Finding Peace in an Unexpected Storm

Is this the eye of the storm?

A brief respite before all hell seems to break loose once more?

I have no way of knowing, but at least there’s peace for the moment.

This storm came unexpectedly, although with all the uncertainty around, I might have expected it.

I might have realized that I would be one of those engulfed in the waves of uncertainty. But I held my breath and I thought that perhaps it would pass me by.

It didn’t.

I place a high value on peace, perhaps too much of a value but it really does mean that much to me.

I can’t help it. With a very unsettling and uncertain childhood, peace was hard to come by and so I search it out these days — actively if I can.

And if I cannot find peace, it is hard for me as a highly sensitive person, perhaps harder than most.

I have a hard time finding ways to deal with the lack of peace.

Photo by Pixabay on

Here is how this storm happened.

The year 2020 was a challenge for everyone, and a lot of people had it far worse than I.

I faced job loss and a resultant change in finances, yet I and those I love escaped from the immediate health concerns that so many others dealt with.

Perhaps I took it for granted.

I know I took it for granted.

Assumed my age or my position in life or my faith or something would have brought me and all those I know through unscathed.

The next year, 2021, passed much the same way. A hit in finances due to another job loss, but otherwise, we were okay.

Then in the first month of 2022, it hit.


I was pretty sick for several days and the brain fog, the exhaustion, lasted longer.

But I expected that.

What I did not expect was for one of my close loved ones to end up with a strange form of long covid that affected not only his body but his mind.

He was hit with anxiety and depression

The worst stretches are something out of a shadow dream.

He could focus on nothing but the fears in his mind, the anxiety that welled up so strongly that when he wasn’t overwhelmed by it, he was overwhelmed by sadness.

During some stretches, all he could say was I’m scared and I’m sad.

Other times, he would enumerate the fears, the thoughts that overwhelmed him more clearly, and I tried so hard to reason with him but reasoning didn’t help.

And then I was the one who was scared and sad …

Because what do you do when someone you love so much has lost their center and has nothing to hold on to?

When they are the ones drowning in a raging sea, seeking the eye of the storm and unable to find even the smallest break in the wind in the rain?

I confess that some days I envisioned myself dealing with it forever …

A lifetime of helping this loved one through the struggle.

I saw the wisdom of the advice to take it one day at a time because anything else could be a reason to lose hope.

In fact, it was that very fear of the future that was making my loved one lose hope and be so overwhelmed with anxiety.

Photo by Kat Smith on

Facing Anxiety or Helping Someone with It?

Maybe you are the one with anxiety …

Or maybe you’re the one safe place for the person struggling with it and finding yourself overwhelmed with their difficulties.

What is your safe place?

Now before I talk about some of the things that helped me while I was in the middle of the storm, things that might help you find your peace or balance, let me iterate that I am not a doctor or a scientist.

I’ve never studied the brain or the synapses between the mind and the parts of the body.

I do not know what makes some things overfire and flare up and cause such grief and anxiety.

I don’t know why something like Covid could cause someone to somehow flip a switch in their mind and make it so difficult for them to be able to process or move out of fear or hopelessness.

I wish I knew where those invisible links are between mind and body and spirit or soul, how the connections work and how to strengthen them when they are weak …

How to speak hope into someone’s very soul when they are finding it hard to cling to anything but sorrow.

What I’m trying to say is, I really hope some of these things work for you. Above all, I really hope that you do find hope, peace, and the ability to focus on something other than the anxiety that threatens to overwhelm you.

Here are some ways to find peace in the midst of a storm:

  • Mindfulness practices
  • Exercise
  • Time in nature
  • The love of a pet
  • An entertaining distraction
  • A good night’s rest
  • Natural forms of medication
  • Volunteering and helping someone else
  • Practicing your faith
  • Journaling
  • Learning an instrument or other new skill

For now, these are just points, but I will be writing separate blog posts on each of them, as I have a few stories to share with you of ways they helped me.

One last suggestion, please get help in whatever way works for you.

It might be counseling or prescribed medication or a combination of them along with several natural methods …

But do get the help you need!

The world needs you and it needs you as whole as you can be.

None of us will ever be completely whole.

Those people who look the strongest are in some ways possibly the most broken.

But you have something beautiful to show the world …

So don’t lose sight of that even when the clouds don’t let up and the rain seems like it will go on forever.

