In this week’s interview, I talked to the founder of Highly Sensitive Healing, author and professional dancer/teacher Jennifer Arnspiger. Clearly, she is a multi-passionate and talented being. Jennifer’s healing journey is an empowering lesson for many of us who are in the midst of the dark night of our soul or in recovery from trauma.
Jennifer shared with us how she discovered that she is a highly sensitive person, what are the common characteristics, potentials and some really good self-care tips too. We also talked a lot about why creativity and movement are so important for highly sensitive people.
This is a delightful interview, and I’d love for you to listen to this podcast. So, instead of including a summary here like I normally do, I am only going to include the show notes/highlights below but I’d add a full-length transcript at the end of this blog. (Just in case you prefer reading!)
You can also watch the video version if prefer that!
- Falling in love with ballroom dancing
- Writing as a way to channel our intellectual creativity
- Pretty Piece of Flesh: three short stories about how we collect experiences and they affect our bodies, and then how our body feels affects our experiences.
- The journey of self-healing and helping other highly sensitive people
- Highly sensitive people are not just people who are emotionally reactive or overdramatic. It is actually someone who is born with a hypersensitive nervous system
- Common experience/tendency: trauma, co-dependency and toxic relationships
- Honouring our sensitivity
- There is something in common between the highly sensitive and creative people
- Correlation between autoimmunity or mystery illnesses and being extremely sensitive and having a trauma
- Healing modality: Ondamed and working with Desire Map
- Supporting people who have been feeling the pain emotionally or physically and how to start over with new feelings and experiences
- Self-care tips for highly sensitive people (foods to avoid, other resources that are helpful)
If you would like to get int touch with Jennifer, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram @HighlySensitiveHealing and her website:
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Sze Wing: Hi, welcome Jennifer! Today you are my very special guest, who also shares a passion for dancing. I’m really looking forward to having this chat with you.
Jennifer: Hello, thank you for having me!
Sze Wing: Great! So a little short introduction. So, Jennifer, she’s the founder of Highly Sensitive Healing, which I find fascinating. She’s a dancer, author, and healer, and she’s specialized in helping people to heal and create a sensuous living, a life that is celebrated after some trauma or difficult times. Which is something I really care about, and I think we definitely need today.
Sze Wing: So, first of all, welcome. I definitely want to start by asking you about your dancing and your creative life, because you write novels, fictional novels, but you’re also a professional dancing teacher. First of all, I’d love to hear a little bit more about your dance background and how you got into writing.
Jennifer: Okay, well actually, even those two things are sort of co-joined in my life, which is why I feel compelled to try to co-join them in my business, I think. When I was about 17, I was writing for my school paper, because I was kind of born writing. So much of the awareness of things like we’re deeply creative, or we’re very sensitive, that comes later in life. We just always know what we love, right? We come into the world knowing what we love, and writing was always my first thing. So I was writing for my school paper, and I got assigned to review a little Australian sweeper movie called Strictly Ballroom, which I know that you know about, right?
Sze Wing: Of course!
Jennifer: Because we’ve talked about this.
Sze Wing: I’ve seen this Australian movie!
Jennifer: Right, but no one in Arizona had ever heard of ballroom dancing. This was about 1992, maybe. Whatever year it came out, 92 or 93. I completely fell in love with it. I know that we’ve talked about this. I just remember thinking, “I want to do that,” because it looked so magical and so outside of what normal life looks like and feels like
Sze Wing: It actually is very tough kind of life if you, you know, really dive yourself into the life they’re describing, it is all there is, isn’t it? Everything is about dance.
Jennifer: Yes, that’s so true.
Sze Wing: You don’t wear the dress, but the dress wears you that kind of thing that you have to … You spend your time making the costume, to practice, to go to all the performances.
Jennifer: Yeah, but there’s so much aesthetic beauty to it, and I think that was the first time in my life that I really realized how important beauty was. How healing and how calming sparkles and rhinestones and the beautiful music and the feeling of moving and all of that. The ballrooms and even the work was beautiful. I started teaching before I even graduated high school because I fell in love with it completely.
