Lauren Wild is a Wellbeing psychologist, trauma-informed hypnotherapist and HSP specialist coach. MSc distinction in MAPPCP through UEL. DIP.HYP. with over 20 years experience helping women to overcome limiting beliefs, reprogram their mind for success, find their purpose and love in alignment with their high sensitivity.
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Ep#32 - Applying the Science of Wellbeing, Positive Psychology, to HSP Flourishing with Lauren Wild
Rose: Hey, it's Rose and welcome to another episode of the Sensitive CEO Show. It’s my pleasure this week to introduce you to Lauren Wild. Lauren is a well-being psychologist, a trauma-informed hypnotherapist, and an HSP specialist coach. Welcome Lauren.
Lauren:. Hello, and thank you for having me.
Rose: So lovely to talk to you today and for the audience, I know you, but for our audience who don't know you, can you share a little bit about your journey, where you started, what got you to what you're doing today, and the sort of people that you work with?
I know that was a lot, but if you can wrap it up in a neat ribbon.
Lauren: Right. Well, I actually have been a therapist now for 20 years. I was a speech and language therapist, first of all, and felt utterly overwhelmed by that whole. experience and really looked at getting some self-care and some some help at that time and discovered hypnotherapy.
So I ended up retraining in hypnotherapy in N L P coaching and then ended up on this kind of journey into helping women with perinatal well-being. And, overcoming limiting blocks, dealing with inner child healing, shadow work, those kinds of things. and then having had kids, I decided to have a little bit of a redirection with my work.
And I did my master's in positive psychology and coaching psychology. And whilst I was doing my application for my research, I, I came, I had. Come across the term H S P, I'd come across high sensitivity. because having gone through childbirth with my own son, I'd started to notice a lot of similarities between his experience of the world and mine growing up.
And we didn't fit neatly into any category of you. You know, as a parent you are always like, is there something the matter? Or, you know, is it something I can help? So I started kind of looking up and researching and I stumbled upon high sensitivity and I was like, wow, this is just absolutely my experience of the world felt really validated, and I then could see all of these traits coming through in my son.
And then in my daughter after that, and they are polar opposites, one's very introverted, sensory avoidant one's, very extrovert, sensory seeking, but they are very highly sensitive in their own unique ways. And so whilst I was doing my masters, I decided to do my research and we were looking at how people can flourish in life, how they can really go from floundering and languishing into flourishing.
And I decided to work with highly sensitive women. So that has really carved my path now being very research based, to apply my coaching and hypnotherapy, and inner work. And then, therapy and coaching on top. Working with highly sensitive women to help them do the healing, do the real change work that can build really good foundations for them so that then they can go and put those wellbeing practices into place and flourish.
So I've been working in that realm for 20 years, but didn't have the language for it, didn't know it was highly sensitive till about 11 years ago. And since then I've been working predominantly with highly sensitive, mostly women, some men, but yeah, mostly women.
Rose: I love that. I love your background, the research and the science background as well as the hypnotherapy and the NLP and the coaching and then having experience of the two children, like polar opposites and of course you.
Lauren:, they really are. Yeah, and it's really made me aware of. Some of the limitations of what's currently out there in the H S P world because so, so many of us are introverts, and yet I see my daughter struggling with a lot of the same sensory info, info, bombardment and analysis paralysis and, and those kind of things.
That we just don't, A lot of the message that is out there is directed at the more introverted people. So I, I try and really, keep, keep my mind open that there's very different experiences out there for highly sensitive people. ,
Rose: And would she be classed, or if that's the term, but would she be high sensation seeking, would you say?
Lauren: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. you know, she's still affected by all of that and the, the, the overwhelm and the exhaustion comes to her, but she very much. Seeks that to her detriment sometimes. So she needs to learn ways to manage that, and it's very different to the rest of our family who are all very much sensory avoider, a little firecracker in our very quiet household.
