Updated: May 11, 2021
This interview by Chené Murphy appears in MysticMag.
Christie Rosen is a Wellness and Empowerment Coach for Sensitive Souls. Her work as a wellness coach, author and yoga teacher is centered around helping other sensitive people feel healthy, empowered, and positive about themselves and their lives. In this interview Christie shares insights to high sensitivity with tips to thrive.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to help and heal others?
Growing up as a highly sensitive person I always felt that something was wrong with me and that I was “too sensitive”. As a teen I started to develop chronic health issues, and this began my journey of healing and empowerment. As I found remedies, tools and techniques that helped me, I felt deeply called to share what I had learned with others. I discovered that my sensitivity was actually a gift that I could use to help other highly sensitive people thrive and this has given me great purpose to my life. In 2016, I wrote my book, Empowering the Sensitive Soul, as a way to help sensitives see their sensitivity as the true gift that it is. I have been coaching and teaching yoga now for over a decade and it is my mission to help sensitive people to step into their power so they can bring more compassion, love, empathy and healing to our world.
What defines a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?
High sensitivity is a lot more than just feeling easily hurt. The technical term for high sensitivity is Sensory Processing Sensitivity and it is defined by four major components:
1) Depth of Processing – HSPs take in more information and think deeply about the information we take in.
2) Overstimulation – HSPs tend to get overwhelmed more easily by all of the information we are taking in and need more time to process information and rest.
3) Emotional Responsiveness/ Empathy – The highly sensitive nervous systems reacts more quickly emotionally and we tend to feel both positive and negative emotions more deeply. This can sometimes mean that we can be more easily hurt or offended. It also means that we tend to be extremely empathetic and understanding of other people’s feelings.
4) Sensing the Subtle – HSP’s sense small differences in the environment and socially that others tend to miss, and we may be more affected by bright lights, smells, sounds, textures, and other sensory experiences.
To be considered an HSP, you must have all four of these components.
Does an HSP experience a higher degree of empathy towards others?
Yes! Empathy is one of the main components of high sensitivity. Brain scans actually show that HSP’s have more active mirror neurons, which equates to greater empathy and ability to understand and sense how others are feeling. It is one of our greatest gifts, but also one that you also need to learn how to manage in order to thrive.
Is an HSP the same as an Empath?
Highly Sensitive People and Empath’s are not the same, although you can be both. High Sensitivity is on a scale, meaning that you can be anywhere from slightly sensitive to extremely sensitive. It is generally understood that Empaths are on the extremely sensitive side of the HSP scale (although there is debate about this). Empaths absorb other people’s feelings (and even sometimes their physical symptoms), whereas an HSP who is not an empath may understand and sense how someone is feeling, but not actually take the feeling on themselves.
How can someone determine if they are an HSP?
Both Elaine Aaron, author of the groundbreaking book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and sensitivity expert, Julie Bjelland, have self-tests you can take to determine if you may be highly sensitive (you can find links to these on my website.) A coach or counselor who works with HSP’s will also be able to help you determine if you are an HSP. I find that most HSP’s seem to know intuitively that they are highly sensitive once they learn more about the trait. It feels like a homecoming to know you are not alone in the way you experience the world and can help you make sense of a lot of what you have gone through.
What do you find are the more popular aspects that HSPs struggle with and seek guidance on?
Highly sensitive people have more sensitive nervous systems, so we often struggle with managing stress, feeling overwhelmed and anxiety. While HSP’s are extremely empathetic and compassionate to others, we tend to be very hard on ourselves and often perfectionistic, so we often seek guidance on cultivating self-kindness. HSP’s tend to over give and so we need to learn how to set boundaries and say no. HSP’s also need to learn that in order to thrive, we must to listen to our bodies messages with love and prioritize our own self-care without guilt. We need more self-care than non-HSP’s and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s also vitally important for HSP’s to learn to let go of the culture’s negative messages about sensitivity and to appreciate and embrace all of the gifts of being sensitive.
Are there particular circumstances where being sensitive offers great advantage?
Absolutely! HSPs are intuitive, creative and compassionate, empathetic and caring. HSP’s are heart centered and tend to want to help and serve in the world any way we can. Our sensitivity makes us skilled coaches, counselors, healers, teachers, parents, advisors and artists. HSP’s also make wonderful friends and confidants, as we are very understanding and conscientious. HSP’s are often very detail oriented and organized, and are particularly good at spotting errors which is an asset in many situations. When HSP’s have a balanced nervous system, we are actually more likely to thrive than average.
Please tell us a bit more about your Empowered Sensitivity Program and what people could expect to gain from joining this program.
Empowered Sensitivity is my signature 8-Week online program based off of my book. During this program we dive deeply into learning to accept and understand what it means to be highly sensitive, how to balance our sensitive nervous systems, protect our energy and grow our self-compassion. We focus on cultivating mindful awareness, healthy rituals and letting go of limiting beliefs that hold us back. Many of my students have reported that this course dramatically changed the way they view themselves and helped them to finally see that their sensitivity is a strength they can use to create positive change in the world.
The program consists of 8 group zoom meetings with me as well as practice on your own with weekly intentions, journaling, meditation and yoga classes. You can join the live sessions or participate on your own time. The next session starts this spring!
Lastly, do you have any tips or techniques to share with our readers that can help them thrive as an HSP?
Yes! First of all, it’s really important to learn about the trait. This will help validate what you have experienced in your life and help you realize that you are not alone, and that 15-20% of the population have also had similar experiences. Then it’s time to take a look at your life and figure out what is working for your highly sensitive system and what is not. It’s key to not live your life based on cultural expectations, but rather by what actually feels true and authentic to you. You then want to focus on tools and techniques to balance the nervous system, bring in greater self-awareness and self-compassion and start to view your sensitivity as the gift that it is. It is also really important to speak with and spend time with other people who are highly sensitive. This helps you normalize your sensitivity and make new connections with people who can understand you on a deep, meaningful level. We do all of this (and more!) in my Empowered Sensitivity Program. Next Session starts May 16th, 2021. Join me!