“You are okay exactly the way you are, and it’s okay to set boundaries to protect yourself from over-stimulation.” ~Sonia Connolly
In the Sensipreneur Series I interview HSP’s who have made sensitivity a big part of their own business. This (e-mail) interview is with Sonia Connolly from Sundown Healing Arts.
Sonia offers intuitive, compassionate bodywork for sensitive people struggling with the effects of physical or emotional trauma.
She lives in Portland, Oregon (USA) but for those not in that area, she also has a book on healing trauma for HSPs (It’s a practical and loving book. Of all the HSP books out there that I know of, this is one of the few I really recommend)
1. How and when did you first realize you are HSP?
Coming out of an abusive relationship in 2003, I felt emotionally fragile and realized that I needed to protect myself with clear boundaries. A few years later I realized I was sensitive to wheat gluten and then fragrances.
I came to terms with the fact that I’m overall sensitive to a lot of things. HSP characteristics have a lot of overlap with PTSD, but I think a person can have both.
2. How did you come up with the idea of your current business?
I was sitting at my desk at my programming job one day and had the strong sense that I had lost my way so completely that I didn’t even know which way to turn to find it again. As part of exploration around that, I took some bodywork classes. I slowly turned it into my main business.
I knew I wanted to help people with emotional healing, and I also noticed that somehow my work brings up people’s emotional issues even when they just wanted a relaxing massage. My focus on trauma healing both advertises my strengths and gives people fair warning that their stuff might come up.
3. What are 3 ways you really notice that you are HSP in running your business?
1) My sensitivity helps me resonate with clients, so I can move to the part of their body that hurts, or reflect back what they mean after few words from them.
2) My own sensitivity leads me to be careful of my clients’ sensitivities, even if they’re in different areas. I can be careful and compassionate enough to help people who have been severely traumatized and betrayed in the past.
3) I’m really clear in my boundaries around scheduling and payment. Some people have a hard time with that, and others appreciate the clarity.
4. What are 2 ways in which you have diverted from classic business models to suit your sensitivity?
1) My marketing is very low-key and authentic, reflecting who I really am, not what’s flashy and will catch people’s attention. That means my business grows slowly, but the clients who come are good fits for my practice. My articles are the main way I market my business.
2) Relatedly, the people who are a good fit have had a lot of trauma in their lives, and will take a long time to make up their minds to come see me. They probably socialize with relatively few other people, and will probably not tell everyone, “Guess what, I’m seeing a bodyworker for trauma!” Again, it means my business grows slowly, but I’m available for the people I want to help when they’re ready to seek me out.
5. What is one thing you still struggle with with regards to being a Sensipreneur?
I have to ask every new client not to wear fragrances to their sessions. Even though people are well-intentioned, they’re usually wearing traces of fragrances unless they’re sensitive themselves, so I have to contend with the effects of that.
I can’t go to a lot of business networking events, because for sure someone will be wearing fragrance.
6. What is the one thing you would have liked to know (and that you now do know) about being a Sensipreneur when you first considered starting your own business?
I wish I had known that being well-intentioned and working hard didn’t automatically mean I would succeed at building a viable full-time practice. I have a great half-time practice, which works fine now that I have a half-time programming job as well.
I feel grateful to have this balance in my life now, since programming full-time is still not a good fit for me.
7. As an intuitive bodyworker, what is the one big thing that you believe is most important for HSPs to know?
You are okay exactly the way you are, and it’s okay to set boundaries to protect yourself from over-stimulation.
You can find more information on Sonia’s book for HSPs here.