Rose: Is she also rebellious?
Lauren: Is it another Oh, very . Yeah. I mean, she's only eight, but . . . . But yeah, she's a, she's, yeah, she's a live wire, but, You know, it's, it's just, it's really opened my eyes to how we, how we view. High sensitivity in a certain way.
And really it's all about finding that balance, whatever your experience of the world is. Hers is very much more fire energy . Yeah. And, and the rest has so much calmer and, and kind of seeks that solitude. but she still needs to find balance with what she's exposing herself to in terms of sensory input.
So it's really interesting to see how it plays out between the two of them.
Rose: Definitely. Especially as they grow as well, because things will change as they get older.
Rose: So what are some of the foundations that you teach or share with your clients around flourishing?
Lauren: So this came about, when I was doing my research, I did something called appreciative inquiry, which is where you interview people and then you analyse all of the answers that they give you back.
And, through that I found that there were these, different levels of wellbeing that you needed to work on in order to flourish as a highly sensitive person. And it was just slightly different to what's currently out there. so the foundations. From a positive psychology point of view, there is a model called the PERMA Model, which breaks down, it's an acronym for all of the things that make up your wellbeing that are your non-negotiables.
And it includes things like positive emotions and connection and, the PERMA V model includes vitality, looking after your health. When I was. Looking at these research participants, I found that the foundations for highly sensitive people had more weighting for the ones that were affected by sensory input as you would.
As you would, imagine. Makes sense. So it's things like person, environment fit is a really important thing for us and environment mastery. So having that control over your environment so that you can craft out your day, you can job craft, you can pick your hours, you can work flexibly to suit your sensory needs.
So that's, it's, it's there in all of the traditional models, but I felt that it had more weighting, more importance for us. . . So that's one. self-acceptance was a really important element and I think that's where I do a lot of my promotion, is helping people find out about high sensitivity, so that they can get that validation so that you can get that acceptance so that you are not being bombarded with this feeling of being broken, that your experience of the world is, is valid and that we have a normal, we, we have a, a healthy mind and healthy body, and we can have that. We just need to learn that self-acceptance. We need to learn the strategies that support us so that our nervous system isn't always frazzled.
So, so there's certain things, self-acceptance, self-compassion. All of these things are like the non-negotiables that we need to spend extra time focusing on if we can. Whereas other people, they're important to them, but it just felt like these things were so integral to our wellbeing. They were foundational values rather than icing, you know, cherries on top?
Rose: Wow. That's, when you were saying that, I thought, I wish I knew you when I was growing up. You would've been a wonderful therapist to help with a lot of things going on.
Lauren: I wish, wish I had this information growing up. I mean, I think a lot of us grow up being told you're too sensitive or stop being so emotional and it is.
You do feel that you grow up doubting your experience in the world. You grow up doubting that your bodily normal responses are acceptable. It's almost like a form of gaslighting without any negative intention, but you, you come to doubt your own body's reaction. Oh, another foundational thing is really having this integrated combined mind body connection approach to wellbeing.
Because so much of how we experience the world is affected by our body's instinctual reactions from our nervous system. There is no getting away from just dealing with the mind side of wellbeing and dealing with the physical side separately. We are just such integrated well beginnings.
You know, we need to adjust exercise to affect that. We need to be aware that our body will tell us when something is going wrong. Way before our mind will let us know.
Rose: Yes. And learn to listen to the body, which, I don't think we're always that good at, are we?
Lauren: No, I think, one part of the research was having these red alerts, so, kind of signals that, trigger you to take action, was a really good way of supporting your flourishing.
So for me, as soon as my sleep goes out the window and I start lying awake thinking about things, that's my red alert. Like, oh, okay, something's going on here. I need to process it. I need to take a step back from things and really look at them, am I doing too much? Am I overwhelming myself? Am I putting myself out into situations that don't support me.
