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Cliff Harwin’s Interview With Grace Kerina

Here’s an interview that I had done with Grace Kerina in 2009:

I would imagine that working in the pest control industry would be difficult for a highly sensitive person for a variety of reasons, such as being around pesticides and killing insects and rodents. Is it? If so, how do you manage?

I’ve been in the pest control industry for over thirty years. I first became involved with the industry when I started working in my father’s business. I eventually started my own company and have been self-employed for twenty-nine years. I didn’t have a great desire to start my own business, but I realized that it was the best way for me to “survive” and sustain myself. I didn’t know that I was a HSP at the time, but my instincts told me I needed to be in a situation where I could control my work environment at my own pace. I would strongly suggest to your readers that they might be happier and more productive in their own business or in a position where they have a lot of independence.

My pest control work involves taking care of insect and rodent problems in homes and businesses. I truly feel that I’m in a helping profession. We HSPs are very helpful people! I help people by protecting them from the diseases that some insects and rodents can cause and also by protecting their properties from damage. The first thing I do is make recommendations for preventing pest problems, such as making repairs or checking for infested food products. I don’t indiscriminately use pesticides or rodenticides. I’m certified by the State of New Jersey and only use products that are approved by The Environmental Protection Agency. I see myself as an environmentalist.

My work provides me with opportunities to solve problems and meet different people, and it allows me to be in different places. I definitely need a variety of challenges in my life. I’m also better able to cope with my social anxiety because of my various work experiences (I want to emphasize that social anxiety is not necessarily an inherited HSP character trait).

If you could retire today, what would you love to do?

While working full-time, I’m already in the process of working on my next career. I don’t ever want to “retire.” I want to be involved in something that I really enjoy. That “something” is helping highly sensitive people recognize and be proud of their inherited character traits. I’m doing this through the book I have written about my personal experience of being a HSP, my monthly newsletter, Thoughts for the Thoughtful, and my blog, Highly Sensitive Thoughts. Your readers can get more information about these activities on my website,

What message of encouragement do you have for highly sensitive people?

I believe that being highly sensitive is a gift. I never thought of it as a character flaw. I started to make progress when I learned more about myself and understood why I act and react the way I do. When you know who you are and what you need, you can confidently live your most productive life. Set boundaries so others won’t hurt or take advantage of you, and have specific goals that you have a “burning desire” to accomplish. Plunge forward! You can always make adjustments. You will be pleasantly surprised by what a great life you can have. It’s really great to be a HSP!

What are your favorite books?

I have many favorite books. I read mostly self-help ones. These are the books that have most influenced my life:

The Highly Sensitive Person, by Dr. Elaine Aron – I read Dr. Aron’s book about four years ago. I felt the “floodgates” open up and understood myself better than I ever had before. I learned to work with my highly sensitive qualities, rather than working against them.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie – This book gave me very useful tools for getting along with others. It opened up a completely new world to me. I started to seek out other books and information that were informative, inspirational, and motivating.

Making a Living Without a Job, by Barbara Winter – This book gave me an expanded view of the joys of self-employment and working at something that I truly love.

Teamworks!, by Barbara Sher – This book emphasizes the importance of working with like-minded people to accomplish your dreams. I couldn’t have finished my book without my team. I’m in the process of working with other HSPs through email consultations to help them accomplish their dreams and desires.

Making Sense of Your High Sensitivity, by Cliff Harwin – Yes, this is the book that I wrote! I mention it because when I feel down and discouraged, I touch it, look at it, and read it. It reminds me of an accomplishment that I never thought was possible.

I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have about this interview.

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