The differences between highly sensitive people and the rest of the population is much more than skin deep. The deep sensing that HSP experience means that they define their senses of self differently and as a consequence think differently.
I began a slow process of change in my life that incorporated sensory processing in my health. Slowly, as I nourished my own sensitivities, instead of trying to “overcome them”, I began to experience the world very differently.
It is crucial to help our children become who they are, when we ignore these gifts and consider them as part of a disease, we are condemning them to a life of mental ills that could be avoided. In the book “when the body says no. The hidden cost of stress”, Dr. Gabor Maté makes the case for helping children through empathy and nurturing parenting:
“ In rhesus monkeys about 20% are “high reactors”, who are more likely than others to exhibit depressive behaviours on separation from mother, along with greater and longer activation of the HPA axis, exaggerated sympathetic nervous system arousal and deeper suppression of immune activity. In human terms, we might call the high reactors temperamentally hypersensitive. Not unlike their human counter parts, they tend to end up at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Their offspring resemble them in behaviors, reactivity and social status.
Research has revealed that the “constitutional high-reactors destiny can be interrupted by changing the environment. “ The positive changes are passed on to future generations: “ When reared with especially nurturing mothers, such animals show no signs of the usual behavioral disorder. Instead they show signs of precocious behavioral development and rose to the top of the hierarchy as adults.”[i]
Part of the nurturing of children’s senses is to become aware of what can be toxic to them. When I began this journey, it was very difficult to find relevant information and help when dealing with how to ease symptoms caused by high level of toxicity, how to help a child (or adult) heal when traditional medicine is not an option, understanding the hidden codes of sensory languages, helping children decode their moods and sensory signals, and learning to use them to their advantage instead of being overwhelmed by them.
The first step for me has been to learn how to deeply listen to myself and to my children. To act from a place of deep understanding and empathy.
[i] Maté, Gabor (2003). When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress. Toronto: Vintage Canada.