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Unapologetically Sensitive

We explore how sensitivity weaves itself into our lives; the richness that it adds, and the strengths we have BECAUSE of our sensitivity--and some of the challenges it poses as well. You may learn to live a bolder, brighter life.

Aug 13, 2019


Overall Struggles & Strengths Highly Sensitive Person (HSPs)


Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC


Jen and I talk about perfectionism, self-compassion, boundaries, self-care, HS superpowers, communication, vulnerability, authenticity, demystifying emotions, creating a lifestyle that honors the HSP, and mindfulness. These are some of the things that we notice Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) struggling with.  Our primary intention is to give you an idea of what to expect in our upcoming online courses. Whether you are considering taking a group or not, this episode is a great way to identify your HS strengths and maybe see if there are areas you want to focus on.


  • Jen explains why working with HSPs is a passion of hers
  • We share our excitement about the groups and why we feel they are important
  • I share the story of my first meeting with Jen
  • Jen shares her initial impression upon our first meeting and the benefit that comes with creating a safe space to openly share our needs
  • We discuss our goal of making the groups a safe space where productive communication can happen, and we create community
  • Setting boundaries in relationships is not about changing the other person; it’s creating a space for yourself by communicating your needs
  • We discuss the plan for our upcoming groups to give you an idea of what to expect:
  • Group culture / Expectations
    • Creating community guidelines
    • Creating and maintaining a safe environment
    • Everyone is seen and heard
    • Everyone is treated respectfully
    • Everyone’s goals for the group
    • Getting to know each other
    • Basic education about the trait
      • Questions and discussion
      • Building pride in HSP
      • Applying the pride
    • Recognizing this is a non-HSP world, and we get to assert our HSP traits/needs
  • Identifying negative messages and turning them into superpowers
    • Things we struggle with
      • Too sensitive
      • Too needy
      • Need to get thicker skin
      • Not social
      • No fun, can’t take a joke, no sense of humor
      • Too picky
      • Overthink things
      • Worry too much
      • Too nice
      • Over responsible for everything
      • Feeling fatally flawed, not good enough
      • Mistfit–I’m the only one; There’s no one like me
      • Deep sense of not belonging and shame
    • Outcomes
      • Embracing our traits
      • Identify and verbalize what traits resonate for us
      • Feeling confident in what our needs are
      • Naming our strengths
      • Seeing comments as being about the other person
      • Identifying when we get triggered, and having tools to manage
      • Proper care and feeding of the HSP
      • Skillfulness around boundaries
      • Finding ways to live peacefully with non-HPSs and honor everyone’s needs
    • Self-care is non-negotiable!
      • Things we struggle with
        • People pleasing
        • Putting others needs ahead of our own
        • Feeling guilty when we take care of ourselves
        • Feeling resentful when we meet other’s needs and not our own
        • Feeling drained
        • Feeling depleted
        • Feeling unappreciated
        • Feeling overwhelmed
        • Feeling irritable, negative, easily annoyed, less patient, more critical of self and others, intolerant
      • Outcomes
        • Becoming comfortable with self-centering
        • It’s ok to be the center of your universe
        • You can’t pour from an empty cup
        • Self-care is an imperative–which is ultimately a selfless act
        • When we take care of ourselves, everyone benefits in the long run (not always immediately, but the overall benefit is for everyone)
        • Listening to what we need and want
        • Trusting what we need and want
        • Wanting to take care of ourselves
        • Knowing that when we take care of ourselves, we have more to offer others
        • Feeling out of balance (or at least aware) when we are ignoring our own needs
        • Having richer deeper relationships because we are fulfilled and coming from a place where we have more to offer
      • Boundaries are an imperative part of self-care
        • Things we struggle with
          • Feeling uncomfortable with conflict
          • Feeling guilty–picking up on other’s feelings that we might disappoint others (or they will get angry or frustrated)
            • The guilt is not necessary (we haven’t done anything wrong–we’re supposed to set boundaries–it’s healthy, and boundaries are a natural and necessary part of any healthy relationship)
            • Guilt is the best word we have in the English language, but it’s not really an accurate description
          • Feeling not seen, not heard or not honored
          • Not expressing our wants and needs
          • Feeling resentful
          • Feeling powerless
          • Feeling taken advantage of
          • Feeling like everyone else gets their needs met or what they want
        • Outcomes
          • Trusting our feelings
          • Boundaries will directly reduce our overwhelm
            • Learning how to set boundaries without emotion
            • Boundaries make you a happy human; When we have an emotional flare, it’s because a boundary has most likely been violated (or a need has not been met)
            • Learning how to compassionately, but kindly state what is and is not acceptable
          • Seeing boundaries as creating safety for ourselves and others
          • Seeing the benefits of setting limits
          • Owning our power and KNOWING that our wants and needs are perfectly acceptable and reasonable
          • Developing flexibility–not about the rule, but about the relationship and the context
        • Perfectionism
          • Things we struggle with
            • Feeling not good enough
            • Comparing
            • Feeling inadequate
            • Not starting things, paralysis
            • Not pursuing dreams
            • Overworking/overdoing trying to get a sense of “enoughness”
            • Constant unease
            • Critical of self and others
            • Perfectionism is a myth
            • Imposter syndrome–if people really saw who I am, they would leave
