Self-esteem: Do activities that make you feel good about yourself. Transform your inner critic by changing your internal stories, narrative and inner dialogue. Befriend your inner critic and become your own best friend! Change negative self-talk into a supportive, kind and empowering voice. Consider doing courageous things that will empower and embolden you such as solo traveling, starting a yoga practice or going on a retreat.
As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katrina Love Senn. Katrina is a retreat leader, healer, and author of two books called, ‘Losing Weight is a Healing Journey’ and ‘Heal Emotional Eating For Good’.
She runs her signature Detox & Healing Retreats in Ubud, Bali.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?
Just a few days before my 20th birthday, I had a physical breakdown. My body completely collapsed and I ended up bedridden and having to be spoon-fed by my mother. My Doctor recommended I take experimental medication but instead I made the choice to start my own healing journey. This made all the difference.
I found a healing guide who helped me to restore my health. This included healing my emotional eating, chronic asthma, and allergies. I also lost over 60 pounds naturally (without diets, drugs or deprivation).
Since experiencing my own radical health transformation, I’ve been an avid student of The Healing Journey. Studying what works to understand how people can transform their bodies and lives for good.
Today, I feel privileged to help Highly Sensitive People have the courage to start their healing journeys.
Can you help define for our readers what is meant by a Highly Sensitive Person?
A Highly Sensitive Person is someone who has an increased degree of sensitivity in a particular area of their lives.
A common misconception about high sensitivity is that it is a personal flaw or weakness to overcome. And while I agree, that we should all aim to become more resilient within ourselves as we mature into adults, through my own direct experience, I have come to understand that high sensitivity is actually something we are born with. And, our sensitivity is an incredible gift.
The key for the Highly Sensitive Person is to invest time, energy and resources to get to know themselves. With this increased level of self-awareness, their sensitivity can work for them. Not against them. And, then they can make good, healthy choices for themselves.
If someone recognises that they are a Highly Sensitive Person, working with a coach or a healing guide can help them overcome any overwhelm or imbalance that they may be experiencing in their lives. Highly Sensitive People are often born into families that are not sensitive and they can often struggle to be understood by their family and loved ones.
There are three main types of sensitivity I see in my clients. These are physical, mental or emotional sensitivities. I will explore these in more detail below. Each type of sensitivity needs it’s own healing approach as detailed below:
- Physical sensitivity: Someone who is sensitive to physical stimulation from their environment. Growing up I suffered from terrible allergies, eczema, and asthma. My healing guide helped me to identify that I was allergic to a long list of substances including dust, pollens, horses, dogs, cats, laundry powders, alcohol, cold weather, fertilizers, dairy, and artificial food colourings. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to remove these toxins from my life and transform my health.
Healing tips: If someone is physically sensitive, I recommend that they work with a healing guide to identify and test what they are allergic to. Then, they can make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce or remove exposure to those substances from their lives. Additionally, it can be helpful to detoxify their bodies, especially their livers and to stimulate their lymphatic system. The next stage is to work on rebuilding and strengthening their immune systems.
- Mental sensitivity: Someone who is sensitive to thoughts, ideas, and concepts. This is someone who has a high sensitivity to the conceptual realm. This includes thoughts, ideas, words, order, designs, and patterns. If not properly understood, this kind of sensitivity can lead to high levels of anxiety, mental fears, phobias, addictions, unnecessary stress, and neurosis.
Healing tips: If someone is mentally sensitive, they can work with a healing guide or coach to experiment with different forms of healing work including low stimulation environments, spending more (or less) time alone, being in nature, gardening, conscious breathwork, journaling, meditation, self-expression, physical exercise, music, and creative self-expression.
- Emotional sensitivity: This is someone who has a high sensitivity to feelings and emotions. Both their own and other peoples. These people are often kind, heart-centered, empathic and compassionate, with an increased ability to sense other people’s feelings, pain, and energy.
Healing tips: If someone is emotionally sensitive, they can work with a healing guide to do energetic self-healing work. This might include reducing stimulants and using healing tools such as yoga, breathwork, meditation, gentle movement, body stretching, affirmations, visualizations, Bach flowers, essential oils, and vibrational essences to strengthen and rewire their nervous system. Trauma release work can also be very helpful. Also, experiment with doing something new that builds self-confidence and self-esteem.
Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?
If someone is emotionally or mentally sensitive, their feelings could be hurt for sure. But as discussed above, I believe that the definition of a Highly Sensitive Person is much broader than this.
If someone was getting their feelings easily hurt or offended, I would recommend that they start working with a coach or a healing guide. A healing guide is someone with specialist knowledge that can help a Highly Sensitive Person to understand their sensitivities so that they can thrive!
Once a Highly Sensitive Person learns that they have the capacity to change the way they respond to certain people, things and events, they have the power to transform their life for the better.
A healing guide can help a highly sensitive person to discover how to make good choices for themselves. By helping them to get to know their true selves. What works (and doesn’t work) for their bodies. And their lives. Also to discover what they like. And what they don’t.
Then they can put themselves in the right kinds of environments for them. This includes the right career, relationships, living arrangements, and friendships. As they make the right choices for themselves, beyond what society or their conditioning tells them, they can enjoy living their lives fully and joyfully!
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?
I would expect that emotionally sensitive people would have a higher degree of empathy towards others. Empathy is the special gift that they bring to the world. Their empathy is one reason why they typically make great teachers, nurses, vets, carers and healers.
However, if an emotionally sensitive person hasn’t done any healing work, yes, I would expect the emotionally sensitive person to get easily offended by hurtful remarks.
If this was happening regularly, I would recommend that the Healing Sensitive Person work with a healing guide to start their healing journey. I would also recommend reading self-help books. A good one is ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the Agreements is ‘Not to take things personally’. This concept can be truly life-changing for an emotionally sensitive person!
Then, once the Highly Sensitive Person has done the necessary healing work (and learnt not to take things personally), they won’t be offended at all. Doing the healing work makes a Highly Sensitive Person more resilient and much more able to deal with the challenges of life.
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?
Popular culture is filled with a lot of sensory inputs that a Highly Sensitive Person might find overwhelming! Think about how pervasive violence is in movies, TV and video games. Or how loud noise is at a live sports game or music event. And also, how common and normal drinking alcohol and even eating fast food is in our society!
If you think back to our history, our ancestors wouldn’t have had to deal with any of this.
If someone does not know that they are Highly Sensitive, this can make life feel very isolating! Once a Highly Sensitive Person starts to do their healing work, they will develop self-awareness. So that they:
- Can make the right choices for themselves, resulting in health and happiness.
- Can connect with the right kind of environment and community for them.
These two things can help Highly Sensitive People to feel much more comfortable in the world. So that life can be fun, inspiring, creative and joyful.
Can you please share a story about how a highly sensitive nature created problems for someone at work or socially?
Highly Sensitive People often struggle with emotional eating and their weight. One of my clients came to me because ‘she had tried everything to stop her emotional eating’. She was a people-pleaser, suffering from low self-esteem and self-confidence. Upon meeting, we agreed she was physically and emotionally sensitive. She was allergic to dairy, chemicals and absorbed energy.
During the time we worked together, she started yoga, made lifestyle changes and detoxified her body. This reduced her inflammation, increased her strength and she started to feel much healthier.
She also connected with her voice and made the powerful choice to take her passion for singing much more seriously. She even started to sing professionally. This led to her connecting with an international singing community. Her community connection gave her a real sense of purpose and meaning. She made many wonderful friendships and even met her the love of her life!
As she focused on holistically healing herself, she began to unconditionally love herself. And without diets or deprivation, her emotional eating was replaced naturally with a healthy and balanced eating approach.
When does the average person’s level of sensitivity rise above the societal norm? When is one seen as “too sensitive”?
I believe that being Highly Sensitive is a gift. But, only if it is understood and used in the right way.
However, many Highly Sensitive People, haven’t been taught this. This can result in them not understanding their own sensitivities. This can cause stress and feelings of rejection, loneliness, and anxiety. And, their sensitivity ends up feeling more like a curse!
I don’t think anyone is ever ‘too sensitive’. It’s more about learning how to use your sensitivity to your best advantage. If you have a high sensitivity in a certain area, start paying attention to it. Give yourself full permission to work with your sensitivity and see what your sensitivity is guiding you to do (or not to do).
If someone does feel ‘too sensitive’ they might be using unhealthy coping strategies to deal with their sensitivities. To me, this would be an indication that they need to learn some healing tools to cope better with their stress. In my 2nd book, ‘Heal Emotional Eating For Good’ there is a powerful 5-step healing process that Highly Sensitive People can use.
By focusing on nourishing and nurturing ourselves, we can confidently create a life that feels true for us.
I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives one certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?
Highly Sensitive People are likely to be very ‘different’ from other people.
However, it’s important that Highly Sensitive People do not try to ‘play small’ to try and fit in with others. Instead, they should give themselves permission to live differently and follow their own truth. Living a life filled with their own passions, purpose, and desire, is the key to them creating a happy, successful life.
This will take courage because they won’t be following the ‘rules’ or the ‘normal’ path of society. Making one’s own life choices is not easy. But the rewards and payoffs are great.
Being true to ourselves means that we get to live a life that brings joy, health, and happiness. The Highly Sensitive Person will be able to create and live an authentic life, where they get to live life on their own terms. And, create a meaningful life that they truly love.
