My mum used to tell me how I would scream if we were walking out and they were digging up the road. I couldn’t stand the intrusive screaming noise of the drill. Similar would happen when the spin cycle came on the washing machine. That noise! So overwhelming.
My dad loved to call me “Fuss-pot Annie”.
My boss, in a job I once did, did a great job of mocking and humiliating me in front of others when I jumped and yelped (a little) after being startled by the static when I touched the photocopier. I was startled by the shock and shocked by her reaction.
None of them understood.
And I didn’t know then what I know now. Now, having had Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person brought to my attention, I recognise myself as an HSP – someone with the innate trait of SPS (Sensory Processing Sensitivity).
What a relief to have learned that I am -that HSPs are normal even if in some way different. That I am – that we are in good company with around 20% of the population.
And it’s not only the human population – apparently at least 100 species have HSPs among them, and all horses have this trait to some degree.
Today in the park I became aware of an incredible dog, a rather large dog, with stunning colouring, standing very still. It had a very special way about it with a gentle, calming presence despite its grandeur. I spoke with his owner and learned that he was a therapy dog, taken two or three times a week to visit and help patients in hospital. A highly sensitive dog. Horses are often used as therapy animals too. HSPs bring a highly nurturing added value.
HSPs anyway have a deep, intuitive and perceptive empathy for others – the struggle is often finding acceptance for the self. Especially if we were misunderstood and not supported in the way we needed when we were children.
So adulthood as an HSP can arrive with a legacy of compromised self-esteem and highly-charged struggle. However HSP children who have appropriate encouragement and support often do better than others in adulthood. So, if you’re the parent of an HSP child, I recommend even more so that you are clued up in how to best support them. It will pay off.
For HSPs who have been scarred, it is possible to transcend the past, heal the old hurts. With education, exploration and learning comes discovery, insight and awareness and the chance to move from that harsh place of self-berating, self-loathing, self-denial, low self-esteem, ambivalent self-acceptance to a gentle and generous space of understanding, compassion, self-acceptance, self-belief, self-confidence, self-value – and more.
So, get learning!