Highly Sensitive Children and Sibling Relationships

By HSP Scholar

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.

Summary

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.

 

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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.

While California Burns, I Find Myself Planting

Thousands of acres in California are burning. Trees and plants, homes and fields. It tends to happen at this time in the year when the land is dry and rains have not come for months on end. But this year stands as one of the worst for California fires in recent history.

This morning I found that friends of mine are evacuating from a small town less than an hour’s drive from where I live. With more than two million acres laid waste to fire, the devastation is vast.

My partner’s child commented yesterday about how many years it will take for these places to recover, to begin to grow again.

Yet also this morning I knelt before the ground and planted seeds. I took a small succulent that has been soaking in water in my kitchen, slowly growing roots, over the past week, and set it into a clay pot. It had broken from the larger plant and would have shriveled and died if not placed in water.

Now it stands on my windowsill. Beyond the window, the sky looms gray. It has looked that way for weeks. We need rain to quench the fires of California, rain to clear the sky. 

Who knows how long until that rain finally arrives? Who knows how long firefighters in California by the thousands will work day and night to protect land and fields and homes and people? 

A part of me grieves for the loss. Pictures the wildlife seeking safety and unable to find it. Sees children and parents leaving places they’ve called home for years, not knowing if they will see those places again. 

Part of me feels distant from the loss and the grief because I am not personally affected by it. For this, I feel guilty. For it does affect all of us, the strings unseen that pull and stretch and break, touching us all in some way whether we recognize it or not.

I say a prayer for my friends and for strangers who have lost their homes to the fires, and for those who continue to battle the flames. And I feel ashamed that the prayer is not long enough, not deep enough, does not have the heart it might if I and my household were in the direct path of the flames.

Yet I planted the seeds, and I hope they will grow. I potted the succulent and I smile at its small beauty.

I recall that some seeds of some trees need fire before they will finally begin to grow. It takes the heat of flames for them to break open, awaken, grow root and take root.

But after the fires fade and the rains finally, mercifully, fall … under some scorched ground, seed will meet rain and the light of the sun. 

It will spread and root and take in water and life.

It will unfurl and grow toward the sky.

HSP Struggles with Perfectionism – HSP Journal, Day 16

I’m having a hard time maintaining this blog because my head keeps struggling ahead of my heart.

I feel like I’ve broken my own promises by not maintaining the right blogging schedule.

Part of me tells me to just write.

Just write who I am and say what I need to say. Share who I am as a highly sensitive person and don’t worry about all the mechanics and structure and technological housekeeping.

But then the other part of me (the perfectionism speaking) says I have to get it right. I have to have a schedule for my blog posts I have to keep up with the things that I originally planned to do.

I’ve made the mistake of reading articles about what it means to be a successful introverted blogger and how to create a successful blog.

When I think about fulfilling all of that, it takes the heart out of just writing.

I love to write and I love the idea of connecting with people who understand.

For so much of my life – and even now sometimes – I felt alone about the way I absorbed and processed and looked at life.

When I realized I was a highly sensitive person … and learned what being an HSP meant, it made all the difference for me.

It means so much, I know, to see another introverted blogger write the things I’ve always thought … and realize that I really am not alone.

And I hope to make that same difference and bring that same hope to others … to anyone who might happen upon this blog for introverts and HSPs.

But I find it so hard to focus on just writing blog posts.

I need to be in a certain frame of mind and have the mental space to think and process and then write, and I rarely find myself in that frame of mind.

Perhaps some people can just push through and force themselves to write. The people who have a disciplined habit of writing every single day.

I rarely can, though I would love to have more discipline in this way. 

Sometimes I just don’t have the heart or the mindset to write anything, much less a cohesive blog post.

Other times, I get so full of everything I want to say that nothing seems to make sense.

And still other times, I write something and look it over and overthink and decide it’s not worth posting (again, my perfectionism rearing its fancy little head).

That’s where this introvert bloggers’ journal comes in.

I’m trying to get more comfortable with posting something without editing and processing and fixing things up several times before I finally post it.

Trying not to be immobilized by perfectionism. 

So, I tell myself to just write. To just finish this 40-day journal and see what happens next. 

Take it one day at a time and not worry about whether or not I’m doing this blogging thing perfectly.

