Theresa Vee: How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person

Posted on

Stop expecting the people close to you to change or understand. That can’t, no matter how much you try to explain. Letting go of the need for them to get it or get you frees up your energy and creates space in your experience. You begin to shine more brightly as you accept more of yourself. This helps others like to feel your vibration and find you. They understand.

As a part of our series about How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person, I had the pleasure of interviewing Theresa Vee.

Theresa Vee is a speaker, wellness professional, and spiritual mentor for spiritually-led, empathetic, and Highly Sensitive People. She teaches practical, tangible tools to get us out of our cycles of overwhelm and over-giving, increase our energy, and feel more alive, on-Purpose, and fulfilled. She is on track to reaching one million people with her events, courses, and videos this year.

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 am a speaker, wellness professional, and spiritual mentor for highly sensitive and empathetic people, helping them feel more alive and on-Purpose. I am also a healing arts practitioner and Angelic channel striving to bring spiritually-focused Sensitives the kind of unique support they need to shine brightly as they live in their fullness and authenticity.

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 highly sensitive is so much more than just getting our feelings hurt. We are more acutely attuned, which means that we have superpowers that allow us to experience and process more sensory stimuli than the average person This can happen through our 5 physical senses as well as our intuitive senses. We can often intuit people’s needs and moods so we are often healers in our own way and/or find ourselves in service professions. At this point, 20–25% of the population is highly sensitive.

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?

Just like with any group of people, I hesitate to make sweeping statements because there are so many individual expressions within the HSP community. HSP are not always empaths, but often these two characteristics do track together.

Through my experience, Highly Sensitive People are often hurt or offended by the energy behind someone’s remarks, or when the energy of what they are saying, doing, and being don’t match up. This wounds way more deeply than the remarks themselves.

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?

We definitely can be more sensitive to these things, and not always in the same way. For instance, my husband is particularly sensitive to watching things where people experience physical pain because he feels it on their behalf — shows like Ridiculousness or Jackass.

For me, it’s more about mental and emotional pain and social justice. When there is a cause or a situation that I am being called to in some way , I often feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. That’s how I know I am being spurred to action.

One of my favorite teachings of all time was Caroline Myss’, response to someone who said, “I am too sensitive to watch the news.” Her answer was, “If not YOU, then WHO?”

This is so true. Part of why we are sensitive is because we are here to help the world. We need to know what is going on in it so that we know where to lend our energy and focus. In order to do this successfully, though, we need to be conscious of our sources and setting strong boundaries with regard to time and energy level.

Can you please share a story about how your highly sensitive nature created problems at work or socially?

HA! There are so many…
I had just started a brand-new job, and the boss gathered the whole team to take me out to lunch. As we sat at the table chatting and getting to know one another, I began to have palpitations and feel faint. My boss was sitting directly to my left, so I was trying to be discreet.

As many HSP are prone to anxiety, this was my first thought — even though I had not had an anxiety attack in many years. I excused myself, went to the restroom, and checked in to see if there was anything provoking anxiety for me in this situation.

There wasn’t, so I got myself together and returned to the table.

That was when I noticed my boss’ face. It was beet red and he was sweating a lot, so I asked if he was ok. That was when he told us all that the barista had accidentally prepared him TWO quad espressos that morning and he drank them BOTH! He was having palpitations and feeling queasy. I was able to get him some water and bread and he started to feel better.

Interestingly, years before, I had learned to pay close attention to who sits at my left because that is the receiving side of the body. I didn’t consider that in this situation, but this experience sealed the deal for me! I am now hyper-attentive to where I sit.

When did you suspect that your level of sensitivity was above the societal norm? How did you come to see yourself as “too sensitive”?

Pretty early on, actually. When I was a small child, I would see things in my room at night and my parents would tell me, “Your mind is playing tricks on you.” I believed this, but it didn’t stop the visons and beings from coming and definitely didn’t make me any less afraid.

Once I started to see that others were frightened by what I was sharing, I thought there might be more to the story.