Jennifer: Then I did exactly what you said. I just lived and breathed it for about almost 10 years before I needed to take a break and try to examine normal life outside of a ballroom world. I did that for a little while, but it never really left me. It’s kind of been in my blood ever since.
Sze Wing: Amazing. So, have you been continually writing on the side?
Sze Wing: Because what I find quite fascinating is that I have a little dance background, not as much deeply involved as you were, but that’s how I met my husband. We were doing Latin dancing.
Jennifer: Really? Oh, that’s so great!
Sze Wing: Yeah, that was an adult adventure. When I was younger, obviously, in high school and primary and all that, because my mother used to be a dance teacher. That’s how she met my dad, so they met during the Chinese Cultural Revolution time, and they were performers. At that time different groups joined together, and that’s how they met, so performance and dancing have always been my family. That’s why when I saw your background I was like, “Wow, that’s really interesting. Definitely want to talk to Jennifer.” Because I find people who are into dancing, not everyone, but some of us actually have a different creative side, wherewith all the body movement, we actually also need to channel our intellectual creativity.
Sze Wing: When I realized you’re a writer, I said, “Wow, she’s kind of similar to what I think I’m a little bit like, that I need to have both.” You said you’d been writing on the side, so how’s that working? Because you mentioned it earlier on, and I think it’s like most of us, that if we’re passionate about writing and dancing, it’s not just our private life. That’s part of our work, our life and hobby, they kind of mix together. Tell us about your writing on the side while you were dancing.
Jennifer: Well, my writing has stayed with me my entire life, whether it’s journaling … I went to school. I got my bachelor’s degree in English, focusing on creative writing, and then I went to school for my master’s and started working on a novel, so I have lots of training … or education around the art of writing and the lifestyle of being a writer. The thing that I love the most about it is like you say, it really does express us. Something like dancing, we feel so much, and we can even express so much, but there’s something about picking up a pen and either telling a story, or just writing your thoughts on a page that really just allows you to hear yourself or express the truth in a way that you couldn’t just sit down in front of someone and tell them a story. There’s a safety to the page, to me. You can be honest there. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s opinions. If you go back and you reread what you’ve written, you can often kind of see yourself in a whole new light. That’s the whole idea behind narrative therapy, is it helps us to heal because we can reframe our stories.
Jennifer: The ebook that I’ve written is a collection of three short stories, and it’s called Pretty Piece of Flesh. It’s been written kind of over the course of my life, pretty much since I was in high school and started dancing and being more active about these things. What’s interesting about looking at it now is that there are so many elements of the body and the stories that our bodies have to tell as we go through our lives in it. That’s really where my interest is, how we collect experiences and they affect our bodies, and then how our body feels affects our experiences. There’s this really beautiful synergy, but dancing and writing help me to be mindful of both sides … the quiet side and the more expressive.
Sze Wing: I love what you just said, and it felt like the dancing, the movement, basically the awareness of your body and our movement really give you some form of inspiration to put into your books. So tell me a little bit more about the three short stories. Are they independent? I know it’s fiction, but what kind of stories are they?
Jennifer: Okay. Well, they are fiction, and it’s about 55 pages, so three pretty typical short stories. They’re all about that coming of age time in life when you’re figuring things out, and you don’t really realize that what you’re going through is going to have an effect on you later. A lot of it, honestly, is about me reintegrating and changing how I viewed a lot of the things that have happened to me in my past. It’s about the beauty of intimate relationships with other people, and not just physically intimate, but when you get close to people, and the way that relationships can change us and we change in relationship. When we’re young, it so often feels like a rollercoaster, and so this is three different stories of young women who are having coming of age experiences. My writing tends to be a little bit deep, a little bit emotionally brave, but also always with a sense of magic and a sense of a kind of wonder in the world, and a connection to the idea that there’s magic out there working in our lives all the time. Sometimes we lose it, and then sometimes we really find it through relationships. It looks at that a little.