Taking it home …

If you’re an HSP, what do you tend to overthink and feel you have to do perfectly?

Maybe it’s not blogging or writing. It could be anything under the sun: speaking, making friends, undertaking a hobby, starting a new profession.

What if you took away the debilitating facet of perfectionism?

What if you chose to accept yourself and just had fun with it?

Tell me … what kind of difference do you think that would make?

No Restaurants? No Problem – HSP Journal, Day 15

It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but I don’t like eating out.

Just as it has taken a while to realize this, it has also taken time to determine why I don’t like eating out at restaurants. 

The realization came to me when a friend casually mentioned a restaurant that was still open, but wasn’t advertising that fact. 

Kind of a clandestine, word-of-mouth situation. If people knew the right people, they could find out where to go if they wanted to eat out and sit in an actual restaurant to dine.

I found myself suddenly worried that my partner would ask if I wanted to eat out. When that realization dawned in my conscious mind, as an HSP who deeply ponders pretty much every conscious thought that rises, I wondered where it had come from.

Why was I suddenly hesitant at the thought of eating out? After all, I’d dined at restaurants plenty of times in the past. 

But it occurred to me that COVID-19 and the resultant inability to eat in restaurants has actually felt like a relief to me.

If you consider yourself a highly sensitive person, maybe the lack of options to eat out has felt the same for you.

When reflecting on it, I came up with three reasons as to why I’m content without the chance to eat out at restaurants.

I feel uncomfortable having people wait on me

Naturally, it’s the job of serving staff at a restaurant to wait on patrons. That’s why they have traditionally been called waiters and waitresses.

But it has always made me feel a little bit uncomfortable having a person wait on me. Having a person serve me.

It just never felt right. At home, if I want something, I’ll get up and get it myself. A glass of water or more ice tea. Having another person serving me just goes against my HSP grain … I’m still not sure why.

I don’t feel comfortable eating in public

Honestly, I have no idea if this is an HSP thing or not, but I don’t like eating in public.

This could have something to do with a job I had as a teenager that involved me being dressed up in outlandish clothes and makeup. 

Whenever I went for lunch break in the mall where I worked, I would get stares … lots of them. I hated it and usually ended up not eating at all because I couldn’t handle the attention.

Even though it’s been years since I held that job, I still sometimes feel like, as soon as I sit down to eat, people are watching me.

I don’t like making orders

Whether it is standing at the counter at a fast-food eatery, or ordering from a menu at a casual sit-down diner, this is my least favorite part of eating out.

Especially when I need to order for a group, such as my family. And for some reason, it always feels like I’m the one expected to gather and take the order for the group I’m with. 

Every person’s indecision or every extra minute they take to decide what to eat weighs on me. I feel like I’m holding up the line (and sometimes I am, when at an ordering counter) and can feel the glares of everyone behind me … whether or not they really are glaring.

More often than not, I feel like I make a mistake with the order. This might not actually happen, but it feels that way. 

The stress of making a food order is something I would rather do without … and I don’t have to worry about it when the restaurants are closed due to COVID-19.

I don’t like spending money when I can save it

I consider myself an okay cook … a pretty good one, in fact.

I’m no chef, but I can fix a variety of passable dishes … from lasagna to spaghetti (with homemade sauce and hand-rolled meatballs), from chicken and coconut curry to chicken pot pie with homemade crust. 

Like anyone, I enjoy indulging on the occasional burger and fries (ahem … and milkshake), but when I eat at a sit-down restaurant and end up with a huge bill, I can’t help but thinking to myself, “I could have made this at home for a fraction of the cost.”

This likely has to do with my background and upbringing … when we ate out so seldom that visiting my aunt and uncle in another town was the best news ever because it meant I would get a trip to Wendy’s or McDonald’s. 

To this day, eating out in my perspective remains something to do on a special occasion. Restaurant eating too often wastes both the pocketbook and the taste buds.

No Restaurants? No Problem!

Now, if COVID-19 ended tomorrow and all the restaurants opened again, I would probably eat out. I might even enjoy it … for the most part. 

But I do appreciate this time — this distance, if I could call it that — as an opportunity to gain some clarity about this difficulty I have with eating out, and the reasons why.

