I have been so fortunate to counsel so many amazing Highly Sensitive women!
Here are a few examples of how I have worked with concerns that may be similar to what you are experiencing.*
"Aspen", age 25, initially sought counseling because she was a perfectionist and it was starting to affect multiple areas in her life.
Because she had a fear of not doing something perfectly, she would often procrastinate in most parts of her life.
Sometimes this was in the form of analysis paralysis, feeling like she didn't have enough options to choose from or had too many options and couldn't make a decision.
Other times Aspen shut down because she was so overwhelmed, she would ignore everything she had to do and just scroll social media as a distraction.
Aspen had a ton of ideas she wanted to pursue but found she often fizzled out and moved on to the next thing, never actually following through on any one plan.
This created a cycle of overwhelm: She would have so much to do that she didn't know where to start, thus wouldn't start at all, and would then call herself lazy.
Aspen found herself easily distracted and often working on less important things just so she felt productive.
Through working together, we discovered what was holding her back. Once we knew where the issues stemmed from, we were able to change her thinking patterns which change the way she approached her life.
Since then, Aspen has found more balance. She no longer feels she's in a state of overwhelm and now easily tackles her to-do list.*
Before starting online therapy, "Beatriz", age 36, had trouble saying no to other people.
Even when she wanted to say no, she feared upsetting others. She couldn't bear having someone be unhappy with her. Beatriz knew she was a people pleaser and a "fixer" which made it uncomfortable for her to put her own needs first.
This caused Beatriz to overcommit, feel overwhelmed, and have resentment towards those who took advantage of her.
As we worked together we looked to her past to see when this behavior started.
Beatriz realized that while she was growing up, she tried so hard to make her parents happy even to the point of neglecting her own needs.
As we processed this using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) therapy, Beatriz realized that although her parents did their very best, a lot of time they were emotionally unavailable. This had formed a belief in her mind that she was not important or her needs were not important.
With the help of EMDR Beatriz was able to believe that her needs were important and that it wasn't selfish to put her needs first.
With a lot of self-care prescribed as homework, Beatriz started to get comfortable taking care of herself before taking care of others. Over time she has told me that she no longer feels guilty when she takes time for herself.*
"Cassidy", age 32, grew up in a home where she was often told she was "too sensitive."
Cassidy didn't feel like she belonged because the rest of her family were extroverted, non-Highly Sensitive People. This made Cassidy feel like there was something wrong with her.
Cassidy was often given the message that she was "overly sensitive" and "just too much." She hadn't known at the time about HSPs or that she was a highly sensitive introvert.
Through our sessions, I educated Cassidy about the HSP temperament and helped her view childhood through a different lens.
This made a huge impact for Cassidy. She had always felt like she was defective. It validated all that she went through and also normalized a lot of the ways she felt growing up.
This helped to increase Cassidy's self-esteem. She had never realized how much those negative false beliefs affected her and the way she thought about herself.
As we instilled new positive beliefs, slowly Cassidy began to accept (and even love) herself for exactly who she was.
Cassidy and I continue to work together on self-acceptance and how to use her sensitivities as super powers and not burdens.
We are also focusing on how to deal with her partner and family who continue to view her sensitive traits as negative.*
"Dede" , age 41, contacted me after a friend suggested she talk to a therapist.
Dede had a bad habit of always thinking in "worse case scenario" and her friends seemed to feel it was getting worse.
If Dede texted a friend and didn't hear back right away, she immediately assumed her friend was mad at her.
Once when Dede called her grandmother and she didn't answer the phone, Dede assumed she had fallen or had a heart attack. Dede couldn't relax until she drove all the way to her grandmother's house only to find her in the back yard gardening.
Any time Dede's manager asks her to come into his office, she automatically assumes she is getting fired (despite the fact that she is their best employee).
This constant worry was giving her stomach problems and headaches.
Dede and I used CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to help her tackle those automatic negative thoughts.
Dede was able to see that bracing herself for the worse was not protecting her from bad things happening, but preventing her from living a full life.
We have continued to work together on other negative thinking traps she has been caught up in. We're now working on identifying and eliminating her "all-or-nothing" (aka "black-or-white") thinking.*
*These examples are composites of many clients.