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Category Archives: emotionally numb

How HSPs Can Heal From Inner Shame and Numb Emotions

Hi everyone!  Summer is upon us and I hope you are enjoying the many opportunities that arise in this beautiful season.  For those of us in the midwestern United States, we know the warm weather is short-lived so we try to get outside and enjoy it while we can.  As highly sensitive people though this “pressure” to enjoy the outdoors can add to our “to do” list that is already too long as it is!  Please look at the weather as a bonus to get outside in nature to recharge from the usual stress in our lives–just setting aside even 10 minutes alone in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening to walk, ride a bike, or even just sit outside and look and marvel at the sky or walk barefoot in the warm grass will help you enjoy the moments of summer more fully and not feel like the summer is passing you by yet again.

Today I woke up with a very strong feeling of shame and dread.  Along with it though there was very strong clarity about the truth of these feelings and the shame and dread very soon faded away as I got on with my day.  So I wanted to share with you the process that I go through and how I got to this emotionally healthy place!

Immediately when feeling this strong dread and shame this morning I went straight to comforting myself and saying to myself, “Wow, I must have done something really great for my true self yesterday–I must have really been expressing my truth and shining my light…. these feelings from childhood coming up to heal are the evidence and so I must be extra kind to myself today.”  I KNOW this now because of many years of analyzing and paying attention to my own emotional patterns.  I learned that when I wrote a great song,  poem,  or even when I just had great uninhibited fun or even exercise, this strong shame feeling would always pop up for me the morning of the next day.  This is because these feelings from childhood were my experience day in and day out until I had to give up as a child and repress my true self and all of the memories of this unbearable shame in order to survive.

Back then as a child, when I expressed my true wise self, or my joy in my own creativity, I felt shamed to the core.  I KNOW this now.  I no longer allow these dreadful feelings when they arise in me to negatively spiral in the following way:  My inner critic used to say, “What is wrong with me that I feel this shame, it feels terrible, almost unbearable, I feel disgusting, I must have done something horrible and shameful, I thought I had a good day yesterday but it must not be true, what was I thinking, I am never going to feel better, why do I even try”…blah blah blah, down down down the spiral went, draining all hope and positive energy out of me, leading to a depressed feeling and sometimes just numbness (dissociation) as I trudged though the day.  Wow, it’s hard to believe I used to spiral this way!!  But I did!  My inner critic has now completely been replaced with positive affirmations that I KNOW are true.  I don’t let my inner critic take over and I over-ride it with love and compassion for myself.  It took a lot of inner work but the whole process was well worth it.

My thought and feeling cycles are so different now as I know that how I treat myself with my inner thoughts create the kind of day and experience I am going to have.  This is more than just positive thinking or law of attraction techniques.  I had to go through a grieving process that actually changed my core beliefs about myself to the point that I learned that I had a lot to be sad about, angry about, and plenty to comfort myself through.  I had to delve into the past to see where the negative beliefs came from and get justice (inwardly) for the little girl inside who felt so much like an inferior being.  It was not the truth and I had to figure out what the truth was for ME.

As a mother I knew, and my college education in child development told me, that NO child is inferior and deserves to be shamed–so the inner grief work was a challenge for me to put together this puzzle to find out the truth about what happened to me to make me feel so bad about myself.  Memories started coming back to me and feelings that had been dormant and frozen in time became “available” to me again and I learned compassion for that little girl inside.  This took a while and everyone’s journey to healing will be different and take as long as it takes to work through your layers of illusions that keep you from seeing the truth of your brilliant shining light and true self.

So please be patient with yourself if you are in the middle of feeling all the pain and not yet seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Or if you are feeling comfortably numb but joyless and lacking motivation.  The light is there.  It is because you had this bright light and higher spiritual level that bullies in your life had to put you down and put out your light.  You may have been a threat to their distorted view of the world where “their” feelings were the center of the universe.  But your light never went out–it was just dimmed or covered up with illusions and blocks that are not true about you.  You have the power within you to turn your light back up high yourself!  No one can do it for you. It takes time to learn how to process through the layers of dormant feelings.

Writing out your pain in a journal for your eyes only is so important to the healing process because it gets you out of your left brain’s spiraling or scattered thoughts and connects you to your right brain’s compassion for yourself and creativity.  Document your progress in the journal and then go back and make yourself read the hopeful stuff you write, you will begin to see how amazing and wise you are that you survived it all and that there is so much to look forward to as you grow and grow in your own compassion for your wounded inner child.  As you grow to protect your inner child and stand up for the rights to all of your feelings, the negative thoughts about yourself begin to change.

Another thing I had to realize was that no one was going to rescue me but ME and I had to make a decision to never ever beat myself up again.  I remember saying to myself once, “That is it!!, that is the last time!  I am never going to waste my time in such misery again!”  And it stuck.  I still had bad days when shameful feelings came up to heal but I comforted myself instead.  Maybe I stayed on the couch that day BUT I was kind to myself instead.  I put away my to-do list, watched a favorite movie, made myself my favorite warm soup or hot tea, wrapped myself in a soft blanket, “loved” myself through the bad feelings and had compassion for my inner child who deserved love  and comfort.  And I allowed myself to grieve the happy carefree childhood that I never had.  This is so important to learn to do for ourselves–we hsp survivors may feel like we got skipped as we nurture our children and everyone around us–I realized this was important for me to take the time to mother my self for a while.  Then I would feel SO much better after I took a day for myself like this–I would feel renewed and recharged and it started a habit of a positive cycle of healing and change.

These were the new patterns and beliefs that were laying groundwork for new neurons in my brain for a new future and over-riding the shame from childhood.  This is the process of recovery from emotional abuse.  It is not easy.  It is not fun.  It is painful. But with delving into the pain at first I noticed that I at least felt more “alive” and this was a “spark” of light that kept me going towards the painful truth and not escaping into a comfortably numb existence of denial and dissociation that had for years kept me from moving forward towards my dreams and desires.  Instead I started continually delving into and through the pain to find my truth and alivenessI acknowledge the painful feeling and released it layer by layer in my journal or to a trusted, safe witness and gradually I emerged on the other side of it all.  The shame and dread that I wake up to is now just a weak residue, a glimmer of the truth of the past and all I worked through to get here–to where the joy in my heart can’t wait to get started on another day of being me in a Universe that I feel connected to and know that it supports me!

And so I say to all of you out there who are on what feels like an endless healing path, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is awesome! When you can tap into the light and love from inside of you and believe and know that you deserve it, then you will be able shine your light and recharge and renew yourself anytime you want to!

P.S. More posts are coming soon!  I am working on putting together a post with all of the comments and replies from a frequent commenter who calls herself Belinda.  Her story is an inspiring example of a highly sensitive soul with bullying parents whose painful drama unfolded here on this blog–she bravely reached out and expressed what was in her heart and she came out the other side and into the light–and now she is shining her own light to help others.  Other commenters and my replies will be highlighted in upcoming posts as well.  (I ask all commenters for their permission first before highlighting it in a post.)  Be kind to yourself, HSPs, and I’ll be back in touch soon!

With love,

Roxanne 😀

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The Process of Inner Child Healing and a Poem of Hope for Highly Sensitive Survivors

Hello everyone.  Whenever I write a new post, I “tune in” to you, my readers, and write from my heart.  Sometimes I plan what I am going to write and other times I write something entirely different from what I had planned.  At the beginning I used to worry, “how can I top that last post”, but now I just trust in the process and I know that what I write will turn out all right.

It is wonderful to feel such confidence. It is such a contrast to how I used to feel years ago before I gained access to the truth of who I am.  It was “self-doubt”–a looming horrible anxious feeling of dread and guilt…or more often a feeling of numbness and compulsions to avoid feelings by keeping busy with tasks that I felt I “should” be doing.  I had no access to my truth–I had hidden away my truth to protect myself from the unbearable pain that I experienced as a child.

Through my journaling I discovered a process that helped me to heal more than anything else I tried–it was writing out my pain from my inner child’s point of view.  I knew from all of my reading and training in psychology that blocks happen in childhood–and I had been encouraged by two helpful counselors to continue to write out my feelings in order to uncover them (I had been writing poems about my feelings since the age of 14).

Writing from my inner child’s perspective just kind of naturally happened and I found it to be the most powerful healing tool in my own recovery.  I discovered “her” voice by writing out “her” pain and then I had no choice but to feel compassion for what “she” went through and over time “she” became clearly “Me”!  And as I began trusting in this process of trusting “her” view of what had happened to me I began trusting my self.  My inner dialogue then gradually changed from critical to compassionate.  I remember that I started feeling emotions that had previously been repressed and could then label them.

I was excited about this process.  For example, I’d be at the grocery store and suddenly become aware of a feeling such as shame and say to myself , “this feeling is really familiar but I never knew until now that it is “shame”.  Wow this is shame from my childhood coming up.”  I realized I was feeling these feelings for the first time since I had hidden them away in childhood.  Rather then get caught up in them I was able to observe them and acknowledge them and release them.  I would often go right away and write in my journal about the origins of these painful feelings.  Repressed memories would often come back to me during these times.  It wasn’t always so simple–sometimes I would unconsciously drag my husband into a drama only to discover I was replaying a trauma from childhood so that I could finally voice my feelings of anger, grief, or fear to my envisioned N parent.  My knowledge of what was happening luckily allowed me to be aware of the process of healing–I would quickly reassure my husband what was happening so that he could then support the release of my feelings as a supportive witness without feeling blamed in any way.  Seeing me recover my feelings in such a way and feel relief helped my husband to understand this healing process as well and he began processing his childhood pain in a similar way (he had a Narcissistic parent too).

