Recognizing the Oz Within

I love the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. Not only is it a compelling story that I never tire of watching, it is a stunning example of the differences in perception between highly sensitive people (HSPs) and the rest of the population. If you know the story, you know that the main character, Dorothy, lives in Kansas. Here is the black, white and every shade in between of the world we know. You can perceive reality in its starkest, most fundamental state.

Dorothy is like most of the rest of the population of our planet. She knows no different, that is until she lands in Oz. She opens the door into a vibrant and brilliant world. One that shines. It is a wonder to the eyes and to the other senses. Life takes on a whole new energy. Her vision is crisper, and it presents her world in a different light to her.

Explore what lies beyond the rainbow
“Double rainbow seen from Lower Mammoth” by YellowstoneNPS is marked under CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

But color or lack of color is not the only difference between Kansas and Oz. She is surprised by the idiosyncrasies of Oz. All the elements of life are there, but they declare themselves in strange new ways. Dorothy is surprised by these differences enough to tell her little dog, “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.“

We HSPs are born into a black and white world, seeing the wonder of Oz. If you are like myself, you spent much of your life trying to push your Oz perception into the Kansas landscape. But now you are realizing that Oz is where you belong. If so, this blog is for you.

Here, we will

  • Explore the advantages that your highly sensitive nature gives you;
  • Learn how to better face the challenges of the negative aspects of high sensitivity; and,
  • Learn how we can support our fellow HSPs as well as teach the rest of the world about us, and what we have to offer.

We humans know, discern, and understand what our world consists of through our senses. Sensual perception tells us how the world works. One of an HSP’s qualities is that of enhanced sensual perception. Perception that goes beyond the black and white vision of the normal world. Normal perception gives enough information to navigate through a lifetime. But the color world as perceived by Dorothy in Oz is more dazzling. And the vividness exposes that which cannot be seen by typical vision. A radiance which yields a deeper understanding to life.

Highly sensitive people everywhere are beginning to recognize the truly wonderful gifts that we have. While we acknowledge that we are not superior to anyone else, we also honor how our difference gives us certain advantages inaccessible to the other 80%-85% of the world.

With this blog, I hope to inform, enhance, and inspire. As you discern the unique idiosyncrasies of your uniqueness, life in Oz will soon become more comfortable.

Join me as we explore Oz together.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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How Should I Explain my “Overwhelm” to a Non-HSP?

I recently made the mistake of using the term “overwhelm” wrong. During a discussion where I was asked if I needed any support, I mentioned to a supervisor that I was feeling a bit “overwhelmed.” My reason for stating this was because the workload at that time was massive and the deadlines were tight. Without digging into exactly why I felt overwhelmed, my supervisor suggested that I take advantage of the company’s employee assistance program.

My supervisor’s helpful response was not helpful. While I believe wholeheartedly in the power of talking to professionals when mental health issues arise, it was not a mental health crisis I was dealing with. It was an “overstimulation” situation. It was the chaos and pressure deadlines that were causing my stimulated nervous system to increase my stress. And with the added stress, cause me to get flustered and make more mistakes.

I cannot blame my supervisor. She is a non-HSP and has no frame of reference for what I was going through. And what’s worse is that I didn’t know how to respond. This caused me to make a change. I didn’t want to find myself in another situation like this. So here is my plan:

Make Everyone Aware of Sensory Processing Sensitivity and Its Relationship to HSPs

Sensory processing sensitivity is the term used to describe the highly sensitive personality trait which HSPs share. Having SPS means that my nervous system is more sensitive to stimuli coming into it at every moment.  It is a genetic personality trait, not a disease that needs medical treatment.

Being highly sensitive has advantages and disadvantages. It is important that everyone become aware of us because we comprise 15% to 30% (depending upon the research) of the population. The corporate world is beginning to acknowledge our existence, and to take advantage of our strengths in the workplace.

And, of course, I will be sure to tell others, “Hey, I’m one of these people.”

Grow in my Knowledge

New research is being done every day. New folks are discovering their sensitive natures and sharing their experiences with it. There are whole communities growing up to help support and educate one another. It is truly an exciting time to be highly sensitive, and one in which we can access information about ourselves. I plan to take advantage of that.

