Are you often told to stop taking things to heart or to toughen up? Do you have a lot of empathy for others? Overanalyze things and get 'stuck in your own head'? Or become easily overwhelmed and frequently need to withdraw? If the answer is YES, you are probably a Highly Sensitive Person and this Handbook will be your survival guide!
One in five people are born with the trait of high sensitivity. Yet, there is a general lack of awareness of the trait in our society, which leaves many people struggling physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually with being highly sensitive in a non-sensitive world. More often than not, HSPs are yearning for acceptance of their trait, not just from other people but also for themselves. When they realize their sensitivity is ‘normal’ and it’s acknowledged in a positive way, a deep sense of relief arises and they can begin to flourish – feeling empowered to bring their unique abilities of empathy, compassion, creativity, healing and much more into the world. Presented in four sections that lead the reader on a journey of true holistic self-understanding, the book starts with a section exploring the main qualities and challenges of the trait, and how it can be a real gift in life; not a flaw. The second section then delves into impacts of living as an HSP, such as the many masks that they tend to wear (people-pleasing and so on), the relationships they attract, and how they can start on the journey to feeling more valued. The third section provides a wide range of practical strategies to manage the trait more effectively, from more self-love, coping with over-arousal, tapping for emotional freedom, energy protection, dealing with loss and bereavement, and tuning into the healing power of animals. And the final section touches on the more spiritual aspect of life that many HSPs are searching for, whether knowingly or not – from past-life themes to the unseen world, such as angels – in their quest to fully accept themselves, and to live the authentic, fulfilling lives they deserve.
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About the Author
Mel Collins is a qualified Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, Spiritual Healer, Reiki Master, Intuitive and Auricular Acupuncturist with my own private practice in Devon. I studied extensively under the Jungian Psychotherapist, the late Dr Roger Woolger in Deep Memory Process (Past Life Regression) and Ancestral Healing. My continuing professional development has included studies in CBT, Motivational Interviewing, Shamanism, Spiritual and Psychic Development, Tarot and Meditation. I have been self-employed for nearly eight years. I run workshops, courses and talks about my work and I have professionally recorded three Meditation CDs. Two of them complement the chapters on Energy Protection and Self Love in the book.
Table of Contents
Foreword Jeremy Vine ix
Section 1 What is High Sensitivity? 1
1 The HSP Trait 5
2 In a World Made of Steel, Made of Stone 15
3 Sensitivity: A Gift, Not a Flaw 19
4 The Top Ten Challenges Faced by HSPs 23
5 From Disconnection to Authenticity 33
6 The Six Human Needs 48
7 What We Attract' in Life 55
8 An Overview of the HSP Journey to Wholeness 60
Section 2 The Self-help Strategies 67
9 Sorting Through our Emotional Debris 71
10 The Self-love Solution 75
11 Dealing with Over-arousal and its Effects 94
12 Tapping for Emotional Freedom 104
13 The Importance of Energy Protection 113
14 Understanding Loss 124
Section 3 A Spiritual Perspective 133
15 Our Humanity and our Divinity: Ego, Soul and Spirit 137
16 Recognizing our Divine Blueprint 142
17 Exploring our Past Lives 148
18 Developing a Soul Perspective 157
19 Acknowledging Unseen Help 164
20 Being Aware of Earthbound Souls 168
21 Maintaining Inner Balance 176
22 Flourishing and Living your Purpose as an HSP 180
Additional Resources 185
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was very much a Tale of Two Cities, to me. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” I enjoyed the first two-thirds of this book very much. In fact, I thought it was great. It’s well written, insightful and contains practical suggestions for the highly sensitive person. The last one-third of this book sadly has little to offer me. Why? Because I personally do not believe in chakras, tapping and other “spiritual” topics of which the entire last one-third of the book is devoted to. I do appreciate the fact that the author devoted a section to the “new age” concepts and practices rather than mixing it in throughout the book. This format allows people like myself to fully engage in the first part of the book and provides for the more “new age-centered” to enjoy the book as well. Neither audience is ignored and this was clever on the author’s part, in my opinion. Thus, my four-star rating.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Watkins Publishing and Mel Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy. What is a highly sensitive person? Well, Mel Collins claims that almost 20% of the population are HSPs. They include people who process emotions more deeply than others, often being told they are too sensitive, or shouldn’t take things too personally. They are more reaction to the positive and negative emotions of others and can have a heightened response to environmental stimuli. Collins is a UK psychotherapeutic counsellor, spiritual healer and reiki master. She makes It clear that she doesn’t come from a scientific background and has gathered this data by working with people (including the prison system) over the past 15 years. When I first started reading about what an HSP was, I started to relate to a number of things. I have been told my whole life that I am too sensitive, that I should toughen up, have high levels of empathy and have a feeling of not belonging, including in my own family. I don’t