I am planning to put together a book in which I include the best of my healing writings directly from my journals that show this process of healing first hand from age 18 to the present.  Although it will be very personal I am hoping that it will help others to heal and develop compassion for their inner child and what they went through if they are unable to write out their feelings in such a way that I was able–I consider it a gift that I was able to do this and I am grateful to have such a vivid memoir of my recovery.  I believe this gift of writing I have been given is another way that I can help other highly sensitive souls to recover and to help them to feel relief from the inner prison of emotional abuse by a Narcissistic parent.  Please let me know if you would be interested in reading such a book.

Recently I wrote the following poem when I “tuned in” to you, my readers and fellow highly sensitive survivors.  I was planning to save it for my book but I have decided to share it with you now instead to show an example one of the kinds of writings that will be included.  Here it is:

Poem of Hope and Healing for the Highly Sensitive Survivor

By Roxanne E. Smith

March 22, 2011

Pain so deep, I can’t see the light

I know it’s there but it’s not very bright

The sadness is thick, despair all around

I envision a child giving up with no sound

Pain so deep, I hide all my hope

Afraid to come out, I feel like a dope

Worthless and horrible, don’t ever try

The pain is unbearable, can’t even cry

I can’t feel the love, I need it so bad!

So much fear without it, it’s really so sad!’

I am feeling much better just admitting this truth

You have to have love when you’re in your youth!

Without love you can’t heal all the hurts that come by

When bad things do happen we need love when we cry

Someone has to hold us and give us new hope

If there’s no one for comfort than there’s no way to cope

No wonder I hid my talents away

When I would do well then I was their prey

The taunting, the teasing, “Who do you think you are?”

Shame became my deepest scar

But who was this child all hidden in shame

An innocent victim who will never be the same?

She thinks she is nothing but she is so wrong

The truth is she’s beautiful, wise, and so strong

Scoop up that child all broken and battered

Love her and hug her and tell her she matters

She’s awesome and wonderful, they were so wrong

Talented, creative , and smart all along

Sensitive soul you were so beaten down

But you figured it out and now you can leave town

You’re safe now and free–no more bullies outside

Shine your light, spread your wings, don’t believe all the lies

Be kind to yourself when the pain comes back ’round

Love yourself through it, your true self is found

You know the truth and now you can be free

Fear is from “them”–in the past, don’t you see?

Relax into the pain and it will dissipate

Because the pain is from lies and it’s never too late!

To believe in yourself and your talents and dreams

You are good at compassion and so many things

They did not want you to succeed with your gifts

So they made you give up and they threatened with fists

You were small so you gave up but now you are grown

You can heal all the pain and make it now on your own

You can do it!–the words you’ve long waited to hear

Say them to your self!  And say NO to the fear!

Give them back all the bad feelings that they gave to you

Imagine this energy going outward from you

Then let in the light and the love from a place

Where angels don’t want you to live in disgrace

You know what love is because you give it so freely

To others who need it when they’re feeling needy

Give to your self all this love all the time!

You will find your true purpose and all will be fine

These lessons are so hard that we learn from our pain

But we discover our strengths again and again

So sensitive souls who survived from abuse

Your gifts are so needed to be put to good use

I know how you feel and I hope you feel better

Because we can overcome it if we do it together!

I hope that this poem has helped you to feel loved

You are!–and I send it to you from above!

I understand and I want to comfort your pain

I hope this is helpful.  Love, Roxanne Elaine

Hurts So Good?–Through Pain You Grow Stronger–Processing Childhood Emotional Pain So You Can Heal

Hi everyone.  Today I was out on my patio getting my morning dose of Vitamin D from the sun (hallelujah, the warmth is finally here to stay!) and writing down ideas for my next post.  When I was finished, the song “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp came on the radio I was listening to.  You know the one…”sometimes love don’t feel like it should…”  Anyway, I had to laugh out loud with amazement as it seemed like a sign from the universe/God that my topic was approved–it seemed clear that I should trust my intuition to write about what I had decided to focus on and that was:  what hurts the most in life emotionally can reveal the truth of who we really are–and physical pain can teach us the exact lesson we need to learn to move forward–both kinds of pain help us grow and heal to become our best selves.

Of course the lyrics of the song do not imply that, but the title jumped out at me as confirmation and I have always loved that song!  It always makes me want to get up and dance and celebrate being alive for some reason.  Sometimes when you are feeling the pain from childhood wounds, acknowledging you were wronged, and you know you didn’t deserve it, you feel so much more alive and you have the right to your feelings about it!!  Your anger can be channeled into positive energy to take action for your self and improving your life and moving forward towards your dreams!  Also the song implies that you know how love should feel but you are willing to take the painful risk of loving again for the chance of being loved in return.

I so look forward to dancing again to songs like this and forgot how much I missed it until it was taken away when I recently injured my back/hip (S.I. joint)!  My pain has almost completely healed. Yay! I still have restricted movements but I have so much to look forward to.  And I am on my way to complete healing and I learned much–I will spare you the details until the end of this post for those interested.

Okay, so about the lessons to be learned from the emotionally painful things that happen to us….   I believe that all of us are here on this planet to learn lessons about who we are, what we are capable of, how to achieve inner peace, love ourselves the way we deserved to be loved, and how we can use our gifts to help others.  For those of us who are gifted with high sensitivity and intuition it is so difficult to figure these things out until we realize that a lot of the pain we experienced as children was pain of the people around us that we just absorbed and internalized as our own.

One of the most complex examples contributing to many of my clients’ childhood wounds are when the parent is a malignant narcissist. I am sharing these examples of extreme cases in the hopes that they will be the most helpful. When a malignant narcissist starts to feel any emotional pain they get rid of it immediately by blaming the people around them. The highly sensitive child is the perfect target to take away the malignant narcissist’s pain because they absorb it completely and don’t retaliate.  As kind and loving spirits, highly sensitive compassionate children would never dream of blaming someone else for anything so they can’t imagine that their parent might be wrong or sick or unhealthy in any way.  Now that they are adults they are starting to see the light of how they were “used” to take away the parent’s shame, self-hatred, blame, and self-doubt. Hsps can heal as they acknowledge the truth that they were fine before malignant narcissistic parents took away their hopes and dreams and gave them their pain in its place.  They absorbed it all and believed it to be true–saying to themselves, “I am to blame, there is something wrong with me, I am not good enough, I must try really hard to be someone else other than who I am in order to be loved, I am not as good as I think I am, I cannot trust my feelings, I must not make any mistakes, I am unloveable, I am unworthy, I hate myself, or I must be a disgusting human being for upsetting my parent in such a way.”  This is what a highly sensitive compassionate child can determine to be true when they are not seen for the kind and sensitive soul they are but used for the dumping ground of the negative emotions of a highly dysfunctional family.

They numb their feelings to survive as children–They repress the pain and decide to be obedient (if they were the Golden Child) or they rebel (if they were the Scapegoat).  Either way their mind protects them with illusions about their parents in this case because they need them to survive.  They were after all children doing the best they knew how–there is no way for a sensitive child to detect danger when for as long as they can remember, this is what a loving family looks and feels like and it is ingrained in the neural pathways in their brains.  They believed the distorted view that their malignant narcissistic parent presented to them and insisted upon because they believe in the goodness of life innately–they trust completely which is a beautiful thing.  It is a wondrous gift to be able to trust in life, to trust in the universe, that it will support them and show them the way if they trust their feelings and our intuition.  We have the inner guidance and wisdom to be happy and fulfilled, enlightened and loving, full of vitality with the perseverance to press on through the ups and downs of life.  They all (HSPs) have this ability inside of them, this trust in the goodness of life, but it was taken away from them.

But what happened to them is not really about them at all.  They were victims, yes, but they don’t have to be victims ever again when they work through the truth of what happened to them as children–layer by layer, injustice by injustice, voicing the truth of how much it hurt, how they didn’t deserve it, and see how they lost their trust in themselves and their feelings.  Once you start this process of healing the layers, you feel lighter and a little kinder to yourself each time.  It is a blessing when you are in the midst of an episode of despair because someone you trusted criticized you and you suddenly realize, “Oh wait, this is how I felt as a child when my malignant narcissistic mother would feel threatened when I expressed a brilliant creative idea and put it down–I was smarter than she was!” –or something to this effect.

DOCUMENTING YOUR TRUTH STATEMENTS is a method I invented during my years as a life coach.  Journaling these revelations by writing statements of what you learned about yourself when a new layer of pain is uncovered  helps to document your progress.  Then when you are feeling lost, depressed, or blocked make yourself get out your journal and read over these statements and you will see the true voice of your soul being uncovered.  Statements like “I had brilliant creative ideas as a child”, “I discovered I was actually smart”, “I was kind, caring and innocent and did not deserve to be criticized and abused!”  These are truths come to light and will forever be true about you–they will help you change the internalized beliefs about yourself so you will develop your true voice.  This will help you stop listening to your inner critic and say,” No!  That is not true about me”.  Then say your new-found personalized positive affirmations (truth statements) to yourself instead. Your self-doubts will gradually fade and your confidence will grow stronger and stronger.