There is a rainbow. There is sunshine. There is grass glistening with the rain that has passed and the scent of petrichor on the rain-washed air.

There is hope.

A Political Post from a Highly Sensitive Person

The more I think about it, the more I feel that highly sensitive people should make themselves heard in this current (far too heated) political climate.

Because we HSPs think deeply on things and process information more deeply than most, we go beyond the binary.

The HSP’s depth of processing is described this way by Dr. Elaine Aron:

At the foundation of the trait of high sensitivity is the tendency to process information more deeply … HSPs simply process everything more, relating and comparing what they notice to their past experience with other similar things. They do it whether they are aware of it or not. …
Studies supporting the depth of processing aspect of the trait have compared the brain activation of sensitive and non-sensitive people doing various perceptual tasks. [Research has found] that the highly sensitive use more of those parts of the brain associated with “deeper” processing of information, especially on tasks that involve noticing subtleties.
In another study, by ourselves and others, sensitive and non-sensitive persons were given perceptual tasks that were already known to be difficult (require more brain activation or effort) depending on the culture a person is from.
The non-sensitive persons showed the usual difficulty, but the highly sensitive subjects’ brains apparently did not have this difficulty, regardless of their culture. It was as if they found it natural to look beyond their cultural expectations to how things “really are.” 

Dr. Elaine Aron, in The Highly Sensitive Person

When it comes to the political system, this depth of processing that highly sensitive people have often means we do not default to the current (and highly divisive) structures of the two-party system that has become so unhealthy and even dangerous for our nation.

Because this two-party system – the Republicans and the Democrats, the conservatives and the liberals, the red and the blue, the right and the left – has grown so pervasive in recent years, it seems as though this is the way it has always been and the way it must be.

But it’s not.

And as difficult as it might be for some to grasp this, there are ways of looking at things that fall outside the two binary categories.

It is deeply flawed thinking to assume that just because a person aligns with some aspects of one part of the party system that they must align with every aspect of it.

It’s like saying that because you enjoy eating blueberries, you must therefore like everything that is blue, including blue cheese and blue raspberry ices and any other food that is blue.

Okay, so that wasn’t the greatest analogy, but I hope you understand …

And if you are also a highly sensitive person, I trust you understand what I’m trying to say.

A person can be more than either pro-life or pro-choice.

More than either pro same-sex marriage or homophobic.

More than either pro Trump or pro Biden.

And if we neglect to see this, then we are not thinking deeply about matters that will be affecting our world our nation for years to come.

We have grown far too used to strawman arguments and one-sided simplistic explanations.

We have grown far to use to casting doubt on “the other side” and throwing everything about that other side under the bus, when there is so much more to life than two sides.

I know, when it comes down to voting, it is said that if you choose to vote for a third option, rather than the most popular Republican and Democrat in any political race, you’re throwing away your vote.

And I know that votes are important because they help to determine what direction the nation goes in overall.

Yes, I’ve heard it all before, but forgive me if I admit that I don’t agree with it at all.

This is why I have never voted and why I never will unless something changes about this current political system. It is limited, and flat out wrong.

What about a person who is anti-war yet pro-life?

Or someone who believes that two people can love each other, no matter who they are, and who agrees with more gun laws and free education for all, but who also understands the concerns of the more conservative among us?

I have never watched a presidential debate, as they are too intense and anxiety-producing for a highly sensitive person like me to view, but I do remember thinking this when hearing some people talk about how much mud-slinging there was during one such debate:

Why should the future of a nation depend on how well someone argues?

There is so much more to life than arguing.

Why not ask the candidates to write a poem? Or require them to spend a couple of hours playing with preschoolers or volunteering at an old folks home? Why not have them play an instrument or choreograph a dance or paint a picture?

How has one of the most advanced nations in the world become one known for arguments and an inability to move forward because of the deeply divided political climate?

It has been said that a house divided against itself cannot stand …

How much longer can such a divided nation continue on?

But all is not lost, and I am hopeful …

Hopeful that the emotional and the sensitive among us will find our voices and be willing to speak out for options that do not fall into one or another binary.

Hopeful that we who learn who we are – with our sensitivity and our tears, our depth of processing and our longing for beauty – will learn to inspire others to also seek these things.

I am hopeful that we will be able to use the gifts we have to share a desire for peace and beauty and a better world with others.

And who knows … maybe one day someone who identifies as a highly sensitive person will hold the highest office.

