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  • Navigating Relationships as a Highly Sensitive Person: Tips for Empaths

    If you’re a highly sensitive person (sometimes called HSP), navigating relationships can be tricky. You may find yourself taking on too much, or feeling overwhelmed by your environment. Being sensitive isn’t a bad thing at all. However, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and to set boundaries. In this blog post, we will discuss how to navigate relationships effectively as a highly sensitive person!

    Have You Been Told That You’re a “Highly Sensitive Person”?

    Or maybe you’ve been told that you’re an empath, a highly empathetic person. If you identify with either of these terms, you may find yourself running into issues in your relationships with other people. Maybe it’s difficult for you to set boundaries in your relationships because you care so much for the people in your life and want to do anything you can to help them. Or, maybe you find yourself empathizing so much with your loved ones when they’re going through a hard time that you start to feel bad yourself. If you’re a woman, you may have even been asked the dreaded question “are you on your period?” when you started feeling overwhelmed.

    Not everyone will understand what it’s like to be a highly sensitive and empathetic person. You might feel the need to explain it to your loved ones who don’t understand why you’re reacting or behaving a certain way. However, once you do they should see that it’s not a character flaw, it is actually a skill and some would say it means that you have a high level of emotional intelligence. It’s important to understand that being a highly sensitive or empathetic person is not a bad thing, but you must remember to take care of yourself first and foremost.

    Being an HSP Can Impact Your Relationships

    The fact that you’re a highly sensitive person may mean you react differently or are impacted differently by certain things in a relationship than others. For example, you may find yourself being highly emotional during an argument with your partner and need some time to calm down afterwards. This doesn’t mean you’re overreacting, it just means that your emotions are running high and you need some time to process what’s going on.

    Honestly, sometimes being “sensitive” can impact your relationships to such an extent that you start to believe you are the problem. Perhaps it’s affecting your self esteem or you’ve started wondering if you’re even able to have healthy relationships.  In therapy, this isn’t an unusual concern for someone to bring up.

    Simply knowing that you’re an empath can help you have insight into how it impacts your relationships.

    Photo of two people on a hill representing a person who identifies as being HSP (highly sensitive person) who is in a relationship. This represents how as a therapist I offer relationship counseling for one and therapy for self esteem which can help you as an HSP be your best self in relationships.

    Tips For Empaths in Relationships

    The good news is that it’s very possible for you to have healthy relationships. Sometimes, it might mean being more mindful of your needs and communicating them to your partner. Other times, it might be about setting boundaries in order to protect yourself from feeling overwhelmed. And sometimes, it might just be about being more understanding and compassionate with yourself.

    Below are some specific tips you may find useful as you navigate relationships.

    Talk to Your Partner About How Being an HSP Impacts You

    First, it’s important to communicate this to your partner so they can be understanding. For example, if you’re always taking on the emotions of others, it’s important to have outlets where you can release those feelings. Then when your partner comes home and talks about their bad day you may start to take on that emotion. Simply communicating to them that this is something you do may help them be more understanding and patient with you.

    Setting (and Sticking to) Your Boundaries in Relationships

    One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a highly sensitive and empathetic person is to set boundaries and stick to them. This may be difficult at first because you might feel like you’re being selfish, but it’s important to remember that boundaries are not bad. Boundaries are necessary in order to maintain healthy relationships with others. When you have boundaries, you are able to take care of yourself better and prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed.

    Two professional women participating in a meeting at work while wearing masks representing a highly sensitive person (HSP) successfully setting boundaries at work and being happy in their career. This represents how as a counselor I offer therapy for self esteem and online anxiety treatment in North Carolina to help people set boundaries.

    An essential part of setting boundaries is the ability to advocate for yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to be able to speak up and let others know that you can’t take anything else on at the moment. If you feel like you’re letting someone else down by advocating for yourself, remember that it’s better to manage their expectations now than to let them down later. For example, if you tell a coworker that you’re unable to take on an additional project because you’re already stretched thin, they might be a bit let down for a moment. However, if you would’ve told them that you could take on that project and then it just got forgotten or done poorly because you didn’t have the time, they’d probably be more upset.

    It might feel bad at first when you set boundaries with the people in your life, but in the long run it will help everyone involved. Just like a storm or wave, the initial uncomfortableness will pass. You’ll be better for it, and so will your relationships!

    Self Care is Essential

    Self care is so important, yet it’s often one of the first things to go when we’re busy (which is bound to happen if you keep taking on too much). We’re not machines, so we all need to take time for ourselves to recharge. Some people may think that it’s “unhealthy” to take time away, but usually these are the people that benefit from you being around 24/7 to meet their every need. Realistically, self care is essential in order to avoid burnout. When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of those around you.

    So what does self care look like? It looks different for everyone, but some examples of  self care include taking a hot bath, listening to your favorite podcast, or going on a short day trip to visit your favorite local park. It’s important to schedule some time for yourself every day, even if it’s just 15-30 minutes. This is time that you can use to do something you enjoy, without stress or obligations. Remember, self-care is not selfish – it’s essential!

    Photo of a woman reading a book while laying in a hammock which represents the importance of self care as a highly sensitive person (HSP). This represents how counseling for women in North Carolina can help you achieve more peace as a highly sensitive person.

    Counseling Can Help Highly Sensitive People

    Maybe you’ve found that you’re struggling to navigate your relationships. You’re having difficulty setting boundaries. Or perhaps you’ve taken on the emotions so much of others that you aren’t able to even focus on your own experience in a relationship. Maybe your self esteem is even taking a hit. Counseling can help.

    Did you know that it’s common for people to seek individual relationship counseling on their own? As a therapist, I don’t specialize in couples counseling. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t talk about relationships in session. Why? Because you are a person within a relationship.  And working on yourself, your ability to set boundaries, your self esteem, and your overall wellbeing impacts your relationships. Romantic and other relationships.

    The bottom line is a therapist can provide you with the tools and support you need to make positive changes in your life. Whether you are single, in a relationship, or somewhere in between, a therapist can support you on your journey to better mental health.

    Counseling for Highly Sensitive People in North Carolina

    If you’re a highly sensitive person looking for counseling in North Carolina, I would be happy to help.  You CAN navigate healthy relationships. As a North Carolina therapist, I regularly help people throughout the state including those in High Point, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem using online counseling.

    I also understand that you are a whole person. You aren’t just a highly sensitive person. You wear many hats.  In fact, your concerns may extend beyond just your relationships. As a therapist, I can help you in many areas of your life including anxiety, stress, depression, and navigating major life transitions.  I use a variety of counseling techniques including brainspotting to meet you where you are and make sure that you reach your personal goals.

    You aren’t broken. There’s nothing “wrong” with you because you are a highly sensitive person. It’s just time to approach relationships a little differently. Counseling can be your next step on your journey to find peace and balance in your life. Please reach out today.