Many people know the feeling. You show up to work, most likely wearing something that meets dress code without standing out too much. As soon as you walk in, you notice the temperature, smell, lighting, and noise level. BAM – your day is set.
For the highly sensitive person, initial details have the capacity to either drain you completely or fuel your work day. For the HSP, many office details are almost always something you can’t control.
Work with me for a moment and place yourself in their shoes… the first agonizing moments of a Highly Sensitive Person’s day at a “regular job.”
Truth is: Environmental stimuli have a profound effect on the HSP; an effect often not recognized as “legitimate” in our Western culture. Think it about this for a moment before water-fountain fodder damages more than team morale.
Time to educate: Barrie Jaeger describes three categories of work in her book, Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person. These can also be considered “stages” of work, as most people at least attempt to climb a ladder of employment to get to something more fulfilling. HSP or not, climbing the ladder and finding professional fulfillment is one thing we ALL have in common. Perhaps we are not so different after all in our pursuit to happiness.
Taking a look at how fulfillment becomes a reality, time to summarize Jaeger’s work:
This is the type of work that is just miserable, especially for the HSP. The misery of a job like this can get in your head and stay there, affecting your routine even far from work. Driving home, dinner, family time, and even your dreams can be preoccupied with the dread of returning to a Drudgery type of job.
For a Highly Sensitive Person, it most likely does not matter how well you are paid, you just. Want. Out. Interestingly enough, this type of work may only be this miserable to the HSP, and could be chalked up to the environmental stimuli of the workplace itself. It may very well be a normal job that is taken in stride by non-HSPs because it is much easier for the non-HSP to work strictly because “it’s a job” to just “make money.”
Truth is: Highly Sensitive People can develop physical illness due to chronic stress and other psychological injuries by feeling “stuck” in a job like this.
Jaeger describes a “Craft” job as something more tolerable for an HSP, one offering moments of genuine appreciation for the work performed (which is imperative for the Highly Sensitive). This is a job where the HSP competently works, completes tasks, and doesn’t mind going to work.
Craft can be considered as a middle ground where you won’t find yourself looking forward to going to work all that much, but it may (or will) have disperse great moments… and when it comes for the HSP, a little bit of greatness goes a long way. Being midway to happiness, crumbs now and then might muffle any desire to escape for just long enough to get the experience necessary to get to the next step.
Of course, everyone wants to find their calling. No one really wants to work a mediocre-at-best job their entire lives. For a Highly Sensitive Person, it’s about slightly more than wanting to find your calling. You need to.
A Calling is making a living by doing what you were born to do. What brings you to life? What are you most passionate about? Can you imagine the satisfaction of being able to do want you love all the time and getting paid for it? How liberating that would be.
Truth is: Many HSPs find their ideal calling somewhere in the self-employed arena but few take the risk and, for the HSP, taking risks appear more daunting than for the non-HSPs.
Unfortunately, many (if not most) Highly Sensitive People find themselves stuck in “Drudgery” type jobs for a large portion of their life. If this is you, don’t be as distressed as I’m sure this makes you feel at first. After all, there are things you can do to make the best of where you are, no matter where you are, and restore not only your productivity as an employee but also your overall well-being.
We will delve more into that next week; but in the meantime, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com with any questions, concerns, or for sneak-peak tips!
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