You would have to be at least my generation to get the title reference, and like Dorothy once-upon-a-time explored the land of Oz, you too are about to explore a land that might seem like a fairy-tale. That is, the world of Highly Sensitive People (HSP's), Empaths, and Introverts.
Some people hate labels (you know who you are!) as it can make them feel excluded, broken, or different; while other people (myself included), feel great relief in knowing that there are whole GROUPS of people going through, experiencing, and feeling what I am. Why? Because it means you can find plenty of research, support, and expertise to make these differences a lot easier to navigate, and life can become a whole lot lighter.
When it comes to the labels of introverts, HSP's, and empaths however, you may resonate with one, or be all three. While a lot of people assume they are one unified group, there are actually subtle differences which make each one unique, and so, this information is simply here as a stepping stone on that path to more deeply understanding yourself.
By the end of this entry, I hope you realise - MORE THAN EVER - that you are NOT broken, and you don't need fixing - you just need guidance, support, and a little bit of love on your path to understanding your greatness.
When you've been at a weekend conference/workshop/event from morning 'til night, do you prefer to hit the bar with your colleagues at the end of the day; or go back to your room solo to recharge? When you think of the coming weekend and you're feeling a little fatigued, are you excited to socialise with friends and family; or do you want to binge Netflix with your cat?
The easiest way to tell if you are an introvert or extrovert, is understanding if you require your own energy in solitude to truly recharge, or if you prefer to take in the energy of other people. Being an introvert doesn't mean you HATE being around other people, it just means that often it takes a lot more energy to do so, that you tend to prefer smaller groups (and often deeper conversations), and that you can feel drained quickly (especially by energy vampires and narcissists). When you are an extrovert in the same situation, your energetic battery will actually recharge, and conversely, sometimes dread the idea of time alone.
Are you an introvert? Ask yourself: "How do I feel in large groups of people?", "Would I feel more recharged being alone or in a group/with friends/family?", "Do I need to set time aside for myself this week?" Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and utterly honest with yourself when answering these questions, listening for that gentle whisper of intuition to guide your answer.
Introverts and extroverts are all about how your energy feels around others, how you best recharge, and the space that you require between meetings. Being social is still very much an option for an introvert, you just need to ensure that you don't overbook your social schedule, and you plan in solo time as a priority.
It is suggested that between 30% - 50% of the worlds population are introverts, so it's likely that you could fit into this group. However, not all introverts are empaths or HSP's; so read on to see if you could be!
Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates that about 70 percent of HSPs are also introverts, but what are HSP's? Highly sensitive people are just that: highly sensitive. That doesn't just mean emotionally, it means that they often have sensitivities to things like:
Foods | Spicy food, gluten, dairy, sugar, nuts, or other intolerances; as well as temperatures being too hot or cold (brain freeze anyone?). If these are things you haven't picked up early on, some of you may also have related illnesses such as diabetes or celiac disease. You might also notice your sinuses feel blocked after ice cream/dairy or perhaps you bloat up after bread, beer, or even high fructose fruits.
Alcohol | Often HSP's will feel the effects of alcohol on their system quickly, and may therefor prefer not to drink. Fortunately, brands like Seedlip have made it easier for HSP's to still feel included in social events, which makes not drinking a whole lot more socially acceptable.
Coffee | This is one of the hardest lifestyle changes to make, especially if you live in a city that lives and breaths coffee (I'm looking at YOU Melbourne!). Coffee in the HSP system will have you feeling anxious, flustered, scattered, and sometimes fearful when you drink too much. Drink it after 12pm - and you're not sleeping (deeply at least!).
Caffeine | Other forms of caffeine are usually better on the HSP system, so if you need something to start your day, I would suggest the healing benefits of Matcha Green tea (matcha lattes usually have added sugar, but at least you have a milky option); green tea; green tea with Jasmine; authentic chai (sticky chai or loose leaf, not the powder); or black tea. If you can't give up coffee, try decaf and pick one that is water filtered. Stay away from pre-workout and energy drinks, as it will mess with your hormones. A Lot.
Cosmetics | Smells and ingredients can be intoxicating, and you'll often find your skin is sensitive to products that contain complicated or artificial ingredients. Go as natural as you can, and if nothing else - ditch the perfume for essential oils as perfumes contain more chemicals than any other cosmetic.
Clothing | Feel that itch? Whether its a non-natural fibre or an itchy tag in the side of your shirt, you feel it like it was pea under 1000 mattresses. For this reason, it's best to always try things on before you buy them; wash them before you wear them; and cut off the tags. Don't shop trends, shop quality.
Electronics | Ever noticed that you don't sleep well if you watch TV or work from a laptop in bed? If you really MUST do these things, get yourself a salt lamp, and some crystals to absorb the electromagnetic waves, and take a shower to wash off work before you get into bed and sleep.
Violence | Whether its in person or on TV, when you see something cruel, painful, fearful, nasty, or putrid; you will naturally react as if it has happened to you or someone you care for. For this reason, watching/listening to/reading the news can be incredibly triggering, and is NOT a great way to start or end the day. You may also find that this trickles down to films/books, and sometimes even other peoples lewd jokes can rattle you for the wrong reasons.
