If you could turn back the clock to when you were swaddled and soothed in the arms of your mother or caregiver, what would you wish they had done differently with respect to your sensitivity? What would have helped you thrive as you grew through your childhood into adulthood?
If your parents or caregiver could have had the awareness and knowledge about high sensitivity and how to care for a HS child, what might have been different?
I got the idea that as an infant I cried often, though generally not for very long, once my mother comforted me and gave me what I needed. A lot of things bothered me, and I obviously didn’t have words to explain what was wrong, and I’m sure I was upset by many things that may have seemed unusual or inconsequential, things that other babies might not have reacted to.
This is common for HS children. All of that input, all of those textures and lights and sounds, feeling hungry and wanting connection…all of this is more intense than average. There are many reasons Highly Sensing babies might cry.
My mother told me that one day, when I was 6 months old, she asked a neighbor to come help her with something she couldn’t do on her own. At the time, the current parenting culture was espousing NOT picking up your crying child immediately, but allowing them to cry for a while until they learned to self-soothe.
My mom had a very hard time doing this, just letting me cry, especially when she knew what I needed. I’m sure, too, she got tired of the crying and if this technique would minimize it, and ultimately help me self-regulate, all the better. But, challenging.
So, she left me with the neighbor with the explicit instructions to let me cry, to not soothe or pick me up no matter what.
So, I cried. And cried. I cried for two hours! And what went through my limited cognition at that time, when suddenly my support system disappeared and I got none of my needs met?
As an adult, I’ve always had a challenge with asking for help, for potentially being seen as ‘weak’, and with trusting that others will come through for me. Looking back, I think this 2 hours of crying and not getting my needs met was instrumental in the development of this mindset.
I did learn to self-soothe, to trust myself, to take care of myself. I’m very independent and resourceful, so that’s great. The asking for help and trusting has required a lot of personal work, and it’s a work in progress.
If I could turn back the clock, I would have had my mother ignore the recommendations and allow for my sensitivity to be recognized and supported. I would have had someone give her a book like Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Child so she could understand why I was sensitive to so many things and quick to cry. She would have understood why my skin wouldn’t tolerate most commercial soaps, why I needed all of the tags cut out of my clothes, why I didn’t like big groups of noisy kids, why I spent so much time alone in my room.
As I got older, thankfully, my family allowed me to be sensitive without negative judgment, without being told I needed to be different. I just knew I was seen as quirky and overly-sensitive, overly-picky, but I was very lucky to still feel loved and accepted.
What are the things you wish your caregivers had said to you, helped you with, done so you would have felt accepted and loved unconditionally? What would have even allowed you to feel loved FOR your uniqueness, rather than in spite of it?
You can make a list of all of these things, then see how you can give those very things to yourself now. How can you honor who you are AS sensitive, honor what your specific needs are to thrive? You may not be able to go back in time and have your parents give these to you, but you can give yourself the gift of unconditional acceptance, with your sensitivity,
and create the environment that not only sustains you, but helps you thrive.
And you can share these with your loved ones and ask for the support you need and deserve.
HSPs were born sensitive, we’ll always be sensitive, and that’s great. We can honor that sensitivity, be proud of it, and use it to shine in the world. If you’d like a guide to help you reach this place, I’d be happy to connect and see what this would look like. As an HSP myself, I’ve been there ❤️