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Tag Archives: fear

NOW Is A Good Time… For Emotional Healing

Hi everyone!  Now that it’s Spring, the warmth is finally here in the midwestern part of the USA!  Yay!!  I feel happier when the temperatures are warmer and I can get outside and enjoy nature and recharge.  As a HSP healing from childhood wounds, I am still figuring out what makes me happiest and what I “like” most in life–right now I like thinking about some day moving to a warmer climate during the winter months!  😉

As HSP children, your “job” may have been to often to take care of your own parents’ feelings so you didn’t dare even ask yourself “What do I want?, How do I feel?, and What are my dreams and desires?  Perhaps it can be  “fun” now to “create” a life for yourself that is purely satisfying to “you”.  This is not being selfish for HSPs who have spent their lives putting others’ feelings and happiness first.  This is realizing your feelings and desires are meant to be your “compass” for finding direction and satisfaction in your life!

Even after all of your recovery and replacing a negative inner critic with a very consistent feeling of love and protection for yourself and you inner child, do you still sometimes wake up with a feeling of shame that surprises you?  It may usually happen after a day when you really asserted your voice and followed your heart (I have written about this before). Try to see that as evidence of how your shining light as a child may have been a threat to a narcissistic or bullying  caretakers and they had to bring you “down”.  “Get off of your high horse!”, “Who do you think you are!?”, “How dare you be happy when I am not happy!?”,  and “Straighten up and fly right!”–Were these phrases (spoken or implied silently with mean looks (angry eyes)) ones that come to mind that were a daily occurrence to shame and control you as a child?

Now that you may be working on changing the core beliefs about yourself, it is also helpful to reframe all those events with how you would have voiced your opposition if you had felt safe and knew you were loved and supported by the Universe.  Talking back to the inner critic is acknowledging it is there and then saying what you need to say to yourself to be an emotionally healthy soul–say, “I like being on my high horse!–it is good to feel proud of myself!”, “I think I am an amazing and gifted person!”, “Everyone is free to pursue their own happiness–it’s in the Constitution!”, and “Your right way and my right way are 2 different things!”  If you had felt safe and strong as a child and had been able to say these things in your childhood without being shamed and punished, then your true self would have survived and you would not have had to push your feelings underground and develop a false self that was fearful and obedient.  You can say it NOW and reclaim your strength that it didn’t feel safe for you to have. It is very healing to your wounded soul when you express the truth about yourself, either silently, out loud, or in a journal–express your true voice!

Just realizing you have an inner critic that stops you from enjoying your life and feeling good about yourself is the first step–writing out all the mixed messages swimming around your brain and getting them on paper in a journal will help you to realize that your inner critic has taken over.  I no longer have to journal to realize when I am listening to my inner critic–I recognize the negative feeling right away, acknowledge it, and say to myself  “that is ridiculous and that is not true about me!”

The real truth is I am a shining light of God’s love and I am perfect just the way I am!  You are perfect just the way you are too! There is nothing wrong with you!  You just have self-doubt– “doubt” just means questioning the truth–the truth is there but it takes courage to Believe It!  Believe it because it is true–you are perfect exactly as you are NOW in this moment!  And you deserve the LOVE, COMFORT, COMPASSION, and ENCOURAGEMENT that you never got during childhood.  You can learn to give it to yourself!

For myself, any shame feeling I get in the morning goes away immediately as I shoo it away and replace it with love for myself and with my new core beliefs: “This shame is not mine and not true and I have nothing to be ashamed of!”  Poof!  Gone! I also say, “Wow, I must have done something amazing and authentically me yesterday, I am on the right path!”  Then I can’t wait to get up and enjoy my day, my way!  I love my life and I am grateful that I am free to enjoy it now.

I feel my true purpose is to help others who are struggling to love themselves because of these very complex, negative messages that were engrained in their brains since early childhood.  It is not easy but growing new loving neural pathways in your brain is possible and I am living proof.  I hope that by my example I can help those of you struggling, suffering, and occasionally falling into pits of despair to climb out and break free from the negative energy “soup” that can engulf the soul of an emotionally needy HSP.  It takes time so please be patient with yourself if you fall backwards sometimes.