Animals | Most HSP's will find comfort in having a pet as you seem to connect with furry friends on a deeper level of intuitive understanding. Are you the type of person that trusts people based on your cat/dogs opinions? Trust that. Animals have a knowing like that you can sometimes miss.
Temperature | Are you often the first to feel a chill in the air or the heat of the sun? Subtle changes in climate are often picked up on by HSP's which has you layering up in air conditioned rooms, or craving the ocean when the sun is blaring. Cover up, because you're likely to burn quickly too.
Noise | Do you often have to switch seats with someone in a busy cafe/resturant (especially when you are hungry!) because the sound balance is off? Are you hard of hearing in one/both ears or suffer from hearing related illness like tinnitus? When possible: don't listen to loud music (especially with ear buds), stay way from music festivals, don't shout, find a way to use music as therapy, allow yourself to normalise sounds so they become less obtrusive.
Smells | You might be fortunate enough to lack a sense of smell as an HSP, if not, you are likely to pick up on intense smells at (sometimes) the worst times. Perfume can seem intense, and so can poop.
Time pressure | HSP's hate feeling like they are under time pressure, so the best way to do this, is by ensuring you manage your time. Make your lunch the night before, lay out your clothes, time the traffic, do what you've got to do to allow for last minute upheavals, and intend ease and grace flow into each and every day.
Feeling flighty | Especially when you are tired. Sounds will startle you (even the sneeze I just heard from the electrician!), people can sneak up on you, and sometimes you will be fearful for no apparent reason. Partly because you could be picking up on someone else's anxiety (this is where Empaths and HSP's crossover), partly, because you are trying to actively prepare yourself for things that might otherwise make you jump.
Deep thinker | Highly sensitive people can spend a lot of time in their heads; either thinking about the way of the world, problem solving, or about others. For this reason, they often see the world through a different lens which makes them beautifully unique. Try not to overthink exhausted situations or how you would change the past, and don't let your story define you.
Truth seekers | Most HSP's are highly spiritual, and look for deeper meaning in their life around purpose. They aren't focused so much on material possessions, but rather, the depth of their life and therefore, their own spiritual and personal development.
Don't do small talk | Do you feel yourself looking for an escape route when the neighbour is actively stalking you to talk about the whether? Or desperately wanting to get off the phone with a sales person? We've established you are DEEP thinkers, so talking about trivial things that aren't going to change the world (e.g. stamp collections).
Criticism and conflict | Negativity can feel like swords penetrating your soul, so when you get feedback that you don't love, it can feel like someone is threating your entire character. Try not to take things personally (it's often someone else's issue that is reflected by you that they are taking out and directing at you), don't seek out conflict, let others be heard, and know when to let things slide. Also, try and remember the FIVE good things that often come before the one negative when gaining feedback relating to work, and use it only as constructive criticism - not a character flaw.
Seek solitude | While 70% of HSP's are believed to be introverts, I am yet to meet one that is extroverted. If you find it hard to recharge, talk to your partner about having a night or two away from each other to sleep in your own bed, and wake in your own flow. We often compromise a lot of life when we share it with someone else, but we can love a lot deeper when we have time to reflect on our own. Remind your partner that it's nothing to do with how you feel for them, it's simply that you need to fill your own cup first, before you can allow it to overflow into their cup too.
Sensitive to energy | I saved this one to gain back your attention. If you are drawn to subtle energy systems like Reiki, Sekhem, Yoga, Pranayama, Tai Chi, Acupuncture and so on; you are likely to be more susceptible to the changes it can make within you too. You probably also have the strong belief that everything is energy,
Eat regularly | You may be diabetic, but even if you're not, your hunger can develop rapidly, resulting in anger (hangry). Hide away snacks in your handbag, car, travel bag/suitcase; schedule appointments away from meal times; prepare for delays when traveling; eat high fibre, high protein meals for satiety; and hydrate.
Change | HSP's like routine because they are familiar with their environment. When you travel or move house, there are a whole lot of new things to get used to which can be overstimulating and exhausting. New smells, people, visuals, weather, food... it goes on, and it's a lot. Try and limit change to one thing at a time, and if that's not possible, establish a routine that you can keep the same.
Character | You are often a good judge of character, and can feel if someone is inherently good after spending a few moments with them. HSP-empaths will often get a stronger sense through a hand-shake, perhaps even developing a subtle insight into who they are at their core.
Sensitive to others pain | Physical or emotional, you are likely to pick up on other people's discomforts depending on factors like how tired you are, how open your energy centres are, how close you are to the person (physically and emotionally) and how much detail they go into about a situation. You are also likely to look away from gory movies, news stories focused on physical pain/suffering, and hate being in hospitals.