Sze Wing: I think that’s why sometimes we need to read new books. We need to pick up a new form of exercise or be more aware of our body because we need to be reminded. We often forget this connection with ourselves and with others, so that’s why I think reading and writing is so important in my life. No wonder I felt that your work, about healing highly sensitive people is so great. I think being a dancer, writer, you kind of live a more sensual life because you’re examining your feeling inside and outside.
Sze Wing: So, tell us a bit about how did you get into healing other sensitive souls? How did it all begin? We’re all multiple-purpose, multi-passionate people, at a different time in our life we really get involved in one thing, but then, later on, we realize they’re not completely irrelevant. They actually join or connect in some way, and at some point, they become really interesting. That’s coming of age, where, maybe in your 20s you were very focused on one thing, and then 30s, and maybe as a teenager, but then they all tell us a more complex, juicier story. So tell us about your healing piece.
Jennifer: Okay. First of all, I completely agree with everything that you just said. So much of what you just said is actually what led me here, and to be doing this, because I’ve always been writing. I’ve always been a dancer. I have always been connected to that sensuous side of life, as you say, without really realizing that not everyone was like that.
Jennifer: About eight years ago, I had a dark night of the soul. A lot about my life changed pretty much overnight, and it was very shocking and very traumatic. Then, in the aftermath of that, I started doing a lot of research, trying to learn about myself, trying to learn about what happened … the road that had led me to where I was, because it was such a dark place. I didn’t want to repeat any patterns going forward. When I started learning, I started realizing that the term highly sensitive person exists, and that it actually is not just people who are emotionally reactive or overdramatic. It actually is someone who is born with a hypersensitive nervous system that is not able to filter out stimuli just in daily life like most people. It’s a really small minority of the population, and even within highly sensitive people, super sensitive people who can feel not just all the stimuli around them, but the emotions that other people are experiencing, energy from other people. Those people are empaths.
Jennifer: When I started reading, I realized that I was both of those things, and that my journey that had a lot of trauma and a lot of co-dependency and a lot of … toxic experiences, was really common within this community. So many highly sensitive women were struggling with exactly the same thing that I was. When I started to feel better, when things started to shift towards the light a few years ago, I just felt this genuine heart pull to take everything that I was learning and share it with other people who might be coming up the road behind me.
Jennifer: You mentioned, also, about how when we get older, we sometimes reconnect with the things that we loved at a different age in our lives, and sometimes they fall by the wayside. For me, the dancing and the writing never left. Suddenly I see this connection, like we’re talking about right now, between moving and examining your thoughts and being really present with yourself, and really honouring sensitivity. What does that look like? How can we reconnect to a sense of magic in our bodies and our lives after a really hard time? So I share what I’ve learned, and it’s really tailored to this. Anyone can use it, obviously, but it’s really tailored towards super sensitive people who need extra care, and sort of extra understanding, because our experience is a little off the main.
Jennifer: It’s become such an incredible heart mission. It’s amazing. The more I do it, the more I want to do it, and I’ll speak up and people will resonate. It’s just the most incredible feeling. It’s so nice.
Sze Wing: Well there are so many things I want to touch on what you just said. One of things is that when you talk about after your experience, you really feel like sharing your journey and helping others. I also felt the same thing about myself when I started coaching people. Actually, before coaching, I was also doing a lot of healing. I felt … It’s like once you have experienced it yourself, you really want to share. There’s this sort of genuine want to contribute and help people. When you’re doing it, not only do you help others, but you also feel good, not just about yourself, but it felt like collectively moving, shifting something. I think that’s really rewarding to see.
Sze Wing: I used to say this, when I decided to write my book. Even if one person felt it’s helpful or enjoyed it, that’s enough. I felt there is a bit of, I think from a lot of creatives, there’s this sort of urge to help, to contribute, or to share. It’s not just about how much money you can make out of it, but it’s even one person felt helped, that was already very rewarding in a very heartfelt sense. I really felt that.
Sze Wing: You were talking about people who may have a dark night of the soul and they really needed this [healing] and then one day they get better, and there is this feeling of wanting to do the same for others, pay forward to the others. You can imagine collectively how much more healing we can do on the planet if everyone feels like that.
