Thursday, October 11, 2012

HSPs, Finding our Tribe and "Belonging"

In less than three weeks, HSPs from around the US and beyond will congregate in Montreat, North Carolina for the 25th HSP Gathering Retreat.

Reading a recent news announcement about the event reminded me of the importance of feeling a sense of "belonging;" of knowing that you are "part of" something. Of course, wanting to belong is not "an HSP thing," it's "a human thing." However, HSPs often find it more difficult to fit into groups than the rest of the world.

When I went to my first HSP Gathering (10 years ago), I remember coming away with a strong feeling of joy at having truly "found my tribe." Although HSPs are as individually different as any other group of people, we tend to share significant common ground that extends beyond just sensitivity. And so groups of HSPs tend to feel a bit like our long lost families.

The Labyrinth outside the Hudson Hospital in Wisconsin
Of course, not everyone feels comfortable with the idea of being part of a group of "sensitive people." Some of this-- sadly-- has to do with the negative bias society tends to place on the word "sensitive." Some just don't like the idea that "people at work" might find out that they belong to a group for sensitive people.

Some HSPs simply don't want to be part of a group activity... period. But they still like to be "affiliated with" a group, from afar. And that's OK, too-- we each have our own level of "belonging" we feel comfortable with.

I have often been asked what other "tribes" might be a good fit for HSPs. Ostensibly, these would be groups where an HSP would fit in well, and the central activity or interest is "HSP friendly." And most likely the other group members would be open and accepting of (or at least neutral towards) someone highly sensitive-- we all know how bad it feels when we share our trait-- or certain aspects of it-- and the words are received with eye rolling.

This week, I find myself in Hudson, Wisconsin... to spend time with another "tribe" with whom I have found common ground: Members of The Labyrinth Society, who are here for their 14th Annual Gathering.

Again, this is a group of people from all walks of life... with one thing in common: a fondness for labyrinths and walking labyrinths. No, this is not something "weird" or "occult--" labyrinths are an ancient spiritual symbol and tool that can be traced back 4000 years... and is used by Christian churches, hospitals, Pagans and free spirits alike.

The photo above is of the labyrinth on the grounds of the Hudson Hospital, a marvelous small medical center that truly feels like a "place of healing," rather than a cold faceless "institution." The labyrinth is used in healing not only for patients, but also to soothe visiting family members and visitors in general.

I have had an interest in labyrinths for many years (we built one in the back yard; had one when I lived in Texas, too-- in a "past life"), and they are a perfect tool for HSPs. I'll share more about that once I am back home, because I think the labyrinth can be of great value to us.

For now, I will just ask: What is your tribe? Have you found your tribe? Are you looking for a tribe; a group of people with whom you feel a sense of belonging? Please leave a comment!


  1. I also have a love of labyrinth's - like a walking meditation, very introspective and soothing. The journey in and out can be so healing.

  2. I am looking for my tribe, have been since before I knew I am HSP. I feel, though, that I have to heal my presence and my mind from years of trying to keep up and living among those who aren't HSP. I feel tense and ragged, and I don't want to be a harsh presence among others.


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