Stop Being Afraid to Share That Knowledge

As many HSPs, I grew up feeling ashamed of my sensitive nature. I was accused of being “too sensitive” as a means of control and put down for my obvious sensitivity. Knowing no different, I believed them. This deeply ingrained misbelief is not an easy one to change. But I remind myself daily that it is who I am, and that it is good for me. That because of it I have wonderful traits that help others and the world at large. I revel in this knowledge and want to see my brothers and sisters recognize their gifts also. Sharing knowledge helps me, and it helps others.

When a Misconnect Occurs, Correct It

After I have done all this, it will not be so awkward when a non-HSP reacts as described above. I have the empathy to explain the miscue tactfully, and the insight to know that letting the rest of the world in on who we are and how we are different only helps move our world into a more understanding and tolerant place to be.

I now have a plan to address the question, “How should I explain my “overwhelm” to a non-HSP?” I hope this plan is helpful to you also.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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When You Can’t Escape the Cruelty; 3 Tips to Cope

The world can be a cruel place for a highly sensitive person. Especially now, narcissists and energy vampires seem to be coming out in droves. They are all around. Escape from their presence is the preferred way to go. Your go-to response should be leaving abusive relationships, finding another job, turning off the media’s rhetoric of hate (Bdelygmia), or otherwise putting distance between you and the aggressor.

But if you can’t do that, or you can’t do that right now, you need an alternate approach. A strategy that allows you a mental disconnect if you cannot have a physical one. Here are three strategies that I use:

One: Practice Love

I want to be clear to start with here. I am not suggesting that you condone what is inappropriate behavior. Cruelty is never acceptable. But there is little to no hope that someone who is cruel on a regular basis will see their behavior as wrong. You gain nothing by responding with cruelty of your own. It only fuels their response and increases their anger.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

As an HSP, you have an advantage. You can sense their moods, understand their motives, and intuit their triggers. What fires their rage? Using that knowledge, avoid setting them off. A calm, yet strong voice of reason works to still their emotion and keep the situation from escalating. If the situation is beyond that and the former doesn’t work, be silent. Cruelty cannot get a stranglehold in the face of a loving response.

Two: Look for the Lesson

Whatever happens in life has a reason for doing so. We live our lives in relationship for a reason, and that reason is that we grow through those interactions. Patience, endurance, and love are only a few of the general lessons you can learn. A specific event happens as it does for a specific reason. It’s your job to understand why. Your extensive ability to process those intents on a deeper level will give you the advantage and help you grow through it.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Three: Turn to Gratitude

There is always someone who is worse off than you. And here’s the kicker – it’s that person who is being cruel. Cruelty arises from hate. How sad it is to be in a frame of mind that all you can see and feel is animosity, acrimony, and antagonism. You know how negative emotions like that make you feel within your heart. Be grateful for the peace of mind that gives you freedom from the torture of a hate-filled mind.

Remind yourself of the joys you experience. Give thanks for your peace. Write in your gratitude journal all that is good in your life. Restore your soul.

If you are having trouble being grateful, sit quietly and do the Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness, Ho’oponopono. After clearing your mind in meditation, repeat “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Continue the chant for five minutes, or longer if you like. This transformative prayer works wonders in restoring your soul’s balance and resetting your mind.

Cruelty is all too prevalent in today’s lifestyle. Fight it with love and gratitude. You may feel like you are losing the cruelty battle, but in the end, you are winning the war.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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The Migraine/Sensitivity Connection

Thirty-five years ago, I discovered an interesting fact. I was confronting my increasing migraine problem head-on, determined to understand and overcome its debilitating effect on me. Keeping a headache diary, I became very aware of the circumstances that would trigger an attack in myself. In addition to some common triggers, like alcohol and certain foods, I detected something I had never come across as a trigger. What I found was that when I expressed a strong emotion by crying, it would induce a migraine.

