Caring for Your Introverted/HSP Self:
Practices for Meeting Your Needs
& Cultivating Your Strengths
Bullish Conference, Palm Springs, 2018
Practices & Tools
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Take a quiz to find out.
Are you an Empath? Take a self-assessment.
Jennifer Farley’s post on creating your own movement ritual
Esmé Wang’s free e-book on morning journalling
Insight Timer: Free timer and guided meditations
My YouTube channel with guided meditations
Emergency In-the-Moment Practices
Feel your feet on the ground. If you’re sitting, feel your body meeting the chair. Just sense that you are right here, that there is earth underneath you.
Just that. Sit and take a few (or many) breaths. If you want, put your hand on your stomach and feel it expand and contract. Focusing on your breath connects you to this moment right here, and to your own body. If it feels too hard to focus, try this 5-Finger Breathing technique.
Cut the cord
As a highly sensitive person and an empath who often unconsciously takes on the energy and emotions of others, I found some excellent practices in Judith Orloff’s “Survival Guide for Empaths.” One of these is to “cut the cord.” When I’m with another person and feeling their energy coming on a bit too strongly for me, I (underneath a table or in some other un-noticable way) make a “snip-snip” motion with my fingers. This serves as a signal to me that I am cutting off the too-strong cord of connection between us. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I’m detaching from the conversation. It simply reminds me that I am me and this person is him or her. While I care about their concerns, these are not my own and they do not need to be attached to me.
Feel your feet on the ground, feeling right where you are. Then begin rubbing your hands briskly against each other, building warmth and friction. After doing this for 20 seconds or so, brush your palms down your head and face, as if sweeping off dust. Flick your hands toward the ground as if flicking off excess water. Then rub your hands together again, and then brush off the front and backs of the arms, flicking the hands toward the ground. Continue like this, generating energy in the hands and brushing off the chest and abdomen, the shoulders and low back, the fronts and backs of the legs. End with one more sweep of any area that you feel needs another pass.
Qigong deals with energy, and so this practice is one of clearing out old energy, negativity, anything that needs to be cleared out. After you do this, you might spend a few moments standing with your palms out, inviting and breathing in fresh energy. Even if you are not so convinced about negative and positive energy, I find that just these body movements and intentions of sweeping away and clearing out help me to switch gears and begin afresh, leaving behind what came before and moving into what is next. On days when I need to make quick transitions, I have even been known to do this practice in the car, making sweeps of various areas while seated at red lights, flicking my hands toward the open windows, breathing in the fresh air coming in.
This is the simplest practice of all, and sometimes the most beneficial—to just stop, let the body be still, cozy, and warm, and not ask anything of myself. Get in bed or on the floor in a fetal position and just lay there, letting your head spin as it does…and it often eventually slows. It feels like allowing my head and heart to catch up to myself. If lying down isn’t feasible, try sitting bent over with your forearms on your knees and your eyes closed.
Mirror Talk / Car Talk
Stand in front of a mirror. Look into your eyes. Put your hand on your heart, and smile at yourself with kindness and warmth. Perhaps this is enough—a moment to really see yourself and acknowledge that you are here and you are doing the best that you can. It can also be very helpful to talk to yourself. Somehow, seeing yourself in the mirror allows you to speak to yourself almost with an outsider’s perspective, and as we may know, we often find it easier to be kind to others than ourselves. So even though it may feel strange at first, let yourself speak to yourself. “I see you here. I see that you are struggling, and that you’re doing the best that you can. You wish that you weren’t feeling anxious, but that’s what’s here right now. That’s ok. You will make it through this. You’ve made it through feeling anxious many times before, haven’t you…” This is an example of what I might say to myself, but just let your words flow. You may be surprised by what you hear.
What’s the kindest thing?
Just ask this question to yourself. What would be the kindest response right now to yourself given this situation? Let your response lead you into tending to your needs as much as you can right now.
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS
Check out this blog post and get the accompanying handout for exploring your core attributes. Knowing these gives you data that helps you feel more and more confident about your unique abilities.
WRITE TO FEAR
Write a letter to fear. The tone is friendly, understanding, and assertive. There’s an attitude of kindness, but also a recognition that fear is not seeing the full picture, while you (the larger and broader you) can see the context more clearly. Acknowledge the work that fear is trying to do in keeping you safe, and commiserate about how shitty this experience feels. Point to other characteristics that you’re cultivating that are helpful (flow, presence, intuition…), and invite fear to see a larger perspective, a different view of what is happening, pointing to opportunity rather than threat. Finally, offer some objective facts, like the skills that you bring to this situation, as well as the practical steps that you’re taking to be prepared. Give fear a clear message: I’ve got this. You (fear) are seen, and you are allowed to be here, and you’re going to need to tone it down a bit. You (fear) are not qualified to run the show because you simply don’t have the whole story.
YOUR BEST PROCESS
Write your “Recipe for Success.” Pretend that you’re being interviewed, and the question is, “How do you do it?! Walk us through how you manage to be so successful!” When you want to do really well at something (or in the past when you have felt confident and successful), what’s the process that you follow? How far in advance do you prepare? What steps do you take? Which of your strengths do you use at various stages? Lay out your best process, and then follow it. The more so synch up with what works for you every time, the more confident you will feel about your process, and thus, your preparation and competence.
When you’re approaching a task that seems challenging (like giving a presentation or having a difficult conversation), examine it carefully. Using this Needs Inventory, analyze: what needs are being met? What needs seem to be at risk? Does it feel like the energy cost of this task is outweighed by the needs being met? If so, this is good information to hand on to. The next time you feel like, “Ulgh, why am I doing this to myself again!” you can take a look and know exactly why, and reassure yourself that it will be worth the effort. (And if it doesn’t seem to be meeting any important needs…then maybe don’t do it anymore! Leave that thing for the folks who are not you.)
Judith Orloff, “The Empath’s Survival Guide”
Susan Cain, “The Highly Sensitive Person”
Brene Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection”
Making a change requires attention, intention and time!
If you’d like some support, accountability, and individualization as you implement new beliefs and practices, let’s work together!
I coach individuals who are looking to bring more mindfulness and intentionality their way of being in the world. We can start with a free call to talk about how this might work.
Email me at email@example.com or check out the coaching page. <3