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    What Are the Differences and Similarities Between Highly Sensitive People and Empaths?

    What Are the Differences and Similarities Between Highly Sensitive People and Empaths? 

    You can be one or both. 

    This is for anyone who is a highly sensitive person and empath and for anyone who is interested in learning about HSP and empaths. This is also for parents to read to understand their children, and for adolescents to read to understand themselves. 

    First read this article if you haven’t yet: Letter to Highly Sensitive and Empathic Children and Adolescents

    Do any of these feel familiar to you, and/or do you recognize them in your family members or friends? 
     

    The Gifts of a HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON (HSP)

    1. You may feel overstimulation of the senses. Sound, taste, touch, smell, sight, intuition --- everything feels hyper-alert and on fire. “I feel like fireworks that never end! I feel like the tiny garden plot where too many seeds of too many kinds of flowers have been planted. Focusing on one sense at a time feels best to me.”
       
    2. You may be especially sensitive to negative energy. You get annoyed when people are derogatory, mean or whiney. “I feel it, it hurts and I want to walk away!” 
       
    3. You may have radical intolerance for hate, violence and any thoughts, words or actions that splinter the Oneness vibration of the Universe. “Why would anyone ever be so cruel to another living being?” 
       
    4. You may be aggravated by the pressure of time. “Don’t box me in. I need to determine who I’m spending my time with and how I’m spending my time.”
       
    5. You may be an extrovert. “The energy I gather from others inspires and fuels my own energy. But I know when it feels like too much and I step away for quiet time.”
       
    6. You may be an introvert. “I am energized by alone time. I withdraw to get grounded.”
       
    7. You may be easily startled, especially by surprises or by quick movements in crowds. “Unpredictable or unfamiliar circumstances can make me uncomfortable and scared.”
       
    8. You may be a ”deep thinker” all of the time. “I like daydreaming and seeking reasons for how and why things are the way they are.”
       
    9. You may have a low pain tolerance. “A mosquito bite can irritate my entire being, not just that isolated spot.”
       
    10. You may be skin-sensitive to clothing material. “Soft material that doesn’t stick to my skin and allows my aura to breathe feels best for me.”
       
    11. You may be easily stressed and suffocated in large groups, to the point of exhaustion.” Too much noise, too much everything. I can’t think straight. I can’t relax. I can feel everyone’s energy. I need quiet please!”
       
    12. You may have a vivid imagination and an extravagant inner life. “What goes through my mind soothes me. It’s full of stories that I create. My imagination is a sanctuary where I can be me and feel good.”
       
    13. You may be routine-rhythmic-ritualistic-oriented. “I like to know what’s next. I am rattled by change, unless the change is self-prescribed.”
       
    14. You may be easily misunderstood or mislabeled by others. “People say I am a trouble-maker. People say I am weird when I want to be left alone. People say I am a problem child when I advocate for needing time and space to make my project in the way I imagine it.”
       
    15. You may get ‘hangry” (hungry and angry = need food!). “My hunger is a sign that I am absorbing and digesting other people’s energy in addition to my own. It’s a workout! Food replenishes and grounds me.” 
       
    16. You may be sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine. “I am already innately super-stimulated, so MORE will send me out of my body, but I really need to be in my body to stay grounded in my true nature.”
       
    17. You may be sensitive to depressants such as alcohol. “Numbing my energy and pain is dangerous territory. I may be tempted to because I feel SO MUCH, but if I numb the energy and pain, I suppress the energy and pain, and if I suppress the energy and pain, I am giving myself permission to get out of my body, but I really need to be in my body to stay grounded in my true nature.”
       
    18. You may despise conflict because it is felt as emotional and physical pain. “I can be conflict-avoidant by default, because I feel so much. It hurts when people scream at each other. It hurts when I scream at others, but sometimes the energy and pain feels like so much I just explode.”
       
    19. You may be criticism-sensitive. “When you tell me I’ve done something incorrectly, it hurts my heart which is where I store all of my sensitivities. I always mean well, so insults feel like daggers that hurt and confuse me.”
       
    20.  You may avoid heavily-scented (and crowded) shops. “The smell in here is giving me a headache.”
       
    21. You may be deeply conscientious about anything you do. “I believe in ___ and I want to help others with that. I have a vision of a ______ and I want to bring it to fruition to help others.  Everything I do has meaning.”
       