I think it will help in the future when someone says, “Hey, let’s eat out,” and I feel that immediate hesitation. It’s not that I’ll turn down the offer … but I might find a table in the corner and insist that someone else make the order. 

Church, Coronavirus, and the Comfort Level of an HSP – 40-Day Journal – Day 14

 

By HSP Mama

On Sunday, I went back to church for the first time since early March. My husband had been attending for several weeks now, along with whichever of our kids wanted to go. I stayed back with whoever did not want to go.

In truth, I did not want to go to church.

Maybe it’s because I’m a highly sensitive person, but the idea of gathering together again, wearing a face mask for safety and the comfort level of other attendees, practice social distancing all the while, feels to me like an exercise in futility. After all, the messages have been made available on social media and we have been watching regularly as a family.

It actually turned into a fun Sunday tradition: watching the Sunday School message at 10:00 am, making a special brunch at 10:30, and eating while tuning into the 11:00 message.

In all honesty, the last few months have been totally my “worship style.”

As an HSP, tuning into inspirational podcasts at my leisure while working out or tidying up, listening to contemporary Christian bands on YouTube when organizing, and watching sermons online are simply easier for me.

I find it more natural to connect with God and to receive from the song or the message or the text when I can focus on it completely. And I can more completely focus when I am not surrounded by people.

At church, I automatically tune into people’s actions or reactions … or the noises they’re making … or their interactions with others. Or I tune more into my children and trying to make sure they’re not disturbing anyone.

These months of staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic have been challenging for many; they have been challenging for me, too. But church from home has been a blessing in disguise.

Obligation and Depth of Processing Information

Then, our church started gathering again: face masks and social distancing in place, but still there at church. And although I skipped a few times, I have simultaneously felt obligated to attend because of my family.

And at the same time, I have felt guilty because attending church feels like an obligation rather than a joy. What is wrong with me? I wondered.

As a highly sensitive person, I have a different makeup … different ways of processing information. I get overwhelmed easily, and even a small church can cause those overwhelming feelings. I can’t deal with crowds. Feel anxiety rising if I don’t immediately see a place for myself and my family to sit. Hate walking through what I have dubbed “the gauntlet” — a group of people standing around outside waiting to “greet” people as they walk into church.

The Power of Introverts, The Tension of Introverts

Not long ago, I read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking , where she discusses this very problem. The book provides amazing insight and helped me understand myself as an introvert far better than ever before.

It also helped me feel a little less guilty about my ambivalence regarding going to church as an HSP with a strong depth of processing. Of course, that’s not what the whole book is about; she only discusses churchgoing and evangelicals briefly, but that part had stood out to me because it spoke to that part of me that has always struggled on Sunday mornings. One quote states:

“Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme…If you don’t love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.”

Now, I support the idea that fellowship and gathering with other people of the same faith can be a positive experience. (I also believe that respectfully connecting and gathering with people who have very different beliefs and walk different paths is a hugely important aspect of growth and empathy … but that’s for another post.)

The Inner Tension of Church Attendance

But what I mean by the above comment about attending church seeming like an exercise in futility is that in some ways, for some people or groups of people, the idea of attending church during COVID-19 has become yet another politically-charged event. It has turned into a “freedom” cry … and the kind of freedom being cried out does not feel much like the message Jesus gave when he walked the earth.

Of course, that’s getting into a whole ‘nother topic … and I don’t really want to go there. What I do want to do is get to the heart of this tension within myself – my desire to go along with my family and simply enjoy gathering together with others at church, against the all-too-frequent reality that I don’t usually enjoy it.

I get so much more out of a Bible passage or message I listen to on headphones from my phone while I’m out walking our two dogs.

And I don’t think I’ll figure this out any time soon. In the meantime, I will get up and get dressed and smile and greet others; I will chat and those who see me doing so will never guess how much of a struggle it is, as a highly sensitive person, to do this week after week.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

Maybe there’s a special blessing in store for HSPs who make that extra effort to gather with people.

Maybe it is nothing more than an exercise in futility.

I hope that, if nothing else, I am providing for my children a place where they learn to call home and feel comfortable with people they know and love … which is the main reason I return to church week after week.

I did not have that “place of belonging” when I was growing up … and I feel that it is far better to feel a place of belonging, even though it comes with awkwardness and discomfort, than to have no such place.

