HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSONALITY

Personality - woman thinking

Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP) are born with a nervous system that is more sensitive than the average and a brain that processes everything on a deeper level than other people. They notice much more than others. Therefore, they often get overwhelmed or stressed and sometimes accused of being too sensitive or overdramatic.

In this month's newsletter we talk to Malin Johansson, Life Alignment Practitioner and Stress-Coach from Sweden, who found out in adulthood that she was highly sensitive.

Maggie: What does it really mean to be highly sensitive, Malin?

For me it is both a great gift and a challenge. Before I found out that I am highly sensitive, I often did more than I had energy for, because everyone else could do so much too. I sometimes thought there must be something wrong with me. For example it is not easy for me to shield myself from noises or the emotional atmosphere in a room. For other HSP it might be visual impressions or a struggle to adjust to surprising events.
Finding out that I am a HSP was such a relief and I was finally able to stop pushing myself and start listening to my needs. What it really means is that HSP are born with a nervous system that is more sensitive than the average population, which makes us more receptive to emotional and physical impressions. This and the deep processing of impressions is the most basic quality of HSP.

For some people maybe astonishing is the fact that approximately 20% of the population is highly sensitive, equally divided between men and women. This also applies to most animal species. Enough to be considered normal but not enough for the environment to always understand. Many HSP are thus misunderstood and misjudged, which can make them feel “strange” or “abnormal”.

Maggie: Deeply processing impressions, this sounds more like a gift than a strange limitation?

In fact, hypersensitivity is a kind of evolutionary strategy for survival – HSP evaluate any risks before taking action and tend to conserve their energy, unlike the majority of people who act quickly because they want to catch up first and then think. If HSP are in balance then they are empathetic, compassionate, intuitive, creative, and profound. For example I can really be delighted and enjoy a piece of dark chocolate or the scent of a flower, so I am rather easy to please with things that others may not even notice. Being highly sensitive is indeed a personality trait that is a great asset if you learn to handle it. It is neither a disability nor an obstacle to a normal life. However, in this extroverted world it often takes time until a HSP understands how to live life on their own terms and to take better care of themselves. Therefore many may appear withdrawn or shy. But shyness is a learned behaviour, which is about fear of negative judgments, and not an innate trait.

When I started to unwire my “learned patterns” I got introduced to Life Alignment. In my case, I was never shy as I am an extrovert HSP. Life Alignment helped me to unpack the gift of my unique way of high sensitivity, for example uitising my empathy in a healthy way.

Maggie: I am not a HSP. Life Alignment rather supports me to get more sensitive with myself and the world. It's interesting for me to see how it works both ways.

Being highly sensitive and not accepting this can lead to adapting to the rest of the world to an extent of non-existence and exhaustion. When out of balance a HSP might feel lonely, anxious and skinless. In this stage they are mostly not empathic at all and can be aggressive and even insensitive. Those patterns are not really helpful and can have different consequences. Life Alignment is not used to change high sensitivity but to deal with it in a better way and change your old patterns to protect yourself.

I just had to believe myself
Willow Rising

Life Alignment is a soft, intuitive and very effective approach to look at sensitivity and the feelings and blockages which manifested when we have learned to be “too sensitive”. It helped me to listen to myself and that’s one of the most important things when you are highly sensitive. The Life Alignment process guides you to be aligned with yourself and your talents. Throughout my life I tried a lot of therapies and healing approaches. A lot of these treatments have been simply too much for my nervous system. Too loud, too intense, too busy, too direct, too standardised. Life Alignment instead calms the overworking nervous system and directs you in your personal pace and deepness through your journey of self-discovery.

Maggie: I must admit the more we speak about HSP the more people coming to mind where this personality description fits in.

