What is an Empath?
What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
Are these just made up terms to make someone "feel special?"
A Highly Sensitive Person, (or HSP) is someone that is born with the gift of heightened, or more fine tuned senses. The term "Highly Sensitive Person" is not a new age, "whoo-whoo" term to describe millennials! Highly Sensitive People are real, and have been the subject of plenty of scientific research. In fact, the scientific name for an HSP is someone who has "Sensory-Processing Sensitivity."
Before we go there, let's address the difference between a Highly Sensitive Person and the Empath.
All Empaths are Highly Sensitive People. Thus, like the HSP, Empaths are gifted with high sensitivity in one or more areas. However, Highly Sensitive People are NOT all Empaths. The key difference is that Empaths experience one or more intuitive abilities, and a Highly Sensitive Person does not. What the heck are intuitive abilities? There are 8 main abilities, commonly referred to as called "Clairs." More specifically, the "Clairs" are: 1. Clairsentience (clear physical sensation or feeling), 2. Claircognicent (Clear knowing), 3. Clairvoyant (clear seeing), 4. Clairaudience (clear audio /hearing) 5. Clairsalient (clear smelling) 6. Clairtangency (clear touching), 7. Clairgustance (clear taste) and 8. Clairempathy (Clear emotional Feeling).
An Empath is both Highly Sensitive and experiences one or more "Clair." A highly Sensitive Person does not have any identifiable clairs. Many empaths experience their clair without even realizing that they are doing something unusual! They simply assume that everyone has the same intuitive gifts, because it is all they have ever experienced. An empath is someone who feels the emotions of others, and also has the gift to naturally respond appropriately to the information they get through their emotions and other senses. One trademark of an Empath is that they somehow understand where you’re coming from, no matter the situation. The Empathic person uses their intuition to filter information, and they are quite good at it! Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers. Empaths are born attuned to their senses, so much so, that they can feel variations in in their environments that are undetectable to the rest of us.
Empaths feel everything! They sometimes get overwhelmed by emotions, and need to develop the skills that will protect them from overwhelm and/or other peoples negative emotions. When empaths absorb the impact of stressful emotions, it can trigger panic attacks, depression, food, sex and drug binges, and a plethora of physical symptoms that defy traditional medical diagnosis from fatigue to agorophobia. That is where a life coach comes in. A life coach will not provide psychotherapy, because there is no illness to treat. Instead, a life coach will teach you about yourself, and help you to develop your gifts and talents, to achieve your desired result.
Are you an Empath?
Ask yourself these questions: Have I been told that I am "too sensitive?" Are my feelings hurt easily? Am I drained after being in crowds or with a group of people? If my friend is upset, do I often become upset too? Do I need alone time to feel balanced? Do I get suddenly jarred by noises, smells, or physical touching that seems not to bother others?
If you answered yes to 4 or more of these, you are likely an Empath. Congratulations on learning a bit more about yourself! Recognizing that you are an Empath will help you take control over your emotions. Working with a life coach like Krista will allow you to develop this tools needed to be a healthy Empath: One who uses their gift only when they choose to, who no longer gets overwhelmed by emotions, and one who develops their intuition.
Some Empaths find their intuitive sensitivities to be a negative experience, and engage in overeating, drinking, or other substance use issues, in an attempt to numb their feelings. This does not have to be the case! Life Coaching will help you to:
1. Stop using unhealthy coping skills,
2. Develop the ability to "turn off" your clairs, when needed,
3. Learn how to protect yourself from taking on other peoples emotions,
4. Learn what kinds of things will re-balance you,
5. Learn what pitfalls many Empaths experience, and how to avoid them,
6. Further Develop the Clairs that you are most interested in,
7. Understanding a bit more about yourself, your relationships, your health, and how it all works
Back to the Highly Sensitive Person:
According to Wikipedia, "Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a temperamental or personality trait involving "an increased sensitivity of the central nervous system and a deeper cognitive processing of physical, social and emotional stimuli." The trait is characterized by a greater sensitivity to subtle stimuli. An HSP may be more driven by heightened emotional reactivity, both positive and negative.
The terms "Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS)," and "Highly Sensitive Person," were coined in the mid-1990s by Elaine Aron and her husband Arthur Aron. According to Aron et al's research on the Highly Sensitive Person, the HSP makes up approximately 15-20 percent of the population. Being an HSP or having SPS is a personality trait, not a disorder. In fact, it is quite a gift, when used in a healthy way.
For many Highly Sensitive People, the key to managing oversensitivity is to utilize emotional immunity and sensory immunity strategies, to calm and alleviate overstimulation. For those who live or work with highly sensitive individuals, effective communication skills are a must to foster positive and constructive relationships.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and the Highly Sensitive Person:
A note about the distinction between BPD and an HSP....Although there are highly Sensitive People that have Borderline Personality Disorder, there are also many non-HSPs who receive the diagnosis of borderline Personality Disorder. This disorder is commonly associated with impulsivity and emotional rages. This kind of behavior is far from what an HSP normally displays.
Since those with BPD are often said to be “hypersensitive” to nonverbal communication, when professionals hear of “high sensitivity” they may think it is the same thing, and mistakingly diagnose an HSP as someone with BPD.
Highly Sensitive People generally avoid behaving in a way that is risky, or that would upset other people. An HSP would display very little, if any, of the aggressive or thoughtless behaviors typical of BPD. When an HSP does express anger, it is usually directed inward, causing Depression. This is different from the typical behavior of someone with BPD, who rages, and says or does things that hurt others. Additionally, an HSP who is freed of their shame over what they considered to be inappropriate response, they can begin to reflect on their situation in a constructive way. This reflection is not commonplace with those diagnosed with BPD.
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