Chronic Pain, Bane or Blessing – Day 13 – 40-Day Journal

Although I don’t like to talk about my chronic pain much, I recently mentioned it to my uncle, as I had to decline on yet another offer of his to join him in hiking around the Rocky Mountains. He takes these trips regularly and it’s a wonder that he is so fit for being nearly 70 years old.

I love hiking and nature and felt bad for turning him down yet again. I told him as much when he offered last week. He mentioned that when he was about my age, roughly 30 years ago, he was dealing with similar pain and was desperate for some kind of fix.

Pain and Painkillers

Like me, he was not is not a proponent of painkillers. I will take painkillers if I need to. I’m not going to suffer in agony just for the sake of personal pride; at the same time, I will not pop a pill at the first sign of pain. I prefer to understand where the pain is coming from and what natural things I might do to get rid of it.

For instance, headaches in my life are often a simple result of not enough sleep. With a good night’s sleep, I’m usually feeling much better. Then I don’t have to take a pill at all.

With this chronic pain I’ve been facing, I felt similarly. Back pain can be quite intense, but I knew there was a core reason for it, and I didn’t want to harm my body further by taking a pill to dull the pain and then damaging myself because I couldn’t feel it.

My uncle told me that his pain got so bad, he finally went to the chiropractor. Previously, he did not have much confidence in chiropractors and avoided them completely, but at this point, he didn’t have a choice.

I suppose he went to a good one because his back problems rectified. The chiropractor also gave him a set of exercises to do, which he practices religiously to this day. I believe those exercises are the main reason he has not dealt with severe back pain since that time. He said as much to me when we chatted over the phone and recommended that I find a good set of exercises and stick to them.

HSPs and Running on Inspiration

I find it a challenge to stick to pretty much anything. I know that running on inspiration can be good but it can also have its drawbacks.

I have grown accustomed to the drawbacks but I still for the most part run on inspiration. In other words, I stick with something for a week or two or maybe even 40 days, but at some point, the interest wanes and I generally find myself neglecting whatever it is I have chosen to do.

I do not know if this is common to highly sensitive people or if it is simply a weak area of mine. If it is common to highly sensitive people – running on inspiration that is – it is likely because of the fact that we put our whole minds and hearts into the things that we do and into the relationships that we carry. As such, there are only so many things we can maintain inspiration for. Beyond that, we tend to lose our focus and inspiration. And yet another aspiration falls to the ground.

But I know my uncle is right in his recommendation and I have indeed begun a series of stretches and back exercises that are gentle enough to not cause too much pain. I believe it might work to ease the pain and hopefully also strengthen my back.

Who knows? Perhaps 30 years from now, I will be contacting a younger niece nephew or niece and inviting them to scale mountains at the age of 70.

The Importance of Pain

No one likes feeling pain but I believe that we often neglect to realize just how important pain can be. Without this chronic pain, I would let another five or ten years go by in which I do not strength in my own body through regular exercise and stretches, which some people might not need, but which my body clearly does need.

The body that houses us does not have a voice, and thus it speaks to us, and quite possibly the most common medium uses to indicate danger is pain. It would do us good to stop and listen rather than to ignore it and continue on with what we are doing or mask the pain with painkillers that might control the symptoms and sensations, but not the cause.

The problem of pain is a problem, to be sure, but it is also a blessing.

I might have mentioned a book I read in a previous post by Philip Yancey and Paul Brand, Where Is God When It Hurts? about pain and its importance. Without pain, one does not feel and may end up with serious problems that they might have avoided completely if they had felt the pain of a broken finger or a bruised heel.

This is the essence of the disease of leprosy. Although someone might wish to not feel pain and think of it as a gift to have deadened senses, that is what the disease of leprosy is; not feeling pain can cause far more damage then one might imagine and even lead to fatalities, as does eventually happen with the disease of leprosy.

In Closing 

Few people today if any, seek out pain. And those who do seek out physical pain are likely masking another type of pain, emotional or spiritual or mental. (That is a topic for another post.)

But although we do not seek it out, do not need to always run from it. We might learn, if we are open, the blessing of pain and not always consider it a bane.

HSPs and Decisions, Decisions – 40-Day-Journal – Day 12

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.

