The discovery was at once sad and shocking, because here I was putting the context outside of me, whereas in truth, it lay within!
I still remember the first time I drew the amalgam of inner voices that seemed sensitive, critical and unsavoury. I drew just a black mass of soft pastel.
The experience was thoroughly moving but it made me want to look at the different strands of self-criticism more deeply. In the subsequent days, I drew more and I took to free writing as expression.
I found the courage to lock myself up in a room and give myself the time I needed to hear myself out. In the months to come, I saw through the stories I had developed for myself. I also took inputs from others as they experienced me. I realized it had all gone into making that dark black mass.
Meeting your critical self isn’t easy but if you identify as an HSP. But it might be really helpful for you to look at self-criticism as a fact and then take out the different strands.
Write them down as statements, say them aloud and see them come out in more concrete forms. And in time, you will have come to a place to replace them with kinder words.
2. Develop curiosity about your sensitive nature
For a moment, pause and wonder why being highly sensitive is seen as a problem in the world we live in.
No matter what your contemplation threw up, there’s one fact that none of us can deny – the world at large looks at strength, inner and outer, as desirable.
Take it a level further, and you’ll see how strength is absolutely necessary for survival. “Survival of the fittest” – you know of that little saying we grew up hearing, right?
While that does have a grain of truth in it, we forget that as human beings we are also made of a whole lot else. That lot includes our sensitivities, our vulnerabilities and how we negotiate our lives along with them.
For an HSP, the higher rate of sensitivity can often be cause of overwhelm. This can then create other emotions like sadness and anger, which subsequently can be turned inward. This is how self-criticism is often born in HSPs.
In my experience, the more we try to dumb these feelings down, the more they explode in our faces.
Alternatively, you can develop a sense of curiosity towards this side of you. Some questions I have asked myself include:
- “Am I generally sensitive?”
- “What are those top 5 things that create crazy ripple effects within me?”
- “What among the things I do, make me feel safe and happy?”
- “What kind of people don’t trigger me as much?”, etc.
Frankly, the list of questions can go on.
What’s also true is that there’s no one answer that every HSP will come up with. However, sitting with yourself and allowing some space to ask questions can lead you to answers that you never thought existed.
Simply put, this is an antidote to judging yourself for being highly sensitive.
3. Explore old wounds and how they affect you
How wonderful would it have been if all we had to live with is our present, isn’t it?
We all know how that is far from the truth. Because the years and the experiences add up to make us who we are. For an HSP, a highly stimulated nervous system is often associated with a not-so-pleasant past.