Tuesday, January 30, 2007

HSP addendum

I’ve read some more by Elaine Aron and I want to say a little more about her work on highly sensitive people. As I said in my previous post, there is a great deal there that’s useful. I just want to caution anyone who had a difficult childhood that it can feel as if she has a negative bias toward those who did--assuming we are all bad bets for a relationship.

Now let me state clearly that I suspect I'm misreading what she is saying. I mention it in case anyone else has that reaction to reading an author I've suggested.

I believe this: We are all individuals. We will all be affected by abuse but not all to the same degree. It IS possible to grow up and be capable of love!

Yes, there will be greater challenges. And I know what the odds are. But individuals are not odds. We can find ways to heal and create healthy lives for ourselves.

I do want to make something else very clear. I know this: It is easy to blame the one with who was abused for problems in a marriage. I know from experience that in my marriage I blamed myself. It’s is also possible that it will look to the outside world as if it is the one who was abused who creates the problems even though it is the one who had the (apparently) normal childhood who actually does as much or more damage to the relationship and has as many (or more) problems with self-esteem.

So I want to encourage you to realize the power is in your hands--as it is in mine--to look clearly at situations and accept the responsibility that is ours and at the same time recognize when something is NOT our responsibility.

I still encourage anyone who gets easily overwhelmed, who takes in more information than most people, and who otherwise fits her profile of a highly sensitive person (HSP) to read her work. Use what is useful and (at least for the moment) don't worry about the rest. And don't let anyone ever cause you to doubt your ability to heal and create the life you want to have!

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Highly Sensitive Person

What I’m writing about today affects a certain percentage of us—perhaps a high percentage of those who read this blog. The title of this post comes from a series of books by Elaine Aron. About how roughly 15 to 20 % of any species is highly aware of stimulus and information in the environment.

One reason I think the percentage of those who read this blog may be higher when it comes to being highly sensitive is:

1) People who are highly sensitive may be more likely to be targets for abuse because we are “different.”
2) If we’re highly sensitive, we may be more likely to realize things an abusive person doesn’t want recognized and that may make us a target.
3) If we’re highly sensitive we may be more likely to develop skills and defense mechanisms that allow us to survive and work toward healing and thriving.

I’m not sure I agree with everything Aron says. I did find reading the book useful, however. It reminded me that we are all individuals. Bashing ourselves because we don’t respond like “normal” or “other” people is counter productive. The key question to ask will always be: What strategy could work for ME? What do I need to be happy and successful—whether or not that looks like what anyone else would need?

Now that’s useful whether or not one is HSP!

As I said, I’m not sure I agree with everything Aron says. But I am grateful to have found something that helped me see myself in a new way that does seem to explain a great deal—and in a generally positive way.

So, if you find yourself noticing things other people don’t and reacting to noise and temperature and stimuli more than most, you may want to take a look at this book.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ice Storms

We had ice storms here this past week. 9 days straight of cloudy, rainy days. Several days trapped in the house because the roads were iced over and it didn’t seem safe to drive. Everything was closed anyway.

It gave me a lot of time to think. About the life I’ve created for myself. About where I’m going and where I’ve been.

Ten years ago.... No, scratch that. Five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined my life as it is now. Ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined liking myself the way I do or feeling self-confident and knowing anywhere I go I can make friends.

I’ve lost some friends along the way. That’s always hard no matter what the circumstances may have been. I know, though, they were part of my life for as long as they were meant to be there and I’m grateful for that. Some friendships have changed, evolved into new dynamics. Some friendships are as strong as ever. And I have friends I couldn’t have imagined having ten years ago.

We didn’t lose power during the storms and so I was able to stay in touch with friends all across the country. I was able to share in their lives and let them know what was going on with mine. Ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined having this kind of network.

The ice storms are over now and odds are, where I am, we won’t have another one this winter. I’m grateful though for the time to stop and think and count my blessings. Maybe the biggest blessing is that I’ve gone from someone who always believed things would go wrong to someone who knows everything will be all right. I cannot express to all of you what a profound change that is!

I look back sometimes and it’s as if another person was living my life for all those years and my heart breaks that she had to be so unhappy for so long. But I know, too, that that was part of my journey, part of becoming who I am and who I will be. I know that if I could have changed sooner, I would have done so. These days I’m able to let myself be who I was and who I am and not judge myself against a standard of anyone else.

I wish there were more sunshine here now but I know it will come again. That’s a powerful metaphor for how I feel about my life these days as well. Even when something goes wrong, I know, deep down with the same certainty that things will be all right, that I will find a way to make them all right again.

