Laura Karasinski is a designer. She is also an HSP, or a highly sensitive person. In her moving TED talk, Laura discusses what it means to be an HSP, and how she has learned to view her sensitivity as a superpower.
“Highly sensitive people.. [are born] with a genetic trait that is inherited, and processes sensory information differently.” There are 1.4 million HSPs in the world.
As a kid, Laura was called shy, anxious, cold, and dramatic. She was told to “toughen up” and “get over it” when she seemed to feel the world around her a little too strongly. Being highly sensitive can be akin to feeling the thrum of the universe in everything-- from high sensory situations such as walking in a crowd and feeling the energy of each individual press against you, to the more mundane, daily occurrences, like hearing the bass pounding through your neighbor’s walls more intensely, or being utterly drained by one conversation with that toxic friend. Even bright lights can feel invasive to HSPs.
Advice Laura offers other HSPs is to “Embrace your empathy… Empathy is the ability to feel feelings of other people, and to feel moods. Highly sensitive people can get super affected by the moods of other people, so much that we get sad when other people are sad, and super excited when other people are super excited. But also, it makes us tired.” Why? Because for HSPs, it takes a great deal of energy to process the energy and emotions of those around them. Because HSPs can get overwhelmed by these energies, they are often told to toughen up. This is not only disempowering, it besmirches what a gift having empathy is. Empathetic people make excellent leaders, as they notice everything, and can develop deep connections very quickly.
Another tip Laura offers to help hone this superpower is that “Downtime is crucial.” For HSPs, downtime is a critical tool to helping recharge hyper-charged senses that are working on high-alert all day long. “You have to care about your bubble as much as you care about yourself. Because the energies you let in... will affect you.”
Downtime can look different to everyone. Contrary to common belief, you can also be extremely extroverted and be an HSP. 30% of all HSPs are extroverts. Therefore, downtime for some HSPs can be going out and socializing, while for others, they can’t recharge without a lot of quality time alone.
Laura finishes her talk, saying, “My wish here is that someday, we’re going to teach kids in school about these traits, so they can embrace it-- to be sensitive-- and not feel as damaged as I did as a kid. Because I am highly sensitive. And this is my superpower.”
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