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Your Highly Sensitive Mind is the Answer



Hey there, Highly Sensitive Person!


I want to talk about the secret weapon that you have at your disposal to change your life. Yes you.

 

This secret weapon can help you become less stressed, less overwhelmed, have less empathy fatigue, less burnout, and instead can help you feel energized, connected, confident, and motivated.

 

As the title of the episode says, your mind is the answer.

 

We all have this special ability, but highly sensitive people like us, have an even greater ability to put this into effect.

 

Highly sensitive minds are powerful processors. We take in a lot of information and subtleties others miss.

 

When our highly sensitive minds are working against us, we often struggle more than the average person.

 

When we tap into our high sensitivity and use it as a gift, we have a huge advantage in making changes in our lives.

 

If you can use that powerful mind to your advantage, amazing things start to happen. You know exactly what your goals and dreams are and how to reach them. Your relationships improve because you have more bandwidth to be present, calm, and focused. You make and save more money, and you spend your money in intentional ways – like on amazing travel experiences or classes that help you grow and learn. You generally feel better because you’re not running on an empty tank and living in a chronic state of stress. You stop taking responsibility for other people’s stuff and fully own your own life. You get so much more energy, more time, and more of what you want.

 

While there were many parts of 2023 that felt challenging and uncomfortable last year, I realized as I was looking back at the year that I’ve improved every single area of my life using my mind.

 

I dropped 30 pounds (and the brain fog, fluctuating energy, and hanger that came along with my old style of eating).

 

I increased my income by 25% over the course of the year.

 

I planned and followed through on incredible experiences with my loved ones, including special dinners out together, road trips with our favorite podcasts, and plenty of time to cuddle up with a good TV show – Supernatural and Suits were my big ones last year.

 

All of that happened because of how I managed my mind.

 

Here’s what happens when you don’t manage your mind and you live on cruise control. You feel constantly stressed, overwhelmed, stuck, and tired. You tell yourself you’ll work on your health, your relationships, and your money “tomorrow, when I have more energy.” You get pulled in a million different directions and feel like you haven’t made any real progress at the end of the day.

 

I’ve been there too and I’ve figured out how to leave that constant stress and fatigue in the rearview mirror.

 

I practice the techniques I’m sharing with you anytime I start to slip back into old patterns, and I get faster and better at redirecting myself every time. You can too.

 

Here’s how. The first idea you need to know is “we can’t control what goes on in the world around us or with the people around us, but we can control our perception of those situations.” Whether you embrace and work with your sensitivity or struggling against it and denying it’s a thing – BOTH of those results come from your mind, and you can CHOOSE which one to create for yourself.

 

Our mind, particularly our prefrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain at the front around your forehead. That’s responsible for your executive functioning, in other words, how you make decisions and your follow through, it’s a part of you that can watch your thoughts and observe them, which I imagine you’re familiar with if you have practiced any yoga or meditation. It’s the part of you that can Think about your thoughts. It’s the part of you that can plan ahead and change your life.

 

Our primitive brain in the amygdala is very powerful. It wants to survive, and that means that it wants you to stay safe and comfortable and never go outside. That part of your brain definitely is important, because we want to survive. We may not have lions and tigers, that we have to run from now and we may not need to hunt for our food anymore, but we do have things that we need to survive and things that trigger our fear response. That part of our brain is important. However, when you let that primitive part of your brain call all of the shots, you are missing out on the opportunity to use your greatest asset as a highly sensitive person, which is your mind.

 

If you think about a computer, one of the main components is RAM which stands for random access memory. It’s the part of your computer that allows you to keep a bunch of tabs and apps open, the thing that will run your word processer, your music apps, and your YouTube videos. It’s the thing that allows you to do all the stuff. Highly sensitive people have a bit more RAM than average because we’re able to take in more info. This doesn’t mean we’re better at multi-tasking (in fact, I think HSPs are worse at multi-tasking because it takes so much more energy for us to switch between tasks), but it does mean that we can run more programs and not slow down.

 

You can use this excess processing power to your advantage to do what’s really important to you, or you can use it to your disadvantage by running on autopilot. When a bunch of programs run in the background and slow down your computer, that’s what’s happening when your outdated habits are running the show.

 

And this might look like “everything’s fine”. You have a lot of accomplishments under your belt. You have stable work, maybe you even like or love what you do. You make enough money to cover your expenses and maybe do a few other things like take a yoga class and order GrubHub when you’re not feeling it.  Your friends and family - whether related or found - are pretty supportive and you connect often. You have everything you’re supposed to want, but something still feels “off.” No one ever taught you how to turn your cruise control off.