I don’t often write about dark moments because I believe that as Anthony Robbins says: What we focus on becomes our reality. And yet I also believe there is value in stopping sometimes to see how far I’ve come, to acknowledge the depths of unhappiness I once knew so that I can more fully appreciate where I am now. It is also a reminder, when we look back, of the strength and resilience and courage and creativity it took to make changes in our lives.

When you look back, what changes do you see? Do you have a list of things you have accomplished in your life—big and small? Learning to walk. Learning to talk. Learning to read and write. These things matter because they are proof that we are capable of learning. Everything on your list is proof YOU can change and grow and work to create a better life.

I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and warm. I hope that on days when you find yourself unable to go out because of the weather, you are able to look back and recognize how far you’ve come.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This time of year is difficult for many people. It’s a combination of things, I think. There’s an inevitable letdown because the holidays are over. There’s less sunlight. It’s cold and one often stays inside because of the weather. There’s way too much time to think and habit for most of us is to think of what’s wrong with ourselves or our lives. This is a time of year when trying to be Susie Sunshine may not work—no matter what.

I’m not advocating getting lost in pain or self-doubt or sadness. Instead, I’m going to suggest sitting with the emotions. Being honest with ourselves about how we really feel about things, and then FOCUSING ON SOLUTIONS.

That last part is key—focusing on solutions. What actions could we take to cause things to change and get better? Note: We do not have to take any actions. All I’m suggesting is letting ourselves think of actions we COULD take. What are the pros and cons of each possibility? What are the resources we would need to succeed? How might our lives be different if we did make one or more of these changes?

It’s very powerful to take all pressure off ourselves by saying we don’t have to do anything or take any action. It makes it possible to brainstorm.

Mind you, I do believe that if we brainstorm ideas and realize the ways some of these ideas could make our lives much better, we are more likely to take action—because we want to, because the steps feel right, because we are ready. At the same time, it’s important to know that we don’t have to unless and until we ARE ready.

So...what changes might you make? What difference would it make in your life if you did? Do any of those possibilities brighten your day and make you smile? If so, can you take even the smallest step to begin to accomplish it?

Huge transformations all begin with little, tiny steps. Transformations begin with a realization of the possibilities and a faith that even if we can’t make the entire change, we can take that first baby step.

Wishing all of you joyful baby steps this week and in the months to come and sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Do you know how to play? That may sound like an odd question but so many of us who had difficult childhoods find that as adults we don’t play. We do things. We are responsible. There’s always something we SHOULD be doing. Rarely do we just play and if we do, we’re likely to feel antsy and believe we should be working on something useful instead. On some level we often feel that only by doing something can we justify our existence.

Ironically, if we allow ourselves to play, we will be more productive when we work and may well accomplish much more than if we didn’t let ourselves play. We are more likely to think of solutions to problems and ways to cope with the challenges in our lives.

It’s not uncommon for those of us who had difficult childhoods to realize one day that we don’t know how to play. Or, rather, more accurately odds are we have forgotten. If we go back far enough in our memories there was usually a time when we knew how to play before we were scolded out of it or told we didn’t deserve to play and came to believe it. On a subconscious level we may still believe it.

The epiphany that sometimes breaks this barrier is one someone I know had recently. She thought about how she would talk to and/or raise a child. She realized that of course she would want the child to laugh and play! Of course she would think he or she deserved to be able to do so! Of course she would want to see that child laughing and giggling and having fun! Wouldn't we all feel this way? And then she realized that SHE deserved to be able to laugh and giggle and have fun, too. She's right. She deserves to be able to do those things. In fact, we all do.

Does that make sense to you? Do you wonder, though, where to begin? For me it was to imagine a safe and beautiful place in my mind and imagine teaching the child I was how to play and picturing her flying kites, rolling around with puppies, eating ice cream cones (and not worrying about the mess!), coloring, splashing in the lake or ocean, dancing and singing and playing with friends.

It is a funny thing but when we love and cherish and nurture the child we once were, the adult us grows and feels safer and more loved as well. And we all need that—to be loved and nurtured and cherished—and accepted just as we are. When we can treat ourselves this way we are also more likely to be able to treat those around us this way. And if we can nurture and love ourselves then we are less vulnerable to the unkindness of or rejection by others. We are more likely to draw into our circle people who also are able to love themselves and therefore treat us with kindness and respect, too. We can be ourselves and not feel we have to meet the expectations of everyone around us.

So...do you know how to play? If you do—wonderful! If not, what could you do today that would be fun? If you can’t think of anything—and there was a time in my life when I didn’t know how to play either (or wouldn’t let myself)—then maybe begin in your imagination teaching the child inside how to play. No one will know and it won’t cost anything or even have to take much time. And it will be a start that could have a profound impact on your life.

Sending safe and gentle (and playful!) (((((((hugs))))))),