Understand your triggers (self-discovery). We all have memories or thoughts that trigger our emotions and it can cause our behavior to shift. Learning to identify what your triggers are and determine the ways you can cope with them will help you stay in control. When you know and understand yourself fully you can better navigate a situation. For example, I experienced abandonment and rejection during a critical time in my life. As a result, I built this trigger around being told “no.” Anytime someone would say “no” to me, I would flare up in anger. I had to realize that the traumas of my past were causing triggers in my current reality. Thus, I had to identify them, accept them, then get rid of them.
As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Davida P. Jones. Davida is a writer, author, inspirational teacher, and public speaker. She’s also Senior Brand Strategist and Director of Client Services at The Ascendant Group. Davida helps CEOs, c-level executives, and leaders expand their visibility through PR platforms like media, TV, print, social media, and book publishing that ultimately increases their bottom line. Davida is also the CEO and Creative Health Coach for Woman2Woman, LLC. a healthy-mind driven program focusing on women transformation and empowerment. Davida has been recognized by Delaware Business Times, “People to Watch in 2020” for her work in changing the narrative around single mothers. Davida believes that healthy moms can raise healthy babies and create healthy relationships. Davida has a B.S. in Health Education, serves on the board of advisors for Goldey Beacom’s Doctoral of Business Administration Program, and moderator for TEDx events in Delaware.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?
My name is Davida P. Jones and I am a Senior Brand Strategist and Director of Client Services at The Ascendant Group, a CEO branding firm. I am also the CEO of Woman2Woman, LLC a healthy-mind program focusing on women’s development and empowerment.
Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I understand how hard this is. Can you help define for our readers what is meant by a Highly sensitive person? Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?
A highly sensitive person can have the tendency to take things personally. Not because they want to but because they are naturally people who wish to achieve perfection. A highly sensitive person can have similar traits as perfectionists. They can judge themselves and others to impossible and unrealistic measures. This obsession derives from the desire to want to fit in, accomplish, or be accepted by others. Therefore, when they are rejected, their feelings can be easily hurt.
Does a Highly Sensitive Person have a higher degree of empathy towards others? Is a Highly Sensitive Person offended by hurtful remarks made about other people?
There is a fine line between empathy and sensitivity. I will discuss it further later, however, in short yes, a highly sensitive person can be empaths as well. Empaths take on the emotions and judgments of others. This is not a volunteered action, but a natural action that allow highly sensitive people to physically and emotionally understand other people’s circumstances.
Does a Highly Sensitive Person have greater difficulty with certain parts of popular culture, entertainment or news, that depict emotional or physical pain? Can you explain or give a story?
Yes, the news can be a huge source of depression for a highly sensitive person. Today’s news airs far worse things about our world than good. Digesting that type of content everyday can change a person’s outlook on the world and also how they view others. As a highly sensitive person, I would get so upset after watching poverty-stricken areas be ignored, violence-related deaths, and the disagreements of our economy. I do not recommend turning a blind eye but being aware of how these stories make you feel are draining every day.
I would have a great day, then come home and watch the news. I immediately started to feel sad. As highly sensitive people we have to take things in moderation to stay in control.
Can you please share a story about how your highly sensitive nature created problems at work or socially?
It can be hard for a highly sensitive person to accept positive criticism from management or peers at work. Considering a HSP tendency to take things personally, it can be hard for them to separate the feedback. A highly sensitive person combines their work and value as a person in one. By cause of that, it can be difficult for a HSP to accept stand-alone opinions, even if necessary.
When did you suspect that your level of sensitivity was above the societal norm? How did you come to see yourself as “too sensitive”?
I was frequently called “too sensitive” as a child. As I grew, my peers called me “too sensitive” as well. I struggled many years wishing I wasn’t so sensitive and that I could someday build tougher “skin.” However, after years of trying to become someone I wasn’t, I realized that my sensitivity isn’t a weakness but a strength. I learned that I have deep compassion for people and animals that creates a safe place for others to open up. When others feel misunderstood, that forges an opportunity of relatability. My sensitivity isn’t a curse but a blessing that established passion to help others.
