Mmmm you’re probably thinking is Martha a highly sensitive person? A Big NO…but I do have some close friends that are most certainly sensitive and I try hard to understand them …so here I am investigating, studying and finally figuring out 11 tips on how to love my beautiful highly sensitive friends. And if you’re married to one…these tips help too.
Rose felt “different,” (names have been changed to protect the innocent) lol… and she was told that she was too sensitive. From a young age, things around her felt overwhelming. From bright lights and loud noises to large crowds and overwhelming emotions, they all triggered her and made her feel overstimulated.
The older she got, she realized she felt things deeper than others and that she was highly empathetic oftentimes even taking on other people’s emotions. She enjoyed being around people and attending events but found herself feeling emotionally and physically exhausted afterwards, especially if someone was sharing about a painful situation where she felt their pain herself. She would have to spend some alone time afterwards to recharge.
One day, she shared with her doctor how she was feeling. Her doctor listened, asking lots of questions, and officially diagnosed Rose as a highly sensitive person (HSP). (I didn’t know there was an acronym for this? mmmm)
Finally, Rose had an answer, and she began to see that being a HSP wasn’t such a negative thing. In fact, there were so many positives to being a HSP – she found that she was creative, empathetic, and intuitive. And she also had a deep understanding of the world around her.
Once she started living her life more mindfully as an HSP, she began enjoying life more than ever before.
Unlike Rose, you may not be a HSP yourself, but according to Psychology Today, about 15 to 20 percent of the population is thought to be highly sensitive so you’ve probably met a HSP or have one in your life currently. (I have been blessed with several)
What are people referring to when they call someone a highly sensitive person?
In short, a highly sensitive person is someone who is more aware of and more affected by their environment than the average person – like Rose in the story above. HSPs are more prone to anxiety or depression, and they often feel overwhelmed in busy or chaotic environments.
HSPs are often misunderstood. They may be seen as shy, introverted, or even aloof. But the truth is, HSPs are simply more in tune with their surroundings and emotions than others – in other words, they are very intuitive. They’ll often pick up on things that other people don’t seem to notice such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.
Loving on a highly sensitive person – 11 ways you can support them.
1. Be patient.
HSPs tend to move through the world more slowly than others. They like to take their time making decisions, and they need time to process their emotions. When you’re dealing with an HSP, it’s important to be patient and respectful of their pace. (It’s harder than you think) but a must.
2. Help them manage their stressors.
One of the best things you can do for an HSP is help them identify and avoid their stressors. If they’re constantly being bombarded with noise, help them find a quieter place to live or work. If they’re always rushing from one commitment to the next, help them simplify their schedule. Be there for them.
3. Be aware of their need for alone time.
HSPs have a need for personal space and alone time that may be different from yours. It’s important to respect their wishes and not take it personally if they need some time to themselves.
Give them space when they need it. Sometimes HSPs just need some time alone to recharge their batteries. Respect their need for alone time and don’t take it personally.
4. Help them find an outlet that makes them happy and helps them relax.
HSPs may benefit from things like reading, spending time in nature, or listening to calm music.
5. Celebrate their sensitivities as strengths.
Highly sensitive people are usually deeply empathetic, creative, and intuitive people. Help them see their sensitivities as strengths rather than weaknesses. Yes, we need to love on them for being who they are.
6. Be gentle with your words.
Let’s face it, none of us like to be criticized, right? HSPs are highly sensitive to criticism and even well-meaning constructive feedback can come across as harsh. Choose your words carefully and avoid being judgmental or negative.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean you should tiptoe around them or that you should avoid sharing what’s on your mind if something is bothering you. Just be aware of the words you’re using when speaking to them, your tone of voice, and even your body language!
7. Listen more than you talk.
This goes right along with #6 above. HSPs are great listeners, and they appreciate it when others do the same. When you’re communicating with an HSP, make sure to give them plenty of opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. Don’t dominate the conversation; let them lead it as much as possible. I really think we can learn a lot from them.
8. Avoid overwhelming them.
HSPs can quickly become overwhelmed by too much stimulation, whether it’s too much noise, too many people, or too much information coming at them at once. If you notice that the HSP is starting to look overwhelmed, take steps to reduce the amount of stimulation they’re experiencing. Turn off the TV, move to a quieter part of the room, or limit the number of people involved in the conversation.
9. Show them compassion and understanding.
HSPs feel things very deeply, and they need to know that you understand and empathize with what they’re going through. Whether they’re dealing with happy or difficult emotions, your compassion will mean the world to them.
10. Don’t call them sensitive BIG NO NO!
HSPs are sensitive. And guess what? They already know it! More than likely, they have dealt with being told they’re “Too sensitive” or “overly sensitive” their entire lives. From teachers, parents, family, and friends – they’ve heard it too many times already – so just don’t say it to them. They’ll be grateful you don’t. I will usually say to them…you just care too much.
11. Validate their experiences.
One of the best things you can do for an HSP is validate their experiences. Let them know that their feelings are valid and that you understand what they’re going through. This can be incredibly helpful for managing their sensitivities. Loving on a highly sensitive person takes a little bit of extra effort, but it’s so worth it.
These beautiful souls enrich our lives in ways that others can’t, and they deserve our patience, understanding, and compassion. By following these tips, you can make sure that the HSP in your life feels loved and supported exactly how they need.
What say you? Do you have any other tips to love our beautiful HSP friends? Are you a HSP? Let us know.