Maybe one day, presidency will be determined by poetry and music rather than mud-slinging and arguments.

What have we if not hope?

And where there is life, there is always hope.

Does Higher Education Encourage Creativity… Or Quench It?

I’ve sometimes wondered how my education has affected my creativity as an artist and writer.

I wonder if my degree in higher learning has curbed my enthusiasm for writing and other forms of creativity.

In my college years, it felt like I was always jotting ideas down between classes or using longer stretches of time write up some story’s plot line or scene or dialogue while other students passed me by on the way to their classes.

This is the time of year I often think of new ideas in stories.

The ideas are still there, but something isn’t. Something is missing. Maybe it’s the passion and enthusiasm … or perhaps it’s just the energy.

Years have passed, after all, since those college seasons.

Maybe it’s the space that I lack. Perhaps any space really is creative space.

But then I also wonder if it is all the reading and education, at least in part, that has caused my creativity to wane.

With so much reading and learning, which I love and which I continue to do, I’ve realized in part just how much is really out there.

So many styles of writing and art. So many genres.

With so many niches, I’ve learned just how difficult it is to establish one’s space as a writer or artist.

It seems as though even every niche and subgenre and sub-subcategory has been not only written about and taken … but extensively (and many times uncreatively).

It feels sometimes like the people with the marketing degrees are the ones who make it as writers and artists … not because they have the greatest skill in the art of creativity but because they know how to put themselves out there in this modern context and culture.

Of course, some good writers can be marketers and some marketers can be good writers. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

But in this modern culture of needing to have a large platform or regular speaking events and using SEO (to reach not people but spider bots I think they’re called), much of writing and much of making it as an artist is not the creative act itself but the building of one’s brand and platform and marketing oneself.

For me, as a highly sensitive person and an introvert, that takes the heart out of writing.

It steals the joy out of it.

I know there are extroverted writers and artist out there and perhaps some marketing experts who are also introverts or even highly sensitive. I don’t know.

The statistics say that 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts and I know that many introverts do work that involves interacting with people and they just muscle through it.

In my professional life, I do the same.

But that one-on-one social interaction takes all the energy I have and I don’t have more left over to think about setting up speaking engagements or writing SEO articles or figuring out every social media platform in order to build my platform.

Several years ago, I completed a manuscript.

It went through a number of drafts and revisions, beta readers, and editors.

Then I sent it out to both agents and independent publishing companies, all of which got back to me with pretty much the same thing.

You’re a good writer and this material is solid, but you don’t have a platform.

Maybe I’m just sensitive, highly sensitive at that, but something either broke or died inside of me since then.

I’ve continued reading and studying and honing the craft of writing, but some part of the enthusiasm, the hope, faded.

Some introverts, like Susan Cain, while embracing and teaching on the power of quiet has still had to play the game of the extrovert world …

Speaking and engaging in order to get the message out.

Perhaps I have not educated myself too much.

Perhaps it is not the scores of classes or the passing of years that has caused me to set down my pen and pencil for a time.

Perhaps it is not even the overthinking that we HSPs are so prone to doing.

Is not the knowledge itself, but what I have chosen to do with it.

In this case, unfortunately, I have chosen to grow discouraged and let that keep me from writing …

At least from seriously writing toward a specific end.

Maybe this very knowledge or realization will be enough to get me out of this funk, this furlough, this neglect, of writing.

So I overthink. I’m a highly sensitive person, after all.

So I don’t have a platform that is worthy of our modern culture’s attention.

But I still have a gift.

I still find joy in writing and art.

And because of this combination of skill and joy, I think I have a calling.

And I think I can no longer ignore it.

I think it is time to write.

The Inner Tension of a Highly Sensitive Person

There’s so much stigma around the idea of being sensitive.

As a highly sensitive person, even among the people who love me, so much of the time I feel like I cannot fully be myself because I’m afraid I will not be accepted if they know:

  • Just how sensitive I am
  • How much I overthink things
  • How deeply I feel certain things
  • And how hard it is to let some things go

I deeply appreciate them and my time with them …

But I sometimes wish I could just have some time to myself and go on a retreat or hole up in a monastery somewhere and not emerge until I feel like I have found the part of myself that I want to be.

And then I feel guilty and selfish for wanting these things (and even feeling like I need them) but I also feel frustrated that I never get them.

Never get, it feels like, sometimes even a moment to think deeply and reflect and process.

I wonder how much I am missing.

