Highly Sensitive People and CPTSD

by Caroline Rena | Jun 2, 2023 | Guest Contributor on CPTSD Foundation Website | CPTSDCPTSD and PTSDEmotional WellnessGuest ContributorHighly Sensitive

What Have I Learned?

I have been on my healing journey for over 30 years. Trauma and Complex PTSD have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I have known for a long time that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), with 26 out of the 27 traits listed on Dr. Elaine Aron’s website, www.hsperson.com, and 15-20% of the population lives with this trait.

Incredibly, most people don’t understand what an HSP is. Sometimes, we, as HSPs don’t understand it ourselves. We tend to beat ourselves up about it and don’t know why. Something can occur in our lives where we will judge ourselves harshly because we have been judged about “being too sensitive.”

What is High Sensitivity?

HSPs have a nervous system that is already more aware of the subtleties in the environment and with other people. The HSP brain processes things and information differently, we reflect on it more deeply and we notice more.

This trait is innate and not new, but most people have the wrong impression about those with high sensitivity.

Some think we are shy, but not all of us are. In fact, about 30% are extroverts, and I am one, however, we have been mislabeled as introverted. All HSPs are different, just like all humans are different. The expectation that we are all in one category is not correct.

One of the most important things I have realized about being an HSP is that there isn’t anything wrong with me. By not understanding myself or the traits of an HSP and with the belief that there was something wrong with me, it ended up adding to the traumas that I experienced in my life.

With the traumas stacked, I became more confused and lost in my life and finally began to learn about CPTSD, which helped me to understand why I wasn’t having visual flashbacks, but rather emotional ones.

More recently, I decided to take a deeper into being an HSP.

This Is a Journey, not a Destination

Just this past weekend, I decided to go to the beach. There was an area with picnic tables where I wanted to sit and record a video for my YouTube Channel, “Caroline Rena and The Ride of My Life.”

The Ride of My Life is my healing journey, and I love to chronicle my process with others there. Whether I travel to places around the US or locally, I find a way to share what I do and the tools I use to heal.

This particular Sunday was challenging. We were at the tail end of the full moon/lunar eclipse cycle and I could feel the energies of everyone around me.

 I was overstimulated because the energy around me was so chaotic

I was starting to get overwhelmed and antsy. There were a lot of people there. I moved three times to get away from the energy I was feeling. Parents were yelling, kids were screaming and screeching. I just wanted to finish my video, and I started to judge myself for not being more patient or just dealing with it.

Interestingly, I was there to do an oracle reading with a deck that I love to use that helps me to connect with my higher self and build my intuition. The card I pulled – “Free from Judgment, Free to Love.” This deck never fails me.

I was overstimulated because the energy around me was so chaotic. I forced myself to stay there and get it done, so I could move into the next thing in my day. (This was another thing I learned later; to take care of myself and not force things or do too much).

Finally, I finished that part of the recording and was ready to walk on the beach. I had to walk through a massive amount of people to get to a place on the beach that was less inhabited. I needed to breathe.

I used two of the tools I had learned to release these intense feelings. I walked fast and breathed deeply.

After walking in that area of the beach, I began to feel more relaxed. My body let go of the shaky energies; my mind began to clear.

Nature is such a healer for me. I believe now that nature for an HSP is a gift.

I live in the United States. In this country, being sensitive or feeling our feelings has not been accepted or valued. Every time I was told I was “too sensitive,” I felt there was something wrong with me; I felt not good enough.

The Most Important Thing I Learned About Being Highly Sensitive

I am digging in more in my research on what being an HSP means and how I can live my life as one.

We can’t change the color of our eyes; we can’t change the trait of being highly sensitive. However, we can learn the truth of who we are, how to live our lives, and how we can help others understand what to do.

In my own experience, I have concluded that I think so far outside the box that I’m not even in the box, to begin with. I am part of an amazing group, HSPs, with this trait, and I choose to learn how to live with it.

What Can We Do?

The traumas I grew up with, and those that occurred throughout my life, built upon each other, year after year.

Some of the most important work you will ever do is to go inside your soul, to find inner peace by finding the truth of who you are.