Childhood pain comes up to be healed in layers–it is like the truth of your untold story from childhood wants to be told and when you are strong enough, the painful feelings pop up unexpectedly in your lives.  You sometimes unconsciously provoke painful situations in our lives so that the original trauma can be healed.  For example:  you are feeling grouchy, irritable,  numb, and lost, and you criticize your husband for not supporting you enough, for not just listening, (he is trying to solve it and tell you what to do and you just want to be listened to and heard).  He responds with, “Something else must be wrong because I have been listening to you a lot lately but you are still really grouchy.”  You blow up and yell, “I wanted an apology but instead you are attacking me” and you fall in a heap of crying, blaming, angry despair. The feelings directed at your husband are so real to you but you are actually experiencing post traumatic stress from your childhood.  Your husband deserves about 10% of the anger that you are feeling but the other 90% is from your childhood. (90/10 Principle.  John Gray,…Venus and Mars).

In that moment you are reexperiencing the unresolved feelings of your self as a small child with legitimate needs to be seen and reassured and loved–you were perhaps rejected by a malignant narcissistic mother who was too busy with her own agenda to stop and be the loving mother you needed in that moment.  Perhaps instead she lashed out at you for being too sensitive, told you to knock it off and be quiet so she could think.  When you cried harder she may have slapped you on the bottom, screamed at you, and told you that you were giving her a headache and to go play somewhere.  You went to your bedroom and cried and cried and she ignored you–you felt rejected, scared, and humiliated but you felt so ashamed that your mother was angry at you that you wiped away your tears and went out and said, “I’m sorry Mommy I will try to be good”.  Then, she smiles at you and says, something like, “good, you learned your lesson about obeying me”.

This is horrible abuse for a highly sensitive gifted child whose only way of surviving this situation is to be a shell of her former self, deny all of her legitimate feelings and needs for pursuing her gifts and talents and dreams, and become a little robot shell of a person with all her feelings pushed way down deep to the point of repression.  A child incorporates the internalized message of, I must not trust my feelings or I will upset my mother/father and I need her/him.  To the less than sensitive observer this exchange seems harmless enough and they might even think “what a good child” or worse “what a good parent to have such a child that obeys so well”.  That is one reason that it is difficult for HSPs to change our negative beliefs about ourselves–most of society doesn’t yet understand or support a childs need to express needs contrary to the parent in charge.

You won’t feel guilty about leaving your abusive narcissistic family members behind when you understand that if malignant narcissists are in emotional pain for even a second, they lash out and blame someone else for it–they are not feeling pain the way you and I do–they get rid of it immediately.  They put on acts of great suffering because they know it works to make us feel guilty.  Don’t fall for it–it is all an act.  They are going about their merry way without a trace of remorse or guilt. They pull out the tears and anguish when other family members are around to get them against you–they get relief and control back from these antics so don’t feel guilty about leaving all of the craziness behind.

So back to how pain is helping you have a better life….  The truth too painful to bear as children has to come up as the painful truth or you can’t acknowledge that it happened, release it, learn from it, and find yourself!  It is a painful process but you are worth it!  Your true voice has been in hiding for far too long.  Next time something happens to you that is so painful it makes you want to give up on a person, try telling yourself,  “this pain is exactly how I felt as a child when ___ happened to me!”  Then write it out with all the pent-up emotion you can conjure up and see if you don’t feel better when as you write you realize you were an innocent victim and have a right to all of those feelings!

You may just be so grateful for the realization that you were a child who deserved so much more that you will even feel grateful for the person in the present that hurt you! They helped you bring a painful truth from your childhood to the surface to be healed.  You healed a layer of pain from your childhood!  On to the next!  Soon you will begin believing in your goodness and see your inner wisdom and kindness. You will begin attracting only loving giving people like you because your bright shining light of your special highly sensitive intuitive soul can now shine through the existing layers making them much easier to process through.  The illusions that helped you survive will fall away and a new-found confidence and ease will emerge.

So remember, from the layers of pain and hurt emerges the wonderful and amazing true YOU!  You can do it!  I hope that my words can assist you through this complex healing process.

Part 2

Okay, now for the health update:  The recent painful injury to my low back/hip sacroiliac joint (S.I.) is another example of how the universe/God  helps us along our path with painful obstacles that are lessons in disguise.

My holistic chiropractor was unable to answer my many questions about what I could and couldn’t do and what would help and hinder my recovery.  So I made an appointment with a physical therapist that was prescribed by my family doctor. She was able to tell me exactly what ligaments I had sprained, the reasons for my pain, exactly what movements to avoid and which ones were so safe so I could heal in the fastest amount of time.  She explained exactly why it had happened to me–with no core strength in my pelvis from lack of exercise, the ligaments were sprained severely requiring 6 to 8 weeks to heal completely.

She explained that sitting and standing hurts because those actions depend entirely on the ligaments I strained, whereas walking uses different muscles.  I can sit for a one hour at a time now, can drive for short periods, am allowed to walk on flat surfaces only, and should avoid all stairs as much as possible until I am fully healed.  She showed me the correct way to pick up something from the floor, bending at the knees and holding onto something for support–I had been doing it wrong every time.  She has given me homework of daily exercises to start strengthening my core muscles as I heal and I am doing them diligently!

Before I went to my physical therapist, there were 3 occasions when I had no pain in the morning (that is usually when I was in the most pain).  I  had gotten so excited I ended up doing too much that day and the next day I paid for it with pain that sent me back to the couch with ice and rest.  The third time it happened I had this surreal moment of anguish but at the same time a moment of grace and surrender–a reminder of how, even though I was exiled to the couch, I had a glimpse of what I had learned spending most of the month of May on the couch unable to move without the severe pain recurring.  The month of May gave me an entirely new perspective on my life and this moment of grace made me permanently slow down and appreciate that the small things in life were actually huge things to be grateful for.

It made me realize:  the things I missed being able to do most were things I did not expect because they were lost in all the busy activities I took for granted.  I missed most being able to sit up and play my guitar and sing my songs without pain. I missed being able to sit and write creatively on my computer for long periods (my last post I had to write and edit in long hand first).  I missed being pain-free so that I could concentrate again and get back to coaching my clients–having chronic pain is exhausting and I had to put my coaching on hold for a while (but it has now resumed 🙂 ). Biking, hiking, and dancing were also activities I loved and never found time for.  These are all things that have now been moved even higher on my priority list–maybe this injury is the only way for me to really learn what is most important to me in life.

A bonus from all this is that my husband had no idea how much I did around our home and has a new appreciation for all the years I spent managing our home because suddenly, he had to do it all!  I didn’t even realize how much I took on. Now he has wonderfully agreed to continue taking on his share of these tasks even after I fully recover (including half of the grocery shopping 🙂 ).  After all, I have a successful career too now and it is only fair!  My husband was really amazed at how much work it was and he now has a new appreciation of how much time and energy I spent doing it.  As I recover I am learning to delegate tasks that need taken care of, but more important than that, I learned to just let the unimportant things go so we can just spend more quality time together and be in the moment enjoying life! I am very grateful for a husband with such a kind and compassionate soul.

With every new victory in my physical abilities, we celebrate together and both of us appreciate our life together and our health so much more.  Soon I will be able to dance again.  We both loved to go out dancing together when we were younger–why don’t we do that more often!  Now with my physical therapist teaching me core strengthening exercises, I am determined to get strong and enjoy things with my husband that we both love to do together: biking, hiking, and dancing! Yay!  Through pain came important changes: the ability to slow down, be grateful, and relax and live in the moment; delegating tasks so I have more time to commit to the work and activities that I love; commiting to getting and keeping core strength and stamina; and letting the unimportant things go!

I hope my words have inspired you to look for and find the lessons amidst all the wonderful ups and painful downs of life.  I hope I have helped you to find strength in the truth re-experienced by your wise and gifted inner child. And I hope I’ve helped you to slow down and discover the joys in the small blessings in your life.

With Love,

Roxanne

How Highly Sensitive People Who Are High Achieving and Intuitive Can Overcome Self-Defeating Behaviors

Hi everyone.  Today’s post is primarily for high achieving intuitive thinking types (for example, INTJs, and ENTJs) but also may apply to high achieving feeling types as well. Today I want to talk about the special complexity of being both a high achiever and Intuitive, and a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and how this combination of academic giftedness, and a deep thinking facility can lead to avoidance and a numbness in regard to emotions.

What I have come to learn about healing is that it is often so difficult to begin when, as highly intuitive (highly sensitive) children, we have spent most of our lives trying not to be so “sensitive”, and to fit into the rest of society, that, at least in the American Culture that exists today, being sensitive is not the “ideal”.  There exists a pressure to be extraverted, social, superficial, constantly busy, productive and able to produce and work hard no matter what is going on in our lives.  Also the word sensitive is often used synonomously with the word “insecure” and that is not at all what is meant here.  Sensitivity (Intuition) is a gift and it causes you to experience everything in life at a deeper, richer level.  Less sensitive others may outnumber us and put it down but they are just plain wrong!