Missing out on the person I could be because I am instead so engulfed and consumed by what is going on around me.

And then, at times, missing out on what is going on around me by disappearing into my dream world, the world of the imagination or of story … just to get a few minutes of release or peace.

I’m feeling guilty by this constant tension that is going on inside me and wearied by it. So tired, so much of the time.

I come from a large family and a mother who was anything but highly sensitive.

She reminisces about how she went years in motherhood without a single day off, and it’s true. She did.

For so long I felt so guilty wondering how she did it and why I couldn’t function at that same level.

It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept (and sometimes I still don’t accept) that I’m just a different person.

That I am a highly sensitive person.

And that that’s okay.

Sensitivity and Self-Acceptance

Acceptance of ourselves is so important, especially as highly sensitive people, but it’s one of the things that we find the hardest to do:

To accept ourselves for who we are and embrace that and choose to belong …

… whether we necessarily feel like we belong or not.

This is the task before me, and if it is the task before you as a highly sensitive person, I hope that you will also find the strength to embrace it.

I hope you will find strength to accept yourself as the complex and deep and sometimes shadowed and sometimes bright whole of the person that you are.

Because that person is beautiful.

How to Celebrate an HSP’s Birthday

Last week, I wrote about three things not to do for a highly sensitive person on their birthday.

I promised to follow it up with a post about things that you can do for an HSP’s birthday …

Before we jump in, though …

Thank you!

Thank you for being concerned enough about your HSP friend or loved one to want to learn how best to celebrate them!

Small story as to why I’m so grateful:

When I was a teenager, I lived with foster parents in a group home.

One birthday I remember vividly (because it was one of the worst birthdays ever), each time I entered a room with others, they began singing the happy birthday song to me.

After I had suffered through it about a dozen times, I went and tried to find safety in the room that I shared with four other girls.

Somehow, the foster dad found out that I was being “anti-social” and sought me out.

He told me in no uncertain terms that birthdays were for other people, not the birthday person, and that I should get off my high horse and let them have fun by singing to me.

I got no cake that year.

No gifts.

But a lot of unwanted “happy birthday to you” songs.

So, for a long time, I thought that I, as a highly sensitive person, had to suffer through whatever other people wanted to do on my birthday …

Like the surprise birthday party I mentioned in my last post.

And it was only recently that I began to realize that, no, my birthday is my day. And I should be allowed to enjoy myself on that day.

The highly sensitive person in your life deserves to enjoy their special day and not feel obliged to throw a party (or accept a party on their behalf).

So, thank you for being interested and wanting to know how best to celebrate the HSP in your life on their special day.

Here we go …

Ask them what they want to do.

Photo by jasmin chew on

I know, it sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?

It’s surprising, then, that so few people do this.

Lots of people just assume that whatever they like to do is the same thing that their HSP loved one would like to do.

“I like going out to eat, so I’ll take them out to eat on their birthday.”

“I enjoy big parties, so I’ll throw a big party for this HSP.”

Even if there are things that your HSP spouse or family member has enjoyed doing on their birthday in the past, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily want to do it again.

(Maybe they were just being accomodating last time they said yes to the birthday activity.)

So, a few weeks before their birthday, ask them what they would like to do.

Why a few weeks before their birthday? Because they might need a bit of time to think about and process the options before they come up with an answer.

And listen to their answer.

Highly sensitive people tend to be gentle.

This means they can be easily intimidated by people with stronger personalities.

So, don’t ask them what they want to do on their birthday if you don’t plan to truly listen to their answer.

One of the worst things you could do is have them respond, and then give a “suggestion” of something “better.”

“A candlelit dinner at home sounds nice, but don’t you want to check out that new restaurant uptown?”

A highly sensitive person tends to second guess himself and will often defer to your suggestions…

Even if it’s not what he really wants to do.

Offer something that fits their love language.

You’ve likely heard about love languages, made popular by author Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages.

The five main love languages outlined in the book are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time

There are online quizzes by which you can figure out your love language, and just as importantly, the love language of your highly sensitive friend or partner.

If they like words of affirmation, maybe try writing them a poem …

Or give them a card that says all the right things.

If they like quality time, set aside time in your schedule to do something special together … something that they would want to do.

If receiving gifts is their love language, get them a gift …

But keep this next point in mind:

Buy a gift according to their interests.