    22.  You may have an appreciation for the arts. “That is so beautiful. It reminds me of the world inside of my head and heart. It inspires me to create and share to help others.”
       
    23. You may have an innate desire to be of service to others. “My sensitivities have a purpose and are meant to be shared to help others. Other people sense this and naturally seek me out to support them.”
       
    24. You may be innately perceptive, wise, insightful and compassionate. “I am always tuned in to the world around me. Because I feel so much, I know things.”
       
    25. You may love nature and will access it for revival and recharge. “When I am outside, everything makes sense. The trees speak, the animals speak and I hear them and they hear me.”
       
    26. You may be aware of your gifts, but when you are bombarded with too much energy, may feel lost and unfocused and therefore forget to access your own resourcefulness. You may need a supportive nudge to remember the strategies to come back into your body. “When I am feeling so much, I get brain fog or distracted and forget how to use my gifts to help me stay grounded in my body.”
       
    27. You may be unaware of your own gifts and feel that you are crazy or strange. “I don’t know why I feel what I feel. Sometimes I know, sometimes I don’t. If people judge me, I may take on the ‘I’m weird and different’ identity rather than seeing myself as special with unique gifts.”
       
    28. You may be intensely influenced by astrological frequencies such as each lunation cycle’s moon phase in combination with the traits of your Zodiac sign. “When there is a full moon, my mood swings fluctuate more. My moony moods! The New Moon is when my Taurus self feels most calm.”

       

    The Gifts of an EMPATH

    1. You may be a specific empath type: intuitive, emotional, physical, dream, animal, plant, earth, object. “I have a hunch about the truth of people. I can feel people’s emotions. I can feel people’s physical pain. My dreams send me messages about how to help others in very specific situations. I can communicate with animals. I can communicate with plants. I can feel the earth. I can feel the Universe. I can feel objects like rocks or my Iphone. I can hear a rock’s story. I can feel the tingling of technological energy running from my hand holding my Iphone up my arm.”
       
    2. You may be a Heyoka Empath. “I feel like a mirror that reflects other people’s true nature, and I know that can inspire or irritate them. I am a free spirit and don’t feel obligated to conform in any way but to what makes sense to me.”
       
    3. You may easily absorb and internalize energy from outside of yourself. “I am like the art of a cobweb, always catching energy.”
       
    4. You may find it challenging to discern what energy is internal vs. external. “I know I feel sad, but I can’t tell if I am sad because my mom is sad or if I am sad. Maybe at times it’s both, but sometimes I know that other people’s energy is influencing my own and that feels confusing and fatiguing.” 
       
    5. You may distort healthy boundaries in relationships and promote codependence, enablement, entitlement and pseudo-empowerment to the point of self-sabotage because you feel responsible for other people’s happiness. “I said ‘yes’ to going to the birthday party with you because I know you didn’t want to go alone, but I didn’t really want to go. I said ‘yes’ to giving you a ride after school, although it made me late for babysitting my brother. But, it’s okay. I can help you. It feels good to feel needed, although I then often feel guilty, resentful or tired.”
       
    6. You are most likely an introvert. “I am energized by alone time. I withdraw to get grounded.”
       
    7. You may be spiritually and intuitively connected to animals, other people and the Universe. “I feel I’ve lived thousands of years and know how and why animals, people and the Universe have evolved the way they have.”
       
    8. You may be that person that strangers or new acquaintances feel immediately comfortable opening up to about personal things. “It’s easy for me to listen and to be present, no matter who I am talking to. I don’t judge. Everyone has a story and I have compassion for all of them.”
       
    9. You may experience clairvoyant and psychic tendencies. “I just know things and can predict things.”
       
    10. You may clearly detect the core of someone else’s concern or problem, and can therefore provide helpful and accurate advice. “When I hear someone’s story, I know what to say. And what I say usually resonates with them and helps them.”
       
    11. You may be especially sensitive to negative energy. You get annoyed when people are derogatory, mean or whiney. “I feel it, it hurts and I want to walk away!”
       