have all the qualifiers, like the environmental issues, but enough that I certainly fell into this category. As I continued to read on about how this manifests in your life, how it shapes your personality, etc. I really began to get excited and thought “Wow! This sort of explains my whole life”. It certainly spoke to a lot of my childhood, career choices and decisions that I have made along the way. It was viewed as a negative and I really felt like it was just me. There was something wrong with me, that I heard things differently than other people and took things too personally and got too defensive. That other, “normal”, people didn’t behave like this. So, naturally, you start to feel some validation when you realize there is a whole group of people who are like that and that it can be viewed as a strength and not a weakness. Collins does an excellent job at identifying and explaining what an HSP is and what the challenges you might have faced during your life. She walks you through an extensive number of self-help strategies to help reshape your thinking into finding the positive. There is a third section on spirituality that goes more into the “woo-woo” aspects of crystal healing, spiritual guides (angels), earthbound should (ghosts) and other such stuff that she says in the beginning, if that’s not your cup of tea, skip it. What I found, as I started to go through the self-help solutions, was that I had heard all of this before. Collins talks about self-love and softening your inner critic. Forgiveness and not comparing yourself to others is something that can help everyone. Setting boundaries and using things like meditation and positive affirmations to help keep doubt and worry at bay. She also talks about tapping as another strategy to help you in real life situations where you need to get control over how you are feeling. I began to wonder, if these were the solutions, then what is so special about being an HSP. Everyone uses these solutions if you are trying to live a more peaceful life. Be in nature, be in the moment, don’t focus on the past, are all messages I have heard from many other experts. These self help strategies, echoes of what others have said, are sound and it is nice to have them in a step by step format, in one place. You can easily skip those sections that you don’t personally have an issue with so I found the book easy to use.
Disclaimer: I obtained my copy of The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People from NetGalley as a preview ebook. I presume the text won't change much between that and its final release. First, be aware: this is not a citation- and study-laden analysis of the high-sensitivity trait, but more the author's life experience in relation to her realization and sense of her own high sensitivity and a compilation of her strategies for navigating her world as an HSP. If you're looking for a in-depth study of HSPness, this isn't it; try Elaine Aron's solid accessible work. But if you're interested in one HSPs long-reflected perspective and "handbook" approach to HSP life, or a sympathetic validation that HSP is a thing and that it's Not Just You, this might work for you. The first two chapters—basically Collins's self-intro and perspective on HSP—desperately need extensive proofreading. I lost count how many times I had to reread a sentence multiple times to tease out its likely meaning, or stumbled across odd word or grammar choices. Bits of this crop up as reading speed-bumps throughout the book, although not nearly as much. Perhaps some of that will've smoothed out between my preview copy and the final. OTOH, for anyone unsure after the first chapter or two, give Chapter 4 a chance. Collins's "Top Ten Challenges Faced by HSPs" may be her own unscientifically compiled observations, but they are well described and likely to resonate with any HSP, should serve as a fair description of HSP life to non-HSPs, and provide brief hints of how other parts of the book will relate to each challenge. This chapter may be the best sampler for toe-in-the-water gauging the value of book as a whole. The next few chapters explore types of roles that people, especially HSPs, tend to present in order to more safely interface with the world, six core human needs that tend to drive human behaviors and decisions, etc. Section Two (Chapters 9-14) covers Collins's "self-help strategies" for HSPs. Her description of emotional filtering and processing is good; not specific to HSPs, but may be experienced more commonly or deeply by HSPs. And her coverage of strategies for coping with over-arousal include a wide range of options. Not everyone will necessarily buy into some of these (such as acupressure "tapping" or chakra-based techniques), but think of it more as a menu of potential available tools than a single instruction guide, and it works. Section 3 (Chap 15-22) explores a more "spiritual" interpretation of HSPness, connected to reincarnating souls and past lives and the like. This is where I skimmed more, as much of this I found difficult to swallow, especially as it presumes a lot of detailed "knowledge" about how divine structures support reincarnation and feed into successive lives, a degree of trust in Divine Providence to place us each into the lives we need to complete our soul selves, etc. If this doesn't interest you, the good news is that it's concentrated into the back third of the book where it can be skimmed or skipped without interfering much with the rest. Overall, if you're looking for life-perspective from an HSP and a broadly inclusive review of "handbook" strategies for navigating life as an HSP, this might fit that bill. Personally, I'd suggest starting with foundational understandings of HSPness itself from Elaine Aron's works before reading this for the added "handbook" perspective, but… that's me; even amongst HSPs, we are not all the same.