This is for a lot of people like this. Sometimes clients come and say “Hi, help me I am a HSP ” but more often it’s about how they feel. I have a client who came to me saying initially “I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I just want to be happy again”. We first started to explore what she actually felt and on how to acknowledge those feelings. This is so important for HSP and Life Alignment is the most amazing tool to get in touch with your desires. When she was connected to her needs, the next step was verbalising this to other people. That needed a lot of courage and a lot of sessions :). She now is able to say NO to people and she made the experience that this is appreciated by others. She even made the Body Spin Course of Life Alignment herself. This is something I highly recommend to HSP clients especially. It’s a relatively quick process to learn and provides great tools to give yourself “emergency-treatments” when you need to re-boost your energy-level. We have it in all countries and nearly all languages.

Maggie: Do you have some tips for HSP and for their loved ones?

Yes, there are very easy ways for all involved to make High Sensitivity a blessing and not a curse.

  • Put on “mono-tasking”
  • Always plan time in between events. Use breaks for new strength and energy.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, you can always go out of the room or even to the bathroom for a break. Shut your eyes and breathe deeply
  • Practice to say no and to have boundaries – you DON´T have to explain yourself. It’s ok to simply say “it doesn’t work for me”
  • Learn to meditate
  • Get to know other HSP, you are not alone
  • For the non HSP: You may not understand but please accept and believe what the HSP person says. It’s for real! A flap in the shirt or a humming fan can make the nervous system scream.

These are basic practices. Life Alignment will help you to make those yours.

I can give you an example on how I adjusted my lifestyle since acknowledging that I am highly sensitive: Travelling is really challenging for me. You get so many impressions, sounds, sight, adapting to different environments. The journey alone makes me feel like I need vacation. When I go with my friends for a weekend away, I just give myself time to rest while the girls go straight after the Check-in out for shopping and then eating and clubbing. I set boundaries for myself and meet them later at the restaurant with enough energy to enjoy. When I stopped doing everything others do, I’ve seen I am capable and can have a good time with my friends. When you accept yourself then others accept you as well.

A quick Body Spin session on myself to recharge and center myself also works miracles. The Vortex technology is brilliant for HSP people who are more sensitive to other people’s energy and electromagnetic/ geopathic stress. I always wear the “Personal Protector Card” and then depending on what I need I choose from the variety of the cards.

Maggie: Thank you Malin, it became indeed much clearer for me what a great gift it is to be highly sensitive, having such a rich world inside oneselves. I am looking forward to looking out for these traits in people to see what I can implement and take into account when being involved.

THE SCIENCE OF MANY REALITIES HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME

The current pandemic is dramatically changing the way our world works. Many of us are facing challenges that can overwhelming and cause strong emotions. This invasive change affects not only the way we communicate and consume but also the way we feel about our approach to life. Life Alignment is using the potential of the energy of these turbulent times to move to the next level of global transformation. Right now it is time for us to activate our power and together create the world we desire.

Quantum physics works with the idea that we have the capacity to live in parallel universes with different realities occurring at the same time. We face a challenge as to how, in moments of deep stress, remember that there are many levels of reality and that we have the choice to move between the levels.

Merle Levin has shared some of her experience with Covid and hopes that by sharing it, she will be of help to others going through a similar process.
One Reality: Plans

My husband Jeff has an upcoming, 77th milestone event. Our plan was to rent a lovely farm and celebrate our Grampa, Dad and hubby of 53 years, who has been a rock of inspiration and wisdom, not only to our family, but to a global family of “Life Alignment” students in the field of natural health and energy medicine. The birthday boy felt healthy, athletic, fit, in love with life at the top of his game. This tangible, first level of reality, felt perfect in every way, shape and form.

Another Reality: The Medicine in the Poison

Even from the vantage of paradise, there is a full view of the state of a world in chaos and uncertainty. The Buddhists say we breathe with one breath, that we are in a connected oneness with everything. I knew this intellectually. Now I know it in the pit of my gut. We breathe with one breath.

