When I first started my parenting journey 18 years ago, I was not familiar with the work of Dr. Elaine Aron or the highly sensitive trait. All I knew at the time was everything felt like it was just too much. I felt continually overwhelmed and like there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t quite figure things out in the ways that others seemed able to. I had no understanding of the highly sensitive person nervous system, but would eventually discover that regulating my nervous system was essential to thriving as an HSP.
As a highly sensitive being who is also an intuitive empath, the world was filled with a lot of intensity. My nervous system was constantly buzzing with overactivation of day-to-day life and with this new role of being a mother. This in turn caused an intense amount of shame as I kept looking around in the world feeling all the expectations and being extremely aware of the ways I was not meeting them.
After some big internal struggle, I started getting support. When I tried to work on this, my nervous system would flood and the people supporting me had no idea how to deal with this.
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What does it mean to flood a highly sensitive person nervous system?
It is a trauma response that happens in your nervous system. Instead of seeing the coaching or therapy as a support, the system sees it as five alarm threat and goes off the deep end. I would be sobbing uncontrollably and the person supporting me always wanted to move through the work, yet my nervous system was on high alert and incapable.
Healing happens when there is safety involved. When your system is flooded there is no sense of safety. What this most often means is that things need to move slowly to start. For an A-type personality who was used to pushing through to get where I needed to go, this was challenging to say the least.
Why is it important to not flood the system?
The more often this happens the more it becomes traumatic. Trauma as I define it, is anything that is too much, too fast, and too overwhelming for your nervous system. Each time the system floods when the goal is to feel relief and no relief is felt, the loop of no solution becomes more and more solidified. It can begin to feel like no solution is possible, therefore actually causing more trauma in the end.
Why was my nervous system flooding?
This overactive state wasn’t happening because I had big trauma in my system, although of course I had experienced trauma. The nervous system was flooding because I was trying to hide my sensitivities. That was what I had been taught in society. Toughen up, stop being so sensitive, this state of reaction and emotion is not appropriate. The shame of being so sensitive was getting activated each time I tried to do any healing. Which in turn made healing impossible. Which in turn made me feel like I was broken and unfixable.
Introducing the Solution that Changed Everything for Me
In 2019, when I started taking my EFT (emotional freedom technique) certification and learning about the highly sensitive person nervous system everything began to change. This was when I started connecting the dots between the experiences I was having and my dysregulated nervous system.
As a part of this training there was a prerequisite of doing our own work. I started to dive into this work, and I realized that something was shifting. The first session there was still flooding. But then I started to notice something different occurring. There was space between me and the shame. There were glimmers of acceptance. Real acceptance and integration had begun.
The years between 2019 and 2022 had been big healing and learning years for me. I continued to do my own work and worked with dozens of clients who were also sensitive and had similar stories to mine. They had tried working with various people over the years but had not gotten the relief and healing they had hoped for. As we worked at the pace of the nervous system, staying within the window of tolerance, they all began to see significant shifts in their lives.
Free to Be Me tap along to try EFT https://youtu.be/5TJy8YNjMEA
Understanding Myself as an HSP
In 2022 when I finally discovered Dr. Elaine Aron and the highly sensitive trait, it felt like a lightbulb to understanding the nuances of the sensitive nervous system. At this point I had already done extensive work to integrate being an empath. When I combined that knowledge with Dr Aron’s work plus the healing journey I had been on, everything felt lighter.
Understanding Your Highly Sensitive Person Sensitive Nervous System
Here are the three things that you need to remember when understanding your sensitive nervous system:
#1 – There is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
Our world is designed for insensitivity. It is designed to keep us busy and disconnected from ourselves. Learning to love yourself and your sensitive nature will be an incredible gift. Allowing your sensitive self to be 100% authentically YOU will grow the light in this world in ways you can’t even imagine right now. If you need support to help regulate your nervous system, don’t stop searching until you find someone that makes you feel seen and safe.
#2 – There needs to be space to accept and integrate the lower frequency emotions.
Emotions like sadness, grief, and anger, need space to be acknowledged and accepted. You can not skip over the emotions you don’t want or don’t deem worthy. All the emotions need space. Depending on what your family of origin was like there will be some emotions that were deemed acceptable and a whole lot that were not. These parts need to be loved as well. Start with that sense of internal safety.
#3 – Getting to know your nervous system through understanding your triggers will change your world.
The more you work within the window of tolerance the more joy, pleasures and ease becomes available to you. Curiosity and compassion start to take over where judgement and guilt previously ran the show. Overwhelm won’t vanish from your life but when it comes up, you will notice right away and be able to take steps to take care of your energy in the best way for you.
The highly sensitive person nervous system is complete and can be tricky to understand. However, once you realize the amazing connection between our brains, nervous systems, emotions, and body with all its senses, you’ll be one step closer to freedom in embracing yourself as an HSP.
Be sensitive, be free
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