By the time I was 9, I had also had several prophetic visions and experiences that no one knew what to do with — one of them being that I saw my aunt in the hospital dying of lung cancer.

She reacted very badly when I told her, telling me that as a child I had no right to tell her not to smoke. The vison became reality exactly 6 years later. That’s a lot for a kid!

I’m sure that being Highly Sensitive also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that Highly Sensitive people have?

Highly Sensitive People can:

• read a room or a crowd quickly and make choices about how to navigate the energy of the space — or whether to even enter it!

• asses individuals quickly, and decide if we want to put more energy into a conversation or not. (PLEASE stop trying to talk yourself out of your initial impression of someone. It is always right, and you are NOT being overly judgy.)

• make small shifts in our lives that have great impact. For example, one of my beautiful clients was plagued by anxiety, and once we started looking at the energy of food, she decided she was eating too many nuts. She decreased the number of nuts she was eating each day and her anxiety want away very quickly. The tension even drained out of her shoulders!

…and SO MUCH more!

Can you share a story from your own life where your great sensitivity was actually an advantage?

The story I want to share is part sensitivity and part Divine intervention. I was in pre-Katrina Now Orleans with a friend and we were going to do a cemetery tour that I was actually quite excited about. We had meticulously planned the bus route and everything.

We were riding the bus, and I started to feel that something just wasn’t right. My friend asked the bus driver how many stops before the one where we needed to disembark. He said that the bus didn’t go to that stop, so she asked if we could get off this bus and somehow transfer to one that did. He said that in all his years of living and driving in the area, he had never heard of that stop.

At that point I felt very strongly that even though we had allotted plenty of extra time in case something went wrong, we should cut our losses and go back to our rental. (I know how to watch for the universal signs!)

The next day, we called the tour company and they said they were so glad we missed it because the tour we were supposed to be on had gotten held up at gunpoint. Everyone was physically ok, but emotionally affected.

I was really glad I listened to myself and that my friend trusted me.

There seems to be no harm in being overly empathetic. What’s the line drawn between being empathetic and being Highly Sensitive?

When someone is empathetic it means that they can intuit and maybe even feel another’s feelings — understanding on a visceral level what they are feeling and going through.

Being highly sensitive simply means that we feel and perceive more than the rest of the population — it doesn’t always include the mental or emotional levels of perception. For example, a person can be highly sensitive through the physical senses only. This can take the form of sensitivity to chemicals, sounds, smells, bright light, etc.

However, as stated previously, these things do often go hand in hand — especially with spiritually-focused Sensitives.

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?

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!

People look at social media as a loose connection, but for the HSP, as soon as any SM app is opened, there is a bombardment of energy. There are a few things that can be done about this:

• be sure that your energy is up to par before going on social.

• only connect with those who uplift you and share things that are meaningful to you, and don’t be afraid to unfriend or unfollow.

Note: This doesn’t mean you shun people because of what they share, but maybe those people are best kept to being real-life in-person connections only.

• set your preferences so that you only see the feeds that you want to see.

• stay off social before your morning practices and for an hour or more before bed. This allows you to set your own energy in the beginning of the day and helps you to wind down and release at the end. You’ll be as clear and focused as possible as well as relaxed and free of clinging energies before bed.

• give yourself permission to take a hiatus whenever necessary.

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?

This actually happened for the first time in a while recently!

Someone who had never met me before told me, “You can’t be so precious about things. If you’re so sensitive to everything, you’ll never help anyone!”

I was actually stifling a laugh, because my work IS helping people! I teach Sensitives to stand in their superpowers as strengths, as well as the value in having boundaries.

At this point in my life, I don’t need to explain myself or take someone’s words to heart. I gauge the situation and decide whether putting my precious time and energy into sharing about sensitivity is worth it.

In this case, it wasn’t. The person was actually a highly-intuitive closeted HSP who was not ready to embrace her full self. She was striking out at me because I was standing firm (and loving) in my boundaries and that made her very uncomfortable.

