Looking after yourself is vital for us all but, for HSPs, it can feel tough to prioritise yourself. As you're empathic, you may see prioritising yourself as being selfish. You may also have people-pleasing tendencies as a result of how much you empathise and so you feel that doing something just for you means that you're being mean to others.
After working with HSPs and being one myself, I can confirm that sayings like 'put your own mask on first' and 'you can't pour from an empty cup' are cheesy but true. I know that if I look after myself, I am happier, I am more relaxed and I have more energy which allows me to not only influence others people's energies to rise with me but it allows me to support more people whether those be my family, friends or clients.
Here are 3 self-care rituals that I think are vital for HSPs and these are not what you probably think. They're not about baths, spa days or getting your nails done - all which are fantastic activities to do but I want to go deeper into what's really going to make a difference and support you.
1. Remembering who you are
I've previously quoted research completed in 2022 which shows how HSPs brains are different to others in terms of how we feel empathy. This research which you can read HERE shows how HSPs have more empathy, we can mirror others and although that is a beautiful gift, it can also mean that you don't know where your emotions end and another person's start. As a result, you might feel completely overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that are not even yours.
Remembering who you are is all about grounding yourself; remembering your truth, who you really are. I often talk to my clients about peeling back the layers of onion. At the core is all the beauty and gifts you had from birth but over the years, they've been covered up with self-doubt, people-pleasing and childhood conditioning. When I work with clients, we work on peeling back those layers back to the core of who you are.
There are lots of ways that you can do this. I love meditation - it is time just for me to remember who I am, what I want and desire and to ground myself in that truth. This isn't about being selfish or arrogant but as re-balancing; getting yourself back into your body and mind.
2. Making micro-decisions and practising asking yourself what you want
I've often experienced with myself and clients a habit of not being able to make small decisions. I have a fellow HSP best friend and when we get together, it can take us forever to work out what we're doing as we both say 'I don't mind - what do you want to do?' Again, this is such a beautiful gift as you care about others and you love making sure that they are looked after and pleased but where does kindness end and people-pleasing begin?
As a result, a few years ago, I started myself making micro-decisions. These started as simple as me choosing an oracle card from the deck and built to choosing what film to watch, where we visited etc. The point here wasn't to take over completely but, like the first point, to re-balance so that you are back in control of the direction of your life.
The aim here is to kindly and compassionately start asking yourself what you want. Desire and wants are seen as a huge taboo for most HSPs as it feels selfish and mean but like we've said before, doing what lights you up can have such a positive effect on those around you so start asking yourself - write it down, say it to yourself in a mirror - start normalising that you have wants and desires.
3. Setting boundaries
This last one can often be the most difficult and a lot of HSPs shy away from boundaries as it can cause controversy and upset and we will do everything to avoid but instead, we end up leaning more into the people-pleasing tendencies.
As someone who struggled with this too and now supports fellow HSPs with it too - start off small. I like to start off asking myself questions around my emotions and energy levels such as 'is this mine?' which brings us back to point 1. Often, starting to create an awareness around when you're taking on something that isn't yours is a great introduction into setting a boundary. You can't change anything without first creating an awareness around it. You can then build from there. A next small step I like to use is chord cutting visualisation where I imagine cutting the chord which represents the energy I have taken on that belongs to someone else. As you build and grow your awareness and your confidence, you can start saying no to things, activities or events which you know would overwhelm you.
Implementing these 3 things will change not only your inner world but you will start to see changes in your external world too.
As with everything regarding HSPs, don't be afraid to go slow and take small steps. Be kind to yourself.
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