You are deeply moved by beauty | Saving one of my favs until last, you are often so captured by the creative world, that things like the opera, ballet, music, photos, art, designer fashion (maybe that's just me?), sunsets, nature and unfiltered moments can bring you to tears, or fill you with a deep joy like nothing else. Often, it's because you might really feel the pure emotion of the artist or serenity of the natural environment; but it can also be a sign that you are destined for the very creative outlet that you are drawn to most.
Are you an HSP? Ask yourself: "Am I sensitive to certain foods/make up/skin products/smells/people/places?", "do I thrive during change?" or "how do I feel when time-pressured?". These questions will give you a little insight, but you can also go through the above list and just wait for a gentle 'yes' or 'no' from your higher self. You can also read through this earlier blog for a little more info and some questions to discover if THIS could be your #superpower.
It doesn't matter if you are male, female, or other (none of these labels are attached to gender), so please don't go around telling people "not to be so sensitive" - we NEED sensitive people in this world to thrive, and it can certainly become a superpowered-strength when you learn how to harness it without feeling shamed for it. If you have children who might fall into this category, please do the research, and support them on their journey of self-discovery.
There are plenty more signs that you are an HSP, but as outlined above, you will find that you can often be overly emotional and sensitive to certain situations, environments, people and things. For more on being an HSP, I would recommend reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron.
According to one of my favourite authors on the subject, Judith Orloff, MD "Empaths have an extremely reactive neurological system. We don't have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. As a consequence, we absorb it into our own bodies both eh positive and stressful energies around us. We are so sensitive that it's like holding something in a hand that has fifty fingers instead of five". Broken down, that means that empaths basically have the ability to pick up on what other people are going through almost as if it is their own felt sense. Judith suggests there are three main types of empath:
Physical | physical empaths often sense others pain, almost to the point that it feels like their own. This can happen to those of you that also resonate as HSP's, as you almost want to try and relieve loved ones when they are in pain, and therefore, absorb it as your own. When you become more practiced, you can learn to tap into the energy of other people through physical connection and understand them more deeply, or help them heal. You can also learn to become a lot better at protecting yourself from picking up on these energies when you need to disconnect.
Emotional | emotional empaths often tap into the emotions of those around them, including collective consciousness, and herded energy. It kinda feels like you are a sponge, and emotions are droplets of water, wanting to saturate you to make space for others to wipe their slate clean. If you are at a music festival for example, you're likely to feel upbeat and alive because that's what those around you are feeling; but throughout lockdowns when there was a lot of fear, anxiety and depression, and you may have felt this compounding on top of your own emotions, making everything feel a lot 'heavier'. Emotional empaths can learn to guard, cleanse and ground their energy just like physical empaths - check out this blog for some quick tips!
Intuitive | this rarer type of empath is loaded with special gifts, and will often lean into a life of deepened spirituality because of their associated talents or 'Siddhi's' (spiritual powers). They are often mediums; have telepathic abilities (e.g. claircognizance); get incredible insights in their dreams (or answers to their problems come this way); have premonitions; can feel the needs of plants (plant empaths); can tune into animals (animal empaths); or can become deeply attuned to the changes in the planet; solar system and weather (often lean towards astrology and moon magic). If this sounds exciting to you but a little far out, tune into your curiosity over the next few weeks and see if any of these special 'gifts' show up in your world. Even if its the tiniest spark. When you have abilities likes these, know that they are like a muscle, and with time, dedication and practice; you can make them even stronger.
Are you an empath? Ask yourself: "Does what I feel actually belong to me?", "how was I feeling before I walked into this meeting/shopping centre/house vs. how do I feel now?", "has something happened to make me feel the way I do right now, or could I be picking up on others physical/emotional pain/pleasure?" and "do I have special gifts or talents [that I may have always ignored or kept hidden before?]".
There are loads of studies, articles and books on being an empath now, but one I recommend to all my empath and HSP clients to start with is 'The Empaths Survival Guide' - by Judith Orloff, MD. Without going into too many details, there are also very important ways to cleanse, ground and protect your energy as mentioned in this blog; but if you want a quick reset, I would highly suggest connecting with me for a Distance Healing 🌟
Need some help navigating your new world? I've just released a Four Week Healing program which is perfect for empaths, HSP's and Introverts as it's done entirely online, and therefore, in the comfort of your own home. During our month together, you will receive 4x distance energy healings, intuitive insights, weekly zooms/phone calls, and unlimited messaging to support you on your journey. This way, we can really start release deep rooted energetic blocks, and allow the subtle healing energies to help you see what it is that needs changing, and give you the support you need to change it! I am only offering this for a limited number of people at this introductory price, and cannot wait to welcome you in to the world of healing with open arms. Check out this link for details or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Loved what you read? Don't forget to share it with friends or family that may appreciate these insights too.
Until my next blog,
Love & light,
Monique Elouise xx
🌟🌟P.s. don't forget to check out my latest healing services - new plans, new pricing, new services - all available via distance. I also have TWO upcoming Reiki Training offers both in Christchurch and Melbourne, and am taking expressions of interest from my local Sunshine Coast friends too xx 🌟🌟
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