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
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.
Hi everyone. I am a life coach for highly sensitive people with childhood wounds and I specialize in inner child healing. Today I am releasing Part 2 of my More Helpful Tips post for those of you Highly Sensitive Souls trying to figure out how to thrive when you have a narcissistic parent. It may help for you to review tips 1 through 6 in my last post. To summarize, they were about: your gift of intuition; the childhood traumas you repressed to survive; anxiety, self-doubt, co-dependence and PTSD; there is hope; inner child healing can help; and no contact with your Narcissistic parent may be vital to the healing process. So here are tips 7. through 12.:
7. Know that the GUILT is relieved by acknowledging the anger and hatred you felt as a child that you were forced to repress.
The guilt of setting boundaries in your relationship with your Narcissistic (N) parent will be strong! Ignore it! It is guilt induced from elsewhere that you internalized since you were a tiny child. That has affected your freedom as a gifted child to become your own wonderful self! It may feel as if they took that from you and gave you guilt, shame, and fear in it’s place. So what do you do with the guilt you feel when stepping out on your own to become the person with freedom to do whatever you want with your life? HSPs tend to feel guilt for feeling anger–allow yourself to feel angry about it! Righteous anger is a healthy emotion that you were not “allowed” to express to them–but it is important that you release this anger in harmless ways (not to the parent who abused you) . Acknowledge it, tell a safe person, or write it out in a journal (for your eyes only) in detail the anger you feel for all that you lost. Because this rage inside that comes out sometimes in your life at the wrong people has an origin that needs to be acknowledged and let go of. You have a right to acknowledge this repressed anger for the traumas that happened to you as a child–it was too painful for a child to survive this kind of excruciating, unbearable emotional pain of hating your parents when you needed them so desperately. So the trauma is repressed and the truth of what happened to you needs to be released so that you can finally be free. Punching a mattress with your fist and/or screaming into several pillows for as long as you need to is helpful to release the rage you have kept inside all these years. It helps to have a supportive and safe person present to validate your feelings as you release them. Do not hold onto this intense anger–release it and imagine this energy going away from you forever. (Forgiveness is important but not until all the layers of repressed anger are worked through and this takes time and patience with yourself–do not attempt to forgive too soon or you may get stuck in a guilt about not being able to forgive cycle.)
8. Know that grieving the loss of your childhood is part of the healing process.
Often after the release of anger you will begin to feel all the hurt and pain of not being truly loved as you deserved. Letting this out and releasing this is so important as well in the healing process of your wounded soul. It helps so much to talk to another empathic human to feel fully validated and comforted through this grieving process–but if there is no one possible then you can write this pain out and you may even surprise yourself by the poetry that pours out of you. (No rules when you write–just let it pour out). These words of your soul will always surprise you– you will discover a richness and deep inner life inside of you that you never knew existed. Because it was hiding in fear all this time–a very real fear–fear of your parent’s judgemental rejection and abandonment of your budding wise self.
9. Know that it is okay for you to be FREE of them and put yourself first so you can heal.
It is a free country! You are a free person to do as you wish. And noone knows the pain that a narcissistic parent can do to the soul of a highly sensitive child except those who have experienced it. So stop waiting for approval from the rest of society. You may need to stop all contact with the harmful, negative, malignant narcissistic parent in your life forever and always if that is how long it takes for you to feel safe and have inner peace. You do not even need to attend their funeral if that is something that worries you. It is okay to protect yourself from all the negative energy and judgements of others at family gatherings if you are feeling this will happen. (This all depends upon your own personal spiritual beliefs–I personally now believe our souls live for eternity and those who truly love and support you will be there in heaven and watch over you in spirit–they will understand your reasons for staying away. I believe you don’t need to go to a funeral to say goodbye or to appease family members who don’t support you either. This is something that must feel right to you and your own personal spiritual beliefs) And to support you further, I just happened to hear on the radio today, a Christian counselor reminding someone that “Honor thy father and mother” DOES NOT APPLY when they are emotionally abusive and use fear to control you. Fear is the opposite of love! It is a deal breaker and they are no longer honorable parents. God wants for you to protect yourself and go towards love in your life and away from those who induce fear. I agree with this. Loving parents want you to feel safe and loved–N parents do not care if you feel safe and loved, they want you to obey or else! Please get yourself safe and free.