Covid crept into our isolated sanctuary like a tiny terrorist and Jeff and I both became infected. It was a bit of a shock. Suddenly the news of Covid variants and spikes have taken on a new flavour; we are members of the club of Statistic.

I recovered from Covid with mild symptoms. Jeff has developed Covid Pneumonia. He is in the local hospital, on oxygen, fighting a battle of breath.

Suddenly I feel connected to the wider world at a new level. Suddenly I am in the war and we are breathing together with millions of struggling others. As I find a way to navigate my way through this, I trust that I am in some way assisting others as well.

I am trying to find the medicine in the poison. Some years ago, I asked Ouma Anna, an elderly San Bushman woman an important question as she dug for healing plants in the Kalahari Desert.

“Why are there poisonous plants?”

“Hai!” she replied. “Poison is medicine to keep you awake.”

I feel I am being called to find some kind of medicine in the poison. I know that I am not alone. I know I have a tangible field of support around me. This is what the physicists call the Quantum Field; what the Indigenous people call Ancestors; which others might call Angels or Guides. I know I can call upon this force for help and I do. And when I do, I get an inner guidance to try to turn from fear towards gratitude.

Grateful Reality: The Realm of Support

I have to search into the crevices of my panic over Jeff’s condition to find the gratitude. Breathing helps; connecting to my teachers helps; meditation helps; praying helps. I spent one entire night walking around my dining room table, trying to settle the extreme angst I was feeling. Walking helped. It became a walking meditation.

Then it arrived, the gratitude, like an invited guest. My hardened, shocked heart softened and I was able to sob at last with tears of the soul. Tears of gratitude for the tremendous level of support flowing towards us by so many around the world.

Jeff’s global “Life Alignment” family of students and teachers are rising to the occasion with such courage and deep synchronised work together. Different communities we have been connected with over the years are praying and sending light to Jeff. Messages are pouring into WhatsApp.

What a miracle this internet connection is! It reinforces the message that we are truly one body, breathing together with one breath.

The well of gratefulness has no bottom and no top. The water keeps welling up – for all of it, and for life itself.

Challenge Reality: Pushing through Fear.

On one of the days when I felt extremely low energy, I flicked on the TV to see what the Tokyo Olympics menu had on offer. I was hoping for gymnastics or synchronised swimming, BMX or horse jumping – something artistic and uplifting…uplifting? “How about high jump?” I asked myself, a sport I had never really watched or been interested in.

So,I settled into the couch with a blanket over my legs and settled in for an afternoon of watching 12 spaghetti-like, tight-tummied, hawked-eyed women, eye a beam that had been set at 1.09 meters above ground.
I readied myself for an afternoon of eagle-eyed boredom. As the bar was raised, some of the lithe ladies were forced out of the competition, a cruel but crucial part of the process of competition. I was not sure what the formula for success was, they were all equally talented athletes. The commentary seemed to focus on their level of mental ability, to stay above fear. This is what felt so inspiring to me. That after all the training to the body, it still comes down to how the whole system works together. With each high jump attempt I found myself meeting my own fear. I began to feel a softness for myself, for my own vulnerability.

I was fascinated at how the camera lens could hone into their eyes before each athlete took to a run before the jump. The zoom was such high resolution I could watch their pupils shift and change as they honed in with their entire body, mind and spirit on that bar in the distance. Pure focus; looking fear straight on; letting every cell and muscle and fibre of their being focus on one thing: “To meet this glorious challenge with all my might.”

F.E.A.R – Face Everything And Rise.
Which bar can you set higher – physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually?

Because in truth, the bar is rising. Time is tight for us all, and this Covid challenge is one of the cornucopia of challenges facing us as humans. A toned athlete, with discipline and dedication, shows me how I in my small corner of a living room at the tip of Africa can do it:
Find your team. Ask for help – draw on their support. Meet the challenge with a glint in your eye and let your spirit lift you over that bar. Sometimes it’s light, other times it’s heavy and the bar crashes down around you. Then, take up a pen or whatever artistic tool works for you, and let your heart and soul guide you through the process.

