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Spiritual Direction for the Highly Sensitive Person

How HSPs can benefit The most from spiritual direction

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HSP’s are more sensitive and often times more spiritual than the people around them. We are hard-wired to absorb experiences more deeply, to be more emotionally effected by them and to be better at figuring out the big questions, like “what does it all mean?”

I say “we” because I am an HSP. I am also an empath (which are very closely related, but not one in the same thing) and a trained spiritual director.

What I have found is that HSP’s benefit greatly from being in spiritual direction; more so in fact than my non-hsp directees. The reason for this is that spiritual direction is like therapy but it is not therapy.

In spiritual direction, we are more free to explore the emotional experiences of the positive and thrilling events as much as the emotions of negative and fearful ones.

HSP’s experience more depth in life.

Highly sensitive people have a finely tuned nervous system which means that we physically take in more sensory input than others. This leads to frequent bouts of being inexplicably overwhelmed (even in the most positive environment) and it leads to feeling like people don’t quite understand the depths of what you experience on a day-in and day-out basis.

For example, two friends go to see a movie. One is an hsp, the other is neurotypical. Two days later the HSP friend may still be mulling over the stirring emotional content of the movie and wondering where in her life she can be more like the hero character she saw on screen. The neurotypical friend may only consider the movie until the next morning. The HSP friend may find herself still talking about the movie to her friend weeks later, while her friend may be tired of hearing about it.

If you are a highly sensitive person, your nervous system is hard-wired to absorb more of every experience. It’s like we are the quicker-picker-upper of life. We have an innate ability to trap more of every experience within our psyche.

The depth of experience is precisely what spiritual direction allows for.

Spiritual direction is like life coaching but with a keen eye towards depth. The goal is to focus on your spiritual and emotional well-being. In sessions with a good spiritual director, you will be given the time and space needed to tell the entire story of your experience (which is sometimes cut short when talking with one’s non-hsp family and friends).

Telling your story initiates healing on the deepest level, even if you don’t realize it.

Often, HSP’s hold some of their emotional truth in because they feel they would be judged as “too sensitive” if they let it out. Or, they don’t want to ruin the moment for others by showing how the event negatively effected them.

Being able to express that something which seemed “normal” to everyone else really upset you is powerful and also necessary for your self-care. In spiritual direction, you will have a space that is free of judgement and free of anyone trying to fix it for you.

HSP’s put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect. Even healthy, stable HSP’s feel more pressure than most to withhold some of their authentic selves. Spiritual direction invites you to unpack things that you are still holding on to in order to make space for more of your authentic self to come out. The depth and truth of your experiences deserves a safe place where you can be vulnerable.

For many of us who are highly sensitive, we don’t need therapy because technically nothing is wrong or needs to be healed, but we DO need somewhere we can go to once or twice a month to just be fully sensitive. Spiritual direction, I have found, is the perfect answer.

A word of caution, though. Spiritual direction is inherently vulnerable. It is a place where you are encouraged to open up and share deeply held beliefs and potentially deeply guarded stories; therefore it is critically important to feel completely comfortable with the spiritual director you choose to work with.

HSP’s have excellent intuition and so I urge you to trust your instincts on who feels like a good and safe match to be your spiritual director. Google “spiritual directors near me”, or reach out to me specifically, for help finding spiritual direction in your area.

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