Because of ridicule of our budding sensitive selves early in life, we have hidden away the part of us that “feels” and have become very good at being successful and “thinking” our way out of problems and “thinking” our way to finding a cure for the emptiness and loneliness we sometimes feel.  So we keep seeking out superficial relationships and experiences, looking for some “one” or  fun experiences that will be the answer to our discontent.

Also we try to fill our time with busy tasks that satisfy our immediate need for validation and often this is through technology, being constantly plugged in to our computers or phones, being news junkies, texting, video games, watching television etc.  All of these tasks seem to keep us going through another empty day of being out of touch with who we really are and help to keep us in a state of numbness that was a state of survival for us as highly sensitive children.

The problems that crop up in our lives are clues to the fact that this superficial state of existence is not really working for us and we need to make a change.  For example, it is often a shock to us when we have relationship problems with others because we, for the most part see nothing wrong with how we are functioning and relating to others. When you have spent your life avoiding painful feelings you begin to believe that you have no real problems at all and everything would just be fine if people would do things your way—the logical way.  It isn’t until others in our lives complain about our emotional unavailability that we even see that there is a problem at all.

Other problems that may crop up from not being in touch with our emotional side are that you may be out of touch or blocked from fully utilizing your creativity and this can lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction with the work that you are doing.  Also, when you are dissatisfied with your work because it is unfulfilling on a deeper emotional level, gradually it saps your energy.

You may also “over-work” to continue numbing out your feelings because you are out of touch with your feelings that tell you a natural time to stop and you are not listening to your body. When you over-work at an unfulfilling job you run on adrenaline a lot from stress.  This causes your body to produce too much cortisol which can mess up the balance of hormones and cause you to have less energy. motivation, and even feel semi-depressed (possible symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue or “burnout”). This can cause you to become overwhelmed with even simple tasks in your life that you just don’t have the motivation or energy to do anymore.

This is worsened when you are highly intuitive (sensitive) in that you are constantly taking in more stimuli than other people who are not intuitive.  You may be comparing yourself constantly to less intuitive (less sensitive) others and you get overwhelmed trying to do what everyone else seems to be able to do.  Intuitives are only 15 to 20% of the population and it will help you so much if you embrace that it is a gift that sets you apart and you are different for a reason. You must make allowances for your need for breaks and time alone to recharge–even extraverts who are highly intuitive (sensitive) need to cut back on their “list of shoulds” because they are taking in more stimuli than extraverted others.  Just realizing you “require” more rest and more time to recharge and regroup when you are in a stressful job can be quite a relief–especially for this group that tends to be harder on themselves anyway and want badly to succeed and be the best at their jobs which are often technology based.

Getting access to your emotional side and out of the left-brained thinking side which you exist in most of the time will help you to feel more satisfaction and joy in your life and at work and have more fulfilling connections with others.

This is not easy but it is so worth the effort because the end result is the connection to the real you—the emotional side of yourself that is the connection to the source of all love and compassion which is a higher power/universal consciousness/or “God”!  Now I know I may have lost some of you just now because your scientific mind refuses to believe in something so intangible and illogical.  However, if you do some research you will find that some of the greatest minds including Albert Einstein believed in a spiritual creative universal consciousness that could be tapped into. This can be achieved by believing in your self and your dreams and requires a certain amount of “emotional self-discovery” and healing of those blocks which keep us from feeling things on a deep level.

When you work through the blocks that keep you from enjoying your life on a deep level you can overcome compulsive behaviors such as perfectionism, over-working, and procrastination as well.  These behaviors often result because you are trying to do too many things and have unrealistic expectations of your highly sensitive self–you may try to “overcome” your sensitivity if you look at it as a weakness or you may try to ignore it–but it is innate in you and it will always be there!

As I said before, it is better to embrace it and surrender to it and see it as the gift that it really is–a higher level of creativity and vision will be available to you at your work if you finally start taking care of your extra needs for sleep, time alone, and down time from the left side of your brain. You will be able to tap into your creative genius as a visionary at work if you do some things that help you tap into the right side of your brain–the creative, emotional, and spiritual side. Operating with access to both sides of your brain is so important for balance in your life and in your health and vitality.  Makes logical sense, right?

My recommendation is Journaling–writing out your feelings, whatever they are, negative or positive, daily in a journal for your eyes only–because it is a scientific fact that writing in order to express your “feelings” opens up neural pathways to the right side of your brain.  It is a channel to the creative side of your life which is the key to a fulfilling connection to your true self and to a source of love we are all capable of experiencing as humans on this planet.

You can do this yourself by following the journaling guidelines in the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  It is a course in discovering and recovering your creative self and I highly recommend it–I did these “morning pages” myself as part of my own recovery.  I have written some other posts on how journaling has helped me and I have referred to it as my own inner grief work and the process of “growing a backbone”.  My husband (an INTJ) journals for healing and was amazed at it’s effect and referred to the process as “growing a new heart”.  The outcome of this kind of journaling is as unique for the person as the uniqueness of the person doing the writing.

The truth is you need to be able to love your self in order to give love to others and that is necessary in order to be happy and fulfilled in your life and in your work.  You may be saying, “I love myself already”, but it may be more of a sense of entitlement for things and success and a superficial love for self.  What I am talking about is loving all of you including the parts of yourself that you are cut off from and avoid–the feelings that make you uncomfortable–shame, sadness, despair, loneliness, and anger etc..  These are feelings that we all feel for a reason and the reason needs to be acknowledged along with the feelings so that you can express them and ultimately release them and heal them.  When you allow painful feelings to be expressed at the core of when they occurred and for the reason that they occurred then you are connecting to the truth that you blocked from your memory.  A block such as this is always going to keep you from being able to experience full joy and happiness in your life until you work through it.

Often these blocks were formed in childhood.  If you were a highly sensitive child in an environment where your parents were already overwhelmed with dealing with their own feelings, then you may have shut off your feelings and repressed them in order to “be good” and helpful to your parents.  Sometimes we were so gifted and so intuitive that we were able to shut down our feeling sides without the memory of any real trauma from childhood but just because we constantly told ourselves that our feelings didn’t matter.  We then have a “belief” that we are no more than this false self that we created to survive—when in actuality there is a whole other rich and emotional side to us that is begging for our attention!

Problems that come up in our lives are clues to this other side of our life that needs healing.  Gary Zukav, author of the Seat of the Soul, is a physicist who embraces the spiritual side of his life and believes that the way to feeling wholeness is by excavating our feelings as if we are an archeologist looking for clues and answers to “why”.  The answers are inside of us and often are because of events that occurred in our childhood that keep us stuck at the emotional level that we were at the time the event occurred.

Often, things that happened in childhood were unbearably painful and we had to repress them in order to survive them.  To “repress” is to completely deny them and remove them from our consciousness!  Journaling helps to bring them forth and allow us to discover things about us that are important clues to how to be happy in life!

Remember, the opposite of depression is not happiness but “vitality” which is the ability to express and let flow the full spectrum of emotions—the negative uncomfortable ones as well as positive and easy ones. (Alice Miller–The Drama of the Gifted Child).  I hope this information has been helpful to you.

With love,

Roxanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Connection To Learned Helplessness in Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)

Updated March 2016

Hi everyone.  Today I want to write about a subject that many of my clients and readers can relate to as Highly Sensitive People.  It is something called Learned Helplessness.  Learned Helplessness is that feeling of powerlessness that we all feel at times, and for some of us it is more pervasive and all encompassing than for others.  There is much hope in talking about it because if you can understand the roots of this feeling, you can understand that it is “learned” behavior and that you can become aware of it when it hits you and ultimately heal from it completely.

I first heard about Learned Helplessness in my introductory psychology class in college.  And you probably have heard the story as well–the story of Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov used a dog in an experiment in human behavior to demonstrate the result of conditioning. I can’t recall the exact details except that the dog was given rewards or withheld the rewards and the resulting behavior of the dog was recorded and studied. There were other dog experiments by a psychologist named Seligman in which he shocked sets of dogs to demonstrate learned behavior and conditioning and punishment.

The main thing I remember vividly about the whole thing was that at the end of the Seligman experiments, the dogs were shocked repeatedly both when they completed a task correctly and also when they did not.  The poor dogs were so confused that they layed down depressed and GAVE UP and even whined–and this was Learned Helplessness that the dogs were experiencing.  I still remember learning about this vividly because I felt SO bad for these dogs–I was empathizing and upset beyond what the average person reading this would expect to be.

At that time in college I did not have the insight or self-awareness yet to realize it was because I resonated so much personally with how the dogs were treated. As a highly sensitive, empathetic person I knew just how those dogs must have felt and I related to them giving up and laying down, hopeless, and helpless, in fear, and self-doubt.  Those dogs were experiencing the same damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t no-win situation that those who were bullied consistently (or even neglected or controlled) by a caretaker or narcissistic or controlling parent were subjected to day in and day out as children.  Years later I remember talking to a counselor about this, knowing just how a dog in those experiments must have felt and it helped the counselor have a picture of the frustration, fear, desperation, loneliness, despair, hopelessness, and helplessness.

