My Current Struggle as a Highly Sensitive Person
I’m tired today. I’m craving some quiet and space. Space from the constant explosions of my loved ones’ emotions, from their resistance, from the cooking & cleaning, from the non-stop juggling. The novelty of being off school has worn off for the kids and we’ve drawn on all the tools in the toolbox, from breathing, singing, to creative expression and positive affirmations. I think I’ve quickly come to understand that this crisis situation is unlike any other in it’s demands. Quite frankly as a highly sensitive person it demands all of my reserves and resources and so much more. You too I’m sure.
Yet this doesn’t mean that I’m not unbelievably grateful for how fortunate I know we are in our home, that we can work from here, that we are healthy and have a roof over our heads.
As a highly sensitive mamma and wife though, the weight of this pandemic is calling for me to dig deeper and deeper. To get creative in how I cope and in how I use my resources in the hope that I can help all of us feel as soothed and secure as we can at this time. Most importantly, it’s demanding my compassion.
Our Capacity for Compassion is Needed More Than Ever
More than ever this world needs us as highly sensitive people and our deep capacity for compassion.
As highly sensitive people we have a wonderful gift of deeply empathising with others. Brain science tells us that we have more active mirror neurons which essentially does what it says on the tin - mirrors what we observe. So we can often feel what others feel because we are literally mirroring it. This crisis is calling for our gift of empathy and compassion. For me, I know it’s asking me to have compassion for others, for my husband, for my children, and for myself.
Compassion for others and their unique and relative struggles. Their stress and survival tactics of bulk buying in supermarkets. Their fear and denial culminating in their choices to not stick to social distancing.
Compassion for my husband and his tiredness too and thus his lower tolerance levels or reactiveness. For his messiness (something that I struggle with as a highly sensitive person), as he tries his best to support us where he can and hold so much at work and at home.
Compassion for my kids. For their back chat, their intolerance for hearing No and subsequent big emotional outbursts. For their lack of motivation for school work, reminding myself that this environment is not conducive to learning. When they’re in school they are in an environment that is established and that they associate with learning, they are conforming with their peers and the known rules and expectations of how to be. Home is not school. Home is home. For their messy, unpredictable, and chaotic way of processing this messy, chaotic, and unpredictable crisis.
Finally, and sometimes the hardest one, compassion for myself as a highly sensitive person. For when I can’t stay regulated and calm for the hundredth meltdown because I am flat out overstimulated. For when I’m all out of patience and empathy and my best is a shadow of the mother and wife I know I am and can be. For moments when I feel overwhelmed and fed up rather than grateful. For not wanting to play with the kids when they’ve asked cause I just don’t have it in me, I’ve hit my limits (most likely hours ago!). For not keeping up with the school work and being so overloaded with amount of resources and ways to homeschool that we just let it go for now. For going to be bed early rather than spending time with my husband cause I’m craving hibernation and time alone before I need to wake up and do it all again tomorrow. For all these things, and many many more ways it can seem like I am falling short, like my sensitivity is a weakness... it is ok. It is enough. I am enough.
Many sensitive souls I’ve worked with have struggled to have compassion for themselves. If you do too, I’m sharing some ways that you can nurture this and support yourself during this crisis.
Ways to Nurture Self Compassion
As a highly sensitive psychotherapist, these are an overview of the three steps for fostering self compassion which I share with people I work with both individually and on my sensitively strong courses.
1. Catch the Inner Critic
2. Challenge the Inner Critic
3. Change the Inner Critic to the Compassionate Voice
Remember, we are all doing our best to navigate this strange and stressful time. Some days we’ll be better. Some days we’ll just about get through the day and that’s ok. More than ever we need to love ourselves and each other when we are at our worst as well as when we are at our best.
For more ways to cope and stay sensitively strong through this COVID19 crisis, check out my free online mini course here: