Sensitivity and Empathy Protective Gear

You’re compassionate. You’re empathetic. You’re overwhelmed.   2501463653_eae8b47630

How do you protect your sensitive-self while living a meaningful life?

How do you deal with melting ice caps, fracking, suicide bombers and laundry?

How do rainforest-minded souls manage in a chainsaw world?

I’m not sure.

But here are some ideas.

Saying “no” more often is good. Connecting with nature, good. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, therapy, all good. Watching back-to-back episodes of Dr. Who, probably good. Dark chocolate, what do you think?

What else? What protects your sensitive soul? What actions do you take in the world that won’t leave you gasping, fractured and toxified?

I’m wondering that myself.

But here’s an idea.

A place to start.

Something to think about.

I wish I’d said this myself. I didn’t. But I agree with it.

“The gift you carry for others is not an attempt to save the world but to fully belong to it…You need to find what is genuinely yours to offer the world before you make it a better place. Discovering your unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge. The offering of that gift—your true self—is the most you can do to love and serve the world. And it is all the world needs.”

Bill Plotkin, Animas Institute


To my dear bloggEEs: I promise to help you find ways to access your True Self in future posts. I think it may be an important piece of the Puzzle. In the meantime, make a list of ways you self-soothe. Then do them. Give yourself permission to rest, to think, to create, to love. And I’ll see you next time.

Photo from creative commons:

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

19 responses to “Sensitivity and Empathy Protective Gear”

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  5. AW Avatar

    Just a huge lump in my throat.

  6. Franca78 (@Francescamoun78) Avatar
    Franca78 (@Francescamoun78)

    Well i find mostly in Nature my only source of peace and serenity, since the city chaos just drives me crazy, even tough i also want to be part of it, since i am an hyperactive being, always multi-tasking something. I’m 35 now but i’ve started my ‘careers’ and ‘hobbies’ going to classic languages school, only to change in the end and go to a modern languages high school, then i did a bit of language university and then switched off to Nursing school. Got my degree in nursing, and after i started working as a nurse i realized that it wasn’t enough for me. I need to learn more and more of many different subjects, i’ve always been that way. I’ve started law school, but now i’m bored with it, and would love to become a doctor. Hope i can make it. I know i’m crazy but i feel like my knowlegde could expand more…… i feel frustrated being confined into only one job……Same for my hobbies…passed through studying piano, then singing, then at least ten different type of sports….swimming, trekking, sword, soccer, running, and am still not satisfied with anything specific…… I’ve been in various religions and spiritual groups, from buddhism to cristian science to many other spiritual paths, and can’t find peace there either…… YES , i am a compulsive disorder addict, and wish i could find my true path one day, hopefully without ending up again without a job or a relationship. ( not to mention how many relationships i’ve changed !!!! )….but i always think there is MORE i can do, there is MORE i can obtain, there is MORE to it all !!!! both material and spiritual !!!! I am super-sensitive too, always helping others whenever i can, and not getting much in return…. too many times because of my ingenuity ? i don’t know …..maybe others think i’m not a dependable person. Still got to figure out if it is so…..I Wish i could know how to protect myself, from my own lack of firmness. Nature and animals are my only peace !!!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      You certainly sound rainforest-minded. So many interests and abilities. Highly sensitive. I don’t think you’re crazy. I bet your knowledge could continue to expand. That’s the nature of giftedness. I’m glad you find some peace in Nature and animals. Maybe understanding that you’re gifted will also help. So glad you found me! Thank you for writing.

  7. Heather Avatar

    I realized over a year ago that reading the news every day was sending my empathy into overdrive, now I only read articles from journals and specialized sites so I don’t see all the “if it bleeds it leads” headlines. Between that and spending time in my garden I function much better.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, Heather. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  8. C A Avatar
    C A

    Wow Ruth right on… Made me feel better. We do belong here dont we! And yes we wouldn’t mind being held either 🙂

  9. Ruth Avatar

    Sensitives need nature not just as a place to visit and occasionally be soothed, but as a home in which to be grounded and to steep in the unequivocal knowing that we belong here. This cannot be overstated. Another crucial support that you didn’t mention (but you are busy providing) is community. We need others who get what it means to be highly sensitive and who can hold us. 🙂

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Absolutely, Ruth. Thank you. I know so many sensitive souls who experience Nature as Home and Love. And really , Nature as community when people are hard to find. That said, I’m deeply grateful to be able to provide at least online community through this blog. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

  10. KtCallista Avatar

    I just found my thing a couple years ago! I think it’s my thing, I’m so happy there for now. I’m working with FIRST ( and helping kids learn the fun and excitement of becoming gracious professionals and exploring engineering and other STEM concepts. I thought I wanted to be a wildlife biologist and help the world that way, and I went to school and studied and worked at it, but the fit was never quite there. I am still very proud of what I accomplished, but I burned out so fast. Here’s hoping the FIRST glow doesn’t wear off as fast.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Great you found your thing–and if you’re a multipotentialite (, there may come a time when you need to move on. But that’s OK! It could be that you have many different careers in your lifetime. Thanks for writing, Kt.

  11. C A Avatar
    C A

    Hey Paula right now I don’t feel like I am doing a good enough job with it..right now I feel pretty hopeless right now my burnout has come back for the umpteenth time so I am having a challenge even working but yes shielding helps me because I am an empath as well and releasing toxic people and relaxing but it is challenging…did I just say challenging twice see not at the top of game 🙂 right now

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      It’s OK, CA. You can’t always be on top of everything! Sorry to hear about the hopelessness and burnout. Do you have a spiritual practice that might help? Have you heard of the meditation practice called tonglen? You might want to check out Pema Chodron’s books and her description of tonglen. It might help. Thanks for writing.

      1. C A Avatar
        C A

        Thanks Paula 🙂 I will look into that 🙂 awesome

  12. dmstauber Avatar

    Mmmmmmm. So important!

    I have been protecting my soul and self with a technique I learned from Havi Brooks at the force field. I visualize the space around myself in all directions, sometimes using my hands to physically feel it. I identify stuff that is not mine or is not from now and send it out of the field. Then I fill it with the qualities I want: ease, healing, joy, safety… I keep playing with this idea in different ways, and it has really helped in situations where I need boundaries.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh yes, a wonderful technique. Thanks for sharing, Do Mi. Hopefully others will share their ideas, too!