The key is to keep on feeling the feelings and comforting yourself through them–it is a grieving process.  You will come out the other side–to truth, light, and a connection to the Universe that no one can ever take away from you–it is innate in you and as a HSP you are a loved and highly evolved soul with compassion and light for others as your greatest gift.  You are going to be okay if you allow yourself to believe these things NOW–start today.  I am here, I understand–I have been lost, and now I am found.  NOW is the time to begin to love yourself without shame. You can do it!  This blog post was written for YOU!

After a weekend visit with our grown son who lives in Chicago, I felt energized, so energized that I wrote a new poem–even though I am a pretty extreme introvert and we had a very extraversion-filled weekend.  I was energized because of the quality of the relationship we have with our son and we all so enjoyed each others company and enjoyed being positive, building each other up, expressing our love and appreciation for each other, and having fun together.  So when we returned I was standing in my kitchen and had to grab paper and a pen because I felt this poem just had to be expressed.  I just let it flow out of me and when I was done I realized I was still “standing up” in my kitchen! (leaning against the counter 🙂 )  I am so glad I listened to that still small voice in my head that said to write this down.  Here is the poem that flowed out of me that cold, winter, sunday evening after our trip:

NOW Is A Good Time

By Roxanne Smith

Feb. 18, 2013

NOW’s a good time to nurture yourself and your feelings

To release the past and all painful dealings.

The pain’s coming up NOW so you’ll see the truth

of how you weren’t seen and loved in your youth.

The child inside, he or she yearns to be free.

The pain is just blocking your feelings of glee.

Joy and great gladness are all waiting there.

Waiting until you feel the truth and despair.

What happened to you was awful and sick

The pain you repressed was unbearable and thick.

You were too small and dependent back then

but now you are safe so the wounds can open

and your soul wants to heal these wounds from within.

You cannot move higher until you tell the truth of your kin.

How they poked you and pulled you down each time you succeeded

’til you gave up and blamed yourself… but they weren’t what you needed.

You were a bright star with a higher energy.

They were jealous and threatened by your desire to be free.

So you hid your true self until a much safer time–

It’s safe NOW so your soul is crying out as a sign

to be kind to your inner child who is coming out—please allow!

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad NOW.

Because you’re rising up from patterns ingrained in your head.

New ways of being are in your soul, time to shed

all the old pain, it must be felt to be released.

It is gone forever once you see the danger has ceased.

The danger was real then, don’t ever forget it

but now you choose new friends who are not like your inner critic.

You are learning your true self is a compassionate soul

who is kind to others and that is your role.

So being kind to your self is the very first step.

All day everyday you must give yourself pep!

Don’t listen to your inner critic—it is wrong and so mean

like those who abused you and weren’t nice as they seem.

You deserved better and NOW you must give it to your soul.

The more you are kind, the more you’ll feel Whole!

Each layer of pain will dissolve as you express

all of your confusion and unhappiness.

How could this be… you thought: “I was bad and wrong”

but really blaming “YOU” was unfair all along.

You were a bright light never harming a flea–

so easy to control because you trusted completely.

I hope you can see that you can reframe your past.

Replace those mean moments with self-love that will last.

Accepting Love from Above will change your beliefs about your core.

Who you are YOU must love so your dreams can then soar!

You are gifted and brilliant, a gift to us all.

You are treasured by those others who also feel this call.

The call’s mixed with pain and feeling bad about your childhood.

When you change your beliefs you will see your soul’s all Good!

Then you can reconnect with your self and find creativity and fun.

You’ll learn to relax and recharge from the sun.

Learn to listen to your body instead of working too hard.

You’ll get lots more done when you “play” in your yard.

Allowing yourself to enjoy being you

will slow you down and allow the pain to come through.

After a good cry, each time you’ll feel better–

lighter and lighter ‘til you’re light as a feather.

And allowing yourself to have space that is yours—

new boundaries to protect yourself will help open doors.

You must learn to feel grounded and connected to the earth.

This will help you feel solid and put yourself first.

You deserve to be happy and that starts with self-care.

After you are grounded, then you will become aware

that lifting up others is your gift and your purpose

and there’s a billion others out there who are not just kind on the surface.

They are deep and compassionate—you are not alone.

We are healing together as we feel grace and atone.

We did our best with all that we have known.

NOW we know it’s okay to be angry, then let it go.

Don’t hold onto blame, but blame needs to be spoken.

Release it and move on—don’t yell at the broken.

You are higher than they are (those who brought you down).

You don’t need to punish—you can just leave town

to start a new life and create all that your dreams can arrange.

