How do I know I am a HSP?

Elaine  Aron is a psychologist who was the first to identify 15-20% of people as being “Highly Sensitive”. HSPs (= Highly Sensitive People) have a more sensitive nervous system than most people (yes, you are hard-wired that way!). Elaine Aron herself is HSP and she has created a self-test you can take.

In a video chat with Diana Malerba, I talk about the questions in that self-test to give some more context and examples. (Please know this reflects my own experience and ideas, not necessarily Elaine Aron’s). If you’d like to walk through the test “together”, then click on the test link above – opening it in a separate window, and then play the video below.



In the video I mention extroverted HSPs and a girl who would go to the disco with her friends for three weeks, and then stay at home for three weeks… Being both extroverted and actively seeking stimulation, yet also needing more down time is what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Sensation Seeker.

I also discuss that as HSPs we need to learn to stay within our “optimal stimulation” zone, and regulate our stress levels. This is something I teach in detail in this coaching programme.

It’s been a while since this video was recorded! So I do actually have a separate website dedicated to Highly Sensitive Entrepreneurs now too.

How do I know I am an empath? 

Here is a free course you can take that will let you figure it out step by step. Also be sure to read my article on the differences between being an empathic HSP versus being an empath.

Knowing from the inside out if you’re an empath is tricky though – because how do you compare your insides to what is normal for other people to experience? The free course gives you steps, but it won’t be 100% conclusive. So if you have questions about this, be sure to set up a Clarity Call so we can discuss your experiences in person and figure out what is what.

What is the difference between an HSP and an Empath?

Both HSP’s and Empaths are very attuned to their surroundings. An empath, however, has one very defining trait: an empath will feel the pain of others as if it is their own and carry around that pain in their own body (often, for years!). Since others’ pain feels as if it is really their own empaths will often think that everything they feel is their feeling, while in fact, it often belongs to people around them. So, it is very possible to be an empath without knowing that you are (do you have inexplicable mood swings?). The articles “Emotional Soup” and “Being Empathic versus Being an Empath” discuss this issue.

Are all empaths the same? A.k.a. do they all have the same abilities?

Some empaths are more attuned to emotions, others more to physical pain. It is also possible to pick up sensory information from animals, crowds and even the earth. Being an empath means you pick up some of these sensations, but not necessarily all.

Note though that there are a lot of ways of being that fall inbetween HSP and Empath. You can in fact be sensitive to energy, and yet not be an empath. This article goes into more detail on the various different kinds of sensitivity.

Is it possible to stop being an empath?

You can’t stop feeling what you feel, but you can definitely stop sponging it all. Feeling what you feel, recognizing what is happening and hence not adopting external sensations as your own makes you clairsentient, which is very powerful. (click here for a relevant blogpost)

I really need help and I can’t afford to pay for it. What is possible for me?

There is a lot of free information on this site. Also, take a look at this article on finding help.

I’m far away from where you are located, where can I find help?

As long as you have a decent internet connection, a mic and (preferably) a webcam, I will be able to support you wherever you are located. Just take a look at the coaching page for ways to work with me. I also work over the phone.

Of course, there are also other people both online and offline who offer help for HSPs. Various places also have HSP meetup groups. For some suggestions on what to look (out) for, take a look at this article, and this article.

For other services for HSPs and Empaths (not by me) take a look at the HSP and Empath Yellow Pages

What do you recommend for someone who has CFS?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is complex. There can be many different underlying causes. What I would recommend is to keep an open mind, work on multiple levels (thoughts, emotions, habits, social environment, doing things you like, possible vitamin/mineral deficiencies, check for infections, check for food allergies, assess whether you’re on-track with regards to your passions (how can you do more of what you love?) and learn a personal healing tool like EFT).

Keep track yourself of what has a positive impact on you. CFS is somewhat uncharted territory so -in my experience- you need to be willing to make your own choices and follow your own guidance on what to do or try next. Also, be willing to seriously change your life.

A big component of chronic fatigue syndrome is stress. Chronic stress seriously affects your health. While I can’t help you with medical issues, I can help you redesign your life and your habits to effectively lower your daily stress levels, giving your body a very real opportunity to heal.

What’s the difference between counseling and coaching?

First off, there are as many differences as there are individual counselors and coaches. As far as my own work goes though, I’d say that coaching sessions are very goal-oriented and require a lot of DIY (more like private classes) while counseling offers a lot more hand holding and support for many years, not just months.

My coaching programmes are meant to teach you what you need, and how to do it on your own, a.s.a.p. They are not intended for guidance over several years. If you want someone who’ll be there to talk to every week for years to come, I’d say that’s appropriate for counseling. If you need someone to talk to several times a week, that is also something appropriate for counseling.

With counseling sessions, it’s not unusual at all to have two sessions a week. In my approach to coaching on the other hand, you can expect to have one session every 2-4 weeks. Most of my programmes have less than a handful of private coaching sessions. I strive to find an optimal balance between prefab materials (cheaper for you, and you can study them in your own time) and personal support (for customization, personal support, and the work that is hard to do on your own).

Hence, I think the most important differences would be:

  • how much hand-holding you need (hand-holding is fine! It’s just not a huge part of what I do)
  • how often you want to have a session and for how long you want to continue receiving support
  • whether you are  -at this point- intrinsically motivated and able to do a lot of self-study/practice or whether you need more step-by-step personal guidance and talking through things.

There’s no right or wrong way. Your needs can differ depending on the time in your life, or the issue you are dealing with, This is how I would characterize the most important differences. Something I haven’t yet mentioned, but which is also important, is when you are dealing with e.g. a personality disorder, severe depression or a psychiatric issue. These things really require expert advice beyond what a coach (like me) is able or trained to provide.

Read a more extensive answer to this question here

Do you do email coaching?

Many of my programmes include email support. Email is fine as something in addition to a programme or live coaching. On its own though, it’s scarily time-consuming.

(Think about how much time it takes you to send a heartfelt letter to a good friend, about something that truly matters and that can be difficult to put into words. Now triple that time. Now think about doing that for someone you’ve never met in person and that -hence- you don’t really know, so you might misinterprete what they write to you… That’s the kind of time and effort that email coaching would take for the kind of topics I help people with. In the end, it would be much more time-consuming, and tiring, than doing a coaching call.)

I understand why many HSPs ask me about it though. Writing about something personal can be a lot easier than talking about it. On the other hand, many clients say to me that they’re surprised to find that they feel so at ease talking to me right from the start of a coaching session. Many HSP’s can’t be completely wrong, right?

If you’re on a tight budget, email coaching may seem like the cheaper option (you’re just asking for a few words, right?) But as I pointed out, it’s actually really time-consuming and would hence – if I offered it- be much much more expensive than Skype or phone coaching. Granted, if I had a website dedicated to advising you on where to get the best quality t-shirts, or something like that, emailing back and forth would work just fine. For the big life topics I work on with my clients though, email just doesn’t cut it. Coaching calls also allow me to make better use of my intuition, so the things I can share with you in that way will be hitting the nail on the head more than I could ever do for you in writing. Live coaching is truly the best value option.

If you’re shy, consider booking a Clarity Call, and sending me your questions over email in advance. That way, all you have to do is just show up, and I’ll be able to roll out the session based on what you wrote. After a Clarity Call, you can always decide whether you’d like to continue working with me or not (deciding is easier once you get a real sense of what it would actually be like)

If you feel like you need to get all your ducks in a row before booking a session with me… then remember, it’s not school! (And it’s definitely not an oral exam!) As an empath, I’m very good at feeling where you’re at. So give yourself the luxury of asking for help right in the messy middle of where you’re at. That’s where you’ll get the most benefits from booking a session. You wouldn’t wait to visit a doctor until you knew exactly what your medical emergency was and you had it all under control, right? Or go to school when you’ve already managed to learn all they’d teach you, on your own, and had nothing left to learn, right? Coaching is like that, no point contemplating it if you’re trying to avoid being vulnerable, needy or confused at all costs. The point is not to “not be vulnerable”, the point is picking someone you can safely be vulnerable with.

Of course, if you were raised by a narcissist (as many of my clients are) the deep and painful expectation may logically be there that you’ll be punished for showing up in a less than perfect way (whatever “perfect” meant for you at home). That fear can seem inescapably real, and huge, but it’s an old, outdated fear, and giving in to it will hold you back. There are few things that are more therapeutic than being safely witnessed by someone when you feel terribly imperfect. Don’t let the narcissists of the world dominate your reality. And if you feel bullied when working with a coach, therapist or healer, then walk away and congratulate yourself for having boldly taken both the step to try, and the step to leave. Asking for help always has a certain risk-factor (because you are inviting change) but so does not asking for help. Imagine a cheesy sunset photo, with the words: “all we can count on is change”. It’s over-everything, but it’s true.

