Julie Bjelland answers the question:
What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?
I think that is such a neat question. I think the nicest thing is to be fully accepted by someone. That's a big thing for me because as a highly sensitive person, I think a lot of us might relate to this, this sense of feeling like you're different. There's only 20 percent of the population that has this trait, so I think that for me, I spent a lot of years feeling like there was something wrong with me, that I could tell that I was experiencing the world in a different way. So I think that led me into this space of putting a mask on in lots of ways, and not really living and revealing my true authentic self to people, thinking that I wouldn't be liked for that person that I was or that I thought I was at the time.
There was just this sense of... It's difficult. If we're walking around with a mask on, we're not really, truly connecting with anyone, because we're not able to be vulnerable, and it takes vulnerability to truly connect. So as I started learning more about this trait, there was a part of me that started feeling like, "Wow. There's other people like me. Maybe there's not something wrong with me." That was a really powerful experience, and I think that's why I get so passionate about helping other sensitive people feel that kind of acceptance.
So when I met my friend, who is the one that gave me this gift of acceptance, there was just this incredible feeling of... I could tell I was revealing bits of myself at a time until I felt safer and safer to do that. But when I finally was really revealing myself, she really created the space for me that was validating and normalizing.
She was also a sensitive person, and there was this sense of, "Wow. We really got each other." And we could tell each other things that maybe we didn't feel like we could tell other people — reactions that we were having, emotions that we were having, and the intensity of our experiences. There was something just so beautiful about being able to have somebody truly see me and love and accept me, and to give that right back to her. That was a really powerful experience, and it's something that I teach HSPs now, the sense of when you start spending time with other sensitive people and you start getting to know about yourself within this trait, you start opening up this whole new world for yourself. And become conscious of who you really let in deeply into your world, into your soul really.
Once we start being intentional about that we start bringing in people that are gifts like that to our experience, and I think that's such a transformational thing to experience. After I had that experience I started really intentionally thinking about that, and investing in people who we could accept each other on those deep levels. I feel so grateful every day that I have that in my life, and I really teach HSPs to try to experience that in their life too, to work towards that self-acceptance.
A big part of my mission is to help sensitive people really realize that they are so needed in the world, and they're so gifted. We just need to work on some of the layers of challenges that we have as sensitive people in a modern world that doesn't always support our sensitivity. So I think that's really one of the best gifts I've received, and now it's my mission to give that back out into the world.
I love hearing from sensitive people who've taken my courses or read my books who share that same story with me, that maybe that's the first time that they've ever had somebody understand them. It's really powerful when it's in a course environment and people are together with other sensitive people. One thing that I hear over and over again is how profound it is to spend time with people that are like you, that experience the world like you. Because 80 percent of the world is different; they really are experiencing things differently than we are. So to have that in our lives is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.
I hope that you can also experience that in your life and start to open yourself in a way that helps you truly connect with someone else that can really love and accept you for exactly who you are in life. I want that for you.
Julie Bjelland is a psychotherapist, author, and leader in the field of high sensitivity, and has helped thousands of highly sensitive people (HSP) around the world. As an HSP herself, Julie understands what it's like to live with high sensitivity and strong emotions, and is on a mission to empower HSPs to live their best lives.
Julie has developed proprietary tools and techniques to help reduce the challenges and increase the positives that HSPs experience on a daily basis. These techniques have been developed over years of working with highly sensitive people and have proven extremely successful for her clients and students.
In her free time, Julie loves being in nature, being around animals, gardening, reading, and daydreaming about having a little farm one day. She shares her home with her chef partner, two children, and a houseful of pets and plants.
Click here to visit Julie’s website.
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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 14: The Reuniting Science & Spirituality Summit