After I voiced this to the counselor, I was able to picture myself as a small child with the same compassion I had for such a dog and finally realized that I deserved so much more.  The roots of my anxiety were then exposed–no wonder I felt anxious all the time, no wonder I was a perfectionist and afraid to disappoint anyone, no wonder I didn’t know how to relax, no wonder I had no access to my own dreams and desires and was filled with self-doubts and negative messages in my head.  It helped to talk to someone about how I felt what I experienced could compare to the treatment of those dogs–the feeling of not being given consistent love and support and feeling rewarded only if obedient and punished with emotional rejection if not.

My life coaching experiences and studies have taught me the following in regards to those highly sensitive people with a narcissistic parent:  The Scapegoat child of a N parent can very much relate to this constant punishment and criticism.  But the Golden Child (GC) can relate as well because they are often the obedient one who needs desperately some kind of loving approval and, out of fear, becomes what the parent or  wants for them to become.  Outwardly to others it may appear as if the GC has it all–the love, attention and admiration of the Narcissistic parent.  But inside there is so much emptiness and pain, an absence of the knowledge of self and true feelings–feelings that had to be hidden away because they were too painful to bear.  The false self is developed and honed in, the GC knows exactly how their N parent feels even before they do.  The GC develops a radar that helps them to survive the lack of love and support–and they develop an illusion that they are the ones at fault if, even with their best efforts, they fail to win the acceptance of the N parent.  They blame themselves and have very low self-esteem, crushed by criticism, holding relationships at arms length so no one will get too close and cause them further pain.

The roots of co-dependence are also linked to this learned helplessness–victims of such abuse telling themselves that there must be something wrong with them and that they are deeply flawed and it usually goes in one of two ways–either they decide they need to find another person to love them and take care of them and then they will be happy (co-dependence) or they become a porcupine not letting anyone one else near, lashing out at anyone who suspects that they just might have some insecurities underneath their outwardly successful yet workaholic exterior shell. People who suffer from panic attacks and even agoraphobia often have learned helplessness from childhood as a root cause as well.

“What can a person do?” you may be asking if you relate to what I am describing.  Plenty!  Just being aware and believing that this happened to you as a child is the first step. Just as you have compassion for the dogs in the experiments, you need to develop this same compassion for yourself and make a decision to stop being so hard on yourself.  Make a decision to be kind to yourself every time you are feeling bad–it is almost always childhood pain coming up to tell you the truth of what really happened to you.  Become aware that the negative messages in your head were put there by someone else and that you did not deserve them.  Change them to positive messages.  Write in a journal all the things you were good at as a child and never given credit for.  Writing out the truth is powerful and go back and read it often to remind yourself.

It takes time so be patient with yourself.  Taking baby steps in the direction of healing is wise because there is pain to work through and release but you can do it!  You have many gifts and talents that have never been acknowledged yet and only you can bring them out from their repressed state of Learned Helplessness.

Whether you were the scapegoat in your family or the obedient golden child, you can heal from the trauma of Learned Helplessness.  Often people who experience post traumatic stress from an abusive childhood fall into this state of learned helplessness when their wounds are triggered.  It can feel like an inability to function, a numbness–but sometimes the feelings along with that are a mix of rage and despair.

If you have lashed out at loved ones with an intensity beyond what is appropriate then you probably were a victim of a person that controlled you in an abusive way far far too much with no remorse. If you were extremely sensitive (extremely emotionally gifted 🙂 ), just a mean look from his/her eyes could cause a traumatic reaction in you as a child and the fear may have felt like a spear through your heart.  The rage and despair you feel is understandable and appropriate but needs to be directed, voiced, and released at the person that did this too you in a journal, letter that won’t be sent, and/or perhaps even read outloud with a safe witness friend, counselor, or coach present (never to them or to their face) .  You will find a sense of relief each time you release some of this truth and the light inside of you will become brighter and brighter and you will feel lighter and lighter. You will begin to experience the essence of your true self and the vitality you deserve.  This is the process of healing. Don’t hold onto the anger and resentment that comes up but release it completely each time, visualizing the negative emotions going up to heaven or into the earth,whichever appeals most, to be healed by love and light–Imagine love and light coming to you as well to replace these negative emotions each time to center yourself again to a peaceful state.

Why did you experience learned helplessness while your siblings did not?  Perhaps you had the gift of high sensitivity and along with that the knowledge and expectation of a higher level of love.  And when you did not receive this love that you innately knew existed, you had no choice but to blame yourself because…it made no sense to you.  Your siblings possibly just got mad at your parents and rebelled–they may have had no higher vision of a loving existence so it didn’t feel as traumatic to them.

So you see, the cure and the answer to all of your self-doubt and learned helplessness is LOVE Love yourself as you deserved to be loved and give yourself the love that you so easily give to others because that is your gift.  Compassion and love for yourself will help you overcome all of the many symptoms of Learned Helplessness just as consistent love and affection and kindness would help Seligman’s abused dogs to learn to trust people and trust themselves again.  I hope my words have been helpful to you.

With love,

Roxanne

Journaling for Joy and Finding My True Voice In A Poem

Hello to all of you sensitive souls.  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful week of Indian Summer we are having. The news says that most of the U.S. is experiencing gorgeous mild temperatures and colorful changing leaves right now.  It is definitely my favorite time of the year and it feels like such a gift from above now that I can relax and take it in and be in the moment and fully appreciate it.  As many of you who follow my blog already know, it wasn’t always this way for me.  I used to be numb to my feelings, keeping too busy to feel, compelled to be a people-pleaser and a perfectionist, and full of self-doubt and anxiety.

There are many facets to my journey to finding my voice as a person, many of which I describe on my blog so that I might inspire other highly sensitive people (HSPs) to believe in their dreams.  Writing out my feelings in a journal has been one of these many facets that contributed to my awakening to my true spirit which was hiding inside. I have been writing poetry in a journal since the age of 14, but it wasn’t until about 2002 that I set out to to try to do Julia Cameron’s morning pages (3 pages of free writing every day) which turned out to be extremely therapeutic “inner grief work” that took place over a period of 5 years.  It was during this period that I wrote about the feeling that I was “growing a backbone” and this felt very miraculous indeed.  I knew I was finding my voice finally and it had been hidden away in fear for so long.  I was writing songs and poetry and it never really occurred to me to seriously share them with others until one day when an extra special one poured out of me.  When I wrote this poem, it dawned on me that I had been transformed and now, finally, I could reach out and help others–something I had always wanted to do but I always felt I had to figure myself out first.  I had a new found sense of self and there was no going back.  I am very happy to be sharing it with you today.

After I wrote this poem, I got the idea to write a book sharing many of my poems and my growth along the way to finding my voice and that this poem would be the final one in the book–a finale of sorts.  However, since then I have written even more special poems and songs so I have decided to go ahead and share a shortened version of it here in my blog. (I haven’t written my book yet but I plan to start it in the near future.)  This very special poem is entitled, “Joy, Our Birthright, Waiting There”.  I want to explain that I wrote this with my children in mind– when I say “and I was never there for you the way I thought I was, it’s true”.  What this means is when I went through growth and gradually had more access to my true self, then I couldn’t help but feel regret about the past when I had been doing my best but I was not able to be my strong confident true self yet.  When I expressed this regret to my children expecting them to agree and feel relief and tell me it had been hard for them, they both instead said they always felt I was always emotionally available to them and it meant a lot to them that I always apologized to them whenever I made emotional mistakes and they felt fully validated at each step along the way in their upbringing. For this I feel extremely grateful because nothing has ever been more important to me than my children feeling good about themselves and their unique gifts and breaking the cycle of dysfunction that my husband and I experienced as children.  Still…I can’t help but wish I knew then what I know now….

So here it is:

Joy, Our Birthright, Waiting There

By Roxanne Smith

Feb 21, 2007

Telling someone helped me heal

All the pain inside was real

No wonder I had been so tired

My whole heart had been so mired

So much grief to lead the way

Let it out, so much to say

I was never there for you

The way I thought I was, it’s true

Because I was empty – none to give

Alive but I just now learned to live

Soulful is the proper word

I have “me” – it sounds absurd

Let your painful feelings out

You can’t be whole and live without

Expression of unfairness do

Your soul will help you live anew

And learn compassion for your self

Don’t put feelings on a shelf

Any doubt is harmful thought

The truth is–look how far you got!

Negativity and blocks

To true self and joyful shocks

Being blamed can stunt our growth

Fear of feelings: anger, both

Also fearing joy and bliss

Pain comes up and we all miss

The connection to our rightful heir

Joy, our birthright, waiting there!

Love is what we all deserve

Joy it feels when then observed

Share it then and it comes back

Filling up the past we lacked

Helping others heal their wounds

Nothing like it – glowing moons

Stars are twinkling, warming sun

Nature loves us one by one

Let the love come down on you

It is there don’t block the view

Doubts of self will keep it blocked

You must trust your soul’l be rocked!

With this truth I’m trying to tell

Creative soul fear-blocked is hell

Heaven is a word away

Love is here please let it stay

You deserve its welcome home

Inside you it does belong

Love yourself I’m trying to say

God is trying – just light the way

Ask him to comfort your soul

Believe!  And he will rock and roll!