This insight went against the grain of my common sense. I knew that expressing emotions was a healthy activity. But I felt this happened so frequently that it needed to be looked at closer. I ventured to disclose this observation to the psychologist that I was seeing as part of my treatment at the time. Instead of taking it into consideration, he chastised me. “You have to allow yourself to cry,” he said, “it’s healthy to cry.”

As a result, I pushed that piece of information aside in my mind and began to dread any emotion that might bring about a crying incident, simply accepting what I knew would follow. At that time, I realized very little about my sensitive nature, other than that I was a sensitive person. And I certainly did not connect the two together.

Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

Fast forward to today, the medical/scientific community still has not widely accepted that there is a connection between migraine and high sensitivity. Little, if any, research has been done on that possibility. But there is strong anecdotal evidence. As HSPs discover their true natures and begin to accept their traits as normal, they are beginning to find connections to other parts of their lives.

It makes sense that the two would be linked. HSPs’ nervous systems are more responsive to environmental stimuli. Smells, light, barometric pressure, etc. are external sources of stimulation common to both migraineurs and HSPs. Internal stimuli are also common to both. The big internal stimulation is emotional highs and lows.

As unique individuals, we all experience the various stimuli differently. This is because we have a one-of-a-kind bodymind (the structure that is the relationship between the body and the mind). Not every HSP will experience migraines, only those whose bodies are predisposed to them. But, if you are predisposed, you will also have different triggers, symptoms, and pain thresholds.

As a sensitive, you will be more reactive to any stimuli. We all know this from our personal experiences. My guess is that people who have gotten one or two migraines in their life tend to be of normal sensitivity. And those who struggle with the malady on a more frequent level are highly sensitive.

I am curious to know, if you have migraines, how you perceive this connection. Tell me your stories.

As for me, I eventually learned how to cope with the emotional upset migraine. I have worked on calming techniques my whole life (meditation, yoga, breathing, etc.) to help calm my nervous system in general.  And, for those times when a strong emotion hits that requires crying, I use those techniques to temper the physical reaction to them. I have learned to self-talk my way through the emotion, still experiencing it, but moderating its expression so as not to excite and overwhelm my nervous system. As a result, I have fewer migraines following an emotional upheaval.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Are HSPs the Hope for the Future?

Sigmund Freud said there was no such thing as an accident. I believe wholeheartedly in this supposition. In my experience, much if not all of what happens has a very specific reason. We’re seeing a large-scale example of this play out right now. And it has an important message for HSPs.

Our world has been slowly working toward aggressive, self-centered, entitlement for decades now. More and more people blindly follow power-hungry, narcissistic leaders. Special interest groups use hostility and hate to force their destructive self-indulging agendas onto society at large with no empathy toward the greater good. Community harmony is devolving into chaos. If we are not careful, the divide and conquer maxim will destroy any sense of harmony humanity still clings to.

Enter the recognition and awareness of the highly sensitive movement, introduced in the mid-90’s by Dr. Elaine Aron, it has awakened and empowered slowly and gently a sleeping giant. Our numbers are not large, but there are enough that, when combined, hold substantial influence. We’ve been slow to use our gifts having been chastised for so long for having them. But the time is right now for us to step forward and make our voices heard.

Image courtesy of Geralt through Pixabay

We have spent a couple of decades now coming into our own. We’ve learned how our gifts are just that. They are not traits to be quashed, but to be celebrated and used for the public good. They add an element of cooperativeness and respect for all opinions to an otherwise divisive environment.

These are the qualities we can supply to help bring about a more equitable world:

Observation: We notice subtleties in manner and attitude. We instinctively see sincerity over deceit, enlightenment over ignorance. We distinguish the manipulated from the manipulators. All advantages that help drill down to and expose the truth.

Depth of Processing: We are known for digging deeply into any issue. We see connections obscured to others. These qualities help us discern the details, work out long-term consequences, see the figurative forest about the trees.

Employ Empathy: We have super-charged empathy. We seek meaning in all we do. And that meaning is driven by our enhanced empathy. Empathy for everyone involved ensures that the best interests of all concerned will be taken into consideration in working toward the final goal.