Photo by Pixabay on

For years, my partner gave me jewelry or perfume on my birthday …

Although I rarely wear either.

I would try to wear the necklace for a few days, but it was for his sake and usually I’d take it off before a shower, forget about it, and never put it on again.

Then one year, he got me an Ansel Adams print.

I nearly cried when I opened it

… not just because I love photography and Ansel Adams is a photographer I absolutely worship …

… but because that gift showed me that my partner knew who I was.

He understood me by recognizing my passions and giving me something in accordance with my interests.

Sometimes it’s difficult. I understand.

You might know a highly sensitive person who has few interests, or whom you don’t know well enough to know what they like.

If that’s the case, though, return to the first point:

Ask them.

Just knowing that you care enough to ask will be meaningful to them, even if you don’t get it completely right.

Closing Thoughts

Maybe you’re a highly sensitive person reading this post.

And if so, you might be thinking to yourself, “I wish my friend/spouse/family member would read something like this.”

Send it to them (or give them a printout).

Or offer them suggestions, even if they don’t ask.

If your sister loves taking you out every birthday for a night on the town (but in reality, you hate it), before your next birthday, say something like this:

“Hey, I love that you like to celebrate my birthday with me and make it special. This year, what I really want to do is spend a few hours checking out used bookstores. You are more than welcome to come along.”

Whether HSP or non-HSP, I think we all mean well, and are trying to do the best we can for each other.

Sometimes, though, it’s almost like we’re speaking different languages, and it takes time to learn to understand one another.

I hope this post offers a step in understanding …

And in helping you create a more accepting and sensitive world.

Three Ways to Never Celebrate an HSP’s Birthday

If you have a highly sensitive person in your life, there is a question that will come up often (once every year at least).

What to do for the HSP’s birthday.

Now you might think that what you, as a non-highly-sensitive person, enjoy will be perfect for the highly sensitive person.

Don’t think that!

It will invariably wind up causing difficulties and maybe even serious misunderstandings down the line.

The thing is, you probably even won’t know or realize it because a highly sensitive person will empathize with you.

They will understand the time and effort that you put into anything you do for them and will be hesitant to say anything negative about it.

They know how hard you worked for it.

So consider this post (and this inside information) a favor …

… not just for highly sensitive people but for those who love them.

Here are three things you should never do for a highly sensitive person’s birthday.

Photo by on

1: Throwing a Surprise Party for an HSP

I’m speaking from experience and can tell you that this is one of the worst things you could do for an HSP on their birthday.

Not only will it leave them in a very uncomfortable situation on the day itself, but it will also make them think you really don’t understand them (if you assume that a big, surprise birthday party is something they would actually enjoy).

I was in my mid-20s when a couple of roommates/work acquaintances decided to throw me a surprise birthday party.

Although my partner was not directly involved in the planning, he was aware of it and the two of us arrived home after an outing on my birthday to a house full of people.

I was immediately overwhelmed and ready to turn around and run the other way.

I quickly forged through all the people into my room and pretended to be on the phone with a work call (on a Saturday evening) just to give myself time to adjust to the overwhelming circumstances that I was suddenly surrounded by.

I had imagined a quiet evening and suddenly there were about 30 people in the house, half of whom I had never even met.

I tried to say something to my partner but his stance was that my “friends” had put so much time and effort into it that I should appreciate what they’d done and “just go out there and have fun.”

I really did try.

At least, I did go out there, but I did not have fun.

The whole evening was torturous. It stands among my top worst birthdays ever.

Even worse is that, afterwards, my housemates thought I had a great time and expected to be thanked when in reality the evening was miserable.

I was hurt that they misunderstood me so much that they thought I would actually enjoy a surprise birthday party, crowds of people, and loud music rather than what I had been expecting: a quiet evening at home with my partner.

Keep this on the top on your mental list of what not to do on a highly sensitive person’s birthday.

Stay away from surprise birthday parties.

2. Inviting Friends (Even If It’s Not a Surprise)

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By now you are convinced it would not be a good idea to throw a surprise birthday party for your HSP loved one.

But here is another thing you don’t want to do:

You don’t want to invite a big group of people over to your HSP friend’s or loved one’s house (even if they know about it).

For years, it has been a thing where my partner throws a birthday party for me and does the cooking so it seems like a decent trade-off …

But in all honesty, it’s not.

I’m invariably the one who needs to clean up the house in advance and make it “guest ready” as well as clean up the cooking mess …

And, of course, clean up after everyone leaves, too.

