HSPs are a minority, only one in five. The majority make the rules of the society, its institutions, and workplaces. We often twist ourselves into pretzels to blend in. Most of us get good at this but wear ourselves out in the process. HSP coaching provides someone who understands us and values our special abilities.
I'm Celeste O'Brien, coach, instructor and a life-long HSP. I understand sensitivity; I live it every day. I've known many HSPs in many different settings and heard their stories, their triumphs, and their challenges. Based on Elaine Aron, Ph.D.'s extraordinary research and my own experiences and observations, here are five aspects of HSP coaching that adapt the process especially for you.
First, recognition of the value of sensitivity
Perhaps most important is a genuine appreciation of an authentic HSP. While an effective HSP coach or instructor does not have to be highly sensitive, a deep awareness of the trait is important. Dr. Aron identified these qualities as common in HSPs: creativity, imagination, empathy, intuition, reflection, wisdom, vocation, idea generation, depth, and perceptiveness.
Other authors have also highlighted focus, passion, commitment, engagement, critical thinking, independent thinking, the ability to work with little supervision, and a concern for fairness and justice.
Second, knowledge of the research
Sensitivity is a trait, not a disorder or dysfunction to be cured. Some websites skip over the HSP’s positives to immediately suggest remedies for our stresses. If you read many first-person HSP experiences online, they are often about the downside. There is a significant and at least equal upside. You cannot get a clear picture of the actual trait from these individual self-reports.
HSPs do suffer more than non-HSPs when raised in a stressful environment. Dr. Elaine Aron’s early work, however, has shown that HSPs raised in good-enough homes do as well or better than non-HSPs.
The important news now is that an increasing number of studies show that highly sensitive children benefit more than non-HSP youngsters when parents and caregivers improve their circumstances. As teens and adults HSPs also gain more from training.
Third, a whole-person perspective
HSP coaching sees the benefits of being sensitive as well as the risks it can create in negative circumstances. It sees both HSP strengths and vulnerabilities. We have been described as being like orchids. Where dandelions can grow most anywhere, we flourish where conditions are more favorable. As adults, we may have to seek out or create those conditions; they may not automatically come to us.
This kind of core-strengths coaching offers an opportunity to replace the cultural bias against sensitivity with recognition of your unique combination of abilities, ones that are often grounded in the very trait that you were taught wasn’t as-good-as. It can be an enormous relief to find others who see what you offer the world, and why it’s of value.
Fourth, a whole-life perspective
A whole-life approach to HSP coaching encourages a balance among life’s domains—work, finances, health and fitness, social support, intimate relationship, family, learning, creativity, leisure, and life purpose, religion, or spirituality.
I help you maintain a whole-life perspective instead of getting caught up in the minutia.
You may function better in some areas than others. Imagine that your life could be graphed in a circular fashion. Parts are flourishing, others languishing.
Your career is going well, but you are losing touch with friends or family. Or, you have rich, abiding friendships, and your family adores you, but your finances are in disarray.
This "circle of life" might be compared to a wheel. It can reveal whether you're going down life's highway smoothly or lumpa-bumpa. When the wheel is significantly out of round, the parts needing attention can pull down those that until now have been doing well.
Fifth, good boundaries and safe settings
If you've signed up for Authenticity Coaching e-news updates, I may send you a newsletter, blog post, follow-up surveys, or advise you of related programs. Otherwise I won’t contact you outside class, nor seek or accept a friendship or business relationship, now or later. I won't play favorites by socializing with some students or clients and not others.
In HSP coaching I take on only the role of instructor/ coach and step away from any social or business ties beyond that. Too often such dual roles are in conflict or have the potential to be. Both your name and the context of our relationship are confidential. If you want to say that you are a client or student of mine, you may, but I won’t mention it.
Your registration in our Happiness and the Highly Sensitive Person teleclass represents your willingness to hold confidential names and identifying details of your fellow participants, both during the time of the teleclass and after. As our degrees of separation grow fewer, a fellow class participant may be the brother-in-law of your spouse’s biggest client.
Remember that sensory processing sensitivity is not a disorder. Classes and coaching are not for the diagnosis or treatment of any physical, mental or emotional disorder. They are not to be used as a substitute for professional advice by legal, medical, financial, business, spiritual or other qualified professionals. Finding the right approach, as always, is a key to your success.
What is life coaching?
Coaches help people like you navigate transitions, set goals and priorities for life, make important changes, lower stress, create action plans and more. So how does coaching really work?
Coaching is the art of helping people grow and maximize their potential without telling them what to do. In a coaching relationship, you choose what you want to work on, you set your own goals and actions—in other words, you are always in charge.
What I bring to the table as an HSP coach is a set of professional skills for helping you identify what you really want in life, design action plans to reach those goals, and get those things done, all in the context of your sensitivity.
Are you feeling an urgency to take some area of your life to a new level? I coach highly sensitive and highly motivated individuals who want to accelerate their growth. If the change you envision was easy, however, you'd have done it already.
Coaching is not for the things you are already getting done on your own. It's for tackling the challenges that stretch you to your limits, the goals that require great support to accomplish.
Coaching gives you the tools, perspective and support you need to reach higher than you can on your own. An HSP coach can help you think deeply about your aims grounded in an HSP's needs. This means you are truly being strategic about where you put your time and energy. And once you’ve got a clear handle on an objective you are passionate about, the coach will help you develop an action plan, overcome obstacles along the way, and keep moving forward until one day, voila! You've achieved your goal!
HSP coaching vs. other disciplines
You might ask, how is HSP coaching different from mentoring or counseling? Where mentors give wise advice based on their own experience, coaches help you fully draw from the well of your own insight and ability. Often the biggest obstacle to our dreams isn’t knowing what to do: it’s having the self-confidence to do it! Coaches have mastered the art of believing in people instead of telling them what to do.
And where a counselor’s goal is to move hurting people toward wholeness, coaches help people who are basically whole maximize their lives. Counseling often focuses on the past, but coaching focuses on the present and the future.
So why do I recommend five, or better, ten weeks of class before one-on-one or group coaching? The answer is simple. Without a good understanding of your sensitivity, HSP coaching can be premature. You may be basing your goals on old information. Perhaps you have an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of your trait. Let's talk about which next step is right for you. Use the contact button below to schedule a free, no-obligation conversation.
This is the understanding you've waited for all your life.