Covid right now is an Olympic event and each challenge is a lifting of the bar. The athletes were focused on the gold medal, for me the focus is somewhat different. For me, in this place, at this time, it seems to be about my visible and invisible team of support and how I can learn to draw on it in new and creative ways.

Jeff assures me, difficult though it is, that he is deeply thankful for this journey. He is connecting deeply to his field of spiritual support. His body is struggling while his spirit is soaring. It is as if his chariot has the wheels falling off but the driver sits strongly in his seat. I am inspired by his strength.

Thank you Merle for your wonderful insights. It is inspiring to remember that each and every situation in our life is there for us to activate more power of creation. When I read your full articles on your blog, I was touched to tears. You are an inspiring, strong and transforming woman.

NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION

Is the way we communicate violent?
In this month’s newsletter, we explore Nonviolent Communication with Renate Stoecker. This is a process through which we can learn to express ourselves honestly while listening to our feelings and those of others. Renate is a Life Alignment teacher in Germany and has worked as a Transformational Coach for many years.
Maggie: I have not considered the way I speak violent, however I do know that I have hurt people with my words. When do you consider communication to be violent?

Any form of judgment, demand, discrimination, blaming ourselves or others, gossip, negative self-talk, thinking in terms of right and wrong, in categories of “should have”, trying to achieve something by inducing feelings of fear, guilt or shame, is a contribution to violence in some way.

Nonviolent or Compassionate Communication as it is often called, is like learning a new language, the language of compassion and consciousness, of listening and speaking from the heart and looking beyond the words.

Maggie: Knowing there is no way to NOT communicate, I can understand it's like learning a new language. What changed for you, getting introduced to this form of communication?

I was born in the 50’s and my family background is shaped by the fact that people were still traumatized from the war, busily reconstructing their existence and doing what needed to be done. Connecting to feelings and needs seemed irrelevant at that time. It’s the generation of “follow demands and rules, do what is supposed to be done”. A common way of punishment in those days was also not talking to a person anymore for a while. So this language of speaking and listening from the heart felt to me like feeling vibrantly alive all of a sudden and making contact in a new, humane way. Learning this art of listening to what a person is feeling and needing and listening beyond the words, showed me the how to really making contact and resolving conflicts in a good way.

To listen empathically to yourself on the level of feelings and needs, also helps in dealing with your inner critic. When we are blaming ourselves, or when we are hearing blame, we are either buying into it and feeling bad, or we are defending ourselves. Either way, we are disconnecting from ourselves. When we don’t feel well and our needs are not met – instead of taking responsibility for it, we rather blame someone or something for it. It is essential to be aware that something may have triggered a feeling in me, but it is still MY feeling and need and I am taking responsibility for both.

 

Message from Jeff Levin:

“We had a woman in London years ago and she had to mentally communicate with her husband during a session. The same old pattern of blame came up which is what happens when our buttons are pushed. A wall comes up and from this place you can’t listen but only judge. I said to her “Is he hearing you?” No, he still doesn’t hear me. “Can you say it in a way that comes from your heart to his heart with kindness and compassion”? This woman did a few takes and when we finally got there she felt completely different. “Is he hearing you now?” Yes, he’s hugging and loving me. The reason I’m sharing this is that an hour later her husband came to pick her up from the seminar. The whole energy of the relationship had changed, he felt it without knowing anything about the session and there was a new line of connection.

A Life Alignment process is about rewiring old habitual patterns of behaviour and communication. In a session very often, there is a need to communicate to “an oppressor” and the old patterns can come up as we take the individual into a safe space where they access their sole frequency and their heart. There is then a re-patterning of a trauma related wiring which changes the line of communication from then on”.

Maggie: This reminds me of situations in the work environment. Renate, I am sure it's a very useful tool there as well?