Here are 3 things that I feel are important ways to accomplish this:

  1. Keep doing the work to heal. Healing has no destination, it is a journey, and as an HSP, I have found this to be imperative. Trauma teaches us that we aren’t good enough. From that, we create Protective Mechanisms that don’t serve us. These include codependency, addiction, anxiety, depression, etc. The list goes on.

The trauma I am referring to includes unfinished business, grief, anger, issues with identity, abandonment issues, and mother wounds. It makes life for an HSP, who already has a sensitive nervous system, more difficult to progress through the challenges that come up in our daily lives. Until I began to dig deep and work on my traumas to release these energies from my nervous system first, I could not meditate. Meditation is essential, I believe to connect to our true selves.

    1. Learning to find our true identity. As we move through this process, we finally become who we are. What this means to me is that I know I am still Caroline Rena, but I feel different. Not from the person that is Caroline, but from the energies that were stuck in my nervous system that caused me to feel like I was someone else entirely. This work continues to free me from who I thought I was.
    2. Having command over our traits. Working on not taking on the emotions/feelings of others will go a long way in becoming our own being. Jumping in to help people just because we can feel what they are going through, will not help anyone. We become bound to one another when we carry their feelings and their problems.

When we continue to be persistent, consistent, and committed to ourselves and our journey, beautiful things begin to emerge. It’s like a butterfly spreading its wings after coming out of the chrysalis.

Be willing. Be courageous. Be FREE! You can do this.

If you are feeling anxious and need clarity on what to do next, join me in my Introductory – Immediate Support Discovery Call. Click HERE.

All information related to HSPs comes from www.hsperson.com.


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I create through my own healing and contribution globally to new consciousness through my spiritual growth. I am, through my way of being in the world – birthing a new awareness by healing the human heart and bringing it back into balance with nature. Learning to receive is the answer for greater human evolution and expansion.

Travelling throughout the US sharing my vision of Healing the Nervous System from Trauma to Attain Inner Peace and guiding people, to include empaths, highly sensitives and healers. I do this through speaking and a writing group called The Write to Heal – Finding Inner Peace through Writing.

Healing is best done in partnership…

I understand what it’s like to be a highly sensitive, empathic person who has experienced trauma AND inner peace.

Throughout my healing process, I came to realize that the trauma I experienced and the Complex PTSD that ensued was actually locked in my nervous system. With Cognitive Therapy done for most of my life, I was able to understand what was going on. Yet my body would react to situations that occurred, and I couldn’t figure out why. I logically knew that I was safe, but I would have an immediate anxiety attack and my body would start to go into a stress response. People would tell me to “relax” (which did not help or work) and I constantly felt I had no control over myself. As a result, that feeling of being out of control created a Protective Mechanism for me to control things through codependency. It became a viscous cycle.

I also tried to meditate, breathe, relax, connect to a Higher Power; all of the things I was searching for throughout my life and was just not able to do. I could not figure out why… until I did. I realized that my knowledge of what was going on, what to do, how to do it, etc., was great. The challenge… getting my nervous system to regulate so I could feel peace. Only then would I be able to heal the Protective Mechanisms I created… and yes, there were plenty of them.

That’s when I decided to focus mostly on bodywork with some cognitive work mixed in. As a result, I was able to release the stuck energies in my nervous system so I could finally breathe, meditate and relax. From there, I began to feel the peace inside me.

Most of us that have been traumatized with highly sensitive nervous systems will have trouble attaining and feeling peace. Until you recognize what is happening and work to release the traumatic energies from your nervous system where they are literally stuck, you will feel stuck in your life.

If you think you are empathic or highly sensitive, I can assist you in discovering what is going on, empowering yourself and transforming your life to attain and keep your peace. Just like I am doing with mine. I work with healers as well.

I invite you to recognize yourself in me and see that you too can shift and find your Freedom.

Thank you for supporting my conscious business, I love and appreciate you!

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My videos are for educational purposes and to bring people together as this is a way to rectify loneliness and that there are people who don’t always get us.

If you are having emotional distress, utilize 911 or go immediately to the emergency room. The National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.

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