So that's my red alert. Other people, it might be, you know, perfectionism or indecision. Indecision was a big one for me a few years back, you know, that is, it's such, it's a stop. It's, it's your mind and body saying, Nope, . , you're trying, you're bombarding us with too much sensory information. And I think we all at times will have experienced that analysis paralysis .
So I help people get through that quite often and, and, and recognize that as a trigger rather than something to just push through.
Rose: Yeah. I think I, I don't know if it's a high, highly sensitive thing or a high sensation thing, I'm really guilty of pushing through like just to get it done.
And that's something, I find it really difficult to, to stop sometimes, even though I know, like I know full well that I need to go and lie down or go outside, stand in the grass or something. I just think, oh, just finish this. And then an hour or two later there I am still pushing through. Do you think that's a H S P HSS or just a human thing.
Lauren: I think it's definitely something that affects us more. I think. I think there is that feeling of when we're in flow we just wanna stay in it and we wanna get through it. and I think quite often we can go through flow into. Ignoring our signals that we need a rest. . And, and that's when it becomes an issue.
The rest of the time, if it's not bothering you, I would just say go with the flow. But if you get to the point where you're frazzled at the end of the day or your sleep is affected, then it's like, okay, now I need to take notice. I need to build in those time slots. And, sometimes it helps to have something external like an alarm going off to just say, you know what, step away from your computer or step away from things for a bit.
Build in that time. Because you are not functioning at your best. And, and that's about, you know, that's what I would say is if it's working for you, go with it. If it's not, then you need to do something about it.
Rose: Yeah. Brilliant. Thank you. You mentioned the environment before, so does that. Does that kind of include having your home, like the Yeah, the home and the office, I guess, but having nice things around you and having everything in its place and organised and sort of control and things.
Lauren: I think we are definitely affected by that. I would say, as a self confessed, messy person, when my house really gets to the point where it's, it really, really untidy. , I know that it brings me down, it affects my mental wellbeing, and then I just need to blitz the house, and I need to go and clean it and sort it or, you know, really do a decluttering, and it makes such a difference.
But I think that whole depth of processing that we have as highly sensitive people gives us more of an appreciation of the aesthetics of how things look. I'm deeply affected by colour. I mean, you. See on the podcast, but I'm surrounded by teals and whites because I find them very calm in colours. I'm surrounded by indoor houseplants.
I'm very much affected by how things look and the colours and environment mastery. It is very much having that ability to surround yourself with things that support you, influence you, that pick you up. So my house is my sanctuary, I think; going through lockdowns and Covid, having the kids at home all day, it was wonderful.
But my sanctuary wasn't as peaceful as it normally was. And we, you know, I ended up redecorating after Covid to just really make it, because I work from home so often, to make it my little bubble of calm. . . and I think, a lot of the people that I've worked with that are really struggling are recognising that the time that they're spending at work isn't, is, is the issue. And that they need to carve out or take steps towards a life that really supports them. So I think. A lot of the time, we do job crafting. We are seeing, you know, does this actually work?I'm never gonna tell someone to quit their job and go and change their life overnight.
But sometimes, it's about taking those tiny steps. So if you can't change your job right now, right? Let's look at what's going on at home so that you can make it that sanctuary when you come home so that it can support you I think it's all tied in with that depth of processing and our awareness of Yeah.
Rose: Yeah. Even before I knew I was H S P; I just, I've always had this thing that my environment has to be; I’m the opposite to you. I'm just a neat freak, which to the point that it's annoying is actually really annoying for my husband because I'm very. Maybe a little bit OCD I don't know, but I'm very, yeah, I'm an absolute, everything's got to have its place, and sometimes things have to be squared in a perfect place, sitting in the right place.
But with my office, I've always burnt aromatherapy oils. I've always had that in the background; it had nice music and crystals. To me, that really helps it. It's the sanctuary, it's the office sanctuary and then the bedrooms are a different sanctuary, and then the living room is different. But I have all those elements all over the house, and it's just such a joy. Yeah. It's really just beautiful.