Move forward… not fixing those who don’t want to change.

Trust these new feelings that spark in your heart.

Healing is painful but that’s only part.

This feeling’s inside that you’re finally alive!

Keep going with following your passions inside.

Don’t compare yourself to others—you have a new gig!

Let desires be your guide and your success will be BIG.

If you do this and trust your intuition inside

your internal guidance will help you to thrive.

Sometimes you’ll get stuck so you’ll need to be kind

to yourself when you inner critic starts messing with you mind.

Drop down to your heart instead of your head.

If you need to cry about something that was said,

grieve for this loss, the wrong path where you were led.

It hurt you so much, childhood pain must be shed

so we can see, that NOW we’re safe and free

And we would have parented differently!

And that’s good you are different and unique and that’s great!

I hope you can see that it’s never too late.

We often must go backward to move forward to be free.

You can heal and find wholeness—take it from me!

I found here a community of souls who relate–

I share how I healed and how sensitivity is great!

By journaling out the pain, I had new eyes to see.

My true voice was found, then my true self was free!

I know it sounds simple but it took a long time.

Try to trust in your feelings, then all will be fine.

As I followed my pain I got signs from above:

“relax and enjoy” and best “You are loved!”

I know of your pain– I know just how you feel.

It happened to me and I learned how to heal

So NOW as you journey from wounded to whole

I hope that these words will comfort your soul.

=============================

Please share your feelings in a comment if this post resonates with you.  Your comments also help others who are still struggling to find their voice.  We can help uplift each other higher as a community of compassionate souls.  Thank you for reading.  Have a wonderful Spring–may the warmth of the Universe envelope you and comfort you NOW as you heal and grow to your true potential.

With love, light, and my deepest compassion,

Roxanne

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The Eruption of Post Traumatic Stress is a Healing Opportunity

Hi everyone.  I hope you had a wonderful summer and are enjoying this beautiful fall season.  Wow.  Two weekends of Indian summer was such a blessing!  In my eyes the beauty of the season makes up for summer coming to an end.  I hope it is beautiful wherever you are located!  It has been a while since I have written, I have had some ailments that have added some stress to my life.  But as always I feel there is a lesson in everything that happens.

Two ailments occurred on top of each other.  I was already in distress about a painful ailment when something randomly flew in my eye and temporarily blinded me and with such severe pain that I could not drive myself to the doctor to get it removed.  This caused me to over-react in such a distressing way that it caused me to experience some childhood emotional pain that had been hidden from me until then.  The object was removed from my eye and it healed completely in the next 4 days but during this stressful time, I remembered a comment my mother had made. It was an epiphany–an aha moment!  Her comment was, “When you were 1 1/2 years old, you had severe diarrhea and were in the hospital for over a week and the doctors never figured out the cause.  The nurses wouldn’t let me visit you because you would try to climb out of the crib to get to me.”  Years ago when she told me this, I had no emotional reaction to it.  But the stress of these health events caused an over-reaction in me that now makes a lot of sense!  Because of this epiphany, the reason for all of the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing came clear.  I realized I was feeling all the repressed emotion of an abandoned toddler who was terrified that her parents were never coming back, who felt she was being punished in this crib in the hospital, who was confused about why all this was happening and it seemed like the end of the world.  This hospitalization at an age where attachment is so crucial and separation anxiety is at a peak, my whole world crumbled and my security completely gone, I emerged from the hospital traumatized.

Now it took me a while to figure all of this out, but analytical and self-aware person that I am I was fascinated with the process, even though it required releasing these unbearably painful emotions that had been frozen in time, finally freeing me in their release.  I believe that when traumas like this occur and never get worked through, they remain stuck in our bodies causing an energy blockage that can cause illness and disease (dis-ease). (Louise Hay and Dr. Christian Northrup–see Recommended Books.)  Talking through this and releasing the pain and having my husband for a witness, I started feeling like I was finally healing from this ailment that had been chronically stressing me.  Yay!  It was shocking yet exhilarating for these facts about this trauma to be unearthed the way it occurred.  So many unexplained fears that I have had started to make sense to me.  Their origins were from this trauma that had been hidden from my memory my whole life.  It was a post traumatic stress event that now has given way to new understanding of the origins of some of my irrational fears and insecurities.  Now, I feel stronger and less fearful and I am healing those deep insecurities by releasing the pain and having someone witness and validate my feelings–a safe person that I trust completely.  This is the process of inner child healing.  I thought I had worked through all of my previous traumas but it turns out that I had one more vitally important trauma to work through.