The HSP Trigger of Pressure – 40-Day Journal – Day 11

By HSP Mama

I get more frustrated then I should as a highly sensitive person when my forward movement is interrupted in some way. For example, when I am walking down a busy sidewalk and someone is walking more slowly than usual … usually because they are texting or doing something on their phone, and then they stop altogether and I have to go around them.

It irks me terribly.

I have wondered why it bothers me so much. As a highly sensitive person, I should be able to understand that the person is doing something that is engaging them completely. It’s not like it interrupts my entire day by having to slow down a few steps or maneuver my way around them.

HSPs and Checkout Counters

Perhaps part of the reason it bothers me so much is that I am a highly sensitive person. I am hyper-aware of the people around me and what is going on. One of the absolute worst things in my semi-regular schedule is standing in line at a checkout counter.

I dislike this scenario so much I usually avoid shopping in grocery stores until I absolutely have to, which means that my cart is generally absolutely full every time I go shopping. This means that it takes me a while, as quickly as I try to move, to get all the groceries onto the conveyor belt and then to bag them afterward. That part is not difficult.

The difficult part is the people waiting behind me.

I hate making people wait. It is a trigger for me and I will suddenly become very short-tempered and anxious because of this. I frequently take my children shopping with me and one of my kids often helps to begin bagging the groceries while I wait to pay. This child is invariably never even halfway done by the time I’m done paying; by then there are usually two or three or more people in line behind me.

I try to keep my anxiety low while I briskly takeover in bagging things, more often than not putting some fragile or bruise-able items underneath some heavy item just to get it done and get out of the shop.

The Trigger of Making People Wait

I still don’t know why this dislike of making people wait is so much a trigger for me. I’ve tried to think back to my own childhood and wondered if there is a reason for it.

I know that I do tend to move relatively slow naturally, though as a mother I have learned to pick up the pace and can move swiftly and efficiently and can multitask with the best of them. Still, it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I have memories of trying to help my mother in some task or another. She has always been a fast-paced and constantly working individual. (It is my father who I’ve recently recognized as the highly sensitive person from whom I likely got my nature.)

I remember more often than once offering to help my mom or even stepping in to help with something like peeling potatoes for dinner or washing the dishes and her always verbally pushing me aside with the words, “I can do it more quickly,” and then her taking over.

Unfortunately and to my chagrin, I have used the same words with my own children although I am aware of how damaging even a benign phrase like that can be. Although I have tried not to, it has come out at least once that I can remember when one of my children offered to do the dishes. I only hope that the humor and the gentleness came across as well, rather than a spirit of haste and rush that invariably says you’re not good enough … or at least that’s how I took it when my mother pushed past me to get something done.

Trying to Figure Out the Source of the Anxiety

But I really don’t know if this unhealthy dynamic between my mother and myself is what has made me so anxious about making other people wait and slowing other people down. Or if it’s just part of my highly sensitive nature and high levels of perception regarding the people around me.

There have been times that those in the line behind me have waited for a few minutes and then moved on;I always feel so terrible as if I have ruined their entire day.

At the same time, many times in my life, I have been stuck behind someone who moves very slowly, possibly because they are writing a check or paying by cash or using coupons. Instead of feeling frustrated and angry, I put myself in their shoes. I often try to do something to displace the tension by smiling at the person or the cashier or trying to say something general to distract the others who are also waiting in line.

It is so strange, I feel, that although I generally respond with understanding and empathy in situations like this, I still have the deep fear of inconveniencing others in the very same situations when the tables are turned.

Do I not have enough faith in other people?

Is it my own experience or my fears that are in play when I am triggered?

I really don’t know. But perhaps the questions and the awareness themselves are steps toward healing and growing out of the triggers and anxiety.

Meanwhile, I avoid grocery shopping with all four of my children, especially on summer afternoons because I have experienced meltdowns and know to stay away from those environments.

  • As a highly sensitive person, what are some environments that you know trigger you or make it difficult for you?
  • What have you done to avoid them or process them?
  • Do you find that you are slowly improving or are some things generally just difficult for you no matter how many times you experience them?

I’d love to hear from you as to how you deal with pressure points and anxieties you face.

HSP Reflection on The Story We Share – 40-Day Journal – Day 10

By HSP Introvert

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