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July 25, 2023

Going Beyond Coping: From Surviving to Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur

by Heather Dominick |
Article, Articles & Wisdom |
Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) can pose unique challenges when it comes to navigating the business world as a Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur (HSE) or Leader. The way our nervous system is wired and how we process stimulation can make it difficult to thrive within the demands of entrepreneurship, which is why we often create coping techniques to survive.

In This Article

In this article, we will explore why it can be hard for Highly Sensitive Entrepreneurs to find success in business without sacrificing our well-being, and we will discuss how to go beyond the coping strategies we create to survive, and and instead learn how to thrive in spite of the challenges of being highly sensitive. By understanding the coping cycle and shifting from coping to creating what we want instead, HSEs can embrace their sensitivity as a strength and build a successful business and life.

The Shadows of Being an HSE

Highly sensitives often face specific challenges that can hinder their success in business. These challenges manifest as what I call the “HSE Shadows”. HSPs often struggle with shadows, which are patterns of behavior that work against their desires. These shadows include perfectionism, procrastination, overwhelm, overwork, overprotection, analysis paralysis, shame, people-pleasing, self-criticism, judgment of self and others, and health issues.

Recognizing these shadows is the first step in unraveling the patterns that work against our goals. Understanding these shadows helps us identify the patterns that hold us back and begin the process of change.

coping woman wearing white top during daytime

Understanding the Coping Cycle

It’s important to acknowledge that being highly sensitive is a natural aspect of our chemical makeup and nervous system structure.

As highly sensitive individuals, our coping mechanisms play a significant role in how we navigate the world. When we solely rely on these coping mechanisms, we miss the opportunity to learn and work effectively with our sensitivity. The coping cycle, triggered when we are not conscious of our coping mechanisms, can make processing stimulation and information challenging. Instead of ignoring or trying to override it, we must learn how to work with our sensitivities.

By unraveling our coping patterns, we gain a deeper understanding of our behaviors and discover what may hinder our success.

Recognizing Your Coping Mechanism: Hiding, Pushing, or Combo Plattering

HSPs tend to react to stress and triggers through specific coping mechanisms: hiding, pushing, or combo plattering – a combination of both pushing and hiding.

Hiders may avoid and control situations. Hiders internalize their anger and avoid situations that make them uncomfortable. They may become people-pleasers and rule followers, often sacrificing their own needs.

Pushers tend to overwork themselves and resist slowing down. Pushers may experience frantic busyness, overloading themselves with tasks and projects, and neglecting self-care. They may feel hurt when others don’t acknowledge their efforts.

Comb Platters go back and forth between both hiding and pushing and this crazy making can feel like they have their foot on both the gas and the break at the same time, which an exhausting way to live.

Understanding your default coping mechanism helps you gain clarity on how you tend to react in challenging situations and empowers you to make conscious choices instead of defaulting to past coping strategies that helped you survive in the past, but are now holding you back from the learning and growth you need to move forward. This self-awareness is essential for initiating change and developing healthier strategies to manage the demands of business as an HSE.

Our Survive to Thrive training kit includes an assessment that can help you determine which coping mechanism you default to.

The HSE Coping Cycle

The HSE Coping Cycle is initiated by a trigger, followed by feelings of anxiety, fear, and a sense of lack of safety. This leads to entering the coping mechanism, be it pushing, hiding, or a combination of both. It’s crucial to catch ourselves in this cycle and be aware of the negative self-talk that accompanies it. Beating ourselves up or collapsing under exhaustion only perpetuates the cycle and stops us from learning new ways to manage our responses to the events that trigger us in the first place.

cars on roundabout

Shifting from Coping to Creating

Coping is not “bad” or “good”. It is a strategy we develop in order to survive. When we create a coping strategy that works to just get us by in the moment, we then often draw on that strategy again in the future when we come face to face with a similar scenario. When we do this over and over again, it becomes a pattern of behavior – a cycle of coping that we default to again and again.

What we fail to take into account, is that we are constantly growing and learning. We are not the same person we were when we first created that coping strategy. In fact, we are not even the same person we were yesterday. However, if we want to go beyond coping so we can truly thrive in business and life, it is important to become conscious of how our coping strategies got us through a hard time and served their purpose, but are now potentially holding us back from the next level of growth in our life and business.

Coping as an Opportunity for Transformation

Rather than viewing the coping cycle as inherently bad, we should approach it as an opportunity for transformation. By embracing creative stillness and responding consciously to challenges, we can shift from coping to creating what we want.

Instead of automatically falling into the cycle, we need to develop proactive strategies that allow us to respond consciously. This means being aware of and acknowledging our triggers, understanding the difference between being highly sensitive and overly sensitive, and taking responsibility for our reactions.

Success as an HSP in Business

Being an HSP doesn’t mean we can’t find success in business as an HSE. Finding success in business as a highly sensitive person is absolutely possible, but it requires a different approach. By recognizing the shadows we face, understanding our coping mechanisms, and consciously shifting from coping to creating what we want instead, we can navigate the challenges while honoring our sensitivity. Embracing our unique traits and developing proactive strategies that will allow us to thrive in the business world without it crushing us.

Remember, being highly sensitive is not a weakness, but a unique strength that can be harnessed to achieve success on your own terms. Use your sensitivities as strengths, honor your needs, and pave your path to success in business.

Taking Action to Go Beyond Coping and Into Creating

A great way to take what you’ve learned here about the coping mechanisms and coping cycle, and and do the real work in order to transform your current experience as an HSE, is to get our Highly Sensitive Training Kit, Survive to Thrive.

The included HSE Coping Mechanism Assessment can help you determine your default coping mechanism, and the training and resources will help you gain a deeper awareness of your own coping cycle, and what triggers you into your coping cycle so that you can make different choices and take different actions to create the success you were meant to create in your business and life as an HSP who has chosen to be an entrepreneur or leader.

Struggling with business and leadership overwhelm?

Reaching your business goals with ease, inspiration and calm takes consistent choice/action to shift from awareness, to understanding, and into knowing (what I call the AUK Transformation Process) – and it very rarely happens without accountability and support. Many other HSP entrepreneurs just like you are working to manage overwhelm, burnout, and other day-to-day challenges with business operations and marketing as a highly sensitive entrepreneur.

My high mentor recommendation is to schedule a complimentary clarity call with either myself or a very capable and uniquely trained-by-me member of the Business Miracles coach team. This is an opportunity to have one of the most eye-opening conversations you’ve ever had – without any attachment to the outcome – just a chance to connect with someone who “gets” you.

Get clear on your best next steps and see if The Highly Sensitive Leadership Training Program is the right container of support for you. You can create more business and life success with less effort while also making more income and impact in the world.

Receive the HSP expert support you need.