At the time I was releasing the pain I felt it would go on forever and that I would never recover.  I very soon felt better though as I released these fears that were from my childhood trauma. Releasing the emotions had to include my memories of clinging to my mother for dear life for years after this event, and my needs for security were not met and my trauma never acknowledged.  She didn’t understand all the attention I gave her, clinging to her in fear like that.  I laid in her lap on car trips and never left her side.  Intuitively gifted even as a child, I took care of her emotional needs so that I would not feel rejected–after my unhealed trauma I couldn’t bear the thought of it, even though, I now understand that I was obedient and good out of extreme fear.  I remember the stories of how she did not send me to kindergarten and a neighbor discovered my age and brightness and made it clear she must send me to school finally.  I feel much gratefulness for that neighbor stepping in.  My memories of how I flourished in those few months in kindergarten and how the teachers built me up and I was proud of myself are the memories I hold onto of my true self persevering and shining through.

If you have had some traumatic incidents like this in your childhood, and most HSPs surely have, I understand your pain.  Writing out what happened and/or talking to a safe person is important. It helps to think back to a memory of a happy time before the age of 5 or 6 (5 or 6 is the age when we usually give up, (if you have a narcissistic parent or an unsupportive or unsafe environment or some trauma), and develop a false self to survive–Alice Miller).  This memory is your true self making itself known to you. Thinking back to that moment can give you strength as to your positive happy potential.  You can recover your true self again if you can see that you didn’t get the validation of your feelings that  you deserved. Then finally release those painful emotions.  The next time you over-react to stress or have a full-blown post traumatic stress episode you can look at it as a healing opportunity.  Learn to recognize and release your painful feelings and then relate them back to the origins of when they occurredthis  is how true healing occurs.  Hopefully you can find a counselor or coach who has experience with inner child healing as a safe person to trust with your truth.

I had first remembered my mother’s comment about my early hospitalization with no emotion at all for that experience on the tiny sensitive child that I was.  Now I have much compassion for the pain I experienced and that all infants and toddlers go through in these early childhood hospitalizations without parents present.  Nowadays, doctors know not to keep parents from their children at these young ages when attachment and security is so crucial but back in the 60’s they hadn’t learned this yet. Thank goodness times are better now.  I was encouraged to stay and sleep in the hospital room for several days with my first-born when he had pneumonia when he was 2.  And my second born never left our room after she was born and I gave her first bath. I am grateful to have experienced such compassionate hospital experiences for my own children.

This ailment that I mentioned is still causing me stress even though it is beginning to heal.  I won’t go into detail about it except that it is chronic pain, slow to heal, and it has become clear to me that it requires more of my attention, more rest, and I must make some adjustments in my activities.  So unfortunately I must take a temporary leave of absence from this blog. 😦  You might call it a sabbatical because I am determined to return stronger than ever and with even more wisdom and insight to share. It is my hope that during this time you will support and answer each others comments since I will be unable to do so.  This has already been happening by some regular commenters, which has been wonderful to see–when you reach out and support someone else who is hurting, the good feeling that you receive from helping others is exhilarating and wonderful.  I hope that you will try it out and see what I mean. 🙂

I am not going to say goodbye, I am just going to say take care of yourselves and each other while I am gone and I will be back!  🙂

Warmest wishes and love to you all,

Roxanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poem of Hope and Healing for the Highly Sensitive Survivor

By Roxanne E. Smith

March 22, 2011

Pain so deep, I can’t see the light

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

The sadness is thick, despair all around

I envision a child giving up with no sound

Pain so deep, I hide all my hope

Afraid to come out, I feel like a dope

Worthless and horrible, don’t ever try

The pain is unbearable, can’t even cry

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

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

I am feeling much better just admitting this truth

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

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

When bad things do happen we need love when we cry

Someone has to hold us and give us new hope

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

No wonder I hid my talents away

When I would do well then I was their prey

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

Shame became my deepest scar

But who was this child all hidden in shame

An innocent victim who will never be the same?