10. Know that Narcissistic people are known as “Crazymakers” for a good reason.
If you have malignant narcissistic parents, they are not going to change and they are not going to stop trying to make you wrong. You are not wrong for putting your life and your dreams first for a change. This is your time! This is your life! This is your time for healing and dreaming and learning to love yourself as God has always wanted for you. Malignant Narcissism is mental illness. It’s a severe problem and insidious in nature because they appear to fit in with other people and have friends and thrive and look fine on the outside. They may even be religious and say they are devoted to God but it is not true! It is just words! They may even appear to change and will be on their good behavior around your children but don’t believe it. They may even turn your kids against you in an instant if they are able. There’s a hidden self-hatred there underneath in a narcissist and a desire to control others with no remorse and no desire to change as a disconnected self-protection from emotional pain–a complete separation from their soul’s true essence. That’s enough knowledge for you to know you need to get you and your children safe with safe boundaries in place.
11. Know that highly sensitive people absorb the negative energy of others. Time alone and the beauty of nature can help recharge your positive energy.
Malignant narcissists are like energy vampires sucking the good energy out of you and replacing it with all their unconscious negative feelings about themselves. You feed them, so to speak, and they take it and feel better about themselves. And they constantly want more, not seeing or caring how it is hurting you. Only you can stop feeding their endless need for your supply of positive energy. This is what it means to develop healthy boundaries. It is your very essence, your “gift” that they are taking–your ability to give light and love to others. You must protect this gift. It is meant for those who are also of light and love so that we can build each other up and help each other so that all of our dreams can come true and we can improve life on our planet. These dreams and desires that you have deep inside are the innervoice that connects you to God and the light that feeds all of us (HSPs). It is the LOVE that you never got from your N parents that you begin to feel has been inside of you all along. As you begin to connect with your real feelings and your vitality you connect with God and the love and bliss that was there innately in our true selves. Love exists and you can give it to yourselves when you realize you were loved all along and were born with this love to give to others who don’t exploit you.
12. Know that you can rescue yourself! Noone can do it for you.
Take the first steps and start on a path of healing today! Be strong and stay away from your malignant narcissistic parent while you heal and anyone who judges you for doing so. You don’t need to explain it to anyone. Most highly sensitive people will understand without explanation. They are out there–don’t give up! I am proud to be a highly sensitive person and now as a life coach of inner child healing I shine my light brightly to help other sensitive souls out of the dark. You have a light inside of you that has just been hiding in fear. Everything is going to be all right now as the truth of who you are comes to light. Please take extremely good care of yourself so your highly sensitive soul can shine and inspire others. I hope these tips have been helpful to you.
With Love and Light,
Hi everyone. As highly sensitive people, many of you are struggling with how to cope with your relationship with your narcissistic parent and your unsupportive siblings and extended family. First of all I want to tell you that as a life coach for people with childhood wounds, I understand your pain and how hard it is. There is very little support in our society for not having a relationship with ones’ parents no matter how negative and destructive they are to you or were to you in your childhood. Many people have difficult parents but they tolerate them and seem to get by okay so why can’t you, right? The pressure is very real. But let me help you understand the difference between you (an HSP) and everyone else with some more helpful tips that are very important for you to know.
1. Know that your greatest gift is your intuition.
As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you were naturally giving and loving and trusting as children. You had high hopes for yourselves and others including your parents. People with loving and supportive parents are more likely living lives full of vitality and creative fulfillment and healthy boundaries to keep negative, manipulative, harmful people at a distance naturally and sharing their unique gifts with others. These people don’t feel guilty about not getting along with everyone–they just “know” there are some people who are unhealthy and dangerous–they pay attention to their natural instincts. But people with a narcissistic parent were taught at a very young age, even from birth not to trust their own instincts, their own intuition. The horrible thing about that is, that was their greatest gift, “their sensitive intuition”, and it was often used against them.
