Embracing Self-Compassion: Being an HSP in a non-HSP World

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Woman with red nail polish and two rings putting her hands over her heart. One ring is a heart.When you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), the world around you can feel overwhelming. Therefore, embracing self-compassion is incredibly important. Growing up, you may have felt different from your peers without understanding why. You may have thought something was wrong with you, chastised for your big feelings or difficulty with transitions. You got these messages from so many places, that it may have been hard to engage in self-compassion. As a child who wants to feel like you belong, it can be hard to accept yourself for who you are. This can then carry on into adulthood.

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion supports resilience. It is being kind to ourselves rather than critical. It is our own voice of inner love and acceptance, rather than the voices that have caused us pain. Self-compassion helps us to move through difficult emotions, knowing that whatever we feel is okay and that we are inherently good.

Why is self-compassion important for highly sensitive people?

Since HSP’s have a more sensitive limbic system, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by many things in the world. This over-stimulation can lead to discomfort and heightened emotional responses. One thing that can be especially hard for highly sensitive people is criticism. This can certainly validate our insecurities and our automatic response of being hard on ourselves.  For HSP’s, embracing self-compassion is important, since non-HSP’s may not understand how deeply we are internalizing what we are perceiving making it difficult for them to validate our feelings. In cultivating self-compassion for ourselves, we can ground ourselves and continue to accept who we are despite what others may not understand.

How do I embrace self-compassion?

  1. Practice affirming self-talk. How you talk to yourself is what you believe. I have heard my highly sensitive child talking to herself when she is trying to figure something out that is hard. When I hear her telling herself, “You can do this!” I know she is internalizing her strength and giving herself the encouragement she needs internally. It’s something that can require a lot of practice.
  2. Be mindful in how you are talking to yourself. Mindfulness is about noticing without judgement. It is catching the thought and letting it move on if the thought does not support self-compassion.
  3. Let go of perfection. There is no such thing as perfect. Striving for perfection, sets you up for feeling like a failure. Something you are not! I know it’s hard to release this tendency, but so often we hold onto it for a feeling of safety. If you are perfect, you won’t be criticized. We know that HSP’s take criticism very hard. Embracing self-compassion can shift the narrative.
  4. Engaging in activities that make you feel good. Are you a nature lover? Do you like to sit quietly and read? Are you honing your creative self? It can be hard to figure out what helps you recharge, but this is incredibly important for highly sensitive souls.

Self-compassion is a practice.

It doesn’t come easily for a lot of us. Throughout our lives in a world not built for HSP’s we may have felt inadequate, have shame for why we can’t be like everyone else, or feel drained by all the stimulation or energy around us. We need to take notice of how we are feeling and how our brain might be contributing to this. Kindness goes a long way in supporting ease and joy in a world that might not understand.

If you are an HSP in California or Texas needing some extra support, please contact me for a free brief consultation.

Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.