She thinks she is nothing but she is so wrong

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

Scoop up that child all broken and battered

Love her and hug her and tell her she matters

She’s awesome and wonderful, they were so wrong

Talented, creative , and smart all along

Sensitive soul you were so beaten down

But you figured it out and now you can leave town

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

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

Be kind to yourself when the pain comes back ’round

Love yourself through it, your true self is found

You know the truth and now you can be free

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

Relax into the pain and it will dissipate

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

To believe in yourself and your talents and dreams

You are good at compassion and so many things

They did not want you to succeed with your gifts

So they made you give up and they threatened with fists

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine this energy going outward from you

Then let in the light and the love from a place

Where angels don’t want you to live in disgrace

You know what love is because you give it so freely

To others who need it when they’re feeling needy

Give to your self all this love all the time!

You will find your true purpose and all will be fine

These lessons are so hard that we learn from our pain

But we discover our strengths again and again

So sensitive souls who survived from abuse

Your gifts are so needed to be put to good use

I know how you feel and I hope you feel better

Because we can overcome it if we do it together!

I hope that this poem has helped you to feel loved

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

I understand and I want to comfort your pain

I hope this is helpful.  Love, Roxanne Elaine

The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and The Body–An Awakening To the Importance of Listening To It and Core Strength

Hi everyone.  I am back and writing again. Yay!  I hope you are enjoying the beauty of this spring season and all the brilliantly colorful flowers. Thank you to those who commented or emailed me such wonderful wishes.  It was quite a traumatic ordeal for me but I believe there are lessons in all things that happen to us–especially the painful things.

As a highly sensitive child, I have always been sensitive to pain and felt my pain more acutely than others–both physically and emotionally. I have childhood wounds related to how I was cared for during illnesses and also a hospitalization as a toddler.   Being “laid up” as I have been the last few weeks has broken open many of those wounds so that I could remember, reframe them with the truth of who I was, and finally grieve, release and heal the repressed emotions.

I had always had a hard time when I was sick–I would beat myself up, blaming myself for causing it–always finding it difficult to rest in order to heal–sometimes even prolonging my illnesses because of the stress I added to the illness.  I discovered this 2 years ago when I had 2 bad viruses back to back.  I had to face up to the fact that I had to change how I pushed my body too far and was terrible at resting and relaxing.  Things like this always have their foundations formed in childhood.  My husband could see the patterns I couldn’t see as clearly.  “Don’t be so hard on yourself, relax and let your body heal “, he would always say.  “Take it easy, don’t do anything today but rest.” It helped but as soon as I recovered I’d go back to my bad habits of not listening to my body.

If you’ve read my post from June 15, 2010 on HSPs and allergies and stress-related illness you know that I am recovering nicely from adrenal fatigue. Developing stronger boundaries has definitely helped reduce the negative energy in my life and the “fight-or-flight” responses to stress that I had a pattern of.  When your body reacts to stress with a fight-or-flight reaction you have increased cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body in the form of adrenaline.  This is an “extreme fear” reaction that I believe many HSPs with  childhood wounds do not even realize they are experiencing because it is combined with the numbing or anesthetic effect that goes along with the adrenaline rush.  What I now have learned is that even positive events in life can trigger this fight-or-flight response if you had the daily trauma in your childhood.

It’s like post traumatic stress in a way–any event, positive or negative,  can open the wound and the internalized belief  “I am not good enough as I am, I must work extra hard to be perfect to be loved”.  These are the roots of the compulsions of perfectionism, workaholism, burnout, and exhaustion etc.  It is automatic and unconscious until we become aware of it, give voice to it,  and then can reassure ourselves and calm and slow ourselves down. Sometimes it takes an accident, illness, or an injury for us to awaken to the knowledge of:  “this pattern has to change–I am hurting myself by doing this!” 

For me it was the event of both my children coming home.  My 24-year-old son who lives 3 hours away and I hadn’t seen since Christmas was coming home for 4 days at Easter.  And my 20-year-old daughter was coming home from her semester studying abroad in Australia 2 days after Easter. I overdid it!  I was drained and exhausted but still so excited by the end of Easter evening–my low back/hip was aching but I ignored it. My son left after a wonderful visit but my daughter would be home in 2 days.  I ignored my hip pain and exhaustion and just had to go to the grocery to get her favorite foods, just had to go to the party store to buy welcome home decorations and balloons, just had to clean up her room and get it ready for her, just had to hang up the banners and reach and stretch to hang lots of streamers in the main area of the house. All that stretching and twisting was way too much for my already injured sacroiliac joint! (I had moved boxes out of my son’s room to prepare for his visit).  I thought I just needed a chiropractic adjustment and I’d be good as new–but I was continually injuring the ligaments to my sacroiliac joint!  I didn’t listen to my body–it was begging me to stop, begging me to rest, “all this isn’t necessary, don’t do it” my intuition whispered to me. But “I have to” was a louder voice.  I now realize my childhood fear of “not being good enough as I am” was playing out my trauma from the past into the present.

I did cut back on some things I had planned to do and rested with heat and ice packs for 3 hours before we picked up my daughter at the airport–but it was too late!  The damage was done!  And as the adrenaline wore off and my daughter settled into our home with “Mom, you shouldn’t have!”, she ended up being so right!  I shouldn’t have!  And I will never forget this painful lesson of ignoring pain in my body again.  (I ended up in the ER with excruciating pain 1 and 1/2 days later–see my last post for more info.)

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.  Besides adrenal fatigue, I have never had anything chronic and this was chronic excruciating pain. I thought I had discovered a healthy alternative to exercise with my specific carbohydrate diet that was and is the perfect solution for my highly sensitive digestive system.  Avoiding complex carbohydrates and sugar gave me more energy and kept my weight down.  So I fooled myself into believing I didn’t need to exercise.  (I tried exercising occasionally with fits and starts but the pain always made me quit–I now see there was emotional pain from my childhood tied into “getting stronger”.  I learned that often childhood wounds related to our bodies can have complex origins. Hsps can feel shamed with looks of disgust or disapproval when expressing themselves joyfully through their bodies–dancing, running, and playing can be seen as threats to a N parent who need their hsp children to stay dependent and near and “take care of them forever”.  This may be an unconscious act on the part of the N parent–The mixed message of “grow up”/”don’t grow up and leave me” leaves many HSPs to feel guilt about growing strong and competent and enjoying having strong bodies. HSPs can sense this message even though the parent may be completely unaware that they are projecting this onto their child.

Now I am told that if I’d had more core strength and the overall strength and stamina that only exercise can provide I could have avoided this injury.  With weak core muscles I put strain on the ligaments related to my sacroilliac (SI) joint and injured the ligaments severely. Sprained ligaments like I have takes 4-6 weeks to heal.  And you must be very careful not to reinjure them by doing too much too soon–I read that if you reinjure certain SI areas 4 or more times, you could end up with chronic pain there for the rest of your life!

And this week I did have a setback.  3 weeks in I was doing well and was finally able to pick things up off of the floor and drive etc. but I must have done too much and remember one sudden jolt that retriggered my pain and set my progress back a whole week!  Ugh!…back on the couch just when the pain was beginning to lessen.  But I learned from it and am now even more careful and even more grateful for the activities I took for granted before.

As bad as it sounds, this traumatic experience has changed my life for the better.  I learned:

1.  I avoided exercise because of the pain it caused me but that is nothing compared to the pain of being immobile and unable to function normally and perform the simplest of tasks like putting on ones own socks!

2.  I must commit to regular exercise as soon as possible after I heal.  My plan is to start walking and doing core strengthening daily and then I am going to do Pilates or yoga and join jazzercise again.  I loved Jazzercise classes in my 20’s and 30’s–I had stopped in 1999 when it became too fatiguing and painful for me (I didn’t know then that I already had symptoms of adrenal fatigue).  The adrenal fatigue is now better so I should be able to get back into it if I am very gradual and process the emotions as they come up.

3.  I must get in shape and get core strength for the first time in my life and stay that way!  I hope to get up to doing Jazzercise  3 times a week. Also I plan to do lots of hiking and biking with my husband which he loves to do but has always done without me because….well… honestly… I couldn’t keep up.  My body has now taken a front seat in my life–I am sorry I didn’t listen to it sooner!  Fear of this pain returning is a great motivator–muscle soreness is nothing compared to the intense chronic pain and the pain of being immobile and dependent on others for everything.

4.  I am too young for this kind of injury–I am only 49. Now my body has caught up to the “new beginning journey” that my heart and mind were already on!  And so for this wake up call I say, Thank you, Universe, for all that it taught me!!!

Wishing all of you love and kindness to your spirit, mind, and BODY!!