 

But the downside is that in order to checking all the boxes for the life you’re “supposed to live”, you constantly overextend yourself to the point that you feel exhausted and just “done” at the end of the day. Maybe you even feel like you need a break from your life so you can just sleep for a week. You care about your loved ones, so you want to comfort them through the stuff going on in their lives, but this leaves you feeling overloaded, annoyed, or resentful.  You always put yourself last so your meditation, your hobbies, and your downtime feels like something you have to “earn” after you take care of everyone else’s feelings and your super-detailed to-do list that grows faster than you can mark stuff off. You work first, play later. Except you feel like there’s always more work you “should” be doing, so it never feels like you can fully relax into the rest you deserve. You never get to play, or when you do, you feel guilty for “stealing the time” to do it.

 

Any of this sounding familiar to you?

 

If you want to grow and improve, which I imagine you do if you’re listening to this podcast, then your job is to help your primitive brain and your evolved brain work together to get what you want.

 

You get all kinds of things done, you work your buns off, but it comes at your own expense. It comes at the cost of your time, your energy, and your health.

 

The answer is your mind.

 

If your brain could learn these old, unhelpful habits, it can learn habits that serve you better.

 

Think of this like someone who goes to the gym regularly. That may be you or it may not, but I think we all know someone who regularly has “cardio day” or “ strength day.”

 

You exercise your brain the same way. If you are used to constantly using up all of your energy, you have “using up all my energy and feeling exhausted day.” If you soak up other people’s emotions and have trouble letting them go, you practice, “getting caught up in other people’s drama day.” You’ve taught your brain do these habits by regularly practicing them.

 

Now, on the other hand, you can have a totally different training day. You might instead “balance your obligations to others with taking care of yourself day.”  Or you start trying “loving other people without feeling their emotions for them day.” Same effort in your brain, more productive use of your energy.

 

Here's our next big idea. Every result that you have in your life comes from your thoughts. The things you can’t control are situations, and your thoughts about the situation cause your feelings, which cause your actions, which cause your results.

 

This is not a new concept. I learned this idea in coach training with Thriving Coach Academy when I got certified. Other coach training programs teach the same method. And in therapy this is how cognitive behavioral therapy works.

If you want something you change in your life, you choose new thoughts consciously. Practicing those new thoughts is just like learning a new language or trying a different app for the first time. As you continue to practice that new thought, you let go of old thoughts that don’t help you anymore. Your conscious mind in the prefrontal cortex keeps practicing the new thoughts until your primitive brain in the amygdala can take over and turn these NEW thoughts into your habits. THAT’s how your conscious mind and your primitive mind can be a powerhouse together.

 

Every habit that you have developed started with you thinking and deciding something, which created a feeling (probably something good or avoiding something bad), and then you took action (or avoided and procrastinated) from those emotions. Some things we learn through experience, like if we give an answer in school, and people laugh at us. We think, “That was so embarrassing! I’m never gonna raise my hand and say something like that again.” You may not have realized in the heat of the moment, but you had that thought “I’m never gonna raise my hand and say something like that again.” You made a choice and then it became a habit after that. You can choose your new thoughts and repeat those new thoughts to yourself regularly until they become your new habit and replace the old ones.

 

Here's my personal health example because that’s one that most people can relate to. I lost 30 pounds last year by making conscious decisions and building new habits with my brain. I didn’t exercise more, and I didn’t go on a diet. It was my mind designing a new lifestyle and sticking to it.

 

I have a huge sweet tooth, and before I started managing my mind, I thought things like, “Oh my God, I NEED a brownie right now! We’re having tacos for dinner – don’t care. I’m so tired, I have GOT to eat something. I don’t want to deprive myself. I am an adult, so I get to eat what I want when I want. I feel free when I eat sugar. I’ve worked a long day, I deserve to treat myself. I don’t have the energy to make something healthy. I’ll figure that out tomorrow.”

 

I was basically going to the mental gym every day and making it “I deserve treats” day or “I’m too tired to make better choices” day.

 

When I had those thoughts rolling around my mind all day long, I felt anxious, defeated, overwhelmed, rebellious, argumentative (with myself), indulgent, and even a little bit panicked because I thought eating something was the only way I would feel better. We call this hanger, when you’re so hungry you get angry. You can be hungry and not get cranky.

 

When I was feeling, defeated, anxious, rebellious, etc., I would often buy takeout, we stocked a lot of sugary treats around the house, and I basically indulged any craving I had, and immediately went out to get it. This was such a waste of time because I would often let my cravings completely derail the rest of my day. I would stop what I was doing because I would let the cravings distract me so much that I couldn’t continue to get my work done or to be creative in my project until I had indulged the craving. AND I spent a ton of money on impulse buys and stuff that made me feel awful later, physically and mentally.