I just have a small personal question…

Most questions I get from people are not small, although they may appear so at first glance. Often, there are a whole bunch of (hidden) deeper questions beneath the first question. Those deeper questions need to be addressed in order to answer the first question properly. So for most questions, I recommend setting up a Clarity Call. This is because everyone is different. There is no standard protocol for your life so to speak and answering personal questions involving sensitivity will involve me getting to know you at least a little.

I want to start a programme with you right now! How can I contact you?

If you’re ready to get started, get in touch! Either set up a Clarity Call or send me a message via my contact form.

If you’re feeling quite desperate, or really motivated to start working with me like, yesterday, then I have to disappoint you. I’m not set up to offer emergency calls or any kind of “can I call you today?” support. If you’d like to work with me, then I want to get to know you a little first, to know what your goals and struggles are. Setting up the first call, or filling out a programme enrollment form and waiting to hear back from me will likely take some time unless you’re synchronistically super lucky and there’s Clarity Call available 2 days from now.

When you work with me in a programme, you always need to schedule your sessions at least 48 hours ahead. It’s not possible to schedule a last-minute session if you’re feeling bad or panicked. You can always email me and if it’s urgent, I’ll try to help you out asap, but my schedule overall is not set up for last-minute emergency sessions that you can schedule yourself.

I work with my clients to teach them how to do their own healing. What this means is that my goal is not to catch you and “fix” you when you feel bad. Instead, we are going to look at and work on the structural changes you can make in your life. You’ll learn how to do your daily activities in a way that will make you calmer, more resilient and more joyful and inspired. However, if you feel like you’re in a very urgent state of emergency right now and there is no time to wait, then what you need is not a long-term plan. What you need are not life skills. What you need is someone who can help you soothe the worst of what you’re going through.

It’s not possible to make constructive long-term improvements in your life when you’re constantly doing your all just to stay afloat. There needs to be some space and energy for experimenting with new strategies. If you’re in full-on survival mode then what you need is an instant care packet to get through the worst, and you can worry about better sensitive skills later. You could benefit from the HSP Comfort Kit (instant care packet) and I’d recommend reaching out to e.g. a local therapist or a bodyworker or acupuncturist to help you soothe your nervous system.

I don’t have money – can we do a beneficial trade of sorts (that doesn’t involve money?)

I know not everyone has equal amounts of cash lying around. Truly. Yet you also have to realize that I don’t have piles of cash lying around to finance some kind of scholarship. Working with a client for free means that I can not take on a client who will pay me for that slot. The amount of time I can spend coaching clients is limited. I love the work, and it’s also the most intense job on the planet that takes 1000% of my focus.

I always do my best to also create helpful materials that are free (the blog) or that are inexpensive. That way, anyone – no matter their budget – can benefit at least some by what I do. Nevertheless, for personal and specialized help, there is a price tag, and that doesn’t change based on what someone can or wants to pay me.

Doing a trade of sorts may sound like a solution, but the reality is that if I need help, I will hire and pay someone for the help I want and need. So if you have valuable skills, my recommendation would be to find someone who will pay you for those skills. That way you can “trade” that money you receive for services you want and need.

There’s  a programme you offer that sounds really great, but I don’t have any money, do you have scholarships? I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

I know free sounds great. But here’s the thing. If you’re struggling and tapped out financially, chances are you also have little energy and focus to invest in personal development. In that way, there is always a cost to coaching and transformational programmes. To really benefit, you need to be in a place in your life where you’re not just trying to stay afloat and survive. You need the mental and emotional space to reflect on your habits and you need the time and effort to practice doing things differently, to get results.

Please also understand that for small business owners like me, it kind of does hurt to ask. When you benefit from a lot of content that is freely given, and then make a request for more, it also spells “I don’t believe you need to be paid for the work you do” – even if that is not your intention.

There is a damaging assumption in many spiritual communities that if you give from the heart, it needs to be free. This actually hurts many capable and caring practioners, because they don’t get paid enough for the valuable work they do, get exhausted and depleted as a result and then end up becoming burnt-out, overwhelmed, ex-care-givers looking for a different career.

For people visiting this site, I expect them to understand this dynamic. How you treat the people who are helpful in your life, affects whether they will be able to continue to help others. No matter how “abundant” someone may seem, we all have limits and care-givers also have needs. When those are not met, they can no longer be good care-givers.

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