Is THIS on an HSP Bucket List? Or: Essentials for Expanding Your HSP Comfort Zone


Family members who will be joining me on this trip

Is THIS on an HSP Bucket List?  Or – Essentials for Expanding Your HSP Comfort Zone in a Big Way

Is this on an HSP bucket list? Well, quite frankly: No, no it is not, at least it is not on mine. I’ve had months to engage in my HSP process (okay rumination) about exactly why I am voluntarily choosing to expand my cozy comfort zone to embark on what others have called a once in a lifetime adventure. And that’s it! How could I possible say no to such a lifetime adventure, especially when my immediate family members are all expressing an enthusiastic “Yes!”

I’m fully aware other families often embark on vacations to spend weeks in Hawaii, laying around on the beach, or in all-inclusive resorts. Nope, that’s not my family, although I secretly sometimes I wish it were. Maybe it’s because my two sons, now 29 and 32, grew up anticipating adventure while playing “backpacking.” Or maybe it’s living here in Colorado with all the allure of its majestic beauty?

Whatever it is…we are off soon on a potentially life changing adventure – the kind my high sensation seeking self says yes to, while my inner HSP self shakes her head in dismay. Whether planning for change or not, this trip is sure to provide many opportunities to reflect on one’s way of life: what to keep; what to tweak; what to change; what to discard. And thanks to my son’s gentle, yet loving remark: “Mom, I’m a bit worried about your attitude and ability…” I have been preparing months for this trip.

Like other lifetime lessons learned during my six (plus) decades of living, I am finally at peace with the fact there will be highs, lows and all the in-betweens. There will be tears and a myriad of other emotions. There will be physical discomfort, emotional challenges and spiritual revelations.

I’ve asked myself exactly what ~ as an HSP turning 60 something in October ~ do I need to expand my comfort zone in such a huge way? Here are a few of the “Essentials” I think are necessary for an HSP to thrive while also expanding their comfort zone. These are the same ‘essentials” for families, primary relationships and all my “inner circle” friendships that I write about in my book (in progress.)

1. Do I have an adequate support system?
a. Can I say what I truly think and feel without fear of repercussions?
b. Will I be heard with empathy and respect?
c. Can I ask for help when I need it?
d. Will help be offered in a loving, non-judgmental way?
Yes __ No ___ Not sure ___
For me, I am grateful the answer is Yes…. at least from my immediate family members who will accompany me on this trip.

2. Can I be uniquely myself as I struggle to make transitions, adapt, and find a new level of physical and emotional comfort?
Yes __ No __ Not sure __
Yes. I have already taken personal responsibility to make certain my physical comfort needs are provided for as much as possible. I’ve purchased my own light weight sleeping cot, portable shade tent and a tiny fan for my cherished nap and meditation times. I’m bringing: my favorite lotions, my favorite music on my I-Pod, and my yoga mat for morning stretches, downward dogs, table tops or whatever else my body is asking of me.

3. Is there a shared sense of power and group responsibility?
I define “power” as permission and ability to initiate change on behalf of oneself or others. I define group responsibility as: a caring, aware attitude of each group member’s well-being and comfort level, while also being free to take personal responsibility for one’s own needs and experience.
Yes __ No __ Not Sure __
Thanks to my son Hayden’s excellent leadership and planning we have all been provided with extensive reading material so that we know what to expect each day, sometimes each hour. The friends chosen to be on this trip are all experienced with the outdoors, some experienced with this particular trip, and all can offer personal suggestions for great self-care.
4. Conflict. Is conflict viewed as a normal part of growth and development? We all know HSPs can easily pick up on the moods and energy of others. Yet, I also find many HSPs doing whatever they have to do (including minimizing themselves, their needs and desires) in order to avoid conflict. This is not me, and it need not be you either. I’ve learned, both personally and professionally, that conflict is inevitable and can benefit all of us when resolved in a win-win way.
Yes __ No __ Not Sure __ Probably __
I admit, this is probably one of the most challenging aspects of any relationship, let alone spending 19 days with 16 other people, all of whom will most likely be pushed beyond their personal comfort zones! Add to that: I only know 3 of these people intimately; 3 I am very comfortable with, and the remaining 10 I will be getting to know on an intimate level I’m sure. 

Over the years I’ve learned to expect conflict, allow for it, and try hard to resolve it respectfully. It provides us all an opportunity to share our authentic self and get clear on exactly where we stand and what we need regarding any issue that arises.

I’m trusting my both my sons, as leaders on this trip, to offer their own skills and experience in this area. Thanks to my insistence on family meetings during their growing up years, their sometimes reluctant participation has taught them the importance of showing up during conflict prepared to share: 1) Thoughts; 2) Feelings; 3) Needs; 4) Assumptions, and most importantly, suggestions for win-win outcomes. Hopefully, if necessary, they will help others do the same if need be.