Jennifer: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
Sze Wing: It’s just beautiful. Before I ask you a question, another thing I want to touch on about what you just said. Actually, I’m curious, because my father is also an actor. I felt that he’s also very sensitive, but he try not to, as in he can turn it on and off in some way. He felt, on the stage, or when he’d play a role, you actually have to open, to be very sensitive in order to play that person, to get involved in that emotion. I have a suspicion that highly sensitive people maybe tend to be more creative or vice versa, because you kind of have to throw yourself or open yourself into something when you’re creating. When you write, you’re kind of giving something about yourself onto the paper, even though you-
Jennifer: Oh, so much.
Sze Wing: You create a fictional character, but there’s a part of you, whether it’s the wonder, whether it’s the self-reflection. There’s part of you there. I feel a lot of creative people are quite sensitive people.
Jennifer: That’s true, and actually that dynamic that you’re talking about, where you’re creative but you’re sensitive, is one of the reasons why there are so many famous stories of genuinely amazing artists who went mad and drank themselves to death. Those are awfully extreme examples, obviously, but that dichotomy is a real thing. I actually think, beyond making the choice to be creative, like being an actor, I know that for me and a lot of people that I have talked to, being creative … It’s almost like a compulsion. You can’t help it. If you’re sensitive and you’re creative, you really do want to open up and share, even if you don’t have to walk out on stage, for example. That’s a really dangerous place to be. This is kind of the awakening space.
Jennifer: There’s an idea that, specifically with empaths, because we tend to absorb energy from other people, and we’re the softest of the soft souls, but it’s true for any kind of sensitive person. We tend to open. We’re so open so naturally, that we have to learn how to protect ourselves selectively, how to stay open but also keep our energy and our hearts … protected for the right people, because of the toxic relationship dynamics and narcissistic relationships and sociopathic relationships, those are all staggeringly … with sensitive people. It’s an amazing statistic. I don’t actually have a number, but the majority of people who find themselves in those toxic relationship dynamics, at least one of them is highly sensitive. Because we don’t generally learn how to protect our energy and to keep ourselves shielded, not closed off, just shielded. Usually, we don’t realize that that’s a lesson we need to learn until after our trauma, when we start examining and sifting through the rubble.
Jennifer: Then, when that happens, it can be a really just soul-demoralizing experience to see what has been going on. That is why I think that creative acts like dancing or returning to writing, or just being able to experience a sense of fullness and beauty in life are so important, because we really do lose a lot of that in our awakening process. When you’re recovering, you just feel so stripped and barren a lot of the time.
Sze Wing: It’s fantastic that … I guess when you talk about a few years ago when you were facing a tough time, and that’s exactly when you talk about maybe some actress and writer may kind of trip, and then sort of pivot on the other side where it’s a lot of drinking or some form of spiral down effect. Then someone like you, and also a lot of others, realize that, “I’m hitting bottom. Do I stay there, and even go further, or do I pick up something else, other tools to help myself?” I felt this often the distinction. Some people, they could be helped or they could really change, if they just somehow open and listen to somebody, or someone happened to be talking to them on the right place at the right time. You really can pivot to either side, because often what happens is either you become a healer or writer and write books to help others, or you kind of get worse, right?
Jennifer: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
Sze Wing: I’ve really seen kind of both side and both types of people, and that’s why I find it very interesting to talk to you about this, especially when you work in that field helping other sensitive people. How does it often look like? Do people come to you and open up, and then you explain to them? You realize what’s really going on, that they’re being very sensitive, maybe they’re not very aware of their feelings and all the things we’ve discussed. Then do you tell them, introduce them to a different sort of healing modalities? How does it work when someone you know is highly sensitive and coming to you?
Jennifer: I run kind of like a micro-blog on Instagram around this. It’s @HighlySensitiveHealing. I basically just kind of talk about a lot of these experiences, or I write about a lot of these experiences. There’s just an amazing amount of people who resonate. I kind of just initially put the information out there via posts. Then from there, it’s kind of a question of where the client is on the spectrum … because the other aspects, as if I need another one, of my particular services is when we have highly sensitive bodies and we experience trauma. This is not relegated only to sensitive people, but we feel it more. When we experience trauma, we very often get sick. There’s a huge correlation between autoimmunity or mystery illnesses and being extremely sensitive and having a trauma that goes unacknowledged or that’s unexpressed or that’s just really difficult.