This does not equate to a peaceful and relaxing HSP birthday.

Because as a highly sensitive person, I’m so attuned to other people’s desires and wishes, I have always gone along with the plan.

When my partner says, “Hey let’s invite these friends over for your birthday and I’ll pick up the cake and make some food,” I usually say yes.

At the end of my birthday, I’m always so exhausted and feel like it just hasn’t been my day, but I’ve always been hesitant to say anything about it.

Last year, however, we weren’t able to invite anyone over for my birthday because … guess what … COVID.

It was a quiet day at home and my partner did make the food and pick up a cake but there was not a lot of clean up required in advance and not a lot of entertaining of guests.

None, in fact, and I didn’t have to clean up afterwards.

It was a great day.

I’ve decided that this is the way I want to do it from now on.

This year, I will kindly yet firmly till my partner, “Thanks but no thanks,” when he suggests having guests over for my birthday.

I’ll tell him he can invite the guests for his birthday not mine.

3. Tickets to a Crowded Public Event

Now, this is not going to be the case for every highly sensitive person.

In fact, only 70% of HSPs are introverts so some highly sensitive people might appreciate something like this.

However, even if they are extroverts, they are still highly sensitive …

And this means they are easily overwhelmed by strong stimuli such as crowded environments and loud noises.

This is why it’s generally not a good idea to present a highly sensitive person with birthday tickets to a ball game or a rock concert.

Even if it’s a band they like or a sports team they love, make sure you know in advance whether or not they actually want to go see that event live.

When I was in my mid to late 20s, I went to a few concerts.

Invariably, the next day I was exhausted and had a bad headache and it took me several days to recover.

Because I wasn’t familiar with what a highly sensitive person is, I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

I have never been to a ball game and never would want to go …

But over the last few years when I had the opportunity to do go to a concert, I declined.

Movie theaters are about as loud and crowded of an outing as I will willingly go to.

Last Thoughts

So the question you have now might be this:

What can you do for your HSP loved one if you want to treat them on their birthday?

What can you do that they will actually appreciate and enjoy?

That will be the subject of our next blog post.

HSPs and Decisions, Decisions

I don’t like being pressured into making decisions.

For this reason, I think, I rarely answer simply, “Yes” or “No,” which frequently bothers my children who often want a simple answer.

My answers are rarely simple because life is rarely simple and situations always have more going on than what warrants a simple yes or no.

Decisions carry a risk.

As a highly sensitive person, I like having enough time to think about a situation and make a decision.

Decisions and Dad, an HSP

Interestingly, when thinking back about it, I realize my dad was exactly the same way. My sisters and I would run to ask him something like, “Can we have a dollar for the ice cream truck?”

He would hesitate.

A pensive or thoughtful expression would cross his face. More often than not, he would ask for more information. “Have you eaten a healthy lunch?” “When was the last time you bought something from the ice cream truck?”

By the time we got an answer, a decision from my HSP father, the ice cream truck would be long gone.

It frustrated me to no end … funny that I’m the same way now.

I tend to consider the risk of decisions and take that risk seriously.

Perhaps we grow more into ourselves as highly sensitive people as we grow older?

In any case, I have grown into my general avoidance of making snap decisions. I believe, in thinking about it, that this avoidance does not have to do with fear of the decision itself, or getting things wrong, but more to do with my desire to understand a situation fully before committing myself.

Thinking about it now, I realize that I have never been a “yes or no” type of person. I have always been the type to want more information or to simply discuss the pros and cons of a decision rather than simply laying out an answer.

I am not risk-averse in my decision making, but risk-considerate.

I can probably count on one hand the times I have answered “because I said so” when my children have asked why. I have never been that type of parent.

Children, Discussions, and Decisions

I believe that a child, as much as anyone, deserves to understand a situation before being expected to respond.

Obviously, there are exceptions and you do not want to have to explain to your child why they should get out of a busy street with a long discussion. They should obey without question.

But overall, I believe it is a healthy thing for a child to be able to discuss and understand situations. It is part of them growing up and learning to make decisions themselves.

Decision-Making — A Hereditary Gene?

Back to my father and his general hesitation in committing to decisions, I do not know if I got that directly from him, or tapped into it myself as part of what it is to be a highly sensitive person.

I wonder what he would say about my tendency to now consider all sides before making a decision.

