This post is part 1 in the 2-part series on Self-care for Highly Sensitive People (HSP). You can find part 2 here.
In this post, we’ll talk about the struggles that highly sensitive people (HSP) have to begin to create a regular self-care routine. In Part 2 we look at different types of self-care rituals that work especially well for HSPs.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of the inner workings of your own mind as to why you might be struggling to be consistent with taking time for yourself to practice self-care.
As an HSP or empath, we’re more prone to overwhelm because of our sensory sensitivity.
And yet, often we have resistance to doing things that will help us cope better with this overwhelm.
That is typically a symptom of an underlying problem. There’s a reason why we don’t do what we know we should, and in this post, we will explore 5 self-care struggles the HSP has.
If you prefer, you can also watch this on my YouTube channel:
1 We believe we don’t deserve to take time for ourselves
One of the core belief systems that most people in the world struggle with is the thought of not being good enough. This leads to if I’m not good enough, then I don’t deserve good things to happen to me.
The idea of not being good enough most often comes from the messages that we receive growing up.
For HSPs it sounds like “ don’t be such a crybaby”, and “don’t be so sensitive” or even “why do you overreact like this” and “why are you so neurotic”?
A key aspect of breaking through this core belief “I am not good enough” lies in the journey towards self-acceptance.
When you accept yourself 100% for who you are, and when you have compassion towards yourself, then it is simply not possible to think that you are not good enough.
HSPs tend to overprocess and overthink things all the time, and this can cause us to go deep into the rabbit hole of thinking that we are not good enough.
2 Unable to let of the past
We hold on to the memories and the emotional and energetic charges of the things that happened to us and that can cause us to not take better care of ourselves.
It could be that at some level, you are afraid that if you let go and move on it makes what happened to you ok.
This is often why we hold on to grudges and why we find it difficult to forgive.
But, in order to keep this memory of what happened to you in the past alive, you continue to treat yourselves badly.
The inner critic plays a big role in this. You may find that your inner critic is constantly judging you, finding fault with you, and criticizing you.
One of the ways to start healing and letting go of the past is to change the way in which you talk to yourself.
Being more compassionate ties in with the acceptance of the Self. As you begin to change the way that you speak to yourself, your level of self-acceptance begins to grow.
3 We are afraid of our own feelings
We numb ourselves because we are afraid to feel our feelings.
It’s a lot easier to grab your cell phone and scroll through social media than what it is to spend time with your own thoughts.
Looking for distractions to occupy yourself with than to face your thoughts or feelings is not the solution though.
When we numb the not so good feeling-feelings you’re also numbing the feel good-feelings at the same time.
The result is that we are just suppressing our whole experience of life by numbing our feelings like this.
Consistent self-care struggles the HSP has can be overcome by regularly checking in with yourself.
I especially like working with some questions when I check in with myself.
Julie Bjelland, who does great work in the HSP community works with 2 questions for when you check in with yourself. I’m paraphrasing here but they are (1) how am I feeling and (2) what do I need.
You might find it helpful in the beginning to set your alarm on your phone to remind you a couple of times per day to do a check-in.
As you begin a regular practice of checking in with yourself you’re going to start to develop a better relationship with yourself.
This in turn will support you in creating the necessary lifestyle changes to really do the things that are good for you and to take better care of yourself.
4 Having poor boundaries
The fourth challenge that HSPs have when it comes to creating regular self-care for ourselves is that we tend to have poor boundaries.
HSPs want to be there for others, and do things for them.
We don’t want to disappoint people but we also don’t want to be rejected. So this means that there is a tendency to rather fully show up for other people and less for ourselves.
It’s a good idea here to start looking at strengthening your boundaries.
Learn how to say no. As the saying goes, no is a full sentence!
If just the thought of saying no is already filling you with trepidation, then it tells you that there’s some healing to be done around your fear of disappointing people or maybe even your fear of getting into trouble by speaking your truth and standing up for yourself through saying no.
5 We think self-care is selfish
HSPs really want to do good in the world and we want to be helpful.
This can lead us to thinking that it’s not okay for us to take time for ourselves.
It is a faulty way of thinking that if you take time for yourself, then you are taking time away from someone else.
The truth is, when you are frazzled, irritable, and stretched too thin, you need others to pick up the pieces. By neglecting your own wellbeing, you are actually being more selfish!
Begin to look at the beliefs you have that make you think that taking care of yourself is being selfish.
What messages did you receive in your home growing up around self-care, selfishness, and being there for other people?
When you explore these beliefs you uncover you can begin to dismantle them.
Putting your own oxygen mask on first is a necessity if you want to be there more for the other people in your life!
Self-care struggles of highly sensitive people (HSP)
If you have been struggling with taking better care of yourself, you might find it helpful to work with any underlying challenges and subconscious blocks that you may have.
Highly sensitive people are already prone to be overwhelmed because of the way that we process information. Also, as we strongly perceive all the subtleties in our environment we can become overstimulated easily.
That’s why it’s so important that we do whatever we can to take care of ourselves and I really hope that this post has given you some insight, and ideas to improve that in your own life by making self-care a routine.