How a Highly Sensitive Introvert Held Strong in the Storm

Sometimes seeing the news about floods, hurricanes, fires, and all manner of disasters can really get to me inside, and I’m not even going through it myself!

My strength for empathy can be a real challenge at times like that. I can even feel it in my body as I write this. I had a good cry about flooding just the other day. Sometimes tears are just the thing.

I once lost my home in a fire, and escaped in the middle of the night, and that was a very hard thing to be sure. And I can’t imagine the horror of a whole region going through it at once. As a highly sensitive introvert and a “home-body,” I wonder how I would manage.

When one of many disasters had just happened and was on my mind, I asked people in my Facebook group for introverts to share their related feelings or experiences. One story came from Ksenia who had just gone through the latest hurricane and flood.

Hurricane Harvey flooding

I was inspired by her resilience and I think we all learned from her tips too. So I asked her for permission to share this more widely, to help others like us, so we can remember we are stronger than we think.

She gave me permission to share her story here. Continue reading

The World Is Changing Fast and Sensitive People Can Play an Important Role.

The world is changing at an accelerated pace, in unpredictable ways, thanks to climate disruption and other destabilizing forces that are all interconnected.

That acceleration and unpredictability is a scary thought to my human brain that craves stability. Sorry to bear this bad news but I think you already sense this, consciously or unconsciously. 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 and likely to happen, 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.

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?

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Having a Big Heart Can Also Mean Big Exhaustion. Start with Grounding.

My clients and I have big hearts (naturally empathetic), which means we automatically care about people and how it’s going in the world all around us. It’s a gift, and… sometimes it can lead to taking on more stress or responsibility than one body can handle.

We can be at risk for overwhelm from others’ energy or the ever maddening news. Well, let’s be honest, overwhelm can come just as easily from the inner critic (which says things like “You’re not good enough”). This week it was the national news that got to me.

But we have things to do here on earth. Ya know? People with big hearts are needed!

So, I’m thinkin’ we have to find a way that works for us. We need to manage our outer and inner roadblocks as job #1. We won’t be able to live our purpose if we don’t. We need a giant Pause button so we can find solid ground and start from there.

Persephone, sculpture by Valerie Gilman

She’s saying to me: “Stop, let me take a pause!” Sculpture artist: http://www.valeriegilman.com

As a highly sensitive introvert, I’ve had to find good grounding methods so I can keep living my purpose without exhaustion. I know we can do this.

I’ll explain what I mean by grounding exactly, and share what I do, and offer a self-assessment for you.

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Best Careers for Introverts, HSPs, and Other Sensitive Souls

Sensitive souls (including introverts, highly sensitive persons [HSPs], and people with big hearts) need to be careful about our work environments and career paths. We can really thrive and excel in the right environment, and we can wilt easily in the wrong environment.

If you have a yuck feeling about work, I bet it is because the work itself or the work culture are a bad match for you. You have so much to offer. Yes, YOU. The world needs your gifts. I mean it. You can find a better fit. Not overnight, but a better way is possible.

There are low stress jobs for introverts, HSPs, and other sensitive souls.

No, there are no perfect stress free professions. But lower stress is definitely a worthy goal. Yes! Stress is a natural part of life, and we can learn to reduce the challenge of it, but often we simply put up with far too much of it, so that’s what I’m talking about reducing today.

My experience:

I’m a highly sensitive introvert with a big heart. (If you’re a Myers-Briggs Type fan, I’m an INFP which explains a whole range of sensitivity.)

I’ve tried all kinds of work environments from classrooms to cubicles, and many kinds of careers, and there were many rough patches in my work life. Now I have landed happily with being a self-employed coach.

In those various work experiences, sometimes I felt alive and energized and sometimes completely drained and MISERABLE. Oh I can feel the bad memories in my body as I write this. I want to reach out to you if you’re feeling that misery and beg you to believe it can be different.

Now I get what works:

I’ve studied what factors work for me and what works for others with a similar temperament.  Now I can fairly easily tell you what is important for us in choosing our work environments and career paths. Work can feel great, really! I’ll explain what you need to know.

[image - wondering where to go]

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Introversion and Shyness: The Connection

[Image: Ever feel like you don't want to come out and be seen? That's a shy moment.]

[Image: Ever feel like you don’t want to come out and be seen? That’s a shy moment.]

Even my friends who hear me talk about introversion all the time will ask me, “Isn’t introversion the same as shyness?”

No, they are not the same thing.

And yet, shyness and introversion can be connected, and they can look the same on the outside. That’s why we confuse this all the time. It’s very important, for everyone’s well-being, that we understand the difference.

Let’s clarify this…

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