I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?
Highly sensitive people are relatable, understanding, and loving people. They have many friends and family who adore them. They can be counted on as loyal people and often times go out of their way to make the ones they love, happy. They are great spouses, parents, and friends. Highly sensitive people are also great leaders. They can empathize and understand whom they are serving, which is needed for making change.
Can you share a story from your own life where your great sensitivity was actually an advantage?
My sensitively level formatted my company. I wouldn’t have a movement unless I cared so deeply for others. As a highly sensitive person, it’s hard for me to sit on the sideline while someone struggles in the same areas I once struggled in. I have to get up and doing something about it. My company, Woman2Woman does just that. We help single mothers and single expectant mothers discover and develop self-love and self-empowerment skills to make better decisions for a better life.
There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?
Empathy is truly understanding and feeling someone else pain, trauma, or situation. It’s the ability to have compassion for others as if you experienced it yourself. Not all highly sensitive people are empathetic; it would be unfair to assume that factoring in indicators of people’s childhood, environments, and mental state.
Social Media can often be casually callous. How does Social Media affect a Highly Sensitive Person? How can a Highly Sensitive Person utilize the benefits of social media without being pulled down by it?
Social media can have negative effects on a highly sensitive person. Absorbing a world of likes and comments can make a person feel as if their life isn’t good enough. Creating a false belief of perfection and forming a dissatisfaction in life. However, social media can also be used to tell a story; a unique, but relatable story. Everyone in their lifetime will experience some type of hardship that can help others transform, heal, and grow. I think utilizing social media for those purposes can help highly sensitive people connect with others on a larger scale.
How would you respond if something you hear or see bothers or effects you, but others comment that you are being petty or that it is minor?
The first step is to realize that you are an individual. Some things that bother you, may not bother others and some things that bother others, may not bother you. We as humans aren’t identical and you have every right to internalize your emotions in whatever way you feel; as long as, you are not demonstrating it in an offensive manner.
The second step is to understand why you are feeling this way. Search for the root of the problem and may discover the source. The last step is to express yourself verbally. If someone hurts your feelings, do not suppress it. You have the right to speak up for yourself.
What strategies do you use to overcome the perception that others may have of you as overly sensitive without changing your caring and empathetic nature?
As I grew older and years started to go by faster, I realized that I couldn’t live my life caring about what others thought or said about me. I started to develop the ability to overcome other people’s opinions and perceptions about me. It was such a freely feeling, moving about and doing what my heart desired.
I would suggest, understanding that you are human, and you will never be perfect. If you accept yourself as yourself, you can abandon the perceptions and judgments of others.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person? Can you explain what you mean?
Some myths entail highly sensitive people as people who cannot grow from positive criticism. However, though highly sensitive people may internalize and take feedback personally, it ultimately causes them to strive to do better. Another myth surrounding highly sensitive people is they can be viewed as push overs. A highly sensitive person does not gravitate towards confrontation and would rather gracefully bow out then entertain it. However, that does not make them a victim. Highly sensitive people rather find ways of resolution so that both parties win.
As you know, one of the challenges of being a Highly Sensitive Person is the harmful,and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just stop being so sensitive?” What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that it just doesn’t work that way?
It’s impossible to turn on and off your highly sensitive gene. Therefore, developing effective communication skills can give you the ability to help others see things from your perspective. We’ve all heard, “it’s not what you say but how you say it,” so learning the art of effective communication can help turn that sensitivity into clarity.
OK, here is the main question for our discussion. Can you share with us your “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person? Please give a story or an example for each.
1. Understand your triggers (self-discovery). We all have memories or thoughts that trigger our emotions and it can cause our behavior to shift. Learning to identify what your triggers are and determine the ways you can cope with them will help you stay in control. When you know and understand yourself fully you can better navigate a situation.
For example, I experienced abandonment and rejection during a critical time in my life. As a result, I built this trigger around being told “no.” Anytime someone would say “no” to me, I would flare up in anger. I had to realize that the traumas of my past were causing triggers in my current reality. Thus, I had to identify them, accept them, then get rid of them.