2. Know that you may have repressed a terrible trauma from your childhood–the loss of the knowledge of your gifts.
Possibly, if you had an N parent, then part of your sensitivities were seen as a gift for “them”. They could control you easily because of your trusting nature–so often they used fear to get you to be quiet, anger to get you to obey, and shame to keep you from feeling independent and strong. And it worked. You trusted them and needed them to take care of you and protect you from a world that overwhelmed your sensitive souls so you…experienced a trauma that caused you to shut down your true selves and become what they wanted you to become. Something happened that was “the last straw” for your fragile but wise self that was developing. Typically it happens around age 5 or 6, according to Alice Miller (Author of The Drama of the Gifted Child). After an incident that you can’t remember because you have repressed it, suddenly, you are obedient and sweet wanting only to please. And please them you did. And that is why it is so hard for them to let go of you now. You took care of them. Completely and amazingly. They felt loved by you and validated by you filling a void inside of them that was caused in their childhood. It is as if you were the loving parent that they never had. That is how gifted you were. Those gifts of intuiting the needs of others are still there–they were just misused and abused by your needy and narcissistic parent. Those gifts of being a loving and giving and caretaking soul were mis-directed.
3. Know that your childhood holds the roots of your anxiety, self-doubt, post traumatic stress, and co-dependence issues.
As you grew up and tried to do some of the creative endeavors that were driven by your soul, your parent probably did not support you because they did not want you to leave them or stop taking care of their emotional needs or they just saw no harm in controlling you. As narcissistic parents with no conscience or guilt, it was easy for them to manipulate you, so they did. The pain of your original trauma at the age of 5 or 6 would come up for you each time you tried to express your true self and these outbursts of emotion may have been shamed and punished by your parent and made you give up each time. This is the beginning of the post traumatic stress that still plagues you today. ” Why do I over-react in these explosive ways”, you may have asked yourself. This is why. Your true self and all your repressed feelings and desires from childhood still want badly to be heard and understood and validated and “loved”. Your narcissistic parent was not capable of giving you this love and still is not and never will be. Your love needs are still unmet. You searched for love from others but sometimes, because parts of you are still undeveloped and childlike, you end up being attracted to people who seem wonderful and charming at first but then turn out to be needy and manipulative and unable to comfort you when you need it most–just like your N parent.
4. Know that there is hope and you can heal.
So what is a highly sensitive person with an N parent to do? You can heal and learn to love yourself and slowly unblock all those creative parts of yourself that never got a chance to be expressed. You can learn to trust your self and your gifts of emotional intelligence and intuition that were seemingly robbed from you and misused and abused. You can gain clarity amidst all the confusion, and hope amidst all the despair. You can learn that it is okay for you to say no to other people’s demands and put yourself first. You need to learn about extreme “self- care” (Cheryl Richardson–author of the book Life Makeovers) and you need a journal to pour into all the feelings from your deepest heart. You need support from like-minded, highly sensitive, safe people to share the pain and grief from the loss of a childhood that feels as if it was taken away from you. All your desires and free impulses were repressed so that you could survive with an illusion that your parent’s needs were more important than your own. But surviving was not really living your life. Surviving is not good enough. Your survival skills just cause you trouble because they are not driven by your heart, they are driven by a needy inner child trying to please a parent that felt unpleasable and without remorse about what they did to you.
5. Know that the answers are inside of you and support is available.
You need to take a new direction. A direction into your own soul. You need to excavate the desires of a child who never had a say in the development of his/her own life! Write it out! Talk it out! Cry it out! Shout it out! You can do this in a journal that is meant for your eyes only. Or you can find a counselor or coach who does inner child healing therapy. It’s important to find support somewhere so you can find your true voice and express it. There are HSP meet-up groups in larger cities. You might also look into Unitarian churches or Unity churches to meet people of a spiritual nature who are not necessarily “religious”.
6. Know that no contact with a malignant narcissistic parent is not just recommended so that you can get the time you need to heal, it is vital!