            • Brene Brown says Whenever you have perfectionism driving, shame is riding shotgun
              • Hustling for your sense of worth
              • “Doing” for a sense of value instead of knowing we have value because we live and breathe
            • Outcomes
              • Knowing done is better than perfect
              • Busting shame
              • Brene Brown–Our vulnerability is what actually connects us
                • Sense of belonging and connection comes from allowing ourselves to be seen imperfectly
                • That’s where connection begins
                • Living from our values–regardless of whether goals are met or not.  It can be about the process and not the outcome
              • More self-acceptance
              • More ease in relationships because the standards are more realistic
              • Learning how to set goals that are achievable
              • More contentment
              • More satisfaction
              • Actually accomplishing more due to acceptance
            • Communication, vulnerability, authenticity
              • Things we struggle with
                • Afraid to say what you’re thinking
                • Not trusting what you’re thinking
                • Fear of judgment, criticism, being ridiculed
                • Feeling like your point of view is wrong or not popular
                • Afraid to really show up in relationships and allow yourself to be fully seen
                • Being afraid to upset someone
                • Being afraid to stir up problems in the relationship
                • Not trusting that ruptures are repairable, and this actually points at growth
                  • We grow in relationships after a rupture
                  • Ruptures are a natural part of attachment–it doesn’t mean that there isn’t attachment
                • Outcomes
                  • Educate others about the trait
                  • Why we need the lights low,
                  • Less stimulation
                  • Quiet areas
                • Model healthy communication, authenticity, vulnerability
                • More depth, closeness and trust in relationships
                • Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication
                  • All behavior is an attempt to get a need met
                  • Feelings and needs are never in conflict
                  • Strategies to get them met can be in conflict, and that requires creative problem-solving
                • Life is figure out-able
              • Creating a lifestyle that is HSP friendly and honors our HSP needs
                • Things we struggle with
                  • Overwhelm
                  • Fatigue
                  • Resentment
                  • Feeling drained
                  • Overworking
                  • Living in a non-HSP world and trying to live like a non-HSP
                • Outcomes
                  • Proper Care and Feeding of HSPs
                    • Getting enough rest, down time, quiet time
                    • Exercise
                    • Spirituality
                    • Just enough socializing
                    • Feeling a deeper sense of connection
                    • More meaning in your life
                    • Social justice work HSP style ~ having activist mentors
                    • Connecting with nature
                    • Learning how to do non-HSP events in manageable chunks
                  • Mindfulness & Self-Compassion
                    • Things we struggle with
                      • Overwhelmed and scattered
                      • Urge to numb out (TV, social media, Netflix)
                    • Outcomes
                      • Basic meditation instruction
                        • Formal and informal practices, moving meditation, guided meditation
                      • Learning how to curiously observe what comes up and to use it as information instead of reacting to things
                      • Self-acceptance
                      • More self-compassion and compassion for others
                      • Being more emotionally responsive vs emotionally reactive (Pause button)
                      • Meeting life on its terms instead of arm wrestling with it
                    • Demystifying emotions & Embracing our emotions
                      • Things we struggle with
                        • My emotions overwhelm me
                        • I can’t control my emotions
                        • I’m emotionally reactive
                        • I’m embarrassed by my emotions
                        • Affect-phobia
                        • I don’t want to feel my emotions, they won’t go away
                        • My feelings will hurt me / others
                      • Outcomes
                        • Basic education about emotion theory
                        • Emotions can’t hurt us
                        • Emotions are to be honored and felt
                        • Emotions are impermanent
                        • Emotions are not something we can control
                        • Creating safety to feel our emotions
                        • Emotions can inform our actions/behavior but do not need to drive our behavior
                        • Mindfulness
                        • Feelings come and go – just energy moving through us
                        • Deep sense of connection when we get comfortable having our feelings


Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC has been a psychotherapist for 20 years. She specializes in helping highly sensitive people thrive in love, work, and parenting highly sensitive children. Jen is passionate about using mindfulness and compassion-based approaches to ameliorate human suffering. She can be reached at  or 215-292-5056. Learn more at or


Patricia Young works with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) helping them in understanding their HSP traits, and turning their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate the amazing gifts they have to offer. Patricia works globally online with HSPs providing coaching. Patricia also facilitates online courses for HSPs that focus on building community and developing skills (identifying your superpowers, boundaries, perfectionism, dealing with conflict, mindfulness, embracing emotions, creating a lifestyle that supports the HSP, communication and more).



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Music-- Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson