For highly sensitive people, who process and feel things deeply, a new year can be an especially meaningful time of reflection. It’s a new chapter, a time to reimagine who you want to become — and what you’d like to shed that’s no longer serving you.
In that spirit of personal growth, I’d like to offer five new year’s resolutions for highly sensitive people.
New Year’s Resolutions for Highly Sensitive People
1. I resolve to start seeing my needs as valid rather than as burdensome or inconvenient.
This is perhaps the most difficult resolution on this list. Honestly, even I don’t get it right all the time. But it may be the most crucial one.
If you’re an HSP, you know what it’s like to have your needs take a backseat to the preferences of others. The reason is simple: Many HSPs hate, hate, hate the idea of causing pain or distress, because they know what it’s like to feel it so deeply themselves. And they hate disappointing others: HSPs easily absorb emotions and mental states, so other people’s pain becomes their pain.
But then you end up burned out and exhausted, your needs and desires unfulfilled.
In 2020, resolve to see your needs as valid — just as valid as those of anyone else. Saying yes to others sometimes means saying no to yourself. Use simple, non-confrontational methods to speak up for yourself, like simply being open and honest about what you want, or explaining why you have a certain boundary or limit.
Here are some more ideas on how to say no and set boundaries as a highly sensitive person.
2. I resolve to make more room in my life for the people who build me up, not leave me drained.
Most of us have a mix of people in our lives. Some are rare, special gems. They give as well as take. They’re positive and encouraging, and they believe in our strengths — even if sometimes they give us tough love. These are the people we often just don’t spend enough time with.
And, of course, there are others — people who take and take and take. People who insist on their needs but don’t consider our own. People who seem perfectly happy to rampage across personal boundaries, or even tear us down if we’re not giving in to them. And, of course, these people somehow always take up far too much of our time.
It’s not easy to change the mix of people in your life, but this year, consider making more space for the positive individuals who build you up. Make it an active priority to spend more time with them or make them the center of your social life.
For HSPs, who are very tuned in to others, changing their social circle can make a big difference. You don’t necessarily have cut people out of your life — that’s not always possible — but you can give more time to those who bring you happiness.
Here are some more tips to disconnect from toxic people.
3. I resolve to let my intuition guide me.
The highly sensitive brain is a powerful social machine. It’s built to understand social cues that others never even notice. You easily read what other people are feeling or thinking when they act a certain way, and you’re keenly aware of it. Seriously, this is about as close to being psychic as anything ever discovered in science.
As a sensitive person, that gift is there to protect you. You know you get overstimulated easily and are strongly affected by people who are cruel, rude, or careless with your heart. Your brain knows that too, and it gives you warnings about the people around you.
Stop ignoring your intuition — in all your life’s choices, but especially in your relationships. This doesn’t mean you never seek more information beyond your initial impression (sometimes even our powerful intuition doesn’t get it 100 percent right). But if your intuition is giving you pause, respect that voice and give it a chance to make its case.
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4. I resolve to seek out other HSPs.
As a highly sensitive person, do you ever feel alone? Do you ever feel different? Do you ever feel, well, “weird”?
Most HSPs do. And that makes sense, because they only make up 15-20 percent of the population. But we’re not rare unicorns; about 1 in 5 are highly sensitive.
The more HSPs you meet, the more kindred spirits you’ll know, and the less alone you’ll feel in a world that can sometimes be too harsh.
It can be tough to meet other HSPs, but you’ll probably know one when you come across one (i.e. #3). You can also join our Facebook group to stay connected to the world’s largest community of HSPs.
5. I resolve to identify and nurture my HSP strengths.
Often, when we talk about HSPs, we focus on avoiding overwhelm, dealing with being misunderstood, or simply how to exist in a world that doesn’t appreciate sensitive souls. Those are important issues, but it’s just as important to remember that being an HSP comes with a treasure trove of strengths.
As an HSP, you may be extremely creative, empathic, or kind — or capable of deep, careful work that produces profound results. You may be an excellent “people person” (even if you’re an introvert) or you may be a dreamy artist (or both). And many HSPs are crusaders for important causes.
All these are beautiful strengths that deserve to be nourished and grown.
As an HSP, what makes you different also makes you great. The more you work on your strong points, the more extraordinary your gift to the world will be.
If you really want to make this year stand out, choose one of the strengths or special abilities you possess as a highly sensitive person. Then intentionally cultivate that quality in any way you can — whether it be books, classes, daily practices, or simply “owning” it when you go out in the world.
Here are some great tips on how to access your strengths as a highly sensitive person.
HSPs, what resolutions are you making for the coming year (or are you not making any)? Let me know in the comments below.