I’m not kidding this I know

I let out grief and felt a glow

A light inside I did believe

I’m OK. I feel. I grieve.

Compulsions all have fear beneath

God has no “shoulds” or “work hard” teeth

Be yourself and kindness do

Serve to help others heal anew

Help them see that love transcends

We can all relax and mend

“Relax and enjoy your life

and everything will be alright!”

This phrase came in a dream so real

I hope this poem will help you heal

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

With Love,

Roxanne

Perfectionism, The Highly Sensitive Person, and How Grieving Our Childhood Pain Is Essential To Healing

 

Hi everyone.  I hope you are enjoying the summer.  I hope you are not heaping lists of  “shoulds” on yourself (home improvements etc.) to accomplish–only to realize, “What was I thinking?!  I can’t do all this stuff!–the KIDS are home!”  ha ha.  Yes I remember, and I still do it somewhat but this summer is SO much better.  Back then it was a priority for me to make happy, fun summer memories for my children and connecting with them emotionally. I always ended up throwing out my long list of shoulds.  If you don’t, you end up saying to yourself, “I didn’t get this done and I didn’t get that done.  Instead make a list of all the things you DO accomplish after they happen–write down each special conversation, each walk in nature, each memorable meal together etc.  By the end of the summer you will have a wonderful memoir of how special your summer actually was instead of a list of what you didn’t get done.

Even with my best efforts when my children were growing up, I was too busy satisfying their needs for a fun summer and way too many “shoulds” for myself that I often felt like I missed it–summer would just zip by me and I was left feeling regret.

I think often times we are busy like that to avoid our painful feelings that we may have experienced in childhood. We found ways to cope and survive the lack of love, encouragement, acknowledgement, and acceptance we all desperately wanted and needed. We are perfectionists, compulsive over-workers, compulsive shoppers, compulsive list-makers, and then call ourselves procrastinators because we put things off–but it’s really because we have unrealistic expectations of what we need to accomplish.

As highly sensitive children, it seemed to us that nothing we ever did was praised or applauded as we deserved unless it was something others wanted us to be doing.  This was so confusing to us so we rationalized that we must not be doing enough or doing it well enough.  Now when we overwork because of perfectionism it is because we are still trying to fill an unmet need from childhood–one that will never be met but can be resolved if we allow our sadness about the truth of it all to come to the surface.  Grief is a positive, healthy emotion that is necessary to heal your childhood wounds.  You deserved so much more–you deserved…”love”.  You did not get what you felt you needed and you may feel you are still not getting it.  The problem is not with you…you are so loveable!  Aren’t you!  You know it.  You are smiling right now aren’t you because you know it on some deep level. 🙂  That is the truth that you must listen to.  The love you need and deserve exists–we know what we deserved.   

For some reason, we may feel we were born into situations where we couldn’t get love the way our souls needed to be loved.  I had a hard time resolving this–it didn’t make sense.  I was drawn to reading a lot of new age books on spirituality to figure this out.  Reading all these books really helped me get a new perspective.  I now believe that I may have more innate inner strength than certain family members.  I am able to grow and give to others even more because of my childhood wounds. We (HSPs) see the truth, we KNOW we deserve love and better treatment and we know we don’t deserve feeling bad about ourselves any longer.  When someone sees you as LESS THAN and you know you deserve more–you don’t have to be around that person.  You may need to try a few times to get them to see you and understand you, but if you keep on coming up short in their eyes, and this is causing you a great deal of stress, then it’s time to distance yourself from them and get some healing support. Some of us can’t even try to be ourselves with them–it’s too excruciating to re-experience the rejection, so we must just leave for as long as it takes so that we can begin to heal.

We all NEED acceptance.  It’s very important to look elsewhere for people who accept you and understand your self-expression for support.  We (HSPs) eventually grow from the pain of it all, and we learn to rely on our selves if we can get away from the negativity that unhealthy family members, bullies, and/or society use to control us and keep us DOWN.  They know we are different and special and yet maybe they are not as evolved as we are and so it seems they do not have the inner strength to say,  “Wow you have these great gifts of sensitivity and awareness and depth–you are different from us, you should go out into the world and share your knowledge, vision, gifts, and message of love and peace to the world–we understand and we are in awe of you.  So GO, fly away and be the best that you can be!” ha ha Wouldn’t that be the greatest to hear anyone say that!?!

In order for them to say that to us, they would have to be very secure and love themselves a lot (or be an HSP like you).  It could be they don’t love themselves at all. They may want to control us because they have so much pain and if we leave them it makes them feel their pain so they blame us.  They may not have the “insight” to see what we see or want what we want and to see that their pain has nothing to do with us.  We are holding ourselves back, waiting for their permission to leave.

Reading the books on spirituality helped me to believe that my spirit (everyone’s spirit)  is going to live for all eternity and the lessons I learn in this lifetime will never be forgotten. I believe we all evolve at different levels and different speeds and some of us souls are more advanced than others. We (HSPs) are continuously healing our post traumatic stress from our very real childhood wounds, and it is necessary for us to separate from those who caused these wounds and move forward toward new healthier people.  We must not feel guilty for healing–I believe GOD wanted us to be all that we can be and he is with us in all our healing.  We each have different limits to what negativity we can be around–we need to honor these limits and take care of ourselves whatever it takes!  Alice Miller often talks about the “never-ending work of mourning” in her books and how important the grieving process is for our recovery–we must accept it as essential to our healing and to our eventual freedom from our inner-prison of self-doubt.

 Perhaps our highly sensitive souls are more evolved and we chose (with the gift of God’s free will) to have these experiences in this lifetime to learn about the pain of rejection and about our own strength in overcoming it.  Maybe we chose them so we could learn what not to do to our own children and develop empathic skills to help others by surviving such treatment as children. I know that I am finally glad to be me, and I am proud of myself for all that I have figured out and how this knowledge has helped a lot of other people to heal. 

The grieving process has opened my life up to the most wonderful feelings of joy, love, and trust in my creativity, and this is what keeps me going in this direction.  When I love and value myself and my feelings, all of them, I have more to give others to help them to heal as well.  I believe we are all highly sensitive for a very special reason and may need to heal separately from our families until we are strong enough to not be triggered and to give back to others…others who are ready to heal and ready to feel.

With support we can grieve for not getting the love we feel we needed and we can have a happy, healthy, guilt-free, and independent life.  The joy and relief you will feel when you allow yourself to grieve will feel wonderful and so you will know you are going in the right direction.  If you need help grieving and someone to listen, this is what this blog community is here for.  Thank you sensitive souls out there for being here on the planet.  

Thank you to all my commenters for sharing your pain and experiences and encouragement–your words are so helpful to others who have not yet found their voice.

Please also check out my new pages called “Portrait of an INFJ, …INFP, and …INTJ”.   Very many of my clients have turned out to be these three temperament types (but not all) and I believe it would benefit those who are to read the description of your true potential as was written in Keirsey and Bates book on temperament types. (See Recommended Books).  It certainly gave me hope when I read it and I hope it does the same for you.  

With love,

Roxanne

Forgiveness Is For Your “Self”

Hi everyone.  I have been wanting to share my song “Help Me to Forgive” for a while, but I wanted to explain what I mean by forgiveness because it can be such a confusing and guilt-inducing concept.  For myself, forgiving was something I kept trying to do because I thought it was the right thing to do.

As highly sensitive people (HSPs), we want so badly to be compassionate, fair, and kind.  I kept forgiving and forgetting the past. I pretended like everything was going to be okay if I just forgave and moved on but I continued to let myself be walked on. I ignored my feelings and kept telling myself I was forgiving and that was the right thing to do.  For me, it was the wrong thing to do and the pattern continued until I felt so hurt one day by  blatant disrespect for my feelings–when I made a simple assertion that was not to this person’s liking and then they said they were going to do it anyway whether I liked it or not.

I could not deny my feelings any longer.  My rage shocked me–I knew it was from childhood and way out of proportion to the event at hand.  But I listened to my feelings and it felt good to feel this truth–it was how I had always been treated me and I kept giving out the benefit of the doubt.  The anger awakened something in me that needed to come alive–my assertiveness about my needs and feelings and about the boundary that kept being crossing and I kept letting it happen all because I felt it important to forgive and forget.

Now this anger fueled me in a healthy way for a while. It felt good to feel instead of being numb and self-doubting for so long.  I wrote a lot about it and found myself in my journaling to have a lot of wise insights and a lot of reasons to be completely fed up with the insidious and mean things that were said to me with a smile.

But I was still so angry, it scared me how angry I was because it was so intense I felt hatred.  And this makes sense really when, as highly sensitive children, our trust in ourselves and our spirits feel consistently stomped on until we give up and repress and hide our true selves and feelings away so completely–this is a trauma!– not feeling safe to express our intense anger we hide our true selves away.  Now for the first time, I was so angry but I felt alive, I knew it was the truth I was feeling.  I was somehow grateful for everything that had happened to me to give me the self-awareness to finally know the truth! Writing my feelings out helped me make sense of it all.  I was able to see actions from my childhood which were the cause of much pain and self-doubt. It was very clear!  I will never forget this moment in my whole life when I realized there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I had just been the victim of a person that I wrongly trusted with my heart and soul.  So I made myself a promise not to trust this person with my private feelings (a healthy detachment) and set some boundaries for time and space to heal and it has been a very important decision in my life.

