Emotionally Healthy Parenting Info. For Highly Sensitive People–It’s Time To Stand Your Ground!
Hi everyone. It is now August and I hope all of you have been enjoying the summer. Yeah it’s too hot!–but I hope you are finding creative ways to beat the heat. I am having the best summer ever! I have found that my ability to slow down and enjoy the moment is really sticking this time. The lessons I learned from my now healed injury are sticking with me–I appreciate the small things so much still… and when I get too busy I catch myself and pull back the reins and say “Whoa, slow down and listen to your body”. Then I have more energy to do the things that are important to me… like writing to you all! 🙂
My creative way of beating the heat is to wait to ride my bike for exercise around my neighborhood until evening and sometimes even after dark. (Please only do this if it is a safe area and there is no traffic.) There is something special about summer evenings when the temperature is perfect, the moonlight is just enough to see what you need to see, and it’s so quiet and peaceful out. It is really recharging for highly sensitive people and it feels like such a treat for myself–I feel a spiritual connection to Mother Earth and the Universe and God.
I have a special event coming up. I am turning 50 years old next month! I really don’t feel 50 and people say I don’t look 50 so I am really going to celebrate big! Yay! I have a lot to celebrate! I feel more like 32 and have more energy and better health than I have ever had in my life! The second half of my life is going to be even better than the first half and the first half turned out to be really awesome!
I believe HSPs are very often late bloomers–we have hardships early in life that we struggle with but then we start coming out the other side. We soon realize the journey we are on is exactly the one we needed to be on to find our voice and true purpose in life. That is definitely what happened to me. The first half of my life I acquired a college degree, married, and then chose, for my first career, being a Mom raising two amazing children to feel good about themselves as my first priority. I support and encourage them to express their unique creativity and they have nothing holding them back from pursuing their dreams. I cheer them on and say “You can do it!
Both of my children are both highly sensitive and intuitive people with kind and compassionate spirits. They call us often to share good news and also when they encounter negativity and negative people in their lives and we listen and empathize. They feel better with support and continue to learn to build themselves up. That is what a healthy family system is supposed to be like. I am adding 2 new links here on my blog that I want to share with all of you and they are: Attachment Parenting International Dot Org and The Attached Family Dot Com.
If you have childhood wounds, it is so supportive to go to these sites and see what a healthy nurturing family looks and feels like! It helps you remember, if you are trying to recover from childhood wounds from parents who were malignant narcissists, it is their choice not to embrace their roles as parents with compassion and giving and to choose blaming, negativity, and guilt-inducing instead. It may help to tell yourself, “it is not my responsibility to give up the essence of my self and my energy so that someone else will feel better and not even appreciate it or see how that harms me.”
It is my intention to never induce guilt in my children–to never make them feel guilty so they will visit me more often. They visit us because they want to because they feel better being around us. We build them up and give them encouragement. We tell them, “We are sure you will figure it all out–you are doing a great job so far!”. We help them to trust their inner guidance and to go towards positive people and positive feelings in their lives. We teach them to have healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are when you are able to be separate and whole and feel good about your place on the planet–you can shine your light and help others without giving up your self.
As highly sensitive children, you as survivors may have taken care of your parent’s feelings because your compassion is innate in you. But you have to learn to stop doing this at the expense of your true feelings now that you are adults. When you give up your truth to get a parent’s approval to avoid conflict then you have gone too far and have lost your healthy sense of self and have given up your own energy and truth.
HSPs need support to know that it is important to protect your precious energy that is so easily drained away by people who tell us we OWE them. You don’t owe narcissistic parents anything–parents who use fear to manipulate and control instead of giving any love and acceptance are deal breakers (not honorable). You don’t have to “honor thy parent” if they induce fear in their children. Fear is the opposite of love.
It is always best to try to talk to parents in a civil way to point out these things. I’m sure you have tried saying things like, “I care about you and I also disagree and I am going to do it this way instead”. If with your best efforts at fairness you are still constantly punished for your disobedient ways, (even if it is passive–aggressive silent treatments), even though you are an adult, these are toxic situations for HSPs. If you have tried it all and you are miserable and fed up, don’t feel guilty! Or if “no contact” is working for you now or helping you heal so you can get stronger, don’t feel guilty! You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, just yours.
