Three cheers for Dr. Elaine Aron, the pioneer who coined the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
HSPs are neuro-physiologically sensitive. The lifelong gift is there from birth. According to Dr. Aron’s research, 1 in 5 Americans was born as an HSP.
By contrast empaths are HSPs with something more. Not every HSP is an empath. But every empath is an HSP.
My research has shown that 1 in 20 Americans was born as an empath. There are different types of empath. I believe it’s important for every every born empath to become a Skilled Empath. A big part of that process is learning the correct terms for the type of empath you are. Think “Swan” vs. “Ugly Duckling”!
Being an HSP is a lot simpler than being an empath. Either way, you are or you’re not. And correct naming is helpful at the start of learning to take better care of yourself.
What helps an HSP?
HSPs can develop problems, especially in countries where HSP don’t get no respect.
For this reason alone, it is important for HSPs to know their name. To value what they have. To appreciate that not everyone is an HSP.
Lifestyle skills can be helpful for HSPs. Traditional forms of psychotherapy, or self-exploration, can also be helpful.
Really, the main goal for an HSP is to become comfortable living that way.
What helps an empath?
In order to make the most of their gift(s), empaths need a much more specialized type of help. Can you guess why?
Lifestyle skills can be helpful for empaths, as for HSPs. But beyond a certain point, lifestyle skills are a dead end. A very clear example of this relates to recognition of, and behavior around, Energy Vampires.
Traditional forms of psychotherapy, or self-exploration, can also be helpful. But pretty soon they reach a dead end, as well.
Empath Empowerment requires skills on the level of consciousness, not behavior or intellectual understanding.
Empath Empowerment techniques — c an they HELP HSPs?
Yes, to a certain extent, Empath Empowerment techniques can help an HSP. In particular, I would recommend my how-to-book Become The Most Important Person in the Room.
The skills this book offers about using your consciousness will help any sensitive person to become more self-aware energetically.
Here is are some examples of advice for Highly Sensitive Persons, just to make this conversation more concrete.
Driving as an HSP or Skilled Empath
From The Highly Sensitive Person’s Companion by Ted Zeff, Ph.D. (Page 70). On driving a car, if you are an HSP:
It may be more relaxing to drive in the slow lane and let all the harried drivers pass you by.
Personally, I would instruct the person about how to become clearer and stronger at the level of the mind. (See Pages 53-58 in Become The Most Important Person in the Room.)
Physical Comfort for an HSP or Skilled Empath
From Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight by Sharon Heller, Ph.D. (Page 178), after describing the use of the tricky to learn but rewarding Wilbarger Protocol for sensory-defensive adults, Dr. Heller adds:
Any kind of skin stimulation will release tension, even if just briefly: loufah brushes, bath sponges, a terrycloth washcloth, a hair-brush… wooden body and feet rollers….”
If this is comforting, why not? One’s heart goes out to people (or parents) who would need to invest in brushing on a regular basis, even if the results are there “if just briefly.”
But I would propose the techniques for helping an empath feel more comfortable as a physical presence, pages 49-52 in Become The Most Important Person in the Room.
You get the idea. It’s important to get help if you’re uncomfortable, either as a Highly Sensitive Person or as a Skilled Empath. But all resources are not created equal.