This might be the hardest for my non-HSP, introvert husband. Needs? What needs? He has this amazing self-contained ability, physically, intellectually and emotionally to “suck it up.” Arrghhh… that is one of my least favorite sayings and one that is sure to set me off on one of my mini HSP tantrums. So, I have already expressed during one of the group planning meetings : “If you see me struggling, and you really want to be of help, please do not tell me to “suck it up” or share any other similar comment.” Instead, you might ask me gently: “Do you need a hug? Is there anything I can do to help?” And trust me .. I will open up, respond and quickly get over myself by : taking a nap, carving out my alone time; or receiving help until I can do one of the above. Thank you…. Thank you very much.

So now that I’ve spent a few months processing my worse case scenarios, personal fears and challenges, I think I’m ready. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m convinced it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I know I would regret not taking.

After all, this is what my diligent research about this adventure has revealed:
a) 29,000 people per year embark on this same adventure !!
Without doing the math, if one in five people are HSPs, there have been a lot of HSPs who have gone before me…
b) It is one of the prime outdoor experiences in the world
c) It is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world
d) We will experience prehistoric and indigenous cultures along our route
e) It is an intense journey through the corridors of time
f) The night sky is out of this world . This is one of my absolute favorite things to do: experience the night sky while pondering just how insignificant I really am … what is this great adventure I have been processing the last several months?

It is …. ta da … a once in a life time opportunity to be a part of a private, 19 day, 277 (river) mile raft trip through the Grand Canyon !

The beautiful turquoise waters of Havasu Falls

Yes! Receiving a private permit to do this via a lottery drawing is quite a prized possession – one that my son Hayden initiated – knowing it was definitely on his own bucket list. Little did he, or the rest of us, think it would happen so fast, as it usually take years to receive such a permit.

So, wish me well… I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, and as the song in the video below says “I’ll be sure to rise!”

If you are so inspired, here is a 12 minute video of a similar trip …

Rafting the Grand Canyon

For a short view, the first 2 minutes will do… For what I am most looking forward to, beside the night sky, go to 7:09 for a look at Havasu Falls. My least favorite? Lava Falls at 8:10 ….

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11 Responses to Is THIS on an HSP Bucket List? Or: Essentials for Expanding Your HSP Comfort Zone

  1. kathleen harrington, eileen harrington says:

    you go girl! and especially great job in taking the time to address your thoughts, feeling and needs as you move toward embarking on the trip. You continue to be a great model for us and we look forward to your post-trip debriefing.


    • Jacquelyn says:

      Thanks Katheen for the encouragment ! We are now in Flagstaff … get on the Colorado River on Monday after last minute group planning meeting; and getting checked out for safety reguations by the NPS – National Park Service.

  2. shane hathaway says:

    Way to go, Jacquelyn!!! I’m dazzled by your courage in embarking on this Great Adventure, and I greatly admire your care in making sure that your highly sensitive needs will be met along the way. You are an inspiration….

  3. Wow, Jacquelyn! I’m deeply impressed! I’d like to wish you a REALLY GREAT TIME!

      • Laxman says:

        Thank you for reviewing this book! My duahgter is (warning labels ahead) high-spirited high-needs and yes, highly sensitive! It can be a struggle, for sure, but it’s nice to know there isn’t anything *wrong* with her. The main issue I have isn’t knowing this, but having to constantly reassure myself that it’s all good. Now I’m off to read the article you linked Thanks again.

        • Jacquelyn says:

          High spirited? High needs? Highly sensitive? It’s great to hear of HSPs being high spirited. This means, perhaps, they are not withholding, hiding out in shame or feeling rejected. It is great she has a person in her life who gets her ! Try doing an internet search, not just on highly sensitive children, but also the spirited child. I think you’ll find lots of resources !

  4. Cheri Gregory says:

    By any chance, does he use the word “Just” before “suck it up”? I find that I come absolutely unglued when advice is prefaced by the trivializing (and, to me, demeaning) “Just…”

    • Jacquelyn says:

      No Cheri, he does not use the word “just” …. and truthfully I don’t think he has ever actually
      said “suck it up” … it is well known between the two of us, and in my family, that those are
      not welcome words ! 🙂 I do understand the potential to come unglued however !

  5. Jacquelyn says:

    Thanks Susan and everyone else for the good wishes and vote of confidence ! Will definitely keep you
    updated on my journey and process …. P.S. Just realized I needed to “repy, then approve” which is why
    this is my first response even tho there have been previous posts ….

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