What would they say if you confronted them with the pain they caused you. They would deny and blame, right? You would never do that to them, you would say…“I’m sorry”… maybe even if it wasn’t your fault. Your compassionate soul is rare and has a special purpose on this planet. Your specialness is important to the planet. Focus on giving your gifts to those who really will appreciate it as a mission and even possibly a career for yourself. The planet needs more HSPs! Be glad you are one.
I heard the song, I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty on the radio the other day. It filled me with a sense of fun and positive energy and helped me feel even stronger. Since then I have been singing it a lot in my head and I love how it gives me strength when I say those words. “I am gonna stand my ground”. Listen to it when you get a chance. Here are some of the lyrics:
No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
… and I won’t back down
(I won’t back down…)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(and I won’t back down…)
hey I will stand my ground
and I won’t back down
Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin me around
but I’ll stand my ground
…and I won’t back down
The point is that feeling “grounded” is so important to an HSPs health in all ways: Body, Mind, and Spirit. Standing your ground can symbolize feeling rooted in the earth. You are here on the planet for a reason. Your “space” here on the planet is your own and you deserve to feel confident and strong and separate and whole… standing tall and deserving of your spot on the planet. We get positive strength and energy from Mother Earth and she recharges us again when we get depleted. Mother Earth loves us–imagine being rooted in love! Walking on the warm grass in bare feet (on warm summer August evenings 🙂 ) is especially recharging–imagine the positive energy of the planet beneath you recharging you up your legs and into your heart and head. Relax your tense muscles throughout your body while you do this. These kinds of visualizations really work to help me feel strong and inner peace about my independence and freedom and standing “my ground”. I hope they are helpful to you too!
My birthday is on September 9! I hope you will stop by my site on that day and say hello and help me Celebrate! My husband, children and I will be partying all day and evening! I will have a message for all of you in my Update Corner on that day. 🙂
I will be on vacation August 22-28–So, except for that week, I am here and always available to you, my readers, commenters, and clients. My next post won’t be until later in September. Have a wonderful August and rest of the summer, HSPs! And remember to Stand Your Ground!
Honor Thy Parents Only If They Are Honorable–Support for Highly Sensitive Survivors at Easter
Hi everyone. April is almost here and as highly sensitive survivors you may be experiencing what can only be described as Easter Guilt. Easter is a family time, when families get together and celebrate God and Jesus and hsps often contemplate very reason for being on the planet. Even for the non-religious, Easter causes many to deeply evaluate our true purpose and our humanity. It is similar to the Christmas holiday when we look at our lives and say to ourselves “Today I SHOULD be happy! Where is my happy extended family that loves and supports me!”
Depending on where you are in your recovery from narcissistic abuse or childhood wounds, you may have started your own new Easter traditions with yourselves or with your own children which are more loving and focused on celebrating Spring, the miracle of nature and new life, and appreciating the ability to renew yourselves by being more loving–you remind yourselves, your children, or new-found friends that God loves you as you are, unconditionally.
Still, the Easters of your childhood may hold onto your hearts this time of year. You may still unconsciously hold down the pain of Easter family get-togethers filled with religious abuse and guilt-inducement, or the pain of no celebrations at all at a time when other families and children seemed to be so happy and loved and celebrating. Holidays such as this can surface feelings of deep loneliness as you realize you are separated from your true selves and true potential because you may have had to manufacture a self that was pleasing to your narcissistic parent, a false self that was superficial and not at all the rich, deep, complex personality that you still feel ashamed to completely step into. You may want so badly to be good, kind, fair, and right with God so you may feel guilt not honoring the commandment that tells you to Honor Thy Father and Mother.