It is not easy, especially as a parent to defer in making a snap decision when a child wants an answer right away.

As my children grow older though, I believe that not only does it help them to learn to consider things before jumping in, but also to eventually understand, even if it frustrates them at times, that they are not just getting a quick response, but are getting an answer that has been thought through and considered.

It is part of consideration to do this, I believe.

If nothing else, it is part of my makeup as an HSP, and it’s probably not changing any time soon.

HSP Reflection on The Story We Share

Although we often fail to recognize it, we all share the same story

The story of falling and at times being rescued

The story of sometimes continuing to fall with no hand to arrest the descent

Yet the story we share is also of finding unexpected grace in unexpected places

We all share the same story, yet the parts that we share are the parts we have the hardest time seeing

Of families that build us and break us and build us again

Of friends that see us and know us and, grace upon grace, accept us

Of some friendships that falter yet rise again stronger and some that fracture completely and are never rebuilt again

We All Share the Same Story

Of hope that ends in death and hope that transcends death and hope that knows that death is just another part of the journey

This story we share yet we fail to see for the things wherein we differ

Color and culture, religion and race

Which leader might save us from the darkness we face

I cannot take your hand and arrest your fall if my fist is clenched against you

You cannot take mine and hold it in friendship if you hold to only the differences we carry

We, family, cannot cross the bridges we build if we burn them again and again

Sister, brother, take my hand

Father, mother, let us stand

Friend, oh friend, the story we share is greater than the places we differ

And maybe the story of falling and redemption, of grace after grace after grace …

… is enough …

… to heal us and make peace and carry us through

To the next part of the story

Highly Sensitive Children and Sibling Relationships

It is virtually impossible to determine the full effect of sibling relationships on children. You will find much research and data on parent-child relationships, but far less research has been done on sibling relationships and outcomes on children. One study on sibling relations states, “In comparison to the wealth of studies on parent-child relationships, relatively little attention has been devoted to the role of siblings and their impact on one another’s development.”

I believe this difference is, at least partially, due to the fact that the siblings are also children themselves. And children are in the ongoing process of growing, changing, and developing. 

HSP Me and My (Non-HSP) Brother

Growing up, I had several older siblings, but the one right above me in age was the one who likely had the greatest effect on me.

After all, we shared a room and pretty much everything else, even clothing (and often attractions to the cutest schoolgirl).

The thing is, I thought all my older brother’s ideas were the greatest and by the same token I did not have any good ideas of my own … or at least that’s how I felt as a child.

It came to the point that my brother was so irritated at the way I would mimic and copy the things he wanted to do and wanted to be, and even the friendships or relationships he hoped to develop, that he began asking me to clarify my opinion on a situation before he would divulge his opinion.

In short, he was tired of me copying him.

I thought his requirement that I state my opinion before he would divulge his opinion was unnecessary and unfair.

I have more clarity now on the issue. Besides the knowledge I have about …

  • Copying another person being the sincerest form of flattery
  • The fact that we’re all copying someone
  • Very few people are true geniuses that do not mimic someone else whether in art or in writing or in rhetoric

…  the truth was that as a highly sensitive child, I was so deeply empathetic and sensitive to my brother’s feelings and moods and perspectives that I adopted them as my own without realizing it.

Importance of Awareness for Parents of HSCs

This is a very important thing for parents of a highly sensitive child (HSC) to be aware of.

Especially if the parent was not themselves highly sensitive, they might not realize what a strong effect their non-HSP children might be having on their HSP children.

This is not to say that the effect of a non-HSP child on an HSP child is negative.

Hardly. There is much I learned from my sibling relationship with my older brother and I am grateful to him for that, even though much of that learning was rife with tension because of the fact that he did not want me copying him.

I simply urge parents of both non-HSP and HSP children to have awareness.

For instance, one of your children might seem far more decisive than the other, who might seem to have a difficult time making decisions. This is natural.

With your increased awareness about the tendencies of your HSP child, however, you might encourage that child to make independent decisions in a safe environment.

Although they might not realize it, their very thoughts and feelings are often being influenced by the non-HSP child’s attitudes and speech and even their nonverbal cues.

I have both a highly sensitive and a non-highly-sensitive child. Because of my background and upbringing, I have been aware of the need to help my HSP child develop their own interests and perspectives in a safe environment and to explicitly let them know it’s okay for them to have opinions that are different from others.

