The 5 Most Common Blocks That Hold Back HSPs

A highly sensitive person being blocked by their own gifts.

For HSPs, your greatest strengths can also be your biggest obstacles if you don’t learn to overcome them. Here’s how. 

As a highly sensitive people (HSPs), your depth of emotion and depth of experience is the source of your greatest talents. They are the wellspring for your empathy, intuition, and sensory intelligence. Yet these gifts can also leave you feeling blocked at times — especially if you haven’t learned how to fully understand and harness them. 

I speak from experience. After working with dozens of creative HSPs with incredible vision and ideas, I’ve seen the same problems emerge time and again: our greatest strengths are often the same things that, in the wrong circumstances, hold us back.  

If you allow these blocks to stop you, of course, you are missing out on your own authentic, empowered experience. (And the world misses out on the magic of your perceptive thinking, your intuitive hits, and your natural capacity for empathy and connection, creativity, innovation and deep insight.) 

But I’ve also learned that there’s a better way — a way to harness your gifts without letting them become obstacles. 

So today, let’s look at the top five most common blocks for highly sensitive people, what causes them, and what you can do to overcome them — and experience more balance and alignment in your life in the process.

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Block #1: Not Knowing Who You REALLY Are

How we define ourselves is central to how we experience life,  your self-concept is a collection of beliefs you hold about yourself. It shapes how you experience life, how you interact with the world and where you feel a sense of belonging.  This understanding and appreciation of yourself is what builds a sense of identity. 

A strong, empowered sense of identity is especially important for HSPs, as it helps us to assert our own unique perspective and offer it to those around us, which I believe forms part of our inherent purpose. 

Our collective knowledge and understanding of the trait of high sensitivity is relatively new (we are only about 30 years into the research on it, and still exploring) and of course, everyone’s experience is subjective. A lack of understanding and clarity can easily arise around this wonderful trait, for both HSPs and non-HSPs, which often calls this part of our identity into question.

Also, for most HSPs, the skills of adaptability and flexibility became very important early in life in order to fit in and achieve that sense of belonging and identity. 

It is very natural to internalise the messages you received growing up;  ‘you’re overly sensitive’ / ‘stop overthinking’ / ‘toughen up’ etc. Without the self-knowledge and self-understanding to counterbalance these messages, HSPs often live with a sense of being ‘wrong’ or ‘too much’  or ‘different’. If the validation we needed was not offered in the past, we learned to be wary, mindful and even fearful of being judged unfairly or being misunderstood.

Our identity can become frozen in time so to speak, and remain anchored in the past rather than in the potential available to us in the present. 

This habit of adaptation over a lifetime also means that our self-concept can get caught up in our empathic abilities. We are so attuned to the experience and energy of others that we lose sight of our own needs. The views, opinions and expectations of others can become bigger in our minds than our own view. We end up absorbing the perspective and expectations of others and take action in response.

This leads us to doubt ourselves, to become ungrounded and lose a sense of our personal power,  which leads to self-criticism. The microphone is handed over to our inner critic instead of our true voice.

If you go on adapting and responding to the external only, it can feel like you’re playing a role in your own life, or as a recent client put it ‘it feels like I am a ghost in my own life!’

Energetically, this block, or stagnation of energy within your solar plexus chakra is affecting your self-esteem and personal power; the solar plexus is the seat of our personal strength and confidence and, when balanced, we feel self-assured and courageous.

Your personal power will be impacted if you don’t accept and appreciate your true nature, and without a sense of personal power, you are denying the world of your incredible spirit.

It is through self-understanding and validation that you can heal from the past and allow for growth and expansion in the present as you embrace all parts of your identity.

Block #2: Not Knowing How to Manage Your Energy 

Energy management is crucial to your wellbeing as an HSP and if you leave it as an afterthought, it will catch up with you in the form of overwhelm, exhaustion and burnout.

When you live in resistance and in a chronic state of ‘hustle’ – you will feel drained, confused and far from inspired. Without solid self-care practices in place, your creative flow will be blocked and everything will become challenging.

It is very common for HSPs to experience bursts of creative energy followed by long periods of inaction or procrastination; with recovery time required to regain equilibrium.

This is when our sympathetic nervous system can go into overdrive when we perceive stress (or danger) which, in our modern lives can lead to high productivity in a short space of time but then, we feel the crash – our parasympathetic nervous system compensates and we need to recalibrate and find that optimal level of energy flow once more. Of course we feel this process more acutely and more deeply than most.

These bursts and dips of energy are not only exhausting and confusing, but they can cultivate learned behaviour and habits in our lives that ultimately hold us back – putting up roadblocks to our success, alignment and wellbeing. It is like swimming against the tide and it leaves you feeling unproductive and ineffective in your life and work.

When you prioritise your energy flow and learn to cultivate your own optimal energy level, a productive and steady energy flow underpins everything instead.

Energetically, this block, or stagnation of energy is in your root chakra and it affects your overall energy flow and sense of stability.

The root chakra is associated with grounding, stability, and security – your basic needs in life and as HSPs, recognising and responding to our needs is not our strong suit. 

To feel strong, grounded, in-flow, in charge of your energies and leveraging your beautiful sensitivities so that you can thrive in your life and your work, you need to assess your current energy flow and energy management and recognise that in order to avoid overwhelm, you need to prioritise yourself and your needs in all areas. 

Block #3: Untapped ‘Purpose Potential’

As HSPs, our brains are literally wired towards others, we are attuned to others so much that we can underestimate our abilities and talents and, as a result, leave so much potential untapped. I call it your purpose potential – and your purpose matters. The world needs your creativity, insight, depth of processing and depth of emotion.

Your purpose potential remains untapped when you try to function like everyone else and when you hide or mask your true nature and the scope of what you can offer – this applies to all HSPs, in all industries and at all levels. There is so much empathic leadership left untapped in the world, because HSPs are not coming up the ranks due to a lack of appreciation for the strengths offered by up to 30% of the population and due to environments and systems that are restrictive.

If you are hiding your light, wisdom, talent and unique offering, you are limiting your potential. When you hide for long enough, it can be difficult to find your voice and express yourself authentically. Allowing your  true strengths to shine will shape the expectations you hold for yourself – your definition of success. I see this coming into play a lot when HSPs are not charging their worth as business owners or entrepreneurs or they are not going after the positions and salary that reflect their worth as employees. 

If you’re experiencing this block, you probably find that your inner narrative; the stories in your head about how you’re “supposed” to be living and working are pulling you in one direction while your heart and soul are nudging you in a different direction.

You may be craving flow, clarity and progression in relation to the full expression of who you really are and how you want to express that in the world.

Energetically, this is about awakening your inner wisdom and the vision you have for yourself — as the third eye chakra is a gateway to your higher consciousness and emotional healing, an imbalance can lead to a lack of clarity or focus, and a lack of trust in yourself and your own potential.

And the potential is huge. HSPs don’t just think outside the box, they often create an entirely new box or remove the box altogether! Imagine the sense of empowerment in living life authentically, in-flow with a sense of satisfaction, contentment & freedom — in short, feeling like yourself, bravely expressing your passions and ambitions in the world.

Need to Calm Your Sensitive Nervous System? 

HSPs often live with high levels of anxiety, sensory overload and stress — and negative emotions can overwhelm us. But what if you could finally feel calm instead?

That’s what you’ll find in this powerful online course by Julie Bjelland, one of the top HSP therapists in the world. You’ll learn to turn off the racing thoughts, end emotional flooding, eliminate sensory overload, and finally make space for your sensitive gifts to shine.

Stop feeling held back and start to feel confident you can handle anything. Check out this “HSP Toolbox” and start making a change today. Click here to learn more.

Block #4: Broken Boundaries

This block will not come as a surprise – once again, your capacity for empathy is leaving you and your own alignment somewhat blocked as you direct your energy and focus towards others. And you do it so naturally.

You say yes to everyone and everything, very rarely say no and you don’t say yes to yourself very often. If you have no self-protection in place, you will end up constantly trying to mould yourself to the needs of others’ so much so that when you do prioritise yourself, it feels wrong somehow, it feels selfish, foreign, bizarre even. 

You naturally seek harmony in relationships but often at your own expense, this cannot go on forever; it will deplete your energy and your sense of self. 

When your own needs are at the bottom of your priority list,  this negatively impacts you but also the people in your life. 

Healthy boundaries are empowering for all involved – they are not a barrier, they empower your relationships and your decision-making. 

Broken boundaries are a sign that you are not meeting your own needs, or, if you are, you are feeling guilty about it. A lack of boundaries ultimately diminishes your offering and value and overall experience of life.

Energetically, your heart chakra is on overdrive; you are giving too much love and energy externally and not directing enough love and respect towards yourself.

By empowering your personal space, you can take advantage of your wonderful innate skills

and abilities and do good in the world, but not at the expense of your wellbeing and happiness.

Block #5: The Wrong Mindset

Mindset is a massive piece of the puzzle for everyone. Our thought patterns have such a huge impact on our lives — how we interpret our past, perceive our current experience and shape our future.

We can easily allow an old narrative to keep playing in our mind, not even realising that we are setting the scene everyday for ourselves to repeat patterns that do not serve us and do not support our highest good and highest potential. Your mindset does create your reality, your thought patterns condition your state of being and doing and experiencing.

Patterns of thought that leave you feeling stuck or going round in circles, come in the form of assumptions or misconceptions around career or business opportunities, overthinking that leads to procrastination and imposter syndrome that can be hard to reign in.

Breaking out of this cycle of thought seems like an uphill battle but after the initial effort to redirect your thinking, the momentum towards new ways of being builds very quickly, especially for HSPs who respond very well to positive influence.

This is a form of self-sabotage, where you get in your own way and tolerate doubts and fears and shoulds and maybes. We limit ourselves so we can continue to feel safe – we hold ourselves back to remain in a familiar groove. Self-sabotage appears in the form of self-doubt, fears, perfectionism or procrastination and acts as a defence mechanism. 

But always remember, self-sabotage tends to appear when we are on the precipice of change or a breakthrough in our lives – you can use it as a useful signal, a lever for progress.

Overthinking is natural for us HSPs, it’s as natural as breathing which is why ‘stop overthinking’ will never work as our depth of processing on everything is what gives us our edge.

But, the nature of your thinking is within your control, always. What you focus on is what you experience and what you will attract. Your thought patterns affect your entire energetic system and they are powerful in cleansing and clearing all the chakra, individually, and as a holistic system. When you take charge of your mindset, you take charge of your energy management and vice versa.

At the heart of all these common blocks is self-understanding, self-validation and self-appreciation. By honouring and taking responsibility for your authentic experience, you are cultivating empowerment and resilience. 

What is your individual HSP experience? While we all have so much in common, each and every individual has a unique version of HSP magic to offer. Share what your version is, or tell us what moments have revealed your HSP nature to you.

Hey! If you’d like to find out what the #1 block is holding you back from the life you dream of, you can take the 60 second HSP quiz here and dive deeper with a detailed report.

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