Being able to live a life that feels authentically ours… Well, I can think of no bigger gift than that!
Can you share a story that you have come across where great sensitivity was actually an advantage?
I am a highly sensitive person and I love being one! ☺ After meeting my healing guide and navigating my own healing journey, I have dedicated myself to studying The Healing Journey.
Today, I have written 2 books and teach Detox & Healing retreats in Bali. I live by the seaside and get to spend my time inspiring other Highly Sensitive People to create meaningful lives that they love!
By going on my own healing journey, I discovered that it is possible to be a Highly Sensitive Person and live a great life. My husband is also Highly Sensitive and so are my retreat participants, healing clients, and closest friends. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I find that Highly Sensitive People have a unique and beautiful way of seeing the world. They are often the most creative, the most spiritual and the most intuitive.
Here is a poem that I wrote dedicated to Highly Sensitive People called, My Dearest Highly Sensitive Friends.
My Dearest Highly Sensitive Friends,
It seems that this world can
sometimes be so harsh.
So cold, so cruel, so demanding,
so stressful, so much…
If you are ever left wondering
if there is space for you here…
I want you to know one thing.
I want you to know one thing…
The world needs you.
It needs your gifts.
It needs your talents.
It needs your kindness.
It needs your sensitivity.
The world needs you.
It needs your words.
It needs your art.
It needs your presence.
It needs your unique way of seeing the world.
It needs your special way of being.
The world needs you.
You are loved just as you are.
It’s time for you to shine.
It’s time for you to be you.
It’s your time.
To be YOU
There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?
There are varying degrees of sensitivity. For me, the line drawn is when the sensitivity is causing any form of stress, pain or discomfort. This could be physically, mentally or emotionally.
Some people are highly sensitive to certain things, and others simply are not! For example, think of someone who is sensitive (or allergic) to a cat in a room. The sensitive person might start experiencing a wide range of symptoms. Including sneezing, congestion and watery, itchy eyes. But, other people in the same room exposed to the same cat, might experience no effects at all!
I teach my students that change always starts in some form of pain. And, this pain is good because it is what inspires change. You can tell when someone is ready to change because they say “I can’t keep living like this” or “I need help” or “I need to do something different”.
Once they make their courageous choice to change, they need help. This typically comes from a healing guide or coach. This person can help mentor them on their healing journey. So, they can make new choices and create different results, aligned with who they are and what they want to create.
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?
I advise my clients to focus on using social media for the positive, to uplift and inspire themselves. And, to use social media to connect with other like-minded sensitives. Social media can be a powerful way to connect with an inspiring, kind, caring and supportive community of other Highly Sensitive People.
Think of social media like a house guest. If you don’t want to invite someone into your house, you don’t have to, right? On social media, it is very easy to block or mute anything that is unwanted or upsetting.
Don’t waste any energy on people who want to fight or create conflict. Let them find someone else to battle with. I believe that life is short and it’s up to us to make the most of each moment!
How would you advise your client to respond if something they hear or see bothers or affects them, but others comment that that are being petty or that it is minor?
I would ask if they have control over the thing?
If not, they have to work on changing themselves. They can do this using healing tools to observe and witness the event from a number of different perspectives. If they were willing, I would role-play different responses so that they can practice ‘creating space to respond differently’ rather than simply ‘reacting emotionally’ and in old, familiar and well-practiced patterns.
Also, it might be useful to notice if being teased for being ‘too sensitive’ is a harmful and repeating pattern? If so, they can review their relationships. If someone has a relationship in their life that isn’t serving them, I would tell them that it’s okay to end friendships, when we outgrow them.
I would remind them that friendships should always be a loving, positive and supportive influence in our lives.
What strategies do you recommend to your clients to overcome the challenges that come with being overly sensitive without changing their caring and empathetic nature?
The label ‘too sensitive’ simply means that a person is ‘highly sensitive’.
If Highly Sensitive People do their own healing work, they can learn how to feel safe and happy in their bodies and in the world. Then, they will have the confidence and courage to express a clear ‘yes’ and a clear ‘no’ to themselves, and to others.
If the Highly Sensitive Person wants other people to change, they should first focus on changing themselves. The point of power always rests in the present moment, with us. We can never change others but we always have the ability to change ourselves. That’s where our real power is.
With a deeper understanding about themselves, they can align their thoughts, feelings and actions, with what they want to manifest in their lives. Not what society tells them. Going after what is true for them can allow them to create safety, health and happiness in the world for themselves.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person? Can you explain what you mean?
