Caring for the Highly Sensitive Person’s inner child is a difficult-but-necessary task that will help you find healing from the past, manage your present anxieties, and connect with others for meaningful future relationships.
For the majority of babies out there, we really have no problem understanding if they are upset. Anyone who has had a child, watched a child, or lived on the same block as a child knows that if said child is not having his or her needs met, then he or she will release a carefully crafted statement … and cry loudly.
As an HSP myself, this is when I usually my Inigo Montoya moment. Remember in The Princess Bride when Mandy Patinkin’s character hears the cry of the man in black and said, “My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man killed my father”?
Yes, the cry in the mouth of a child can sound a lot like the cry in the heart of the HSP.
Think about why babies cry for a moment. They have needs over which they have no control. They feel hunger. They feel discomfort from a full belly … or an empty belly and a full diaper. And I’m fairly certain they are disaffected at the current political climate wherever they live. But even though they have needs, they cannot produce their own food, change their own diapers, or establish world peace.
The problem is that they do not have the words to communicate their needs.
Is it any different being an HSP who doesn’t understand HSP?
Understanding the HSP’s Inner Child
If you don’t understand what makes you different, you’re helpless to correct it. You don’t have the words to use, because most of us don’t understand “overstimulation at the neurological level”.
But think about an understanding parent (once the initial sleep deprived stage of infant rearing is complete). The baby cries; mom knows that baby needs to be fed. The baby cries again; mom goes to the diaper. She begins to understand the child.
It makes me think of the old animated movie “Balto” where there is a polar bear who only makes odd tonal noises. Later in the movie, the grumpy goose, Boris, responds to the bear’s non-verbal noise and exclaims, “I’m beginning to understand the bear!”
One of the first challenges an HSP faces is just understanding that there is a difference between himself / herself and others. He or she needs to understand the things that make him or her unique: the depth of processing information, the empathy he or she can muster for people, and the intensely overwhelming feelings if not kept in check.
Embracing the HSP’s Inner Child
As you embrace your HSP you will start to learn what you need. You will witness your over-arousal without experiencing it. “Hmmm… I’m really stressed right now.”
So what does your infant-self need in this situation? Remember that during times of stress your language is going to be less important than your body sitations.
Understand that you were born an HSP – you didn’t choose this. But you are so wonderful as you are. You’re not spoiled, nor is taking care of your needs coddling you.
Care for the HSP’s Inner Child
Caring for a child is much like caring for an HSP (though truth be told, it’s much like caring for anyone or anything who has difficulty with life tasks). If Billy breaks a leg a school, we don’t get mad that he needs more time between classes, someone to carry his books, or a hair dryer to scratch his itchy leg.
Remember the keys of being an HSP and you’ll know how to care for them.
- Don’t make them handle more than they can – and do not make changes suddenly
- Check in during the moment – don’t wait – see what they need right now.
- If they’re exhausted, they need to sleep / rest. If we cannot rest right now, ask them if it’s okay to wait.
- Don’t ignore them; take time to know them better
- Keep things uncomplicated in their lives
- If you can think about caring for your HSPness in the same way that you might think about caring for or defending a child, you’ll be on the road to healing.
If you need help doing this and are in the state of Ohio, check out our statewide online counseling service at Covenant Family Wells and take the next step down the road.