Author Susan Frances Morris of The Sensitive One On How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person
The Need for Down Time — The world is overwhelming sometimes because we feel so much more. We can easily get worn out after a busy day. Time to relax is essential. Being out on a busy day may overwhelm us, so make sure you have a quiet place to retreat. I curl up in a comfy blanket and listen to music or read a book.
As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Frances Morris.
Susan Frances Morris is the author of The Sensitive One, a memoir dealing with childhood trauma, abuse, health, and healing. She was raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, the second oldest of seven siblings with two sets of twins. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and was a practicing nurse from 1989 to 201, primarily in Women’s Health.
Susan Frances Morris spent her time before 2011 as a nurse. She is now embarking on a new adventure in writing. Her passions are walking and bike riding in nature, yoga, traveling, photography, and jewelry design. She has three grown children, four grandchildren. She lives with her husband and two dogs in Clifton Park, New York.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?
I hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and am retired from Nursing. I am currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Program at UCLA to share personal stories and pertinent health information that matters.
Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I understand how hard this is. Can you help define for our readers what is meant by a Highly Sensitive Person? Does it simply mean that feelings are easily hurt or offended?
Being a highly sensitive person is much more than just being hurt by what someone says about you. Because I feel more profound, my feelings can get hurt easily. I am aware of the subtle things in my environment that others would most likely not notice — sights, sounds, smells.
Does a Highly Sensitive Person have a higher degree of empathy towards others? Is a Highly Sensitive Person offended by hurtful remarks made about other people?
I do think an HSP has a strong sense of empathy. We can take on the feelings and emotions of others and put ourselves in their shoes.
Does a Highly Sensitive Person have greater difficulty with certain parts of popular culture, entertainment or news, that depict emotional or physical pain? Can you explain or give a story?
I could not watch any politics for the last few years. It was just too upsetting for me.
Can you please share a story about how your highly sensitive nature created problems at work or socially?
I’ve been in meetings before when I couldn’t focus because someone kept tapping a pen on the table. If a picture hung on the wall is crooked, I cannot concentrate until I straighten it.
When did you suspect that your level of sensitivity was above the societal norm? How did you come to see yourself as “too sensitive”?
As a child, my siblings teased me a lot, and I became labeled early on as being too sensitive. I’ve always felt different but didn’t have a label for it. It wasn’t until I read Dr. Elaine Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person,” that I became aware of my highly sensitive trait. After reading it, I no longer viewed my sensitivity as a weakness but rather a strength.
I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?
We are more in tune with others and ourselves.
Can you share a story from your own life where your great sensitivity was actually an advantage?
In my nursing career, there were many times that I sensed what the patient needed when others did not.
There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?
Most empaths are also highly sensitive people.
Social Media can often be casually callous. How does Social Media affect a Highly Sensitive Person? How can a Highly Sensitive Person utilize the benefits of social media without being pulled down by it?
I limit my social media use.
How would you respond if something you hear or see bothers or effects you, but others comment that you are being petty or that it is minor?
I would try to address the issue, and if I am still not understood, I would probably just let it go. It depends on the situation.
What strategies do you use to overcome the perception that others may have of you as overly sensitive without changing your caring and empathetic nature?
I become self-aware. I research what it means to be highly sensitive, and then I honor myself. I listen more than talk.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person? Can you explain what you mean?
The myth that highly sensitive people are shy. Shyness is a crippling fear of judgment in social situations. Highly sensitive people are aware of subtleties in the environment and sometimes become overwhelmed by “too much going on.”
As you know, one of the challenges of being a Highly Sensitive Person is the harmful, and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just stop being so sensitive?” What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that it just doesn’t work that way?
Some people view our sensitive nature as an emotional weakness, which is just not the case. We seem to have a more profound, more intense nature.
Ok, here is the main question for our discussion. Can you share with us your “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person? Please give a story or an example for each.
- Honor Your Intuition — Because HSP’s are more in tune with the environment and what is going around them, they tend to think, feel, and process things intensely. Since we are aware of the subtle things, some have called it the “sixth sense.” Sometimes we “just know” something without realizing how. I use a journal to write down things that come to me.
- Wear Headphones — Highly sensitive people have a sensitive nervous system which makes it easier to get overwhelmed by our environment. Try to limit your time in loud noises, places with bright lights, and highly crowded areas. If you can’t, noise-canceling headphones are fabulous.
- Get Plenty of Sleep — Do not overextend yourself. Packed schedules and high-pressure situations stress us out. How much sleep you get can make or break an HSP’s day. For most people, lack of sleep (less than 7 hours a night) makes the average person irritable and less productive. But lack of sleep for the sensitive person will make life almost unbearable. Aim for at least eight hours of interrupted sleep nightly.
- The Need for Down Time — The world is overwhelming sometimes because we feel so much more. We can easily get worn out after a busy day. Time to relax is essential. Being out on a busy day may overwhelm us, so make sure you have a quiet place to retreat. I curl up in a comfy blanket and listen to music or read a book.
- Get Out In Nature — Being outside in nature is calming to highly sensitive people. We are deeply affected by the beauty of nature and feel alive there. And it is a natural healing place, and we love the quiet. Try to take a 30 min walk in nature.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Start a foundation that supports and aids women who have been emotionally and physically abused.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
Author Susan Frances Morris of The Sensitive One On How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.