Note: I originally posted this on Instagram, and it struck a chord so I’m expanding upon the initial post here with further guidelines for how to work with this potentially challenging aspect of ourselves. 

Highly sensitive people often struggle with transitions, including the daily transitions of life, like:

• Getting out of bed

• Getting into/out of the shower

• Getting out of the car once you’ve arrived at your destination

• Getting started with cooking

• Brushing your teeth

• Going to sleep

Personally, I love lingering in bed in the morning.

I love sitting in my car once I’ve pulled into a parking spot or into our garage.

These aren’t bad things, but I do notice that sometimes the delay isn’t serving me.

In a nutshell, highly sensitive people don’t like change, even the small changes that comprise a day. We cling to “what is” even if what is isn’t necessarily working because it’s easier and more comfortable. If we don’t gently push ourselves sometimes, the avoidance starts to take a toll.

The seeds of my work were nourished in the soils of transitions over 25 years ago when I wrote and researched extensively on the underbelly of the wedding transition and called into question the mainstream mindset that the engagement is only a happy time. This culminated in my first book, The Conscious Bride.

From there, it became exceedingly clear that highly sensitive people struggle with not only major transitions – graduating, getting married, becoming a parent, job/career change, etc – but also the smaller ones.

These overlooked smaller transitions need our loving attention so that we can meet the stuck places embedded inside of them and keep moving our lives forward.

How Do We Meet These Smaller Transitions?

The question that arises after naming the challenge is: what next? As I responded to this beautiful comment on Instagram:

Wow. I feel as if don’t have words because you said everything I’ve felt for as long as I can remember. As a kid, struggling with classroom/subject transitions in school. Now, leaving bed, leaving the car, leaving a restaurant, leaving one location for the next in a multi-city trip. I never want to go, I assume I’ll never like the next spot as much as this one. Everything takes time. But I never thought of it all together this way. Thank you for the gentle push and the reminder to go forward.🤍

My response: “The invitation is to very, very gently push forward while honoring the beauty of a slower rhythm and processing speed as best we can.”

This brings us to a larger conversation about processing speed, which also arises frequently in my work with highly sensitive and gifted people.

It’s quite common, for example, to test as intellectually gifted on an IQ test but also have a slower processing speed. This means that we need longer to process information, we need more space in a dialogue, we need more time to integrate a classroom discussion or lecture or film. Because our senses are heightened, we’re taking in more information than the average person, which means we need more time to process it.

This isn’t a deficit; it’s a gift. But it’s a gift that tends to be judged and steamrolled in our fast-paced culture that fails to honor different rhythms.

This also applies to the larger transitions in life: some people need more time before they’re ready to take the next step in their relationship, for example: to move in together or progress sexually or get married or have children.

As Victoria and I touched on in our most recent Gathering Gold bonus episode, our culture presents a rigid timeline around these transitions, and when we “miss” the prescribed beat, we’re left wondering what’s wrong with us.

There’s nothing wrong.

Highly sensitive people often move to the beat of their own beautifully rhythmic drum. The more this beat is honored, the more grace we find to move forward when there’s enough inner readiness to do so.

As always, the first step is self-compassion. From there, change occurs, sprouting from the soft, mossy bed of self-love as we gently, courageously find our way in this world.

Do you relate? Share in the comments.

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