As part of your recovery from childhood wounds, you may want to include reading Alice Miller’s book, The Body Never Lies. I want to share with you a review of this book that I found on her website in order to support those of you who still struggle with guilt if you happen to be needing to enforce No Contact in order to heal from your childhood wounds:
“Norm Lee, May 2, 2005
Of Moms and Moses A Review of Alice Miller’s book, THE BODY NEVER LIES: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting
…. We have to break free of our (internalized) parents’ grip on us, that of the biblical injunction, “Honor (obey, worship,) thy father and thy mother.” Until then we, in a sense, feel and behave and think like the little children we once were; we cannot grow up. Worse, because as children we weren’t accepted and loved for who we were, parents repeatedly punished us in attempts to force us into the imaginary mold they had prepared for us, i.e., what a child should be. Dr. Miller’s message is that our bodies bear a detailed record of every childhood hurt and humiliation inflicted, every spank and slap, insult and indignity. And until or if those internal, psychic wounds remain unhealed, we can expect to continue to pay the terrible price in physical illnesses. Powerless to do otherwise, we suppressed our true and good authentic selves to win the love our emotional survival depended on.
Dr. Miller writes with astonishing and penetrating truth about the connections between childhood suffering at the hands of parents, and the physical consequences of obedience to the Fourth Commandment. The Biblical law, “Honor thy father and thy mother” is here challenged as the source of widespread – even universal – life-long suffering. As children we attempted to free ourselves from our feelings of fear, insecurity and confusion thru repression and dissociation/self-alienation. Whatever the cost (abandonment of our true selves), we persisted in loving and trusting our parents (we hardly had a choice) and strived to earn their approval, (and (thus) to please the Greater Parent in the Sky.)
Today, what stands between our bodies and the healing of those injuries is the hold the Fourth Commandment has on our minds. As we live and breathe, the fear of parental rejection/punishment lurks within that fear. It has to be brought to consciousness and examined before healing can take place. We walk carrying a sack full of personal history, the burden of wounds inflicted by all the punishment and indignities that have ever happened to us. Until we heal those internal wounds, we daily pay a terrible price in suffering, much of it physical illness, and make others pay as well. Those others are most often our own children. The claim so often heard, “I got spanked and I turned out OK,” cannot be upheld when it is understood how the denial of physical and emotional injuries are connected to present illnesses.
“…. Dr. Miller repeatedly emphasizes the tragic effects, in the form of physical ailments, of the body’s life-long yearning for parental love and affection. She touches on the way this suppression is expressed in religion: the command to love God, on pain of punishment when we fail to do so; the absurdity of inventing a parent-like creator, perfect and omnipotent, who craves our love. It is an odd god, an immensely dependent god, a Big Daddy who, if given the love demanded, will reward with an eternity in blissful heaven. (And the teenage suicide bombers of the Middle East are promised the bonus of 72 virgins to sweeten the deal.) Inasmuch as the Great Father is not loved, even worshipped, the alternative is agonizing punishment from now to the “end” of eternity.
We have to liberate ourselves from the propaganda imposed on us – and enforced on us on pain of punishment – by conventional morality. This book calls for a higher morality, as it applies to parenthood. We cannot truly love our parents, she asserts, until we are liberated from the infantile attachment, the idolatry, that trapped us in childhood.
Dr. Miller wants the reader to understand and accept that parents who abused us do not deserve our love and honor, regardless of a Moses-imposed commandment to do so. As we all must know, love is one thing that cannot be enforced. Like Sgt. Joe Friday, the body, in its wisdom, rejects illusions. It accepts only the facts, as higher morality is inherent not in the mind, but in our bodies. She takes to task all those friends and relatives and preachers and therapists who say, “Forgive your mother, forgive your father; they did the best they knew how. She changed your diapers, he sacrificed for you, and above all they loved you.” Miller will not hear it: forgiveness is a crock and a trap, laid to continue the dependency, and preserve the hope, that somehow, sometime, we will finally bask in the love that was so long ago denied us. Reading Alice is like hearing someone whisper, “I know the secret you are hiding in your past, the feelings of hurt and fright and shame and humiliation at the abusive treatment you suffered at the hands of your parents. And I’m asking you – urging you, challenging you – to come out of that dark closet and face up to it.”
In the valley where I live, the #1 fear at whatever age is parental punishment. And among adults, it’s primary defense is Denial. Behind the denial of childhood mistreatment lies the fear of punishment, therefore acknowledgement or recognition of it in adulthood can approach terror. But the price for denial is paid in physical as well as mental illness. When aware of it we see it everywhere: the suffering in the bodies and minds of strangers and of those dear to us. But we must begin with ourselves, confronting the punishing parent within.”
