease, not less!
Instability is the norm, and at a quickening pace we’re not able to grasp. Sorry to bear this bad news but I think you already sense this, consciously or unconsciously, that we’re in for a long rocky road. People with high empathy tend to feel it quite a bit.
Bear with me because I also have good news.
As I’ve been studying what is happening at this time in history, and likely to happen in the short-term and long-term, one of the key things that wise people are suggesting, and I agree, is to know how to calm your nervous system so you can adapt and help others, in whatever scenarios we find ourselves in.
We can’t control our way out of this but we can get good at adapting in the moment. Chaos happens. Resilience happens too.
I know we can do that and it’s a good place to focus first. I’ll talk about how, and what about for highly sensitive people and introverts?
What If I’m Too Sensitive? Can I Handle It?
At first as I was coming to this realization over the last many months, I thought, Ack, I’m a highly sensitive introvert, so how will I and others like me fare in that kind of unpredictable mess? Am I cut out for this?
After some soul searching, here’s what I have come to:
Sensitive folks are great at resiliency. We’ve been adapting our whole lives! Whether we realize it or not. We can also sense things coming before most people do, and that’s a helpful skill, even if uncomfortable at times. This is a new challenge, yes, but it’s calling on what we are already good at.
People with big hearts, including highly sensitive people, have a role to play in helping others cope.
We’re not here to wither. We’re here to help.
We are stronger than we think.
What’s My Role?
For me personally, I feel even more committed to my role as someone who helps people continue to redefine what is the “best use of me” now. I also think my empathy and high sensitivity make me good at being present for others as they face new challenges.
There’s an old (heart-denying) paradigm that is dying out, and needs to, because it’s creating a lot of this mess in the world. People with big hearts have known the old paradigm is broken because it just hasn’t felt true to us. We know on some level it is not us that is broken, it’s the dominant culture of heartlessness.
We can imagine something else to take the place of the broken paradigm, so perhaps we can be bridges to a new world emerging. The transition will no doubt be bumpy, and it’s also true that we are resilient.
To support our resilience, we need to start here:
Strengthening Our Coping and Adaptability
We are strong and nimble beings, more than we know. And it’s also true that most of us need to work at being able to calm ourselves (not just numb out) so we can keep rising to the occasion from a stronger place.
I believe that knowing how to manage our own reactivity is the first step. In fact, in the list of 12 steps I wrote for finding and living your purpose, Groundedness is step #1. Choices and actions that flow from that calm clear place are so much better, for us and the world.
I regularly have to slow down and turn to the grounding tools I have. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to have the mostly steady work and life I have today.
Still, I know I need to up my game on grounding, as the out-of-balance world continues to up the game too.
So I’m taking stock today, such as:
- How am I doing with grounding/ calming myself?
- What’s working?
- What could I do more of?
If you want to join me in taking stock, I wrote more about grounding, along with a quick assessment in my earlier post:
Some Proof of Sensitives’ Resiliency Strength
In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, where he recounts some of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp and finding meaning in life even there, he said:
Sensitive people… were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. Only in this way can one explain the apparent paradox that some prisoners of a less hardy make-up often seemed to survive camp life better than did those of a robust nature.”
~Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist, in Man’s Search for Meaning
By the way, his book is surprisingly life-affirming and restorative to the soul.
What Else Will Help Us with Resiliency?
I talked about the top priority being to improve our skills for calming ourselves. Another top priority that experts are saying, that I also agree with, is to get really good at collaborating with each other in community.
We need each other, especially in times of turmoil. And we need to know how to work together.
As you can imagine, we’ll first need to be able to calm ourselves in order to connect in community in positive ways, so let’s start with grounding for now.
I wrote about the community piece here:
Connection That Works For Introverts and HSPs. (We Need Connection Too.)
I’ve been cooking up some classes and courses to help you navigate these messed up times. You can subscribe below to stay in the loop.