Abhor Violence. Since we hate violence, we seek answers that don’t resort to it. And we work toward eliminating violence as part of the solution. We believe peaceful resolution is possible.

As we emerge as a group into our own and develop our value, we become vital to creating a future filled with compassion and hope. We cannot do it alone. We have our own shortfalls that non-HSPs are more equipped to handle. But growing into our mission as truthtellers and peacekeepers, we provide a crucial element that so far has been missing from the strife. We are at the precipice, and we must decide if we will follow our previous path of noninvolvement or contribute in a meaningful way. The world needs our abilities. Will you contribute yours?

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Three Ways to Manage Sensory Overload for the HSP

One of the thrilling parts of being an HSP is the amount and intensity of emotional and bodily sensation we experience. From moment-to-moment we are on a never-ending roller coaster of heightened feeling. Whether it’s a strong emotional surge throughout our being or a shadowy pain that strikes us the moment we sense another’s pain, we move through our days experiencing life in its fullest through our senses.

It’s not hard to understand how dealing with this constant barrage of feeling can and does overload the HSP. While we enjoy the insight this phenomenon gives us, we suffer when the overload becomes too overpowering.

Take heart – there is hope. You can take preventative measures to manage that overload. Here are some important ones:

Pay Attention to the Signs

Sensitive people are usually highly creative. Our minds are always gathering subtleties, collecting insights, drawing inspiration from our environment. All this in the hope of quenching the driving force for creation within us. Whether that drive expresses itself through painting, entrepreneurship, music, writing, or any number of the many artistic outlets there are, we must channel our energies through them.

While this is an attractive quality, if not held in check, it can overwhelm us. The key to regaining our equilibrium is to set our internal awareness to high. If we remind ourselves to mentally check in on when this is happening, we can step back and decompress.

Some of the ways I use to accomplish this is through meditation, meditative movement like tai chi or yoga, or simply a relaxing walk. My favorite way is to take our two dogs for a short walk around town. They love the adventure, and I am rejuvenated.

Be in the Moment

Live in the now. When you find yourself lamenting the past or fretting about the future, pull yourself back to the now. We only have control in the moment that we are currently in. You cannot change the past so there is no plausible reason to go there. The future comes as it will. Set goals but remain flexible. Life tends to bring us what we need when we need it. If we are too busy trying to manipulate it, we miss all the wonder and joy of the present.

Being grounded in the moment takes away unnecessary stimulation. When your focus remains on the present, the swirls of avoidable stimulants disappear.

Be Solitary

Separate yourself from the stimulant. Whether it’s people or a task, if you are too overwhelmed you won’t be good company, or you can’t give your best to the job at hand. Be kind to yourself – leave the stimulant and spend time alone. Indulge a hobby you enjoy. Breathe in the fresh air of nature. Take in a book in a quiet library (yes, libraries do still exist).

When you are back to your equilibrium, you can return, if necessary, to the source of arousal.

The increased sensory input we experience is a special gift, but it can also plague us if we don’t manage it well. If we are vigilant, we can enjoy its vitality without letting it overpower us. Choose self-care – you’re worth it.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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The Lovingkindness Paradox and the Highly Sensitive

For anyone who has followed my blogs, you know that I advocate an attitude of lovingkindness. I strongly believe in practicing love and kindness in a world filled with hate, greed, and a me-centered consciousness. It is a powerful tool that, used along with tolerance and compassion, will bring about the positive change our world so desperately needs.

We as HSPs are equipped to lead in this fight. Our strong empathy gives us an advantage in that lovingkindness tends to naturally inhabit our nature. No doubt, we have the advantage in feeling and practice. But many of us are at a disadvantage too. We struggle with drawing the line.

And a line must be drawn. Unfortunately, we live in a world where energy vampires, narcissists, and all-around nasty people also live. Their ranks seem to multiply exponentially each day. These people will abuse and manipulate anyone they meet.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Highly sensitive people are sought-after targets. Our empathy and compassion provide fuel for their insatiable appetites for exploitation. Our thin boundaries (defined as a porous and transparent border between us and others) crave intimacy. By nature, we are open and trusting. Sometimes so much so that we overwhelm our systems.

