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Category Archives: left and right sides of the brain

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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