HSP Children Need Support in Decisions

Sometimes it has been difficult to try to encourage my HSP child to make a decision on something, especially if they know that their decision is different or their perspective is different from that of the other individual.

Sometimes they will refuse to make a choice or state that they want one thing when in reality they want something else … but either consciously or subconsciously they are afraid of going against their sibling’s opinion.

Because the non-HSP child is less sensitive, they are not even attuned to this dynamic.

Again, awareness is important!

It is not that either child is good or bad or what they are doing is right or wrong.

They simply process information differently and thus make decisions differently.

The reason I urge this sensitivity and approach of awareness is that as a child I often felt very conflicted about my own feelings and opinions.

I feel, looking back, that if someone were to have come alongside me and encouraged me that it was okay to make up my mind and that what I thought and felt was valuable, rather than feeling accused and unappreciated for my approach, I might have found it easier to step out in life sooner.

I believe I would have taken a more healthy approach to decisions that I made … rather than (for many years) submitting to the desires of someone else in a variety of unhealthy relationships.

In short, these formative years are foundational in a child learning to grow into a healthy adult with healthy boundaries and positive relationship dynamics.


Some of the most core foundational experiences a child has are those with their siblings.

As such, it is vital that you, as a parent, are aware of these various factors, such as the sensitivity of a child and their natural processing.

It will make a huge difference for both your HSP and non-HSP child and their sibling relationship if you are aware of these things and help guide and support them in these areas.


Photo Credits

Main Photo: Little Girl with Hand on Chin — Image by © LWA-Dann Tardif/zefa/Corbis

Second Photo: Two Girls Under Water — Image by © Zena Holloway/zefa/Corbis

So This Is 2021

A new year has begun.

Some years, December 31st passes into January 1st without a lot of fanfare, it seems.

I mean, there are always potential parties to attend, places to go, and other ways to ring in the New Year.

(But we HSPs generally don’t go for those things anyway … big crowds and small talk are the kinds of prospects that make us want to turn and run the other way.)

But this year was different. The turning of the year gave us all a little more reason to celebrate (even if we needed to do so from home in order to safely socially distance).

This past year was 2020, and I need say no more. We all know what transpired in 2020. We also all know we’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re still going forward one day at a time. (What other choice do we have?)

But while we all “know” what happened in 2020, we don’t. Not really. Because each of us has seen the year through our own eyes, none of us know the whole story. The story that is all of us but is also each of us.

It has been a lonely year for me.

Strange, because I actually have had less alone time than usual due to my particular circumstances. But it has been lonely in that I have felt in some ways forgotten, neglected, pushed aside (again, due to certain things that took place in my particular circumstances).

I have found that loneliness isn’t exactly a state of being. It’s a state of mind. A state of feeling.

And as a highly sensitive person, I realize now that loneliness is something I have struggled with nearly all my life in some way.

Perhaps the struggle for you has been similar. Or maybe you have faced something else.

  • Insecurity due to losing a job.
  • Sorrow and grief with the loss of a loved one.
  • The pressure of trying to provide for a family in an uncertain economy.

Your struggle has been part of your story this year.

Your story and no one else’s. I think part of the loneliness I have felt was that I didn’t have anyone to share my story with.

I mean, I could vent some things to a couple of family members, or share other challenges with my partner, but perhaps it is part of my “beingness” as a highly sensitive person that makes it difficult for me to truly share just how difficult some things have been.

How hurt I have felt by friends failing to stay in touch when I needed them most. How frustrated I feel because of the lack of space and solitude (which is different from loneliness and something I, as an HSP, deeply need).

Yet a new year begins. It is 2021 now.

The days before me spread, unlived, unmarred.

How will they unfold? What story will I find written on the pages?

There is much out of my control, but also much that I can control. Little things, mainly.

  • Taking a few moments outside, even if the weather is too cold for my liking … just to get a bit of space (and some needed exercise).
  • Or waking up a little earlier than I would otherwise to fit in a bit of reading.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing to make a big difference, does it?

Maybe it is the little things that make the biggest difference.

I don’t know if my sharing these few thoughts has helped you, the one reading this, in any way. But I hope it has.

I hope it has offered a little bit of clarity, perhaps, to your own feelings or experiences of this past year.

More than likely, your year was also more challenging than the average year. Lonely. Stressful. Even grievous.

But it is a new year, and I wish you moments of peace, bucketsful of hope, and skies of bluest blue.

Let us make this journey together.