Are you or your child ‘too sensitive’? Remember to say thanks!
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I had deep and powerful emotional – and sometimes physical – responses to other people’s energy, emotions, words, what they did say, what they didn’t say (but I could immediately interpret as if they had spoken) and how they behaved.
Over a number of years after growing up and attending many workshops I realized that I could be categorized as a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’, that is, someone that is very sensitive and aware of environment, energy frequencies and thought patterns.
Reading a book from Elaine Aron’s website about HSPs (highly sensitive people) I remember the author instructing me to thank people if they told me I was ‘too sensitive’, because my innate sensitivity was a gift that could help others. I was surprised that sensitivity could be a gift, but I’m beginning to realize more and more that for me, it is. Her website also includes some great self-tests for both adults and children.
How do highly sensitive people behave?
Light sensitivity – I’m sure there is a wide spectrum of behaviors, but my sensitivity can be environmental, especially with light (in most large stores with strip lighting I have to wear sunglasses…in Toys R Us once, which I rarely frequent, I literally ‘faded out’ and my husband had to steer me out of the store! I couldn’t think at all.
I have to live in a place with good light, and I can’t bear half shut blinds in the daytime, it feels physically irritating.
Over stimulation – If my energy is low or I’m tired or drained in some way, then I’d rather not be touched or spoken to given the choice. Being ‘talked at’ or being required to multitask becomes almost physically painful in those circumstances. In the modern world and certainly in family life, this can be difficult to deal with and often impossible to avoid!
Food textures – I have a ‘thing’ about textures also. I can bear to eat anything to ‘gloopy’, ‘lumpy’ or ‘blobby’, even to this day.
So custards, porridge, whipped/heavy cream, white sauces that are heavy or thick, even some kinds of cheesecake are an absolute no-no. I’ve only met one other adult with the same food sensitivities as myself, and weirdly she also owned two pieces of jewellery that were identical to mine which I have never seen anyone else wearing before or since!
So how is being highly sensitive a gift?
Believe me, I’ve asked myself that question a few times!
Well, here’s a couple of interesting examples.
When I was 2 or 3 years old my mother told me I would always scream and run away from a male friend of my father’s. I always knew I didn’t like this guy’s energy. Later in life, my mother confided in me that when my father wasn’t around, this guy would ‘come on’ to her. So even at age 2 or 3, I knew this person was not to be trusted. Knowledge ‘gifted’ by my sensitivity.
The texture thing – once into my teens I started to have trouble with eczema and digestive issues. After some research I realized that too much dairy ‘doesn’t agree’, (I’m probably slightly lactose intolerant). No wonder I wouldn’t eat those ‘gloopy’ sauces and ‘floppy’ desserts. My sensitivity told me not to and kept me healthy, at least until my teens! Eeeugh. Just makes me shudder to think about it!
Believe me when I say – you’ll enjoy having a highly sensitive person giving you reflexology or energy work!
Another gift of high sensitivity is often that I can tell or ‘sense’ where other people’s physical discomforts may lie, especially since I am so sensitive to my own. So, when giving a reflexology session, I often know where to go and where the ‘sore spots’ lie that really need working on your feet for example, if you’d rather talk or be quiet, and when you’d like to be covered up with a blanket. Bliss for the client! Another gift of sensitivity.
So what happens when a highly sensitive person has children?
Well, in my case I had a very sensitive little girl, who is definitely gifted in a number of ways and I’m going to write more in another post about her sensitivities and how I’ve dealt with them (so far).
How did I know she was going to be like me? Well, about 2 weeks after she was born she developed the dreaded 3 month colic.
I tried many things from vibrating chairs to walks to singing to under-stimulation, but she cried, by the clock, every day from 5.30pm to 11.30pm.
The only thing I found that prevented this happening was a bath. So she took lots of baths in the first three months. Almost three months to the day from when the colic started, it stopped. Now I had colic too for three months shortly after I was born…my mum had told me about it many times!
This was my first taste of parenting a highly sensitive child. It certainly started another journey for me about understanding myself better, and empathizing with my mother’s experience of parenting me..more stories to follow!
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