As a highly sensitive person I find certain things overwhelming. It’s too much stimulation on my central nervous system, for example too much social interaction drains me and suffocates me. As an introvert I like my space and time alone. It doesn’t mean I don’t love connecting with others. I love people and I need to be with them only a little to feel happy, whilst others need more of the social interaction to maintain the same ‘level of happiness’.
Social norms value some things and condemn others. Therefore, we indoctrinate children with our social and cultural values, so they can be acceptable in the society. Socialisation is one of its values and as a child I was often shamed for not wanting to join groups of people or to speak to people on the phone. I was shamed for being antisocial. I found speaking to people mostly stressful and shaming made me feel even awkward, inadequate and misunderstood. It made me feel that there was something inherently wrong with me. I see now that I found these interactions almost unbearable because it stimulated me too much in the first place. I remember certain personalities were overbearing and being around them was too much to handle for a highly sensitive and empathic child who had no clue how to look after their own needs or how to ask for help.
We live in a shaming culture. The aim of shaming people is to exercise control over them. It is to manipulate them into doing something, locking them down into guilt for not conforming. So, if I continue feeling shame for not wanting to be around people as much as others do, I avoid it anyway because it overstimulates me, and feel guilt about not joining in.
I come to the realisation that on the larger scale, shame and guilt are two emotions through which social groups, workplaces and humanity as a whole can be controlled.
Shame and guilt are kind of emotions that hit our sense of self-worth. Shame and guilt hold us back from thriving in life. Until we heal that part of ourselves.
I personally think it’s about reevaluating things and dropping judgement. If not ‘joining in’ is ok by me, I will not feel shame and guilt. If I can dare to give myself permission to pass on a social event or not to call anyone if I don’t feel like it, I transcend shame and guilt. Love and compassion towards myself can help dissolve shame and guilt.
In my own case, learning about highly sensitive and empathic people’s traits helped me re-evaluate how I experience life. Working through various aspects of my life through these lenses helped me understand myself first time in many years and gave me a sense of self appreciation, from which self-love and compassion could flow. Having this understanding I gave myself permission to just be, which I never had from my parents, teachers, aunts and uncles. It’s like telling myself what I needed to hear from them – “Hey, your perspective is valid and we honour who you are”. It feels awesome, uplifting and empowering!
If you’ve had similar experiences, ask yourself:
* What aspects of you were not accepted or shamed when you were a child or later in life?
* What do you now know about these aspects of you?
* What value do they bring into your life? Do they serve any bigger purpose?
* In what ways can you accept and honour these parts of you now?