Jennifer: So, the other service that I offer is this amazing healing modality called Ondamed, which basically it’s frequency medicine. If you are in physical pain, if a client is in physical pain, obviously there’s only so much dancing or writing it out that you can do, because you’re in a really tough spot. It’s super common, certainly for sensitive people, to have the kind of pain that no doctor can diagnose. That whole movement behind medical medium and mystery illness, that’s all, at the heart of it, it’s really about viruses that most people’s immune systems to keep down. When you’re really sensitive and you’re fried from all the stimuli all the time, viruses can reactivate and they’re like quiet, hidden things that cause all kinds of problems that get diagnosed as other things.
Jennifer: This therapy that I do, Ondamed, is based on your own pulse biofeedback, so we can literally ask your body where the trauma is, where the inflammation is, where the trauma memory is, even, in your body, and find it and clear it. That, eventually, depending on what state you’re in, will bring your body back into a place of balance where it can heal itself and you can actually physically feel better. Usually, once the client starts to feel better, that’s when they want to start trying to enjoy their life again, reconnect to their life.
Jennifer: That’s when I offer services to help them discover, like through Desire Map, how they want to feel now. So many changes when you’re going through those kinds of big things, that it’s helpful to have someone on the other side to say, “Okay, I see your journey. I know that this has been hard to articulate and really difficult, but how about now? Where would you like to go now, and how would you like to feel now?” If it’s really about seeking empowerment, because you’ve danced before. You know how empowering that can feel in your body. It’s really not about a partner. It’s just being able to feel yourself move and get strong and feel beautiful those kinds of things, then we would go towards more movement and dancing.
Jennifer: If they have a lot of mental stuff to process, then there might be some coaching while we’re following The Desire Map and we’re doing some writing. Maybe free write so that they can be seen and witnessed while they’re processing their pain, because being witnessed in your trauma is so important. A lot of people don’t get that. Between those two things, we try to just determine what it is that they need the most and want the most, and tailor my services that way.
Sze Wing: Wonderful. This, it kind of remind me, you know when you catch a cold and feel sick for a week? Then when you finally come out of it, that’s what you just describe. Okay, now what?
Sze Wing: Things are shifting and you feel better, so how do you want to feel? Where do you want to go from now on? That’s almost like the early spring morning kind of feeling that, we’re starting fresh again, so where do you want to be? I think that’s really the immediate feeling I got when we talk about using the machine, maybe clear out all the things that didn’t work in your body. Then what’s next? The mind can start to kick in, because if your body isn’t feeling good and it affects your mind. When it starts to feel better then you can say, “Okay, actually I really feel like doing this or exploring that.”
Sze Wing: A few other things, I am also a big believer that people need to be heard, not just seen, but heard as well. Sometimes, even with freewriting, nobody is reading but you feel like you speak up about yourself in some way. It’s very empowering.
Jennifer: Absolutely, yes. I completely agree. The other thing that is tailored specifically to and meant to experience, which are a lot of the chronic illness, chronic pain. A lot of toxic relationship dynamics that they don’t realize are toxic for a long time. When you are having that spring morning experience, a lot of times you’ve been in the dark for a very long time, because a lot of these are really intense. The darkness can go on for months or years. It can actually be kind of scary to suddenly be okay or feel like you’re ready to move on, because you’re so used to it not being good and not feeling good. You wouldn’t even know how you want to feel because you’re so used to feeling terrible with no choice.
Sze Wing: It’s a new identity.
Jennifer: So I feel like … Yeah, it is. It can be intimidating, just like anything new. One of my real cornerstone ideas is to make sure that I honour where you’ve been, however long you’ve been there, and how brave it is to try to step into light after something like that, and believe you can have something good. We know that you can, but it’s so hard to let that belief in sometimes. I want to speak for those people … or not speak for them, but help those people and support them.