Indeed! Many years ago I was asked to help resolve a conflict for an intercultural project, which was run by Germans and Malays. The Germans accused the Malays of being unpredictable, which made planning for them impossible. The Malays meanwhile thought the German were inflexible, too direct and arrogant. Of course this web of judgments and labels brought up anger and resentment in both parties and made cooperation seem impossible.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field, I will meet you there”
Rumi

When I was called in, I had been told about all the things that had gone wrong, I focused however on deep listening and understanding “what does each party need in order to work in the best possible way”. Once the whole project team focused on that level of “we can listen to each other”, the energy changed the team became very motivated to look for mutually satisfying solutions. Only when they feel really heard they are ready to open up. That is when compassion as a healing tool comes in and works miracles.

Maggie: This resonates so much, especially when I look at the way of communication during this current pandemic.

Yes. In this time of disruption and transformation many of us feel that it can also be a gift to have the time to tune in with ourselves and feel into what really matters for us. Compassionate Communication can also help to bridge the polarities we see worldwide. Just look at the vaccine opponents and advocates, both groups reacting extremely opinionated, blaming each other of being “insane, stupid, unaware…”. There is so much polarisation going on at the moment instead of listening to fears, worries and needs. Instead we could use the opportunity to meet not only the other person’s needs but also ours! Well, Life Alignment is indeed a powerful tool to deeply connect to ourselves, find out about our fundamental needs and speak our truth.

Maggie: That means Life Alignment Balances do help to learn the language of Nonviolent Communication?

Definitely. In Life Alignment we are connecting on the level of the heart and soul and we realise that it is our inner environment and old trauma, beliefs and hurt, that is triggered by other people or events in our life. By releasing those traumatic memories, it becomes easier to connect to ourselves and be aware of our feelings and needs in the present moment.

Healing comes about when compassion and deep understanding comes in. We are clearing our filters of perception. From the perspective of the heart and soul, the world looks very different.

We also take responsibility as we know we have co-created our experience and realize that it is our inner environment that makes us suffer the most, especially the thoughts and beliefs we have bought into. We know, we can make conscious choices to bring qualities into our lives we truly desire.

Maggie: I can only agree! How can I start practicing Compassionate Communication in my daily life?

A good start would be to connect to your own feelings throughout the day and be curious, what the need is behind your feeling, met or not met. A process of Compassionate Communication consists of four steps:

1. Perceive what is happening and describe the situation as a pure observation without judgment, which is not easy to do. We tend to mix what we perceive with how we evaluate it.
I’ll give you a very common example:

Violent: “She is very disrespectful of our time to always be late for our meeting.”
Compassionated: “She came 15 min late to our meeting for the 3rd time, I wonder what was going on.”

The difference between these approaches is big. The harm originates from the thoughts, interpretations and meanings we attach to an incident.

2. Connecting to yourself – What are you feeling?

Feelings show us whether or not our needs have been fulfilled. When our needs are met, we may feel inspired, balanced, free, enthusiastic, peaceful, etc. On the flip side when our needs are not met we may feel frustrated, discouraged, angry, sad, depressed etc. So when I see you coming later than we agreed, I become unsure, because I am thinking, the meeting is not important to you and I would love everyone to be on board to make decisions together.

3. Find the need behind your feeling:

I am feeling sad, because my need is … because I would like … I desire …

Violent: “Can you not come in time when we schedule a meeting? We all needed to wait for you”.
Compassionated: “When you come late for the meeting I feel sad as I really wish that we are all on board equally. How do you feel about this”?

4. The last step is to express a doable and positive request.

Please will you…; Are you willing to do this?
It is important, not to confuse a request with a demand: Requests mean that you are open to accepting “no” as a response and then find a new arrangement together.

You can practice this at any moment during the day.

Maggie: That sounds fantastic Renate. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom about Compassionate Communication. I am excited to learn this new language and I heard there will be a relating Life Alignment workshop very soon :). I will keep us updated!