Have you been on the receiving end of these comments?
You’re too sensitive… Toughen up and do it anyway… Suck it up buttercup (a personal favorite these days)… You’re too defensive… Overreacting, aren’t you?
Already aware of feeling… mushy? Kind of soft, gooey, sappy, uneasy, or riled? Overwhelmed too?
Put your feet up, ease on back in your chair (you’re among friends) and mull over…
- Have you noticed your emotional speedometer (whether tears or passionate expression) goes from 0-100 in 2 seconds?
- Are you often feeling like the odd person out… like you don’t belong with the other bold entrepreneurs who seem ready and willing to go full throttle engaging new business or working in teams while you’ve got one foot on the gas pedal and another on the brake, reaching for a puffs (Kleenex) or slamming a door?
- Does it feel like you’re either having to push yourself much more than others or you want to hide?
- You’re an extrovert and not inhibited, yet you know you’re more sensitive than average… the people close to you know too.
The result—you’re questioning whether you have the stuff it takes to be a bold entrepreneur, business leader or executive when you’re feeling the sensitivity so strongly.
So, you’re smart, successful, loaded with talent people need AND you’re sensitive… maybe highly sensitive and have mushy emotions. How can you face them and become the emboldened entrepreneur you are meant to be?
In this article…
I’ll discuss 5 ways to face these emotions and use your sensitivity as a strength. Research of the highly sensitive person’s traits (HSP) by Dr. Elaine Aron as well as the research Tracy M. Cooper, Ph.D. cites in his book, Thrive! The Highly Sensitive Person and Career are useful resources as well as my own observations over the years I’ve worked with clients as a psychotherapist and coach.
Facing emotions whether you have all the traits of HSP or not can be challenging. Here’s 5 ways to get started…
#1— You may be among 20% of the world who has a heightened awareness hard-wired in your nervous system. High sensitivity is probably inherited.
As a psychologist, Elaine Arron Ph.D. was inspired to research why half of her clients were struggling to cope with life, find or maintain a balanced center. Read about sensory processing sensitivity, a personality trait identified in the mid-1990s which was different from introversion and shyness.
Barrie Jaeger Ph.D. suggests the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is like a gallon bucket holding two gallons of water. When overwhelmed it can feel like you’re drowning while others seem to swim easily on by you to the shore. Conversations and processes for the HSP seem to require more energy and work than it does for others.
Curious? Take the HSP self-test created by Elaine Aron Ph.D. Get some feedback about your sensitivity traits.
#2— Recognize it’s not only the mushy, soft emotions. It’s often the prickly ones which show up with greater intensity.
Dr. Cooper’s research cites that it’s often the emotions…
- irritated vs. sad
- angry vs. tearful
- passionately expressive vs. withdrawn and resigned
For the extroverts reading this, remember, HSP isn’t the same as introversion. The research shows that 70% of HSP’s are introverts and 30% are extroverts! That’s YOU!
And of course, both extroverts and introverts struggle with mushy and prickly emotions.
What are ways you express your emotions and respect the sensitivity you feel? Do you…
- Design the needed safe space to express yourself whether it is a journal, time walking in a park, swimming, music playing, meditating or sharing with a trusted friend who listens without interrupting?
- Does it feel safe to simply close your office door or let people at home know you need time alone?
- Are you like my HSP client? He’s an extrovert who recently transitioned back to an office setting after working from home for 6 months. A major reason for changing jobs was loneliness. He feels disappointed that his new office is private with doors rather than the open concept. For him, being around other people feels safe.
Here’s a favorite communication technique for giving some quick feedback about how you’re feeling… in a safe and controlled way.
You have something you need/want to share. Ask for a specific amount of time. Inform the listener how you want them to listen.
It goes like this…
Mary, I need 5-10 minutes of your time.
I’d like for you to just listen and not interrupt. (or offer some advice when I’m done, or understand my feelings, interrupt me if you don’t understand)
Are you willing?
If “yes” is the answer, you now have a speaker’s contract!
#3— Face the fact that your empathy radar is ON high-speed while most people function quite nicely at a much lower speed.
Empathy is about picking up on and absorbing the emotional states of others through noticing the body language, facial expressions, energy levels and tone of voice.
Most people demonstrate some empathy skills. It’s particularly strong for HSP’s and difficult to manage…
And why is empathy the most difficult to manage? Several reasons from my perspective…
- Feeling with someone is inspiring and draining… even for the extroverts!
- The energy for deeply feeling and connecting with another is automatic. Installing an off switch takes time.
- The intensity of feeling includes absorbing both positivity and negativity.
- While it may be an asset for the job you’re doing (customer service, sales/marketing, teaching, coaching), you may not feel the depletion personally until a day or more.
Accept your sensitivity and stronger-than-most-emotionally-absorbing tendencies. Plan to nurture yourself with activities that are calming and provide some quiet (or friendly) space especially if the environment you’re in is filled with negative emotions, sadness and grief.
#4— Think this way… Maybe this is happening FOR me, not TO me.
If you are feeling anxious, disappointed or overwhelmed, pause and consider how this is happening FOR you…
- It could be a reminder to take a few quick deep breaths or a reminder to eat or drink some water (instead of the coffee!)
- Maybe a quick walk or a longer walk is overdue… take an umbrella if it’s raining!
- The irritability showing up is reminding you to treat yourself well and reflect on what’s needed.
It’s happening FOR you.
What about interpreting your defensive feelings, which are all about feeling you’re unacceptable in one way or another as…
- An indicator that you need to step back (maybe literally) and remember you aren’t perfect.
- That you’re willing to learn something new.
- The other person has a point of view worth thinking through.
- You articulate your position more clearly as a result of being challenged.
It’s happening FOR you.
#5— Practice extreme self-care. You deserve your best (internal) protective momma. No kidding. Self-care comes first.
Okay… it’s not a luxury to take care of yourself. It’s a necessity if you want to function from the center of your well-being.
Commit to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health habits today and stay centered…
- Sleep 8 hours… subtracting this habit will lower your tolerance massively and shove you out of your healthy center.
- Schedule 2 hours a day for drifting, mind-free non-activity.
- Take a full day off every week and do nothing.
- Schedule vacation time off more frequently throughout the year rather than a long 2-3 weeks off.
- Spend time with people you adore and who adore you. Heavenly.
The takeaway is…
Embolden the entrepreneur in you to embrace your sensitivity as a strength and your capacity for emotions a gift.
Recognize your unique abilities to deeply connect and feel with others.
By committing to healthy habits and planning ways to practice extreme self-care you’re on your way to transforming the mushy-prickly-emotionally-laden entrepreneur into the solid sensitively-wired entrepreneur.
Now that’s bold!
Do tell… What ways do you find helpful when feeling super sensitive and full of mushy emotions?
Reach out to me and sign up for a confidential, free “I’ve Got This!” Strategy Session today! Let’s help put some structure around the mushy sensitivity and watch your strengths come alive.