Lauren: Absolutely. And you want, you know, it, it's the place where you're spending most of your time. Yeah. You want it to support you. Yeah. So it's, it's got to, it's got to tick those boxes off. Just feeling like you are safe. I mean, that's a big thing. Our nervous systems are being triggered at a lower level than other people for stress.
Then we don't wanna be in any environment for long periods of time where we have that stress, stress trigger. We're gonna have cortisol running through our body and adrenaline. We're gonna end up in fight or flight, or freeze response, or the fight or flighters will end up with,IBS and Gut-brain issues, no doubt, autoimmune.
And then, the freezing, faun will end up with, you know, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, glandular fever, you know, all of those. You can; you can track them back. I can literally track my whole descent. Into chronic fatigue and illnesses by what stress I was going through at the time when I was in environments that really didn't support me.
This was before I knew anything about high sensitivity. .; you couldn't pinpoint it like, oh. I was in a speech therapy job, I really didn't feel like I had a voice, and I couldn't do anything. I got severe laryngitis for ages, and I'm not saying everything is caused by that, but you know, so many people that I work with, you can see that their body is this great big alert system for your dealing with too much stress on and on, on a, that daily stresses level. You need to sort that out. Yeah.
Rose: What are some daily practices that you recommend to clients to help with their well-being? Things that they can incorporate into their daily lives?
Lauren: So, so one thing I would say before we talk about the daily practices is, any daily practices, yoga or self-compassion or gratitude or savouring, which I'll talk about in a sec.
All of it is like putting concealer over really dark eye bags. It doesn't get rid of the eye bags. Putting concealer on just covers them up. . , and it does it all. You cannot paper over poor foundations. You have to deal with the foundations, especially as an H S P, and that's where I work a lot, is that foundational level.
And then, once you've got those supportive practices and awareness, then you can build in those daily well-being practices. So if you say to somebody who's really struggling with chronic fatigue or, uh, depression or analysis paralysis, I'll go and do some daily savouring and gratitude. It's not gonna ring true.
It's not gonna take them into flourishing. They're just gonna be doing it for a day or two. So, really get those things in place first, and then layer in things like, so daily gratitude is a really good way of rewiring your brain. It literally takes two weeks. They've shown, there's the old say in neurons that wire, fire together.
Wire together. We really can show evidence that gratitude works. They looked at more spiritual practices from all of the different religions. They looked at non-spiritual practices, and positive psychology has done so much testing to see what actually works and what is Pseudoscience, doesn't work. And gratitude consistently comes out as something that really helps us to see more good in our life, to help us save them more, there's something called our reticular activating system, which is part of our brain that fires off and lets us know what to focus on. And that is more supercharged to notice positive things.
And then that in itself drives optimism. And optimism is the single biggest thing that can add years to your life. It's more effective than giving up smoking than not being obese. You can add something like nine years onto your life if you're an optimist. Because. The daily self-care that you do, how you view the world and how you put yourself into scenarios that are gonna work for you.
So, optimism is really good. Savouring is anything that activates your body as well as your mind. So for us, you know, yoga, being in nature, taking walks, conversely, unless you are a runner and you really love running, if you try and start running as a highly sensitive person and it stresses you out, you're gonna have a bigger cortisol reaction than non-HSPs, so that can actually do more harm than good. You really don't wanna pick activities that are gonna stress your body. . , you know, some people are like, you gotta feel the burn. You've gotta really like to make your body suffer in order to do well. That is not an hsp approach to feeling healthy.
You wanna be connecting with nature. Lots of gardening or walks in nature or yoga and the whole yoga. Breathe, work, practice. I'm really all about the breathwork. It's so good for us as someone that has felt that sleep apnea, waking apnea, you know, it's called email apnea, isn't it? Where you just hold your breath while you're checking your emails, and it can be so detrimental to your life.