As supportive as this information is, I know how difficult it is to step away from your abusive family ties and go it alone and start a new emotionally healthier life so that you can heal and get stronger. You need support for such drastic actions and I offer you that support through my posts, articles, poems, songs and lyrics, my coaching, and a community here with many comments on my website that I hope lovingly states, “you are not alone, you are in the company of a community of survivors that is growing in number as they dare to come out of their darkness and speak the truth of what happened to them as children!”
As highly sensitive people (HSPs) you have many gifts to offer that are lacking in many of the people around you. Celebrate your differentness, celebrate YOU this Easter and open up to the love that exists from God and from other HSPs like yourself. I believe we HSPs are gifted with compassion and an ability to love deeper so that we can help each other through the negativity and dark energies that do exist around us.
Love to you this Easter season, may you realize your shining light inside of you and shine it on your children, spouse, friends, and especially your self! You deserve a wonderful Easter!
Stress Relief For Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)
Hi everyone. We made it through the harsh weather of February. Yay! March has visions of early flowers budding up through the ground, warmer temperatures, and hopefully a lot less snow and storms. It was beautiful and fun at first, but here in the midwestern United States, the continuous snow and storms soon started to wear on us all. Now we can breath a sigh of relief as the temperatures gradually rise and we can get out and about easier and with less stress.
Stress relief is so important to highly sensitive souls who survived the stressful conditions of having a narcissistic parent or other childhood wounds. They may have stressed-out bodies and wounded hearts and they need to learn how to relieve stress in our lives. They have been controlled by guilt and compulsively take care of the needs of others instead of themselves. They often feel guilty even thinking about putting themselves first. But in order to truly have something real to give others, a real human emotional connection, they HAVE to make themselves and their healing a priority. This really begins with giving themselves permission to reduce the stress in their lives. They may be so used to stress in their life, that they don’t even recognize it as stress. Do you relate? Here are some examples:
1) Do you have long lists of SHOULDS in your life that you really don’t enjoy doing? Perhaps you even have a large house and yard to take care of and it never occurred to you that you would be happier in a smaller place with less chores to do on daily basis.
2) Do you have relationships in your life that drain you rather than help you to feel good about yourself? Do you have friendships with people who do not see your sensitivity as a uniqueness about you that makes you special, but instead make you feel like they put up with you and are willing to work around the nuisance it causes them that you are different? For example, food and seasonal allergies, needing more time alone, and frequent breaks from stressful work are not things you should be made to feel guilty about. These are things that, when tended to with care, help reduce your stress level from the busy lives we are thrust into, and give you more time and energy for the things that you deep down really desire to do with your life!
3) Do you find comfort in collecting THINGS that fill your time and fill up your house, but then you are overwhelmed because of the time it takes to maintain the care of these collectibles and things that you just had to have? Clutter can be draining to highly sensitive people. You may be beginning to be aware that a shift in your feelings about material things in your life is starting to happen. Does the phrase Less is More help you to realize that when we get rid of things in our lives that we don’t really need, then we have more room to relax and just be our true selves in the space around us?
When you empty a room, do you ever notice how your kids get excited and start to dance around and do cartwheels? Self-expression happens when we are not cluttered by unnecessary material things! It is difficult to get started sometimes because as highly sensitive people we often have deep emotional attachments to things that have been in our lives a long time. I solved this problem for myself by taking pictures of things before I get rid of them. Also, allow yourself to feel and grieve the thought of the loss of the item before you actually get rid of it. Sometimes it is helpful to set items aside in an out of the way place and wait a week or a month or whatever you need and ask yourself if you really miss the item–you may be surprised that you are now ready to let it go or you have completely forgotten about it and then it is easier to give it to Goodwill or someone who will get some use out of the item.
As highly sensitive people, reducing stress put upon us by the SHOULDS instilled from childhood and less sensitive others can make a big difference in the quality of our lives. You deserve to live the life that you envision for yourself and not someone else’s vision of what almost everyone else seems to be doing to be happy. The key to happiness for hsps in listening to your own unique guidance from within. Often it is only through the quiet of being alone that we can hear the truth of our inner needs and desires. Listen. Listen to your heart and not to what your chattering mind is saying. You can find inner peace and joy in your life if you can find ways to begin to really relax and enjoy YOUR life. Noone else can know what is right for you but you.
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.