Sze Wing: The people who have been there. I remember when I had a few really toxic relationships, and when I finally had a good one with my husband, I said to people, “You know, when you have someone good in your life you’re amazed how good feels good.” As in, you’re so used to making excuse and justifying it or sugar-coating things. Then when you have something good, you’re like, “Oh, my God! Good is really good! Good is just good.” It’s so different. When you’re in a good relationship, when your body feels good, when it’s actually in that state, you really know when something is good. It just feels so different than what you’re used to, something way more toxic. There’s no more hiding or not trying to emphasize something that may be a red flag for somebody. We make excuses for them.
Jennifer: Yeah, and it makes you more empowered, doesn’t it? Because now you know how good it feels to feel good, and so you don’t tolerate those red flags, and then not feeling good.
Sze Wing: Yeah. A bad apple is a bad apple.
Jennifer: Yes, absolutely.
Sze Wing: So, I want to ask you this, because I think it would be helpful for others. What about when people actually don’t know they’re considered highly sensitive people? I believe there may be certain lifestyle or tips that you might have for them, but what if they don’t even know they are? Can you tell us a bit more, if you tend to feel this and this and this or when this and this happen, you tend to be highly sensitive? What could be some good tips for them in terms of caring for themselves?
Jennifer: Okay. So, if you feel super stressed and just overwhelmed all the time, whether life is fine or good, just having a normal day, and it seems like everyone around you is okay and doesn’t notice half the stuff that you notice, you’re probably highly sensitive. If you try to explain and no one understands what you’re saying, you don’t feel like anyone can relate to you, you’re probably highly sensitive. In terms of being an empath, if you commonly experience feeling weird around certain people in a way that you can’t explain. You can just feel that they don’t want to be with you, or that they don’t like you, or that they like you too much. Nobody around you seems to notice that, but you can’t ignore it, that’s a gigantic sign that you’re an empath. You can tell. One of our kind of hallmark characteristics is this idea of we mirror other people, so if you are the first person to put your own needs on the back burner and help someone because you can tell that they’re in pain or that they need to be seen. If you can just tell, then you’re probably an empath.
Jennifer: We are almost always the person who helps everybody else and nobody thinks to help us. That’s how it feels. That’s not necessarily malice from everybody around us. It’s just that we are always, always putting other people first, because it’s so natural to us. We don’t want to hurt anybody, but we don’t feel often like we get that same regard from most of the people around us, even the people we know love us. That’s kind of what makes our journey different, our just hyper-awareness of everything and the need to be able to do something with that when it’s in our body. A lot of times just those kinds of feelings, usually that’s enough.
Jennifer: I know for me, when I was having my awakening, it was those kinds of things where it was never really okay for me to have a problem, because it didn’t seem like a problem to anyone else. Those are very supersensitive. We’re almost always introverts, which means that if you’re in a crowd, you’re completely exhausted. You’ll probably get somatic experiences like a headache or you feel nauseous. You feel really heavy and tired. One of the reasons that movement, I think, has such beautiful potential for sensitive people is that we do tend to manifest somatically. If we’re overwhelmed by being in a crowd or lots of loud music, or the consistent little noises like a refrigerator running or a ticking ceiling fan. Those things can make us insane, because they are actually inflaming our nervous systems and we couldn’t calm down if we wanted to. We get tired. We sleep all the time. We tend to get sick or we get headaches or something. That’s actual energy that’s kind of stagnant and crowding our body. Movement, of any kind, just really helps to clear that out. It’s kind of a great maintenance idea in that way for us, because we’ll be like this our entire lives. We’ll never be able to get away from it.
Jennifer: Some things that you can do … The most important thing, really, is just to be aware. If you’re listening to this, or you Google highly sensitive people, and you see some of the traits. If a bell rings, you don’t have to be able to really justify it. It’s really not as woo as it sounds, these terms. They’re just normal people who have really highly attenuated nervous systems. If you feel in your body something that says, that’s me, or that feels like something I can relate to, then you should trust that. That is almost always the first step in this journey and realizing that you are sensitive, and then how to take care of yourself becomes so much easier just because you know that you’re not different and you’re not broken. You’re just sensitive. You need a lot of time alone, because then you’re not faced with anyone else’s energy but yours. It’s so much easier to just attend to your own needs.