With love,

Roxanne

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

Updated March 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

Roxanne

Holiday Survival Tips–An HSPs Recovery From Artistic and Creative Self-doubt

Hi everyone.  It’s November!and there’s a briskness in the air and the awareness of the holidays approaching.  For many highly sensitive survivors that comes with a bitter-sweet feeling–of light and love from God above (the true reason for the season) mixed with the grief of a lost childhood and sad or painful holiday memories of being misunderstood and diminished.  Or it can be an overwhelming feeling of dread on some days for many reasons related to your present relationship with your some bullies in your life, and on other days of stress–being caught up in the busy-ness of getting ready for the big days ahead for your loved ones–often too busy to feel anything at all.

Depending on where you are in your recovery, it is normal for you to be feeling all of these different ways.  Be kind to yourself no matter how you are feeling and please try to slow down, breathe deeply and take self-care breaks–stop and be aware of the negative messages in your head and change them to kind words that you deserved as a child such as:  Everything is going to be all right,  You are doing a good job,  It’s okay to make mistakes,  You are special, deep, and a rare gift to this planet.

Affirmations you can say to yourself are:  I love and approve of myself, I am safe, and, my favorite, I give myself permission to be the best that I can be. This last one is helpful especially because often others may have been threatened and jealous of your gifts and so, sensing this, because you were highly sensitive and empathic, you protected them by hiding your gifts away so they would feel better.  Giving yourself permission to be the best that you can be can be so empowering and satisfying–like suddenly realizing, “Oh, wow, I don’t have to protect anyone anymore and I can just relax and be awesome!”  Many of you feel guilty for everything even for your own creative and artistic gifts! A caretaker from childhood may have caused you to feel shame for expressing them.  Please take your gifts out of hiding and take a good look at the truth of the gifts and talents that you brought with you to this planet.  They are your gifts and yours alone and you deserve to enjoy and feel good about them and share them with others!

With love,

Roxanne

For more about overcoming creative self-doubt please read my post from January 28, 2010 On Overcoming Self-doubt–The Story Behind My Songs Of Hope and Healing. 

 

  

Journaling for Joy and Finding My True Voice In A Poem

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

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

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

So here it is:

Joy, Our Birthright, Waiting There

By Roxanne Smith

Feb 21, 2007

Telling someone helped me heal

All the pain inside was real

No wonder I had been so tired

My whole heart had been so mired

So much grief to lead the way

Let it out, so much to say

I was never there for you

The way I thought I was, it’s true

Because I was empty – none to give

Alive but I just now learned to live

Soulful is the proper word

I have “me” – it sounds absurd

Let your painful feelings out

You can’t be whole and live without

Expression of unfairness do

Your soul will help you live anew

And learn compassion for your self

Don’t put feelings on a shelf

Any doubt is harmful thought

The truth is–look how far you got!

Negativity and blocks

To true self and joyful shocks

Being blamed can stunt our growth

Fear of feelings: anger, both

Also fearing joy and bliss

Pain comes up and we all miss

The connection to our rightful heir

Joy, our birthright, waiting there!

Love is what we all deserve

Joy it feels when then observed

Share it then and it comes back

Filling up the past we lacked

Helping others heal their wounds

Nothing like it – glowing moons

Stars are twinkling, warming sun

Nature loves us one by one

Let the love come down on you

It is there don’t block the view

Doubts of self will keep it blocked

You must trust your soul’l be rocked!

With this truth I’m trying to tell

Creative soul fear-blocked is hell

Heaven is a word away

Love is here please let it stay

You deserve its welcome home

Inside you it does belong

Love yourself I’m trying to say

God is trying – just light the way

Ask him to comfort your soul

Believe!  And he will rock and roll!

I’m not kidding this I know

I let out grief and felt a glow

A light inside I did believe

I’m OK. I feel. I grieve.

Compulsions all have fear beneath

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

Be yourself and kindness do

Serve to help others heal anew

Help them see that love transcends

We can all relax and mend

“Relax and enjoy your life

and everything will be alright!”

This phrase came in a dream so real

I hope this poem will help you heal

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

With Love,

Roxanne

Part 2–More Helpful Tips for HSPs With A Narcissistic Parent

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,

Roxanne

More Helpful Tips–For Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) With A Narcissistic Parent–Part 1

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.

With Love,

Roxanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love, Roxanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

Roxanne

Way Over Yonder lyrics
Songwriter: King, Carole

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

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

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

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

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

Childhood Pain Comes Up to Heal When Things Are Going Well

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

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

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

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

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

With Love,

Roxanne

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