1. Being Highly Sensitive is lonely and isolating
No, it doesn’t have to be! But, until the Highly Sensitive Person learns about their sensitivity it truly can feel that way. Once they connect with other Highly Sensitive People, and make new like-minded friends, then, life can take on a whole new meaning!
2. There is a ‘normal’ way to live
No, there isn’t! Don’t try and fit in with everyone else. Connect with your own intuition and be guided by what feels right for you. If you don’t want to go along with the social program of your family or society (ie. to go to University, get married or have children), you don’t have to. Be patient. Spend time getting to know yourself before making any big commitments. Read self-help books. Go to workshops and retreats. Become an expert on yourself.
3. School teaches us everything we need to be successful in life.
No, it doesn’t! Schools don’t teach us about being Highly Sensitive Person. This means it is our own responsibility to do self-healing and self-study to build self-knowledge and self-awareness.
Be true to yourself in all areas of your life. Including your lifestyle preferences and choice of partner, career, house, living spaces, holidays, décor, dress sense, etc. The more that you can be true to yourself, the happier you will feel.
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?
In my early 20’s, I worked in the corporate world and I experienced ongoing work challenges and job stress. I wasn’t interested in the office gossip, political games, competition, lifestyle and after-work parties.
In that environment, being ‘too sensitive’ caused me so many problems. But, once I realised that my skill set, passions, and interest centred around yoga, health, healing, coaching and transformation, I was able to confidently leave my marketing career and start my own healing business. It wasn’t an easy choice but by being true to myself, I connected with doing meaningful work that I loved. And, my life changed for the better!
If someone says you are being ‘too sensitive’, try and take a light-hearted approach towards anyone making these kinds of comments. Don’t over-react unnecessarily in the moment. Afterward, take the time to deeply review the experience. If this is a repeating pattern in your life, it might be time to find some new friends! Realise that if people are frequently telling you that you are ‘too sensitive’ it means that you probably have a higher level of sensitivity than they do. Keep looking for where your sensitivity would be appreciated and valued. Remember that your sensitivity is a special gift.
My sensitivity helps me to be a healer, teacher and healing guide. But when I was working in the corporate world it was a curse!
We can’t change our families, nor can we expect them to understand our highly sensitive natures. But we can always choose to love them for who they are. Choose like-minded friends who do understand that you are Highly Sensitive. And, learn how to put yourself in the right environment for your skills and interests.
The more comfortable we become with ourselves and our Highly Sensitive natures, the more comfortable other people around us will be, as well.
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.
- Self-growth: Become the expert on you! Spend time, money and energy in getting to know yourself. Learn about your highly sensitive nature and who you really are. Find a healing guide. Read self-growth and self-help books. Experiment with online personality tests including Myers Briggs Test (MBTI), The Enneagram and Wealth Dynamics. With self-knowledge, you can put yourself in the right environment to thrive!
- Self-belief: Create beliefs that support and inspire you. Also, release the old ones handed down to you, that don’t serve you. Outdated beliefs come from childhood. Including parents, education and/or society. Whatever it is that you want to do, believe that you can do it. The key is to prioritise and commit to it. Put yourself in the right environment for you and surround yourself with the right teachers, friends, mentors, and guides.
- Self-acceptance: Learn to accept your sensitivities and who you are. It’s okay to be different from other people. Which may mean that you don’t fit in with others. Being ‘you’ is a real gift and a beautiful blessing! Celebrate it by being true to yourself. Many Highly Sensitive People cannot tolerate stimulants, so consider reducing alcohol, drugs, and fake foods. Go on your healing journey and watch your life transform for the better!
- Self-esteem: Do activities that make you feel good about yourself. Transform your inner critic by changing your internal stories, narrative and inner dialogue. Befriend your inner critic and become your own best friend! Change negative self-talk into a supportive, kind and empowering voice. Consider doing courageous things that will empower and embolden you such as solo traveling, starting a yoga practice or going on a retreat.
- Self-confidence: Increase your self-confidence by doing something new… Join a Toastmasters group, improv class, singing workshop or an Outward Bound course! Read ‘The Ugly Duckling’ and understand that Highly Sensitive People are not ducks… They don’t fit in because they are beautiful, elegant and magnificent swans! So don’t ever try and shrink yourself to ‘fit in’. Be proud of your sensitivities. Stand tall. Hold your head up high. Smile. Look the world in the eye. And, be true to yourself.
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.
The Healing Journey movement…It’s started — so far, almost 10,000 Highly Sensitive People have joined from all over the world!
To serve this community we offer so much love and support including the life-changing 12 Day Healing Journey Detox Retreat in Bali. As well as Breakthrough sessions, books, and meditation programs.
How can our readers follow you online?
Say hello at www.UbudWeightLoss.com and schedule a free 30min Mini Breakthrough with me.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.