People view us as caring and compassionate. So, they seek us out for comfort and an encouraging ear. This is one of our gifts to others. But when another person turns that act of kindness into abuse and manipulation on their part, this is when they become destructive to us. This is the invisible line that we often find difficult to draw.

But draw it, we must. When we encounter these people, we must learn to shift, from that person to ourselves, the lovingkindness that we naturally espouse. A challenge for the charitable soul that lies within.

True lovingkindness includes us. If we are to give into the exploitation by such people, we are not practicing lovingkindness. We are contributing to the cruelty that they inflict by allowing it to happen. Here, the loving and kind thing to do is to assertively stand up to and refuse to be damaged by the offender. In this way we say with our actions that their behavior is unacceptable. Letting them know this is spreading the truth. Whether they choose to accept it or not is their responsibility.

I am not advocating lashing out at them. This is never appropriate, and we are not immune to falling prey to it. But taking a calm, collected but strongly assertive stand to protect ourselves is necessary.

Being kind to yourself as well as to others is the ideal. Knowing when and to whom to apply that lovingkindness is the paradox. Knowing and understanding this will help you define your boundaries while continuing to embrace your highly sensitive gifts.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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Choice Affects Everything – Here’s How You Develop Your Gifts Through the Choices You Make

Your choices, from the tiniest to the major life choices, affect not only you, but everyone within your sphere of influence. That’s an ominous thought. Every choice you make has a consequence. We know that one of our traits is conscientiousness. We tend to have solid values that reflect our inner sense of what is right. And we follow our principles. Let’s see how our choices affect us and others:

Depth of Processing

One of our most precious gifts is the ability to process complex problems on a level much deeper than the average person.

Our choice to apply honorable values to this processing advances all that is good for the whole of society. Taking this responsibility as our driving force, we not only develop ethics and morals in the solutions we come up with, but we strengthen our own.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Creativity

As HSPs, we long to create. Each of us forge a work of art through the avenues that draw us. Whether it’s a business idea, a sculpture or other art form, music, writing, or any other form of creation, what results benefits those around us.

Our choice to put integrity and quality into our works, speaks to those we serve. As we pursue this practice, we develop our ability to communicate what is positive and good.

Gratitude for Simple Blessings

Our choice here helps to remind us of what is most important in our lives. We set an example for others, while keeping ourselves grounded in humility.

Empathy

High emotional quotient is the new buzzword for sought-after business traits. It’s about time business got around to appreciating this very desirable trait. When we use our empathy to bring solutions that have understanding and responsiveness to the feelings of others at the core of their being, we provide products and services that benefit everyone.

Our choice to speak up with our empathetic minds and hearts keeps business moving toward truly serving humankind. As we develop our voices, our confidence gives us the fuel to make larger and larger contributions.

Perceiving Subtitles

This trait covers a wide range of benefits for other people. We can perceive nuances that expose hurt, shame, or other negative traits, which we can address with our empathy. We see associations and implications that can answer questions that a less detailed approach might miss.

Our choice to consciously apply this trait to special projects, volunteer activities, and everyday interactions brings fresh perspective and insight that might not otherwise be available. As when you use a muscle, it grows stronger and more vital, so it is with this trait, strengthening relationships along the way.

Love of Nature

A non-HSP may look at a pre-sunrise sky and say, “Wow, that’s pretty.” Then, walk away. Another person who is highly sensitive sees the same sight. They stare in awe and wonder, allowing the beauty to seep into their hearts and pull the tears to their eyes. The HSP perceives the subtle differences in the pinks, yellows and purples as they blend in perfect harmony to create emotions in the viewer like peace, composure, and appreciation for the divine in a simple landscape.

We are the guardians for nature. We see beauty through the nuances of our environment. Our choice here is to alert to and protect the delicacy that surrounds us. Through our decision to share with others just how infinitely blessed we are to inhabit such artistry, we deepen our own emotional relationship with the universe.