 

When I started taking myself seriously, coaching myself, and getting great coaching from others, I started to try on new thoughts. My new thoughts were things like “I don’t have to give into cravings. It’s more of a treat to myself not to have brain fog, not to get hangry, and not to feel bloated, then it’s a treat to have foods that feel good in the moment, but don’t help me later. Change takes time and patience and effort. If I eat impulsively, it’s not the end of the world. Freedom is choosing to make better choices for myself, overall instead of indulging in the moment. I deserve to treat myself well, and. Have treats when I plan them.

 

These new thoughts made me feel calm, committed, confident in myself, connected to my body in a new way, patient, in control. I built trust and resilience in myself every time I chose to follow my new thoughts instead of indulging in the old thoughts.

 

 

With my new thoughts, I was much more inclined to take the time to plan ahead, and a way that I hadn’t done before. Instead of a meal plan, which never really worked for me, I came up with a meal formula. This means that once a week I go to the grocery store and pick up a bunch of vegetables that sound good to me, I pick up a few options for protein, And I find some healthy fats that interest me like avocados or walnuts or Almonds, or other things that I could add to round out my meals. When I am ready to eat, I just go to the fridge and I pull the veggies and the protein that seems good, it takes me about two seconds to decide, and then I throw it all in a skillet with some salt and pepper and some olive oil, and let it cook until it’s ready to eat. Super super simple, and always healthy. AND I save a ton of money not going out to get snacks and meals. It’s actually easier and cheaper to go to my fridge and make something healthy.

 

 

I don’t let myself indulge or negotiate things that aren’t planned, BUT, the trade-off to that is I always plan ahead to have a treat every week. Some weeks that means eating an entire small pizza if I want to, sometimes it’s having a special treat like a sugary drink from Starbucks. My favorite is a chai latte with coconut milk. It could be going to one of my favorite sweets places and having a special dessert.

 

I always know what the plan is so that when I start to feel like I’m depriving myself because of my thoughts, I always know that I’m not depriving myself, because I have a treat already waiting for me to savor in the near future.

 

I already know that I get to enjoy something later, which gives me two benefits.

 

Number one I don’t have as many urges, because when I’m not indulging them and giving into them all the time, they stop appearing as frequently. I don’t add fuel to the fire by allowing cravings and then rewarding them by giving into them.

Number two I get to enjoy the treats that I DO give myself without the guilt and the regret that I feel when I’ve given into a craving and indulged an urge. I get to completely enjoy it knowing that I planned it. It was a conscious decision that I chose, it wasn’t something that I fell into in a weak moment when I felt tired or uncomfortable and that I feel guilty about later.

 

Are you starting to see the difference between your old habits that your primitive brain formed without a lot of thought and intention, which may have been running the show for a long time, versus creating intentional thoughts now that can serve you every single day into the future and become your new habit.

 

Because here’s what I want to leave you with. A lot of times we think that the situation outside of us dictates our thoughts and dictates our actions. We think that we, as Brooke Castillo says, are at the effect of our lives instead of  the cause of it. This means that we think we are at the whim of external circumstances and fate controls us, or the world controls us and we don’t have a say in it. This isn’t true.

 

You can choose your thoughts, and you can choose how to perceive a situation. This does not mean toxic positivity, which is a topic for another episode, but it does mean that you can start to think more neutral and maybe even more positive thoughts over time that help you get where you want to go, instead of staying on cruise control.

 

Would you rather phone in your life and look back knowing that you could have used your high sensitivity to your advantage? Or would you rather start making a conscious effort now, to choose which thoughts would actually help you get what you want in your life? which thoughts would actually make you feel better. You can start building new habits that will get you exactly what you want in your life right now.

 

If you’re ready to take the insights and inspiration that you learned today to the next level and learn how to apply it to your high sensitivity, I have one on one coaching spots available. Go to stephanielinn.com and book a consultation call. It’s totally free, and in that conversation, we will determine exactly how you in particular can go from wherever you are feeling stuck, tired, disconnected, and on cruise control to where you want to be - energized connected living your life by your choice instead of by your default habits.

 

I would love to teach you how to use your mind to start embracing your sensitivity and using it as a superpower so that you can create results that you didn’t even know were possible for you. The link will be in the show notes to find out more.

 

I also have workshops and classes coming up in the next month called “all about high sensitivity” and “thriving with high sensitivity.” Check the Workshops and Classes page of stephanielinn.com to sign up and get all the details. This could be a great next step for you to take the concepts that you’re learning from this podcast or watching this video and apply them to your life.

 

That’s what I’ve got for you today. You have control over your thoughts, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas and insights and aha moments this opens up for you.

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