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Elizabeth Downing Counsellor
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Here I will be posting news and articles that are related to counselling. I hope you find them useful.

Are you an orchid or a dandelion?

Are you someone who thinks very deeply about things, to the point that people tell you to stop over-thinking? Are you sensitive to stimuli such as fluorescent lights, noise, smells, and you find that you notice small details that seem to pass others by? Do you find that you are very empathic and can easily tune in to what other people are feeling? Do you get easily overwhelmed? If you answer yes to these questions, you could be highly sensitive.

I find that highly sensitive clients come to me thinking there is something wrong with them and that they need to be fixed. This is not the case. Many people have the trait of high sensitivity, in fact around 20 or even 30% of the population are highly sensitive, evenly split between men and women. High sensitivity is a temperament trait that we are born with. It is genetic, and if you are an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) it’s very likely that your parents or grandparents are too.

High sensitivity is perfectly normal, and not a disorder (although it can sometimes feel like it, especially when our lives get out of balance). In fact it’s actually beneficial for society to have some HSPs. High sensitivity evolved in human beings - and other species - as a survival trait. When many people wouldn’t notice things, or gloss over them, the HSP’s tendency to notice tiny details and reflect deeply on them, has been an essential warning system in evolutionary terms, contributing to the survival of the species. HSPs are a bit like a canary in a coal mine. The problem is that it’s not easy being an HSP, but when we know and understand ourselves, we are more able to live a life in tune with who we are, a life that supports us and allows us to thrive, rather than being weighed down and held back by the challenges of the trait.

One way to understand it is to see some people as dandelions, and others as orchids! People who are not highly sensitive often seem less affected by stressors in daily life. They are the dandelions and are less particular about the conditions they need to grow in. The orchids - or HSPs - find the stressors of daily life really challenging. They are people who need more care in order to thrive, but when conditions are just right for them they can be stunningly beautiful.

If you think you may be an orchid, and you are finding life is getting on top of you at the moment, or, like many HSPs, you are interested in your personal development and want to understand yourself better, you may find it helpful to book some sessions with a therapist who really understands high sensitivity. Reframing your life and who you are in the light of your sensitivity can be really transformative.


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