    12. You may experience the full spectrum of polarities in energy and mood, and the up and down roller coaster can present like a bi-polar disorder. “Because I feel energy outside of myself either in tiny or colossal doses at a given time, and depending on whether it’s positively or negatively impacting my own, will either inspire me to a high or irritate me to a low. I can love people in one minute and despise them in the next. It depends on how I am perceiving my energy load. ”
       
    13. You may resort to the “doorslam” to manage your energetic overload. “If the energy overload spills beyond my brim and quiet solace isn’t immediately available, I may leave a gathering without a word, walk away in the middle of a conversation, or if I’ve been immersed in a long-time toxic dynamic that I was nurturing and enabling, I might go from being the understanding loyalist in one second to ‘I’m done with this” in the next.” 
       
    14. You may innately embody a powerfully calming vibe. “When I am in the full presence of my own energy, people comment that they can feel its power, that it’s healing, and like to be around it.” 
       
    15. You may be easily stressed and suffocated in large groups, to the point of exhaustion.” Too much noise, too much everything. I can’t think straight. I can’t relax. I can feel everyone’s energy. I need to get out of here.”
       
    16. You may have a vivid imagination and an extravagant inner life. “What goes through my mind soothes me. It’s full of stories that I create, a sanctuary where I can be me and feel good.”
       
    17. You may love nature and will access it for revival and recharge. “When I am outside, everything makes sense. The trees speak, the animals speak and I hear them and they hear me.”
       
    18. You may have an innate desire to be of service to others. “My sensitivities have a purpose and are meant to be shared to help others. Other people sense this and naturally seek me out to support them.”
       
    19. You may have empaths as friends. “I feel better around other empaths.”
       
    20. You may be aware of your gifts, but when you are bombarded with too much energy, may feel lost and unfocused and therefore forget to access your own resourcefulness. You may need a supportive nudge to remember the strategies to come back into your body. “When I am feeling so much, I get brain fog or distracted and forget how to use my gifts to help me stay grounded in my body.”
       
    21. You may be unaware of your own gifts and feel that you are crazy or strange. “I don’t know why I feel what I feel. Sometimes I know, sometimes I don’t. If people judge me, I may take on the ‘I’m weird and different’ identity rather than seeing myself as special with unique gifts.”
       
    22. You may be intensely influenced by astrological frequencies such as each lunation cycle’s moon phase in combination with the traits of your Zodiac sign. “When there is a full moon, my mood swings fluctuate more. My moony moods! The New Moon is when my Taurus self feels most calm.”

       

    POSSIBLE REASONS for the gifts of Highly Sensitive People and Empaths

    1. It may be your genetics (nature). “It’s in my DNA. I was born with high sensitivity and empathic gifts.”
       
    2. It may be your temperament (nature). “It’s my natural expression and personality.”
       
    3. It may be your upbringing (nurture). “I grew up with an environment and people that nurtured and encouraged the free expression of my sensitivities.”
       
    4. It may be that you experienced trauma that emerged heightened sensitivities that embedded themselves as empathy vs. narcissism. “My PTSD triggered my sensitivities because I relied on them to survive the pain. This reliance habitualized over time and now the reliance on my sensitivities is the foundation of how I perceive and navigate myself in the world. My heightened senses are always alert and present. My true nature could have interpreted the PTSD as so threatening that I could have suppressed the sensitivities to protect myself, numbed myself and subconsciously projected the underlying pain by harming myself and others in narcissistic, selfish ways.”
       
    5. It may be that you have innate receptivity, resilience, intuition and willingness to understand energy and address emotional pain as much as pleasure vs. suppressing emotional pain. “Because I can understand, tolerate and manage energy and emotional pain, I am living in the hub of my true nature. If I consciously or subconsciously suppress energy or emotional pain, it will manifest in ways that may more deeply hurt me or others. But, I know there are ways to bring that energy and emotional pain to the surface with compassion, patience and care.”
       
    6. It may be that you have a form(s) of synesthesia

     

    So, what was familiar? 

    You are a beautiful being! Your gifts are needed in the world, especially right now! Thank you for who you are. 

    Some people believe everyone is born a highly sensitive person and/or empath and that life experiences either diminish or enhance the gifts. Some believe high sensitivity and empathy is acquired through the development of self-discovery and self-awareness. What do you think?

    Stay tuned for the next article that outlines the TIPS for honoring and managing your gifts!

     

    Click here for the Letter to Highly Sensitive and Empathic Children and Adolescents of the Universe. 

    Intrigued by my writing? I am an intuitive coach. I offer a free consultation and can be contacted by email HERE.

     

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