Career Planning for Highly Sensitive People

Career Planning

Are you sensitive to bright lights, loud noises and smells? Do you become easily overwhelmed by stress or conflict? If so, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). The term was coined by Elaine Aron, and several books have been written on the topic. One area that is a special challenge for HSP’s is finding a tolerable work environment.  Competitiveness, long hours, fluorescent lighting, and constant interruptions are common workplace characteristics that can lead to a breakdown for an HSP.

Some basic career tips for the HSP:

Put health before wealth.  Your mental and physical well being are much more important than earning a lot of money.  This is true for everyone, but even more so for HSP’s.  Migraines, stomach aches, fatigue and insomnia are signs you’re job is taking a toll on your health.

Strive for independence.  Many HSP’s find self-employment much more desirable than working for someone else.  Starting your own business might not be a possibility for you, but try finding work that offers as much autonomy as possible.

Work environment matters  more than job title. A bad work environment can have a negative impact on your productivity and health.  Look for a laid back environment that offers flexibility and autonomy.  Find a company that values employees and treats workers with respect. Some tips for creating a relaxing work environment: Listen to relaxing music with earphones, taking frequent mini-breaks, bring a small lamp for your desk to offer softer lighting, put up relaxing pictures on your walls or desk.  The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide

Choose work where your sensitivity is an asset.  Emotional sensitivity is not valued and can get in the way of success as it is defined by our society.  As an HSP, you can find work where emotional sensitivity proves advantageous.  Artistic and social jobs are two areas where sensitive types can excel.  One-on-one counseling, writing, and care-giving are career options to consider.

HSP’s are often told to “toughen up” by the less-sensitive majority.  Unfortunately, we are often misunderstood, judged, and even ridiculed.  Despite this lack of understanding, HSP’s have a lot to offer the world including creativity, perceptiveness, loyalty, honesty, compassion, and listening skills.  You can’t completely change your sensitivity, but you can develop coping skills and find situations that don’t conflict with your sensitivity.

Further Reading:
Highly Sensitive Person’s Companion: Daily Exercises for Calming Your Senses in an Overstimulating World