Our choices have power. Making the right choices for our personal value systems helps us grow while making a positive contribution to the world we live in.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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The Importance of Self-Care for the HSP

Self-care is a buzzword we’ve all heard for many years now. We’ve been urged to take care of ourselves from many experts. I personally have regimes given to me by my chiropractor, my GP, my eye doctor. Then, there are the general admonitions to exercise, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, prevent cancer, etc.

The marketing industry has seized the whole movement, using it as an excuse to make their products necessities. In response, many people resist the concept as only a marketing ploy. But at the base of the movement is solid, positive intent. We should take responsibility for caring for ourselves.

Image by Tommy_Rau from Pixabay

It is no different for the HSP.

Thick vs. Thin Boundaries

Years ago, the concept of boundaries was defined by Dr. Ernest Hartmann as a concept to describe personality differences. Those with “thick” boundaries have a well-defined sense of who they are as opposed to another person. The relationship between themselves and their emotions is solid and unbreachable. “Thin” boundaried people have a more permeable surface. They can sense and often actually feel another person’s emotions within their own border. The line is porous and transparent. HSPs have thin boundaries.

Thin boundaries are what define our sensitivities. In response we are open, experience tremendous empathy, trust, and intimacy with other people. Traits that make us into caring and care-taking individuals. As such, we contribute compassion, deeply felt understanding, and tolerance to the world around us.

While having thin boundaries has its benefits, it also has its downside. We become easily exhausted as we experience not only our own emotions, but those of the people around us. We are sought out by people who need a caring and kind ear. The weight of the world seems to fall on our shoulders. It takes its toll on our health. To keep from burnout, physical health deterioration, and mental exhaustion, we must take steps to care for ourselves.

This is often difficult for the caring and compassionate HSP to say “no” to those who demand our time and attention. But it is necessary for us to be able to function properly as a contributing HSP. I urge you to make HSP self-care a part of your life. Here are some tips to start you off:

  • First and foremost, allow yourself enough time and space to gather your equilibrium.
  • Stick to what’s important in your life – you are one person. You cannot save the world single-handedly.
  • Create time for solitude. Carve out alone time. Shut the door and be by yourself for at least part of your day.
  • Make downtime your own. Allow yourself to indulge in what makes you feel good. Take in nature, write, meditate, exercise, listen to music, take part in a hobby, read. Whatever gives you solace.
  • Nurture your spirit. Do an activity that brings you greater connection with your soul. Seek out a deeper sense of meaning.
  • Strengthen your boundaries. Learn to say “no” to people’s requests of you when you are overloaded.
  • Connect with animals and plant life. Their presence has a healing effect. I start each day walking our two dogs. They love it and I find it lifts my spirits and gives me energy to go into my day.

Find what rebuilds your own personal balance. Then commit to a daily practice. In the long run, it will help keep you healthy and active in your life as an HSP.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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An HSP’s Personal Experience with ASMR

ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a very hot topic these days for those seeking relief from the stresses and distresses of life. If you don’t know what ASMR is, read this article first.

This phenomenon just recently came to my attention. And I became curious. Whenever something involves the senses, it gets my immediate scrutiny. So, I went to YouTube to give it a try.

I searched out several different interpretations offered by different creators. On every one of them I found that I had to stop the video after the first minute or so. The sounds that were being pumped into my headphones were annoying to me. Those sounds that were supposed to be soothing were overstimulating my nervous system in a negative way. Much in the same way that a clothing label promptly begins to “annoy” the part of my body it touches, causing me sensory anxiety.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I do, on an intellectual level, understand how those sounds may trigger comfort and peace to someone. But to me, they were just the opposite. At first, I thought that maybe it was that particular creator’s video – perhaps in the way they presented the sound – that was the problem for me. However, after waiting enough time to regain my calm, I would try a different person’s rendition of the same sounds. In my personal experiment those sounds were whispers and crinkling paper, sometimes on a backdrop of soothing music, sometimes by themselves. I became overstimulated each time.