One of the first steps into this new direction of healing for yourself is ending the old song and dance and unhealthy relationship that you have with your narcissistic parent. If you’ve tried everything else and you are still miserable, that means setting boundaries on contact is an important step so that you can heal and move on with the life that you always deserved. The fact that you understand the words Malignant Narcissistic is crucial here. We are not talking about a parent that is capable of being remorseful about your childhood and trying to change, we are talking about a parent who blames you every time the relationship isn’t going their way–they resent the loss of control over your life that they always had. Control is not love. It may be time to cut off contact so you can finally heal. You do not owe them another ounce of your precious energy. You owe it to yourself to stay away from them as you heal, because being around them at all always takes a toll on you, a toll that is much heavier and destructive and stressful and toxic to you than you may realize.
There are a total of 12 tips that I have written about here today, but I am going to stop here and give you the other 6 in my next post in two weeks because this is getting really long. I hope that what I have written has been helpful to you. I hope that you can enjoy this last week of summer and get out in the warmth of the sunshine–slow down and feel the connection to God’s love that nature provide’s and really take it in. Walks in nature are a great way to recharge your energy. Your highly sensitive soul and body deserve this special treatment. It’s never too late to start on the path to the healing you deserve.
Hi everyone. I’m happy to be back. I had a wonderful vacation and it is also great to be back home. I am feeling renewed and energetic now (five days after we returned) but I was extremely exhausted when we first got back. And my husband bounced right back after like one day–and so, comparing myself to him, I was feeling very much lost and empty and discouraged…. and then started wondering how will I ever write another post and even…how did I ever write all that stuff I already wrote–I was spiraling negative thoughts again–my inner critic took over! And it was so hard to decipher–I just felt bad and exhausted with no hope in sight. So I wrote in my journal and it helped!–so I thought I would share with you my technique.
First of all, in journaling you must tell yourself that no one is going to read this ever! –and mean it and believe it. Then you let loose with all your feelings. I started out saying ” I feel horrible! I can’t remember who I am or how to feel good.” Within 2 sentences though I remembered, ” I used to feel this way all the time as a child.” And then, “Oh yes this is childhood pain coming up to heal. I just had a wonderful vacation! My inner child is expecting to be punished.” Then my own compassion kicks in with ” I need to be extra nice to myself. I am being too hard on myself. Do nice things for myself today. I am a highly sensitive person. No wonder I am tired–vacations are highly stimulating–just give myself extra time. Everything is going to be okay.” Before long I am cheering myself up. I have over-ridden my inner critic–that negative voice inside my head. This process always amazes me because I feel like I should be “fixed” by now and should never feel bad again. But that is the negative voice in my head–the pressure from my mother to “be happy — just get over it, you are too sensitive blah, blah, blah.” That is the opposite of what I needed as a highly sensitive child. On vacations I would get overwhelmed, over-tired with all the new sights and activities. I know I deserved kindness instead of impatience, rest instead of guilt for slowing them down, compassion for my ability to see the beauty in the small things like nature instead of annoyance about my questions and my disappointment in their lack of carefulness with my feelings. There was nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with me now. My only mistake was believing them when they blamed me. I don’t believe them and choose to be around people who are safe and kind and who like me easily. My husband is one of those people and was the first to remind me to not be so hard on myself and to take it easy. He was right.
Do not be discouraged if this technique of journaling does not come so easily to you yet. This takes a long time and lots of effort deciphering the truth of what you went through and what you truly deserved as a highly sensitive child. The book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is SO helpful in guiding people through the journaling process that helps unblock creativity (finding your voice and your true self!)