Jennifer: I know I was watching just a bit of your last interview with Jennifer Jeffries. I know you work with essential oils too. Oils are an amazing resource for us because they go right to our limbic brain, which is the trauma response part, the part that manages all of the stress and hard feelings. When it gets too triggered, it sends us into fight or flight. Essential oils can go straight to our limbic brain and get passed trying to think our way out of it or talk ourselves out of something, to give us instant calm and happiness, or lift a depressive state. All kinds of things. Aromatherapy is great also, just for a daily wellness resource. Then journaling, for exactly the reasons that you said earlier. No one is witnessing it, but you’re witnessing it actually. That can be very validating for people who never feel seen.
Sze Wing: I love it. I think I resonate with everything you said. When people realize or finally feeling comfortable to admit that you’re highly sensitive, it’s really about having better lifestyle choices. I think, first of all, feel okay to be a sensitive person. There are a lot of people who are sensitive. I think your nervous system is easily overwhelmed but on the other hand, it gives you a different touch to look at things or express things.
Jennifer: That’s so true.
Sze Wing: It gives you a different kind of potential. I think you got to be okay with it, and then allow yourself to, “Yes, I am a sensitive person, so I better make better choices.” I think it’s about lifestyle choices. You talk about exercise, movement, aromatherapy can help and journaling can help. That’s really looking at what kind of lifestyle choices, that could be more helpful. I definitely think-
Jennifer: That’s so true.
Sze Wing: It’s different kind of potential, how you interpret a movement. How you can be a good dance partner or choreographer or write a book. It’s actually … It gives you an advantage in a way because you see something people don’t see.
Jennifer: That’s so true, yeah. I feel like at least 85% of the work is just in acknowledging and finding out and being willing to own and acknowledge that this is your truth. The fact is that a lot of people, when they are early into that realization like, “Oh my goodness, I think this is me.” It’s so common for us all to feel like, “You mean I’m not alone in the world?” Because you’re right. There are so many people, more every day, that is identifying as highly sensitive, but we all tend to be introverts. We all tend to feel like no one can relate to us. We’re the only one in the world this way. When you do the research and you start to be willing to own it, it’s really freeing because you do find a community of people. It makes you feel so much better, so much better. Even that, on its own without any other lifestyle changes, is deeply healing.
Sze Wing: I think it goes without saying that healthier foods, alcohol and drugs will play a part in the lifestyle. The funniest thing is because sensitive people, when they drink, it really, say, help them to elevate their mood may be at the beginning. Some people get really attracted to this kind of addiction because they felt really good at first, but then it could really bounce back. That’s what I have heard and read many stories, maybe that’s why the tendency to indulge. I think having a healthy lifestyle is almost a no brainer, isn’t it, for sensitive people?
Jennifer: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It’s the numbing aspects, I think, of any kind of addictive … I mean, it’s a trauma response of course, but any kind of disassociation. If things get too hard, we just disassociate to protect ourselves and anyone would. The real healing is in the brave space where you’re kind of coming back into yourself even though you’re different. All of the common allergens … I think there are five common food allergens, corn, grain, gluten but not just gluten, all-grain, dairy, soy. All five of those, and I realize this is going to sound extreme, but I have seen it and experienced it personally time and time again, all of those things incite inflammation in the body. People who are fine just walking around in the world and don’t have a bunch of problems that they’re juggling and managing all the time might be able to get away with that, not that I think it’s ever a good idea. Sensitive people often already have a lot of physical struggles, so eating foods that create more inflammation will almost always lead to weird symptoms that make life really difficult. Avoiding those five things is a really big deal.
Jennifer: It’s also really important to know that if you’re sensitive, caffeine will usually work the opposite for you. Whereas some person can have a cup of coffee to feel more energized, it will almost always make us tired, because it crashes our adrenals and it makes us more tired. It’s stimulating our nervous system, which is the thing that makes us feel anxious and edgy. It’s so sad, because we love coffee, and I love coffee, but coffee is really not a great idea. Green tea is so much better for us.
