I’ve been thinking a lot about why we Highly Sensitive People seem to attract more than our fair share of “energy vampires”.
You know, those people who can and will suck the life out of anyone in a hundred mile radius? Or the people who are dialed into you specifically – your narcissist (ex) husband who says mean things to you and, somehow, after the conversation you feel like you were the one who did something wrong. Or maybe it’s more subtle, like a friend who only wants to talk about their problems over lunch and they never ask how you are.
Why do we have these people around us? Why do we always seem to be the ones taking care of others and no one seems to take care of us?
- Reason #1: Because we’re Highly Sensitive we can easily tell when someone is in a bad mood or needs something. We’re think OBVIOUSLY that chair is hurting your back (when other people wouldn’t even see it)! So the energy vampire is drawn to our ability to keenly know what’s up with them.
- Reason #2: We tend to put other people before ourselves, a lot. We take those signals we’re getting about how the other person is upset and we take care of them. We listen, we empathize, and sometimes we try to ‘fix’ the other person. Energy vampires literally feed off of our need to be fixers.
- Reason #3: And, as HSPs we are VERY TALENTED at empathy and listening. It comes naturally to us where it doesn’t for most non-Sensitives. Our brains are actually built to maximize these abilities, that’s why they come fairly easily to us.
- Reason #4: We get validation out of being the Fixer. Ooof, this one was very difficult for me to let into my mind. I resisted it for a long time. I’m not saying helping others is bad, I’m a life coach for Pete’s sake. What I mean is, the reason we’re so willing to fix other people is to feel good about ourselves. It’s not 100% altruistic like we make it out to be. We’re being unhealthy but we don’t realize it.
I order to get out of this pattern I had to own that I had selfish pride in being a fixer. YUCK, that stung! I had used my HSP talent to prop up my self-esteem, not in the saintly, altruistic way I had been telling myself. According to Debbie Ford, in her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, this is also known as the “shadow side” of our being, the side that distorts our gifts.
Being willing to be a fixer is how I ended up in a marriage that made me super miserable. At the end of that relationship fifteen years ago, I had to restore what I had given away. Of course, the issues of my marriage were not all about me being a fixer, far from it. There were many other factors in play. But, in order to heal, I had to take responsibility for my choice to be a fixer. I’m sharing this because maybe you can see a little of yourself in my story and begin to see that there’s another way.
Today, I understand that being a fixer is depleting and sends me, and other HSPs, down a dark path. Let’s not travel the way of the dark side, shall we?! We’ve all seen the Star Wars movies and know where the way of the dark side leads. It’s not a pretty picture.
Instead, let’s follow the light.
Let’s learn how to use our Highly Sensitive trait IN SERVICE of our own good and the good of others too.
For instance, as a coach, I’m not a fixer. I’m a guide and offer my HSP strengths freely to my clients. I take care of validating myself and managing my energy so I can allow my talents to flow through me.
What does it take to be a Highly Sensitive Person who has their strengths flowing through them?
- understanding of how your HSP brain is different.
- knowing how you personally experience being Highly Sensitive, because no two HSPs are exactly the same.
- learning how to calm your nervous system and reduce your stress on a daily basis. HSPs have more and different stress from non-Sensitives.
- becoming skillful in the practices of self-care and self-compassion.
- having tools to reduce sensory and emotional overwhelm in your ‘back pocket’.
- practice in living out all your HSP traits as strengths (instead of slipping to the shadow side).
This is exactly what I teach my private clients to do.
Picture it – the days of being exhausted from overextending yourself are behind you. You can tell when you’re starting to get overwhelmed and you’re able to do reroute your energy. Instead of beating yourself up for even beginning to react in a way you don’t want to, you talk calmly and nicely to yourself.
You notice that your breathing slows and your heart rate comes down. You’re able to choose a new thought pattern and a new action that takes you exactly where you want to go. Ahh, you feel peaceful and the after-effects of the stress response slip away.
You can learn to do this and I’ll be right by your side, every step of the way.
Stop beating yourself up and see yourself as the amazing human you are.
Learn to work with how you’re designed instead of fighting it all the time.
Embrace your Highly Sensitive self and celebrate your gifts.
You’ve been waiting long enough, it’s time.
Entrepreneur | Life Coach
Laurie Carlson is a life coach for Empaths and Highly Sensitive women who are tired of living in overwhelm and exhaustion - they are ready to have a vivacious life from their strengths. Laurie brings her over 30 years of experience as a Psychiatric Nurse, Social Worker, and corporate training Project Manager to her work as a coach. She has a Bachelor's degree in Counseling and Social Work, a Master's degree in Organizational Development and Leadership, and is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach.
Laurie is an Emotional and Intuitive Empath and Highly Sensitive Person herself so she has a keen awareness of what the Sensitive life is like. She's been coaching for seven years and the sole focus of her practice is helping Empaths and HSPs find a path to fulfilled living. Laurie is also a mom to four Highly Sensitive almost grown kids which is the adventure of a lifetime. When she's not working, she likes to try any recipe that has lemon as the main ingredient, reads historical fiction and self-help books, and is learning all she can about her Danish ancestors' tradition of hygge (or 'coziness').
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