Oh yeah. So it's the breath work getting really good at taking that time. Mindfulness and I don't mean just sitting in a room for half an hour; I mean just being more mindful in your living. I always get people to start by being mindful of whether they make a cup of tea. It's a very big thing in the UK.
Yes. Just be mindful while you're having a cup of tea. Yeah. And then you build it up. And it's, it's like going to the gym. You wouldn't be able to; you wouldn't expect to go and lift the biggest weights on the first day. And that's how a lot of people approach mindfulness is that, oh, it's simple, so it should be easy.
But actually, we're so outta practice; we’re so used to having like 50 tabs open in our brain. We haven't got the bandwidth. So small little chunks of mindfulness.
Rose: I love that. And ways of stress-proofing. I know you covered a lot of it, but what are some really simple ways that you could share with the people listening today to stress-proof their wellbeing?
Lauren: Yeah, so I would definitely say, you wanna look at small, tiny tweaks to begin with. You want to start your upward spiral with small changes which are more sustainable and something that's gonna be, things that you can integrate into your everyday life. So things that you can do alongside other activities.
So listening to something that calms you whilst you are, If you want or, you know, try and combine activities, so you're more likely to do it. Doom scrolling is a really bad thing that's taken the world by storm, especially in Covid is sitting on your phone and just doom scrolling, looking through negativity.
And a lot of the women in my studies actually, I've, I've called it psychological shielding, a kind of shielding against all of the negativity in the world. So if, if there is a kind of general. The zeitgeist of doom and gloom, especially in the news with wars going on and everything, it's all right to just take a step back from that.
Remove the apps from your phone, remove the notifications, and just leave it be; it will not be affected by you knowing about it. So I would definitely do that. And I think, once again, just becoming aware of your red alerts. You know, actually take a step back and, and look at what, how you lets you know you're dealing with stress and then come up with small, tiny tweaks that you could do to avoid that or manage it if it pops up again.
Rose: Brilliant. Well, thank you so much, Lauren, for all of that; I mean, there are so many tips in there and lots of really amazing takeaways for people, including me; thank you. And before we wrap up, I ask all my guests this one question when they feel overwhelmed or unfocused? What do you do?
Lauren: So for me, I do like to get barefoot and go in the garden.
If it's warm enough to do that, it's not snowy. Yeah. In nature. Yeah. I'd like to be out in nature. Yeah. I connect with my pets, and very, you know, I feel like they regulate me just being with my cats or around. Friends and dogs, I feel such a connection with animals, so they really help regulate me.
And then I take a really good, hard look at what I'm doing to support myself on a daily basis. And if it has fallen by the wayside, I renew that commitment to my own self-care and look at what small steps I can make to reintegrate it in a way that's gonna stay with me for. And number one, get good sleep.
Rose: I have to ask you, have you been affected? We're recording this early February, and we've just had the Leo Full Moon. Were you, have you been affected by the Full Moon with your sleep?
Lauren: Yeah. Yes. And oh my goodness, the kids, I, I, it had passed me by, and then I was like, what's up with the children this weekend?
And I looked, and I was like, oh, it's forming. Yes, they were off the chart with their behaviour
Rose: It's amazing how we're affected, isn't it? Well, I guess it's not amazing. I mean, we are connected with the planets and the moon and everything, so I guess that's just something to be aware of when it is before the Moon; maybe don't plan activities around that time..
Lauren: Absolutely. Just, just planning some, some, times that allow you to cry if you need to cry. You know, we feel very much like full cups of water around. With the moon. So just, you know, emptying that cup. Yeah. You know, so that you can be there for others around you, as we all have that built-in.
Rose: Well, thank you so much, Lauren. It's been wonderful chatting with you today. I could chat with you for ages but we have to wrap up because we're up for a time. But thank you again, and thank you, everyone, for listening to one another episode.
Lauren: Great. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.