I wanted to share a comment I received in response to my previous post about heightened sensitivity. At first I thought I could post it as it was written and let it speak for itself, but I realized I needed to take another approach so as not to confuse my readers.
As an introduction, the author shared that she (like me) didn't have the natural discernment or "sifter" to see through people as she would like to and had to learn about PDs by visiting forums and reading about them (as well as studying psychology and all kinds of aspects of human behavior). I think that in general HSPs take longer to clue into their world and tend to take many things about life for granted. That is, we HSPs are not born street wise and have to be tutored or self-tutored along the way.
She shared how as a latch-key kid raised she had to survive by her own wits while her parents worked; how her mother was as a hard-driving fashion executive and how her grandmother used to say that the author was 'too sensitive.' She was never told about core human values nor instructed to defend herself more assertively. She wrote,
"As my father agreed last week, I basically raised myself. So I do know a bit about what you speak; my sensitivity reared its head when my brother abused me, when neighborhood kids abused me and I didn't know what to do about it so I absorbed it instead.
I realized that I'd never STUDIED PEOPLE. And that this is a critical, critical life lesson that kids need to be taught very young. But it's not too late -- survivors ... are a testament to that.
The piece I never picked up on was that other people's motives and motivations aren't necessarily like mine, aren't necessarily genuine and consistent with what they say/how they try to act -- and the whole notion that people wear masks, disordered or not.
And so learning about postures/body language, facial expressions, voice tones -- in essence, the stuff the intelligence and law enforcement communities use daily, (as well as politicians, actors, corporate management et al.), is wildly useful as it opens a door into a new world: The layers below/beyond the presentation.
Because of this adventure the way I now view, listen to, understand and interact with people has changed forever, hopefully for the better ... with the usual trips and stumbles along the way ....
Perhaps directing your study toward these kinds of topics might be useful for you?"
What she wrote about immediately resonated because I too was a latch-key kid and raised myself along the way. Italian immigrant families didn't have the inside story about the complexity of raising their children in a foreign country. They had enough of a hard time just surviving day to day on a personal level.
The author also shared with me her struggle to own her own opinions or thoughts while she was growing up. I also related to this, because I never thought my opinions or thoughts mattered to others. I seemed invisible to others. Here is how she tells the rest of the story,
"The other main lesson I've learned is that, somewhere/somehow along the way I was either never taught about my own instinct, or perhaps never given permission to live by it, or was perhaps trained to respond to outside permissions always over my own instinct, so through the years I became disconnected from it/didn't see it/no longer relied on it but came to rely instead of any kind of outside input I could gather. In essence I replaced my own instinct void with Other People's Opinions. Which shifts power from the Self to Those Outside the Self and can make one quite stagnant if one is afraid to move in any direction without that approval. (When someone doesn't have a supportive mate in a R (relationship), and that mate becomes abusive and maliciously manipulative, this tendency kicks in hard and if one's voluntarily assumed position in the R is socioeconomically dependent, that makes it more difficult for the one becoming recessive to keep the peace and comfortable safety going until it's no longer possible to do so.)
Recapturing one's own instinct, testing its rightness and relying on the fact that, though it's not right for others it's right for you and that is the #1 primary thing that matters, is a really important step toward strengthening the True Self. Even if we have to swim upstream, pull away from the herd or actively defy those who've influenced us to get free enough to do it.
Through time I've taken inventory and found that, when I've not trusted my instinct, things have gone more awry than if I'd done so.
Doing this at first can be so tentative it's like dipping our toe in the water, then going in ankle-deep, then knee-deep, then waist-high, then gradually swimming around.
There's nothing wrong with gentleness, with refinement. Especially if we were raised in a certain culture or geography and find ourselves having to operate in a substantially different culture that's perhaps more rough-hewn.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," societal shaming and all. If our backbone is stronger than society's will to break it, we continue to stand tall and walk among those who don't necessarily support or defend us, but we no longer care if they do because we support and defend ourselves."