All these emotions coming up helped me connect to this wonderful aliveness–a connection to my true spirit and a connection to God and that he was there with me all along.  I know it sounds strange–how could all that pain be so awakening in a positive way but it was.  In the midst of the pain, I felt bliss and freedom and truth and so I knew it was right to stop trusting this person.  And after a long period of intense anger, pain, grief, and then acceptance,  I finally understood what all the talk and importance of forgiveness was all about–I needed to forgive God/The Universe and stopped blaming Him/It for “giving me” such a painful childhood.  And I needed to forgive myself because I knew I did the best I could at figuring out a very confusing situation and for blaming myself as a child out of survival.  I needed to forgive the whole situation and all the pain it caused me because I had ME again.  I do not have to forgive a person who is not sorry to their face and never will be–but I do forgive what they did.   I had been holding onto a lot of resentment which I didn’t realize was hurting me and taking a lot of energy.

And that is when I sat down and wrote the song “Help Me To Forgive”.  I’ll never forget writing it.  It was a very spiritual and pivotal moment in my life.  It helped me to start the process of trying to forgive God, The Universe, and me, and the whole situation, and my pain.  That is what forgiveness really means for me.  Then, a few weeks later, I wrote the song “This Too Shall Pass” with a newfound ability to comfort myself through the worst feelings of rejection and betrayal.

Yes that was quite a month–September 2007.  And I am glad I have these two songs to commemorate that special time when I reclaimed my true self and found inner peace and acceptance. And I also discovered a way to let God’s love in my life and really feel it and believe it. As the saying goes, ” The truth will set you free,”  but you must feel your feelings to get there.

But in all my writing just now about forgiveness, I don’t want to forget my reasons for writing this post.  It is to support you, the highly sensitive child with childhood wounds, from not feeling guilty that you cannot forgive yet. And that trying to forgive even God and yourself before you have gotten through all of the anger and all the repressed emotions from your childhood can leave you feeling guilty and beating yourself up.  Please do not feel guilty if you are not ready to forgive anything yet.  Please be kind to yourself and love and comfort the wounded child inside for all the feelings you were denied being allowed to express. That is the first step and it takes a long  time to tell your whole story–to let out the entire truth. The song “Help Me To Forgive” is meant to comfort you on those times you are filled with anger and resentment about the past–and you are realizing how strong you are because of the pain you’ve been through and you are ready to stop holding on to blame.  I share the lyrics with you with the utmost compassion and love in my heart.

With love,

Roxanne

How My Best Counselor Helped Me to Break Through My Illusions and Self-doubt

Hi everyone. Yay it’s Spring!  I hope you are enjoying the beauty of nature as it comes to life again.  That’s how I’m feeling too–as if I am coming to life–happier than I’ve ever been in my life.   And it is a new feeling–I catch myself out of habit being tensed up in my shoulders and neck and then I realize it and relax.  It feels like for the first time I can finally… really relax!  It is really quite amazing to me–this feeling of exhilaration with my life and how I can feel happy in the moment.  As highly sensitive people (HSPs) we are all too hard on ourselves–as children it HURTS to be different from almost everyone else around us–so without proper encouragement and support, we hide our gifts away to protect ourselves from further pain.

It’s taken me so long to come to this place where I understand what it means to be my own best friend. I used to hear people say that or I’d read about it and it just sounded like Blah, Blah, Blah, (like the adults sounded on Charlie Brown ha ha).  But now I get it.  I found it difficult to feel good about myself or love myself growing up. I grew up in a time when I felt I wasn’t even supposed to like myself.  I could feel the “Who do you think you are?” judgement of those around me much of the time.  I didn’t know who I was but I felt who I was trying to be was never ever good enough.

I have realized that illusions play a valuable role in our survival as children when we have been emotionally diminished (abused), whether it was intentional or not.  The pain of our disappointment is too great to bear as highly sensitive children, so we make decisions about ourselves that help us to cope with the situation.  For example, rather than facing this pain we say to ourselves, it must be me, I need to act differently in order to get love and approval so I will become obedient and do what others want, then I will be loved and seen.  And it appears that we feel accepted as long as we keep up this facade and keep our “real” selves and feelings hidden away.  I believe this is why journaling “for your eyes only” works so well to uncover the truth of how we really feel about things–and we can then break through those illusions and gradually free ourselves from our false self that we created to survive and eventually find our true voice.  But you really need to do it often enough that the voice in your journal (and your heart) becomes dominant over the negative voice in your head. I know I’ve written about this before, and I apologize if I am repeating myself.  But I guess I feel it is crucial to really make this point–the way you speak to your “self” is ultimately what ends up mattering the most in your ability to be able to comfort yourself and relax and enjoy your life in the way you truly deserve.

I apologize if I make it sound easy.  It can be really difficult if you don’t know where to start and when you write it’s all bad feelings and it doesn’t help you feel better.  I guess my real success in journaling really didn’t start until after I had found a person I could trust to talk to–an outside support  for the hidden “me” that I was sure was supposed to be hiding away because I was sure I was flawed and thought “something is wrong with me”.  I had forgotten about the fact that I really felt that way most of the time but it wasn’t even in my awareness–I didn’t know I was hiding–I just existed that way–it was completely hidden from me.  I thought, this is who I am–an insecure and anxious person who will always and forever need someone else to take care of me. Until that special day–the day I went to my first counselor who turned out to be the best counselor I’ve ever had in my life–and she really changed my life.

At the time I had no idea how hard it would be to find another counselor who came close to her compassion and depth of understanding ever again. But I will never forget her words and wisdom and how she saw the potential in me that I didn’t dare even imagine.  I was 22. She listened and cared and I learned to trust her with my deepest feelings and I shared some of my poems with her. She told me, to my surprise, that I was a gifted writer and that I could be my own psychotherapist if I kept on writing in this special way.  Together we discovered the roots of my self-doubt and she revealed to me that she had benefitted from counseling too in the past. She confided that, as a counselor, she felt it was important to have been on both sides in order to really understand the helping process. Another very helpful part of this special counseling experience was when she had me take the character and temperament test from the book Please Understand Me (See Recommended Books).  My results were that I was an INFJ–Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judicial and that this type is only 1% of the population. Then she told me I had the gift of empathy like her and that she was an INFJ too. (I will explain more about the 16 temperament types in a future post). I thought how could this be…like her?  She had a Ph.D and was a successful professional clinical psychotherapist and yet she said I was like her.  Unbelievable…could all those hopes and dreams I had in the back of my mind actually be a possibility? I went out and bought that book and I studied it a lot.  The book talks about the positive aspects of each of the types and my type described me so well I felt special and normal and understood for the first time in my life.

I went to see her once a week for 6 months and then I had to stop because our health insurance only covered 25 visits per year.  During that time, my confidence soared and, I remember now, I joined the Sweet Adelines and had fun performing in a barbershop quartet. (It was easy to perform with these other ladies on stage with me–I continued to have stagefright about performing alone or singing the kind of music where I expressed my soul though, but it was a start in overcoming it ).  I also started taking some guitar lessons and learning to play and sing the songs I had always loved.  Even though I had my college degree, I had temporarily taken a job at JCPenney’s catalog ordering service because I thought I wasn’t ready to help other people until I figured myself out first.  But she said this job was way beneath me and encouraged me to go to graduate school in counseling psychology.  (Even with a 3.8 in my major, much praise from my professors, internship experience, and letters of recommendation–when my graduation was barely acknowledged, all my confidence had evaporated.)   “Make sure it is a program that is APA approved,” she said.  And I listened.  And I grew in confidence and continued writing my self-help poetry.  And you know what happened next…I was so confident in myself, I thought I could even change my relationship with my extended family!  Without talking to her first, we moved many states away from my wonderful counselor.  We decided to start a family and I put graduate school on hold…

And now, telling you my story, I realize I do NOT want to emphasize  how tragic it was…and that I had to wait so long to find myself and be happy and figure myself out so I could finally be that counselor/coach and writer that she saw that I could be.  Instead I feel strongly that it all really worked out for the best.  I grew so much as a person watching how my children thrived with our unconditional love and emotional support and I saw the world through their eyes and healed my soul right along with them experiencing the wonders in this world.  And I continued to write in a way that I was able to be my own psychotherapist–writing through the layers of pain and breaking through the illusions that helped me survive a childhood of feeling emotionally diminished and misunderstood.

And I see how I had to try everything before I had the ability to start setting boundaries in certain relationships in my life. My counselor back then never used the word narcissisism and I wonder if that would have helped me realize the futility of my quest for healthy give-and-take in certain relationships in my life sooner.  It is all right though, because I know the meaning of the word now and had to find out the depth and scope of it’s meaning in my own way.  I hope my journey inspires you to embrace the path you are on but also to look inward and explore your true feelings and write about them–and keep listening to your hopes and dreams that exist in the back of your mind . For I believe that is the voice of your true self that you must not ignore.

