The Only Survival Skill an HSP Will Ever Need

the only survival skill an HSP will ever needThose dear souls flock to your door.  They can’t help it.  You draw them in with your counselor/helper/listener magnet.  (Think moth to flame.)  You’ve probably tried leaving the magnet on the dresser, or stashing it on the top shelf of the closet, thinking that if you hide the magnet, you won’t ooze that helper vibe.  That helper vibe clings to you the way hurting souls cling to an HSP.

That’s our lot.  We listen.  We counsel.  We comfort.  We care.  That’s who we are, even if/when we pretend we aren’t.

And so you open your door, pour the wine, stoke the fire and fluff the pillows.  Their shoulders relax, the furrows in their brow release and the flood gates open.  And you sip wine and listen.  You refill their glass and listen some more.  You offer them sustenance or a hug and most certainly a tissue.  You do this automatically.  You’ve done it all your life.  You don’t have to remember how to be compassionate.  You don’t have to refer to your cheat sheet on how to be kind and caring.  This treatment defines your character and drives your actions.  It flows from you the way their story flows through those flood gates.

When they leave – after they’ve purged and cleansed and lightened their load – you are left holding their big mess in your hands.  But more times than not, you’re still holding another person’s mess in your hands.  So you end up standing at the door, saying goodbye, juggling 2 or 10 or 100 different messes from souls who came to your door for comfort.

As you close the door, you wonder how you will clean up the wine glasses, re-stock the firewood, and go about your day while still holding the messes from all those hurting souls.

And so you collapse on the floor next to their pile of stuff, because one HSP – one counselor/helper/listener – can only hang on to so much stuff, while also trying to figure out what to do with her own stuff.


The Only HSP Survival Skill You’ll Ever Need



The next time the conversation with a hurting soul comes to a close, the wine bottle is almost empty, you’ve run out of firewood, and they approach the door, hug them if they need a hug.  Tell them how strong they are.  Hand them a tissue.  But above all, just before you close the door, hand them their mess.  Oh you won’t shove it at them or dump it on them.  You don’t even have to tell them you are giving their junk back.  Only you have to know.  Make sure – down to your own tender soul – that you know you have gently returned that energy to its source.

Their comfort comes from the telling and being heard, not from leaving their stuff in a pile on your living room floor.

Do not keep their stuff!

Hell, they haven’t even asked you to keep their stuff.  They came by to find a cozy place to lay their burdens down.  That’s all.  And when they’ve regrouped, it is your job to help them scoop up their mess so they can take it with them.

What they decide to do with their mess after they leave your house is none of your concern.

There is no need to reframe their mess for them.  That’s their job.

You’ve listened, cared and comforted.  That is enough.

And when the door closes, you will look down to see two free hands with which to wash wine glasses, restock firewood, and handle only the stuff that belongs to you.




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  1. This is lovely. And it occurred to me that the only people I’ve ever encountered who DO want listeners to keep their stuff have personality disorders. In my experience it’s been the narcissists and the borderlines who want to foist their stuff onto someone else.

    Are you sure you’ve never had formal training as a counselor? :-)

  2. Thanks, Jenn.

    And those folks would never cop to having any stuff cuz they’ve already projected it onto someone else, and then loudly proclaimed that the other is the one with the issue! Arghh! And they keep foisting and foisting willy nilly without a care for – or even noticing – the destruction in their wake.

    *calming down now…*

    No formal training here, and I take that as a huge compliment. :)

  3. Yep. When you were a kid, you were an “old soul.” What a treasure you’ve always been.

  4. Pat,

    I got a little teary after reading your comment… in a good way.

    Thank you for that.

  5. Jesse,

    I love this post so much! It is very helpful!!

    Thank you for being here!

    Peace to you and yours. : )

  6. Lynn,

    Thanks for the peace. It’s been hard to come by lately. ;)

    Hope you all are well.

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