I found this interesting. I had gone into my examination hopeful. In the past, I’ve had a pleasant and thoroughly calming effect arise from another person “breaking an egg over my head.” To do this little exercise, you sit upright while another person gently taps the top of your head (as if to crack an egg), then places the tips of their fingers where the tap occurred. Simulating the egg dripping down your head, they begin to slide each finger slowly and lightly down everywhere except your face. They do this until they reach your shoulders. I didn’t know it at the time, but this process would fall under the ASMR umbrella of triggers. A type of gentle massage.

ASMR affects each person differently according to their own unique nervous system. So, I suspect that these are triggers that for someone else are soothing but are uncomfortable for me.

I also suspect that the response is increased in the HSP because of our increased sensory sensitivities. We have more finely tuned nervous systems that arouse easily to subtle stimuli. Which direction that arousal goes, pleasurable or annoying, is found in the intricacies of our individual makeup.

Even though my personal research did not turn out as I hoped it would, I would still encourage any HSP to find their own individual ASMR triggers and make use of them. We must be kind to ourselves and making use of ASMR techniques is one way in which we can do that.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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A Squirrel Never Asked to be Born a Squirrel – A Lesson for HSPs

When my son was much younger, he was a Cub Scout. Due to a bicycle accident, he missed the night his troop handed out the kits for making bird houses and other shelters for small wildlife. By the next meeting, the only shelter kit left was one for squirrels. The other boys chided him for getting “stuck” with the squirrel shelter no one else wanted.

My husband and our son took the kit home and worked together on assembling it. When finished, they scoured the yard for a place to put it. Once in place, we went to the store and purchased “squirrel” food (the closest we could find was bird seeds), so my son could attract the squirrels to their new home.

This incident was a good teaching moment because our son asked us that night why the other boys would tease him about being last and being left with the squirrel enclosure. Squirrels, of course, are considered more pests than they are vital parts of the wildlife environment. People generally try to eradicate them from their yards rather than attract them.

So why are they so scorned?

  • They are not particularly cute.
  • There seems to be numerous amounts of them.
  • They steal seeds humans put out to attract birds.
  • They have been known to chew through walls and inhabit attics.
  • As part of their inborn survival instinct to store food away for the winter, they bury nuts and seeds, then forget about them. We are forever digging up little trees that result from this activity.

Yet squirrels, like every other creature that occupies our earth, have their place. If we dig a little deeper, we see the greater picture:

  • They may not be especially cute, but they have many interesting and entertaining behaviors. Like rubbing an acorn across their faces. They do this to place their scent on it thereby increasing their chances of finding it later. They flip their tails about, chirp at you, and seem to glide from place to place with ease and grace.
  • Yes, there seems to be an overpopulated amount of them, but there are some types of squirrels whose numbers are waning and in danger of extinction.
  • As part of the natural environment, they view the seeds set out for birds as the “first come, first serve” of nature’s bounty. They have no idea that a human has decided for them that they should not be able to partake of those food sources.
  • Out of necessity, they chew. Their front teeth are always growing. They must chew to avoid this growth causing injury to their lower jaw and skull.
  • And that burying ritual they have – all part of their task to reshape plant composition in the forest. As nature’s gardeners, they are the planters that keep the ecosystem intact.

So why should we care? As HSPs, why be concerned with the squirrel? The answer is that we are so very much like them.

  • We are different, and sometimes that difference marks us as not “cute.”
  • Our population is a larger part of the human landscape than is comfortable for non-HSPs – 15%-20%. Only recently have HSPs begun to admit to their role, keeping the trait alive and openly flourishing.
  • We are a vital part of humanity in so many ways. We need to assume what is ours by nature and not let what someone else’s idea of how we should be hold us back.
  • Out of necessity, we act as who we were born to be. We need to practice those parts of us that make us different so we can contribute in our own way. Even if our behavior disturbs those who don’t understand.
  • Our contribution to the forest of life is vital – it has its critical mission. We bring empathy and understanding to the workplace. We practice conscientiousness and truth in all that we do. And with our depth of processing and attention to detail, we are good at strategic planning. All along with a healthy creativity and an awareness of subtleties in our surroundings.

A squirrel has no desire to be anything but a squirrel because he or she knows their strengths as well as their weaknesses and accepts them all. We should do the same.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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