Finding a caring, empathic counselor to support the true reasons for my deepest fears, and self-doubt, and to believe in my unique gifts made all the difference in my life.  Her words kept me on the right track and kept me writing through the layers of pain that would arise between the numbness or anxiety. Her words kept guiding me towards the release of my pain and ultimately to the joy and pride on the other side. It changed the course of my life and to her I will always be grateful.  I hope my story has been helpful to you and provides you with some comfort and encouragement.

Today I am releasing the lyrics for the song “This Too Shall Pass”.  This song was written to ease myself through a period of my worst grief and anger when I started setting some boundaries for myself–and instead of getting respect and love, I felt rejection and experienced guilt-inducing manipulations.  It was a pivotal point in my recovery when I let go of my illusions about the potential of  certain relationships and grieved for what would never be and comforted myself by writing this song. After writing it and singing it, I felt stronger than ever before that everything was going to be alright and that ultimately I must take care of myself and honor my feelings. This song still comforts me when I am feeling my worst and I hope it does the same for you.  I hope you enjoy it.

With love, Roxanne

Moving on from a Narcissistic Parent–The Obedient Child’s Journey Towards Freedom–Way Over Yonder

(This post is the most viewed post on this blog with over 18,000 views and 146 comments at the present time. It was updated and revised in March of 2017. If you are looking for the original version of this post, you may email me at hopesinger11@gmail.com. Warmly, Roxanne)

As a life coach I have experience helping HSPs with emotional wounds from childhood often stemming from one or both parents being a malignant narcissist.  Emotional abuse is an especially horrible experience for a highly sensitive child.  It may be that you felt there was no caring about your feelings whatsoever.  You may have felt invisible and as if you don’t matter. …As if your feelings don’t matter!   If you were emotionally abused or continually diminished as a child by your parent it’s not healthy to hold that in! Let it out–voice it or write out the truth, acknowledge what happened and then continue to practice letting it go–releasing it–sending it out away from you to be replaced by comfort, compassion, and love for yourself.  It’s not healthy to hold onto blame–but admitting it is important and the start to healing repressed and denied emotions.

At under age 2, when we can’t express ourselves with words, we can only cry to get our needs met.  A sensitive child becomes obedient out of mortal fear but you can’t tell–they don’t look afraid because they have repressed it. As an obedient highly sensitive child, you put your own needs away and focus on pleasing others–but lying under the surface those unmet needs are still there!  Begging for attention!  Longing for love!  There is nothing wrong with you!  You are just afraid to speak up and ask for what you deserve.

And in some families there is no genuine love to be given.  And even as a tiny child you know it.  As the sensitive child in the family you felt it’s absence and it hurt like hell!  And you cried and complained and may have had tantrums of despair in the grocery store!  But then at some point it was too much and you stopped crying or complaining and you stopped being …YOU.  The fear of being hit or just the mean look from their eyes would feel like a spear of pain through your heart and it would shut you up over and over again until you gave up and became obedient.  And that is the trauma!  The pain so unbearable to a child that you cannot survive it and so the repression happens. (See Alice Millers’ book, The Drama of the Gifted Child.)

If you experienced this too, the fear you had to repress also held down your true self and all the feelings that went with it.  You became obedient and fearful from the trauma but instead of expressing your rage at the injustice of it all, you pushed your feelings down so deep you hid them even from yourself.  You didn’t know ’til now that you have such a rich and deep inner life, and a wonderful, loving personality.  It was all hiding in fear.  Until now.

Now it is safe to come out.  For whatever reason, your beginning years were spent in an environment of fear and no love, but there is love out there to be found! Get some support and start a life with stronger boundaries so that you can fully heal.  You may need to cut the strings so you can feel safe and free.  You deserve to live a life of peace that is free from guilt-inducing manipulations, negative comments undermining your confidence, fear-inducing threats, comments about the rewards others will get for being “good”.

It’s wrong to take care of the feelings of anyone who continually diminishes you in any way at the expense of yourself. It’s difficult but very necessary to set boundaries with malignant narcissists.  It’s especially hard being blamed and turned into the bad guy more than anything. It’s excruciating!   But you are worth the fight and you must be strong. You have to take care of yourself and your health.  You will also feel a sense of exhilaration and freedom and pride in yourself for being honest and no longer pretending like you approve of how they treat you.   With support from your new loved ones in your life you can move forward and go for your dreams!  You can learn to comfort yourself through the hard times.  Know the truth and be strong and hang on ”til the good times–“the sweet tasting good life”…   I love that song…”Way Over Yonder.  …the sun shinin’ golden, shinin’ right down on me.”

For more on the subjects I have written about today please click on “Recommended Books”.  Thank you so much for reading.  Please leave a comment about your story.  It will help others to know they are not alone.

With love,

Roxanne

Way Over Yonder lyrics
Songwriter: King, Carole

Way over yonder is a place that I know
Where I can find shelter from the hunger and cold
And the sweet tasting good life is so easily found
Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound, that’s where I’m bound

I know when I get there, the first thing I’ll see
Is the sun shinin’ golden, shinin’ right down on me
Then trouble’s gonna lose me, worry, leave me behind
And I’ll stand up proudly in true peace of mind

Talkin’ about a, talkin’ about a
Way over yonder is the place I have seen
In the garden of wisdom from some long ago dream

And maybe tomorrow, I’ll find my way
To the land where the honey runs in the rivers each day
And the sweet tasting good life is so easily found, yes it is

Way over yonder, that’s where I’m
That’s where I’m bound, talkin’ about, talkin’ about
Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound

Childhood Pain Comes Up to Heal When Things Are Going Well

Hi everyone.  The day after I started writing on this blog for the very first time you might be able to guess what happened–I woke up in the morning with the dreaded feeling of Guilt like a black cloud hanging over my head.  In the past I might have felt guilty and spiraled into negativity but thank goodness I knew what to do.  I observed this feeling instead of falling into it.  I was actually grateful for my new awareness of knowing and being able to label this feeling as Guilt.  (I used to just feel numb or a generalized anxiety in the morning–it was a familiar and comfortable state–it was how I survived as a child.)  I said to myself, okay this makes sense to feel this feeling today after the success of my first blog. This is Childhood Pain Coming Up to Heal Because Things Are Going Well.  This powerful phrase has helped my husband and I so many times.  I learned about this from John Gray–in one of the last chapters in his Venus and Mars book.  This was one tiny section which I feel was so important he could’ve written a whole book on it for the impact it made on my husband and I.

I realized I had internalized shame that showed up after I had successes that made me feel good about myself.  I believe ultimately as a small child that I believed “there is something wrong with me.  I am guilty–it is all my fault.”  To survive I had to repress all the anger and fear at having been blamed unfairly.  I was a highly sensitive child. I desperately needed love and approval.  So I settled for conditional love–I became an obedient and anxious shell of a person.

So I had expressed my true authentic self by writing my truth and my inner child was expecting to be punished and blamed and felt guilty.  What I have learned is that the strong part of me which now  knows the truth is able to comfort the wounded child in me that still feels fear and insecurity and blamed and guilty. See, as a child we make decisions and believe them so thoroughly it’s very hard to change the neural pathways in our brains that are so deeply set.  The negative thoughts are so automatic–that’s how we survived.  But we can change those pathways in our brains by becoming aware that the negative things we are saying to ourselves are from a wounded child’s perspective!  As highly sensitive people, we know how to nurture and love and comfort other people through their self-doubt and fear–so by taking that wounded child inside of you and comforting yourself you can change your inner child’s beliefs about yourself and the pathways of negative spiraling thoughts.  Realizing that I had to be the one to love myself and that noone was going to do it for me was a big revelation and turning point for me.  Learning to comfort myself with positive affirmations and taking it easy when these big overwhelming feelings come up is now something that comes much easier.

So do I still feel guilty about my speaking out and writing on this blog?  In a way the guilt is still there but it is small and completely manageable.  And the part of me that is strong, wise, and knows the truth is keeping it in check–telling the wounded child in me that it is going to be okay and I am doing the right thing by speaking my truth.  Do I have days when I still succumb to the child part in me and spiral negatively and beat myself up in despair?  No, not any longer but I used to and it was a gradual process to get me where I am now.  It used to happen mostly in the mornings and sometimes I couldn’t stop it right away.  But then, there usually came a time of awareness a short time later, on the same day, when I realized this was a brand new layer of unbearable pain from my childhood that came up to heal because things were going well.  My inner child felt safe enough to show it to me and say hey this really bad injustice happened to me and I needed to let it out finally. These are days when I put everything else aside–my list of things to do can wait until tomorrow.  I allow myself to grieve for the childhood I never had and deserved.  I comfort myself with my favorite things and am nice to myself  like I deserved to be treated as a child-legitimate needs that went unmet until now are being healed–by me.  I am a nurturing, supportive, comforting mom to myself.  I can do it!  And so can you.  Ultimately this process  is what a good empathic coach or inner child counselor is for.  They are someone you can trust with the pain of your inner child to help you figure out the truth of what really happened and help you grieve.  Then, when you can comfort yourself through the worst of the feelings that come up, then you know you no longer need the coach.  You can take care of and love yourself through anything!

Thank you for reading!  I hope my words have been helpful to you.

With Love,

Roxanne

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