This is actually another example of how being sensitive can be a benefit — had I not been able to read the subtlety of the situation, there might have been an altercation or argument, and that would not have served anyone.

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 embrace Sensitivity. I own it and speak about it freely — because there are so many people out there who don’t know there are others like them, and I want them to be free to revel in who they are, too!

I’ve learned that I am in charge of my sensitivity, which helps a lot. I choose how much or how little I feel. So, when I am in a crowded anxiety-ridden space like an airport, I choose not to be open to everyone’s energy. If I do feel or resonate with someone, I know that there is something I am being guided to do to help them. Maybe it’s even just to smile or say hello.

Each of us was created perfectly suited to do the work that we are here to do. The sooner we embrace all of ourselves, the sooner we can live on-Purpose!

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a Highly Sensitive Person? Can you explain what you mean?

First and foremost, we are not victims to our sensitivities! So many HSP live in a prison (of sorts) of our own making for at least part of our lives, viewing our sensitivities as weaknesses and detriments to our ability to function in a world that was not set up for us! Unfortunately, this is fairly common, as we’ve adopted these ideas as a result of being told we are “too sensitive” for so much of our lives.

We are able to shift energies very quickly because we are able to respond to the subtle. Making subtle changes in our lives and environments can have a great effect on our lives — things like changing the color and texture of the pillows on your couch, replacing the scent of your aromatherapy, tweaking what you are eating. Our superpowers are in the subtleties.

As little as it takes to knock us off balance, it can take just as little to bring us back. We just need to heed the warning signs and stop pushing through when our system is telling us, “too much!”

A time moves on, humanity will become more sensitive. We are lighting the way, and as we embrace it and live within our natures, we are inspiring others to embrace their uniqueness, as well.

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?

I feel that accepting ourselves fully is the key to change. When we stop living apologetically for our nature, there will be nothing to apologize for. We also need to realize that it’s hard for the other 75% of the world to interact with us because we crack open a door to their own sensitive nature that they are uncomfortable opening or have been oblivious to. This is why they push back and want us to change.

Keep shining, and the way people interact with you will change. I promise!

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.

The 5 things you need to know to Survive and Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person:

  1. Your sensitivities are your superpowers, not a detriment. You were created perfectly suited to the work you are here to do, and your sensitivity is a powerful part of that.
  2. Muscling and pushing goes against your very nature. Listen to your body, mind, and spirit when feeling like you need a break. Create the space to breathe and connect in. This will help you to recharge, gain clarity and increase energy. Though it sounds counterintuitive, this will save you lots of time in the long run.
  3. You’re not alone. There are many others out there just like you — 20–25% of the world’s population, in fact! Just knowing that helps with self-acceptance. (Keep reading for more info about finding those people!)
  4. How much you feel and experience is completely up to you. You get to decide, set limits, and boundaries. At one point, I got tired of feeling everyone’s everything. It was too much (and, to be honest, none of my business!), and I was done feeling bombarded and depleted. I told my higher self and Universe that I didn’t want to feel it all anymore. Since helping people to heal is part of my work, I made one exception — I was open to feeling something if I was supposed to be of help. To this day, if I get an intuitive hit about a person outside of a session, it’s a very clear signal that there is something I am supposed to do for them. Think about what this boundary looks like for you, and set it!
  5. Stop expecting the people close to you to change or understand. That can’t, no matter how much you try to explain. Letting go of the need for them to get it or get you frees up your energy and creates space in your experience. You begin to shine more brightly as you accept more of yourself. This helps others like to feel your vibration and find you. They understand.

Trust me on this one, and play with it for yourself. Pick one person in your life to start with and let go of your expectations that they fully understand you and just see what happens!

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.

I would want everyone to embrace their sensitivities and function because of them rather than in spite of them. Trying to compensate for our level of sensitivity takes a lot of time and energy. If we just embraced it and listened to our intuition — who to stay away from, which job to take, when to take a break, which foods to eat — our lives would be much easier, we would feel more free, and we would be happier and healthier!

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Theresa Vee: How To Survive And Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.