2. Discover Self-Love. After self-discovery, comes self-love: learning to love and accept the areas that are triggers. It’s impossible to change the things we simply cannot change. No matter how hard we try, we’ll end up in the same place we started. Instead of trying to be who you are not, start to embrace who are. When you discover self-appreciating love, others will too start to develop the same. They’ll start to accept your sensitivity as the ability to love hard.
I tried to care less and think less about the abandonment I experienced. It had left me in a place of defense and opposition. The truth was that I couldn’t change what happened to me, at some point, I had to accept it. Once I permitted myself to accept the circumstance and stop fighting it, I develop a sense of self-worth; that I can overcome anything.
3. Forget what others think about you (live life freely). You’ve heard it before, “You came in this world alone (unless you are twins), and you’ll leave this world alone.” Although very cliché, this powerful statement has enough truth to rethink your thoughts about how people see and view you.
Other people’s opinions of your business, creativity, art, or lifestyle do not matter. Especially, if you are operating in a atmosphere of love and positivity. Some people will always seek a negative point of view in life. So, if people think you are “too sensitive,” that’s okay. Your high sensitivity was created in you for a reason.
I actualized that when I discovered one of my purposes to help other women and mothers heal from rejection and abandonment. At first, I was scared to display my movement as I felt others would judge me. But my call to help others is far greater than other people’s negative opinions. I’ve heard some bad talk here and there about the movement, but the victory stories coming from used-to-be broken mothers and women silences every negative intent.
4.Develop effective communication skills. Communicating is our main form of coexisting with one another. Therefore, developing a skill to effectively communicate can benefit you in every area of your life. As a highly sensitive person, communication is a friend. It’s way for you express yourself and steer away from deeply processing it. The more you work at communication, the better you can use it to help you.
I learned to communicate effectively through education. I took speech courses, read books, and watch tutorials on how to speak effectively. As a highly sensitive person, it was important for me to be understood. People didn’t have to agree with me, but if I wanted them to understand me, I had to communicate myself in a way that they could understand. Cultivating the different types of communication styles like mirroring tone, body language, and positioning helped them understand, that I was no different than them.
5. Use your sensitivity as a superpower to heal the world. Being a highly sensitive person is not a weakness, it’s a strength. Having the ability to be affected by something deeply can give you the drive to make a change. As a child, I was called “too sensitive” and it stuck with me in my adult years. However, it also pushed me to make a change. It pushed me to apprehend that my voice matters and I should be heard.
After experiencing a traumatic situation, I felt defeated, alone, and discouraged. I thought my life had taken an unexpected detour and I was doomed for failure. I believe because I am a highly sensitive person, I internalized my situation deeper than most people. I confirmed my suspicions after speaking with other women and mothers who appeared to effortlessly be content with it. But I did not believe them. I believed they were suppressing it and I could see it manifesting in other ways in their lives.
Through my sensitivity, I was compelled to take my own time in coping and search for resources like books, organizations, and online platforms that could teach me how to heal. To my surprise, there weren’t many.
That’s when I decided to fill in the gap. I wrote a book dedicated to single mothers who are experiencing rejection and abandonment before or after their pregnancy. Single motherhood is an epidemic and not enough resources are provided to them. After I wrote the book, I started my organization sharing tools on how I coped and completely healed. The methods I share now can only be attributed to the lessons I learned as a highly sensitive person.
Remember, who you are.. is who you are supposed to be. Now, go help someone else accept and be who they are supposed to be.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’ve started a movement helping single mothers and single expectant mothers cope with life circumstances and tragedies through transformational and healing methods. I believe mothers have a special role in the future of our children. If we start at the head, creating healthy moms, we can also create healthy children. Healthy children who will grow into healthy adults, raising more healthy children.
If we can start this pattern and continue to positively affect generations after generations; we can create a healthy world full of love, acceptance, understanding, authenticity;and sharing of personal gifts and talents for the greater product of the world.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.