Many different techniques help me to find my voice and vitality again. Sometimes it is playing my songs when I am feeling so lost I don’t remember being able to write songs. Reading your own journal helps too especially if you are the kind of journaler who ends up feeling hopeful after you write. (You have to make yourself do it–it doesn’t come natural to read your own stuff when you are feeling bad about yourself–you’ll be surprised how your own words lift your spirits.) Other times I read books or blogs by people with a compassionate voice and I recover my own compassionate voice. Elaine Aron wrote the book on “The Highly Sensitive Person” and was the catalyst that started the HSP support groups that have grown and spread in cities and online. Online, I read her article on “the problem of bearing an unbearable emotion” that she wrote in her newsletter for Feb. 2006 and I immediately felt “found and validated” just by her compassionate words–my energy came back and I was excited about my life again. I hope my blog does the same for you.
I was fortunate to have some time to find myself and work on myself and read self-help books and write in journals while my children were growing up because my husband was so grateful that I was home raising emotionally healthy kids–he is a “thinking” type although a highly sensitive guy (an INTJ), whereas I am a “feeling” type (an INFJ). (See the book by Keirsey and Bates in my Recommended Books section for a test on temperament types.) He had an even more difficult childhood than I did and is grateful for my compassionate ways. When I think of how far I have come, it feels rather miraculous so I want so much to help others who are as lost and hiding as I was. I believe that those of us who are the most sensitive and almost destroyed are an important resource to this planet if we can join together and rise up as a voice of love, peace, and compassion. The fact that you are feeling beaten down is the very indicator that your sensitive ways have been misunderstood and need to be put to better use. All you need is a witness to validate the injustices you have suffered and then you can rise up and start speaking your mind and being a messenger of compassion that the world needs. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE! You are exactly the way you are supposed to be. Be kind to yourself and learn to love yourself.
Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life is a book I have been reading on and off for 15 years. The positive affirmations in her book I use daily now but felt so foreign to me when I first got the book. One of my favorites is “I give myself permission to be the best that I can be”. Growing up I was not allowed to express my authentic self (or be my best) because it threatened my narcissistic mother and she would withdraw her love and approval. My mother was jealous of my many gifts. I didn’t know I had any gifts at all because she was determined to control me and keep me close and, in her view, if I knew I was gifted I might leave her. That whole concept was hard for me to grasp because it would never occur to me to be that way or be jealous of a child of mine–it is my responsibility to help my child see all his/her gifts and how special he/she is. So this explains why I couldn’t have compassion for myself–I trusted so completely in my mother. And also then came the question “why would God give me a mother who was so manipulative and unloving?” That was another chapter in my life that I now have completely resolved. God did not arrange for me to have this emotional pain and hardship but has given me the inner strength and compassion to overcome it and become strong. Had I not had a mother like that I would not be reaching out to help others who also experienced a mother like that right now in this moment.
In this moment, I am happy and complete and grateful for all the pain I went through to make me this strong. But while I was in the pain and lost and alone and not knowing how to let God’s love in, I was not grateful–no way! But there was a pivotal moment when I was crying in despair that I became aware that no one but me was going to rescue me–of the two of us, my husband and I, I was the stronger one emotionally. Something Eckhart Tolle said in his book A New Earth helped a lot. He said something to the effect of… I am not all that happens to me–I am ” the presence” that observes all that happens to me…. It made me realize I am not this abused child who is forever a victim. I am all the wisdom from what I have learned from it and can comfort my inner abused child through it. I still keep learning it over and over and each time it gets easier to find myself again. So do not give up. You who are hiding and afraid to speak up–it’s okay and you have every right to be afraid. But that it is not all of you. You have a gift, a wisdom, a compassion, that is sorely needed in the world. Don’t let the bullies and controllers and competitors win. They are not like you and so cannot understand you. But you can understand you! You are on this planet for a reason exactly as you are. Change only the people you are around. Elaine Aron says that HSPs have an easier time overcoming depression just by changing our environment to being around people who love us and accept us as we are. She says “get out of competitive environments where you have to fear that you will be judged, rejected, or seen as a failure, and stay around those who like you.” (see her newsletter the Comfort Zone , and the article called “A Few Happy Things Regarding Depression”). I am adding her website to my blogroll. It is hsperson dot com. I hope I have helped you to feel more hopeful and happy. You deserve it. You are a highly sensitive person and that my friend is a gift. Thank you to my readers.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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
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.