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Finding Your Ahhhhhh

There is a term floating around that defines a person as a "Highly Sensitive Person" or HSP. In the past we would call this person an "empath" or someone who is highly empathic and feels what others are feeling. As a therapist this is a trait that can be very useful but also can be challenging.

Recently, I was talking with someone who revealed to me a deeply rooted trauma they had never shared before. In that moment of sharing I felt more than heard their pain. The room felt different as my sensitivity to her suffering increased. In that moment of awareness I realized I had been completely drawn into the moment and could feel my friend's pain at a much deeper level. That moment of attunement brought clarity and understanding and opened the door to even greater connection and compassion.

On the flip side, this ability to feel deeply another person's feelings can create negative responses as well. When I am confronted by an angry person who is overtly challenging me the hairs on the back of my neck and my forearms will bristle. Subconsciously, I began to take a defensive posture as if preparing to defend myself. My vision and hearing become more sensitive and I can feel my body temperature elevates as blood flow increases. My words and the inflection of my voice will adjust to the level of confrontation I am feeling. I am like a female cougar who crouches with tight muscles and focused gaze as she prepares to leap. If this is type of encounter is repeated too many times with little to no resolution of the "felt" conflict, interpretations of the event will begin to conjure up reasons for the event and subsequent emotional reaction. I see this often with clients who have military PTSD or who have been emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. They are on "alert" for danger, waiting for the next offense, the next confrontation, the next hurtful thing said. Being prepared for battle and needing to find someone to release anxiety on is prevalent today as couples battle over politics, parenting styles, and Covid face masks. People need a place to take their sensitive selves to, a place where they can dissipate their stored up energy and bust loose of the tension in the home. They need to find their Ahhhhhhh.

One of the best parts of being deeply sensitive is that the AHHHHH factor is experienced at a degree others will never know. Sticking one's toes in the sand, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, listening to the waves crashing on the shore, tasting the salt on your lips, seeing children playing in the waves, all senses are engaged and the benefits are bliss. Taking our sensitive selves outdoors to be with nature, playing in the snow in the mountains, bike riding along the beach, or Jeeping in the nearby desert are all ways to relax and find peace and peace that we can bring back to our homes.


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