Sze Wing: So you avoid those things? From the sound of things here, you try not to eat those five things. Maybe decaf or green tea is better for you. Do you actually crave for those things? I’m wondering.
Jennifer: Well it depends on how healthy your diet is. For me, personally, I was really, really sick, really sick for a really long time … I didn’t realize anything about diet, so I was eating almost exclusively bad things, because that’s pretty much what the standard American diet is made out of, noodles and cheese, all that stuff, which I love. There was about a year … I went cold turkey. I started seeing this amazing naturopath who really helped me understand what I’m trying to get across now. She just kind of helped me realize that if I wanted to feel better, this is what I had to do. I was so desperate that I just quit everything cold turkey. It took me about six months to stop craving things.
Jennifer: What happens on this path, though, is your taste buds change. You start having to eat real food, lots more produce, lots more meats if you can eat meat or if you’re not morally opposed to it. Paleo is hard because we don’t necessarily want to, but highly sensitive people really need pure, clean protein to be okay. It helps to keep your adrenals strong. It’s so important. Once you get used to real, actually healthy, organic if it’s at all possible, food, your taste buds do acclimate. Then if a year later you eat some chips or something that’s really not good for you, it doesn’t taste nearly as good as you remember. That’s good news. If you decide to undergo the journey, eventually you’ll reach a point where you don’t miss it anymore.
Sze Wing: I can totally relate. I still prefer Asian diets.
Jennifer: Yeah, I can see why.
Sze Wing: That it’s less processed. With the five main things you mentioned, we don’t eat a lot of them. Yeah, wheat yes, but then you can choose not to have that. We have more rice that you can substitute. I definitely can relate to it, except the caffeine piece. I’m addicted to tea.
Jennifer: To tea?
Sze Wing: Yeah! For a long time, so that’s something I need to think about. When I was pregnant, I couldn’t take it.
Jennifer: Isn’t that funny? Our bodies have so much wisdom. It’s so magical.
Sze Wing: It’s like now my body says, I can tolerate you doing this tea, but when you’re pregnant definitely no go. It’s hilarious.
Jennifer: Another insane thing that happens to a lot of people whose bodies are really sensitive … and that can happen for some people are just born that way, and some people develop it as a result of lots of things. Something that happens after trauma is your body will develop some weird symptom, like you during your pregnancy, with something that … If you drank a lot of wine when you were in a toxic relationship and you try to drink wine on the other side of it, the wine will irritate you because your body associates it with pain.
Sze Wing: Memory association, yeah.
Jennifer: It’s wild.
Sze Wing: Yes, definitely. I think we can talk all day about everything.
Jennifer: Oh, I’m sure!
Sze Wing: It’s so interesting to hear from you, and I think all your tips and your journey and everything is really going to be helpful. I’m really excited to share this podcast and blog with my listeners. I really want to thank you for today. It’s been an honour and privilege to be talking to you. It’s been fantastic.
Jennifer: Thank you so much. It’s been such a genuine joy to do it for me as well.
Sze Wing: Great! So, if people who are interested in anything that you talk about, which I think a lot of people who are sensitive, they definitely should really look up what you’ve written or shared. What’s the best way for people to connect with you, or find you online?
Jennifer: The best way to find me online for a lot of the written information is to check out my micro-blog on Instagram. My account is @HighlySensitiveHealing. I also have a Facebook account that’s Highly Sensitive Healing. You can find a lot of the same information, but on Facebook I talk a little bit more also about the energy healing modality, and give you more information if you’re local and you’re interested in that. Also, my website, www.HighlySensitiveHealing.com has a lot of the same information, and more resources if you’d like to reach out.
Sze Wing: Great. Fantastic. I will put the links below on the blog. If you are listening to this, and you want to connect with Jennifer, it’s really not that hard. There’s a lot of ways. Thank you so much. You have a good day.
Jennifer: Thank you so much. This was so nice.
Sze Wing: Thank you.