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Summer Writer - Louise Henning

The secret behind thriving as a highly sensitive and what 28 years of people pleasing did to me.

My name is Louise Henning, I am 32 years old, and I live in Gothenburg, Sweden. Things that bring

me joy and inspiration are nature, creativity in all its forms, a good Taylor Swift song and practicing

self-love. My topic for this guest writing is how to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person. Happy reading!


“It’s not a big deal, stop crying, get over it, try harder, it’s all in your head”. This is what I heard from

adults when growing up. What I did with these statements? I translated them into “I don’t know if I

should be feeling this way, don’t show them how you feel or they’ll judge you, maybe I’m just

overreacting, I’m not good enough and I’m so stupid for thinking or feeling that”.


For twenty-eight years people-pleaser was my middle name. I cared to please everyone else, but

myself. And during these years I didn’t have a clue of who I was. Did that work out in the long run? Not

really.

All my life I’ve unconsciously been a fan of the mission impossible. Let me give you some examples.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out how to please my perfectionist grandma. I tried my very

best to be the good girl in school so that I wouldn’t get the unexpected questions in class and feel

embarrassed when I didn’t know the answer. I did everything in my power to be liked by my boss who

already from the beginning had decided not to like me and to mentally abuse me. I kept going back to

friends took advantage of my kindness. Did any of these things make me feel like I was good enough?

No. “If I can only get them to like me, I’ll feel good about myself”. A sentence my brain has been

repeating to me ever since. Little did I know the answer was a simple question I had to ask myself.

What do I need?


Fast forward to 2013 and a few additional years of not asking myself that simple question. After

bending backwards to please everyone else I was again under a lot of pressure on my new job. So,

there I was talking to a customer when suddenly, I had some kind of outer body experience. I saw

myself from above looking at the customer while thinking to myself; I can see you talking to me, but I

can’t hear a thing. Both my body and brain have had enough. I was now on sick-leave due to being

exhausted from work. This was the beginning of a whole new chapter.

While home I had a lot of time to think and reflect over the past couple of years. “Why do I take on

other people’s feelings? Why do I care when others don’t seem to? Why do I feel more intensely than

others? Why am I so sensitive?” I turned to Google. And there it was. A self-test asking me “are you a

highly sensitive person”? I already knew the answer, but I did it anyway. The result said, “If you

answered more than fourteen of the questions as true of yourself, you are probably highly sensitive”. I

answered 25. A whole new world opened up for me. I felt relieved.


Being a Highly Sensitive Person means you have a highly sensitive nervous system and are more

reactive to stimuli. Your antennae are finely tuned, your receptors are permanently turned to “high,”

and your empathy is strong. Therefore, you pick up on things in the environment easily and feel them

deeply. 15-20% of the population is estimated to be HSP.


Then and there I decided to give up my old strategy of pleasing others. It was obviously not working. I

was ready to fully embrace and get to know the person that I truly was. I saw being HSP as something

positive from the get-go. A trait that would guide me into finding out how I could live my best highly

sensitive life.


If you, too, are a highly sensitive person (HSP), you probably can relate to how easy it is to

get overwhelmed. Luckily, however, I’ve found ways to get more peace in my life, no matter how much

my emotions may be in overdrive. As a result, life as a highly sensitive has been much more enjoyable

for me. From learning how to put myself first to focusing more on the positives, my highly sensitive self

is now thriving more than ever.


6 tips on how to thrive as an HSP:


1. Take time to recharge

Your nervous system will thank you! Daily recharging = spend quiet time doing something

“unproductive”. You could journal, stretch, nap, read or drink tea. If you live close to nature, a

walk in the woods or on the beach is a great way to wind down


2. Limit social interaction

HSP’s are easily burnt out by caseless social activities. Knowing your limits regarding how

much interaction you can take before you start to become depleted is essential.


3. Schedule in solo exercise activities

Yoga, running, cycling, biking, hiking, swimming…anything that allows us to have more inward

experience is ideal.


4. Limit screen time

Say no to screens after 8pm and no phone before 8am. Give yourself a “cut-off time” for

screens to limit your relationship with extra sensory input.


5. Practice self-care

Self-care is to choosing loving actions towards yourself. It can be breathing technique, taking

a hot bath, long walks and staying hydrated. And last but not lease. Saying positive

affirmations to yourself.


6. Prioritize sleep

Sleep is crucial for HSP’s and most of us need at least 8 hours. If we don’t get enough sleep,

we will burn out and become less capable of functioning.


I’d like to end with one of my favorite quotes from Marcel Proust. “Be grateful for people who make you happy. They are charming gardeners who make your soul blossom.”


If you know more about me, you can find me on Instagram at @highlysensitive_person or

@louise.henning. I hope I have inspired you to embrace your sensitivity! And remember: It’s ok to be

sensitive.

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