Flourishing with Sensory Processing Sensitivity
One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting, growing and learning from other highly sensitive professionals. I met Jacquelyn Strickland over a decade ago and find myself learning from her every time we connect. She is a front runner in the hsp world and leads Hsp Gathering Retreats that I guarantee will impact you to the core for your lifetime. Please enjoy this beautiful, hearty, practical (don’t miss the links) article written by her years ago.
Vantage Sensitivity – It’s a Gift!
by Jacquelyn Strickland
Did you read the article in Elaine Aron’s Comfort Zone newsletter ? It’s called Fulfillment of a Dream: Vantage Sensitivity and it can be found here: http://hsperson.com/
I loved this article for so many reasons, the least of which, it validated the intense joy I can derive from the simplest of things, and for me, this goes way back into my childhood.
As a child of the 50’s and 60’s , I grew up in a tiny 856 sq foot house, using my (then unknown) depth of processing (ruminating) as I tried, unsuccessfully ~ at least materially ~ to find ways to help my stigmatized, divorced, single parent mother as she often worked two jobs to support us. (My father, unable to hold a job, was the HSP … a World War II veteran of combat, who suffered ~ from then unrecognized ~ Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He turned to alcohol to numb his pain and, by the way, is the main reason I created the “Calloused HSP” in my HSP Subcultures. )http://www.lifeworkshelp.com/
Up until around the age of ten I didn’t even know what “poverty” was. Despite our financial hardships, my mother was my rock. Talk about a secure attachment ! She lovingly acknowledged my sensitivity, and I always felt seen, heard, and deeply respected by her. It’s probably a good thing she was not a HSP, otherwise, she would not have been able to find time or energy to lovingly plant morning glories and four o-clocks around our tiny front porch, and tomatoes and vegetables in our garden out back. There was no money for Camp Fire Girls, dance lessons, piano lessons, or other extra curricular activities (even though I did long for them.)
Instead, I had unlimited hours and days to lay in the grass and look up at the clouds watching incredible images form and fade away, as I often faded away into a nice afternoon nap. When needing more stimulation, I simply rode my imaginary horse, Trigger, around my neighborhood, feeling free as I ran and galloped faster and faster.
It is interesting to me that, until my pre-teens, I never really felt deprived, only worried. I loved going fishing with my Mom, We would sit for hours on a pier with our cane fishing poles, a hook and a worm on the end. We would talk and share our worries, then sit in silence. I’m sure this is where I first learned meditation by staring at that bobber on the end of my fishing line, waiting for a fish to take it under. As a tomboy, I naturally gravitated high up in my two beloved trees: a mimosa and china berry trees . The mimosa tree was my favorite because it was there I learned to self-soothe my worries by tickling my face with the soft, pink mimosa blossoms. And it was there that I somehow knew I was communing with God for it was there ~ where I let my thoughts, feelings and worries come to the surface, and it was there ~ where they were soothed.
So, did my sensitivity offer me an advantage? Yes, I definitely think so. It was because of my sensitivity, and ability to find joy in simple things, that I could transcend the daily drudgery of living below the poverty line. It was because of my sensitivity, my rich inner world, and the love I received that I learned early on to discern who was “nice” and who was “mean.” I intuitively knew to avoid the “mean people,” thus protecting my sensitivity even more.
There are many more examples of what I have come to term as “spiritual experiences” or “positive complexes.” These positive complexes have always served as my motivation toward social activism. Yes, of course, I also have the negative kind of complexes and these stem mostly from huge concepts which had no language as I was growing up. These huge concepts which I internalized, but never knew what to call them were: sexism, classism, and racism (by association.) But more on those HSP learnings at a later time.
Back to Fulfillment of a Dream: Vantage Sensiivity.
Another reason I love this article is because it dispels a myth:
Myth: Sensitive people generally have more problems in life, regardless of their environments.
Fact: In good environments the sensitive individuals had not only “just as good” outcomes, but better outcomes that non-sensitive subjects.” Rather than being vulnerable to “damage” Pluess and Belsky (2012) found we are in fact “susceptible to everything” and as some researchers and biologists (Wolf, van Doorn, *& Weissing) put it , we are simply: “more responsive to everything” whether that “everything” is positive or negative.
So, if given the opportunity, we HSPs have a choice : to seek out as many positive environments as we possibly can: whether those be outdoors in nature, with a friend, or perhaps in a small corner of your home where you feel spiritually connected during meditation or introspectively contemplating the world. It also helps us to be more alert to avoid negative energies and environments, and avoid those.
Check out my Top Ten Ways for HSP Self-Care: http://www.lifeworkshelp.com/
How does this relate to the 26th HSP Gathering Retreat ?
Because it’s all about the people (HSPs) and the environment we co-create together: an environment which allows for the collective creation of a gentle space, where through education, reflection, inquiry and sharing we create a sense of self-acceptance and empowerment as we step into the beauty of our unique HSP selves (secure attachment)while enjoying the splendor of nature, nourishing food, and our new HSP soul friends.
In fact, by our third or fourth day of being together, you cannot tell who is an extrovert and who is an introvert. The atmosphere is literally charged with higher vibrational frequencies of unconditional love, acceptance, peace, and love. It is quite emotional just thinking about it. David Hawkins in his book, Power vs. Force, describes the type of love I am referring to as a state of being.
” It’s a forgiving, nurturing, supportive way of relating to the world
(and those around us.) It isn’t intellectual; it emanates from the heart.
It has the capacity to lift others and accomplish great feats because of
its purity of motive.”
He further states:
“As love becomes more and more unconditional, it begins to be experienced
as joy. It arises from within each moment and not from an external source.”
What About Your Own “Vantage Sensitivity?”
Can you recall a sweet, tender, special time in your life when your sensitivity was a gift? Feel free to share it here … I’m sure we would all love to hear more personal stories like this.
An Important P.S. About this Article:
Personally, I don’t believe many (if any) of us had “idyllic” childhoods – HPSs or not, and I realize some of us were luckier than others. Although I was raised in poverty, (which by the way helped to control ~ at least partially ~ any sensory over…load:-) I had many rich, inner life moments which helped me to have a strong foundation of love and acceptance up to about the age of 10. After that, of course, the cultural struggle to thrive as a HSP came on full board — but I believe my early foundation with a secure (Motherly) attachment helped me through, perhaps a little easier than Jenna Forrest’s childhood experience shared in her beautiful book: “Help Is on the Way.”
I also believe it is easier to be an extrovert, High Sensation Seeking, HSP than an Introvert, Non-High Sensation Seeking HSP. So, I had that advantage as well.
I hope my story shared here does not in ANY way diminish the painful reality may HSPs experienced (or are currently experiencing.) Of course, I had many struggles as an “unempowered HSP.” I’ve also had MANY years working my way through false internalized beliefs, and healing from past wounds, to become the “Empowered HSP” that I am today. And I am still working on that journey.
Check out what’s in the works: a brand new film for sensitive men and those who know them.
Few detail emotional leadership better than the researcher herself, Brene Brown.
Is it me or do you all desire this life too?
Will someone come build one of these for me, please?