Portrait of the Inner Journey by Susan Seddon Boulet
Many highly sensitive people (HSPs) realize as early as in kindergarten (me!) that something is not quite right. I shed more tears than my siblings, friends, and cousins combined, and was flat-out told that these tears were ‘crocodile tears’ and not real. Why? Because they lacked ‘good reason’ –– sigh . . . as if feelings ran on logic.
The Tender Cry-Baby Years
In grade school, HSPs like me often get teased for being cry babies. We get in trouble for being too much or too little in comparison to the norm: in first grade, I needed to go the principal’s office for being too soft spoken, too timid and too easily shaken up and emotionally overwhelmed by my teacher’s loud reprimands, when I wasn’t even the one in trouble.
Adolescence: the Weird, Dramatic, Serious, & Intense Years
It doesn't stop there. In middle and high school, our peers think we’re weird, overly dramatic, too serious or too intense. Many parents don’t know what high sensitivity is or how to best guide their HS teens. My parents wanted me to open up when overwhelmed and needing to shut the world out, yet glazed over and toned me down when I shared my full range of feelings. They couldn’t wait for my precocious, emotional, hormonal phase to end.
Tragedy & Truth: HSP Symptom Shame & Self-Blame
By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve got HSP symptom shame and self-blame down-pat. We’re convinced that it’s our fault that we can’t crack this confusing relationship code that everyone else seems to get.
The truth: we sense and are impacted by subtle nuances and other people’s disowned shadow parts and emotions that the rest of the population (80% or so) either benignly neglects, actively rejects or entirely misses.
Trapped in the Lose-Lose Double-Bind
This places us in a lose-lose double-bind. In order to belong, we need to artificially dim the light on our version of reality and push truth that’s unacceptable back in the shadows. Being the harmony loving creatures we are, we often become masters at doing whatever it takes to fly under the radar. We chameleon through life, even when overwhelmed by all the stimuli and imbalances in our environment that run through our energy systems –– a key characteristic of HSP. This initially pays off but over time takes a big toll on our well-being. We eventually prefer to go through life in stealth-mode without realizing the hidden personal price we pay when we resort to this and the loss to the world when we dim our bright light and true potential.
Nature: my Escape
Growing up in a country almost entirely covered by Amazon rainforest provided me an easy exit strategy out of modern life’s mazes and matrices. Whenever I struggled with self-blame, I hid and played in the forest (a patch of undeveloped land across the street) within the loving arms of Mother Nature, who embraced, rather than shunned, my natural disposition.
In the jungle, it was clear that I wasn't the problem. People who had lost touch with their peaceful true nature, vulnerable hearts, and joyful spirit were.
Mother Earth as HS Go-To Refuge
You can probably relate. HSPs frequently report that the natural world offers them refuge, clarity, and solace. Many of us are also able to receive deep soul messages and guidance from Mother Earth, nature spirits and animals who help us to develop higher than average EQ by learning to regulate and identify our strong emotions and needs.
Unfortunately, life’s many twists and turns derailed and disconnected me from my safe nature sanctuary and spiritual lifeline. It took a spontaneous shamanic initiation –– drumming sounds, as persistent as a song stuck in your head –– to re-awaken me decades later while a student in a clinical psychology graduate program. What initially felt like reliving the highly sensitive, double-bind all over again became a liberating journey of deep transformation and soul healing.
Best of ALL Worlds
Today, two and a half decades later, I’ve integrated the best of modern psychotherapy and ancient shamanic healing practices into 5 SOULutions for HSP –– inspired by guidance from nature and elemental spirits.
I learned to replace all that I’ve lost and continue to excavate the depths of my being for more treasures. I now teach my clients how to build a protective inner sanctuary and invoke a dreamteam of elemental guides with teachings that are particularly beneficial to HS women wanting to resist and reframe negative messages about their emotionality -- their powerful energy-in-motion.
These guides will activate and catalyze your natural genius and transform self-blame and distorted beliefs that most frequently sabotage healthy emotional regulation in HSPs.
Ready? Let’s Get Started . . .
5 Highly Essential SOULutions to Inner Peace
While in a meditative or contemplative state, connect with the nature guides listed below in the following order. You can do this while taking a stroll outside and connecting with these guides in the natural world, or you can cultivate this connection with your true nature and wise self by dropping into your heart center and imagining entering a beautiful sacred garden or wild natural space that’s there to protect you and provide you these teachings:
1). AS ABOVE – SO BELOW TREE GUIDE: A robust tree is an ideal guide for reconnecting us with our meaning-making and healing superpowers. Feel the upper part of your body align with the branches and leaves of the tree, absorbing guidance and inspiration from the sun, light, our star ancestors, and the cosmos above, and feel the lower part of your body align with the roots of the tree, absorbing nourishment and wisdom from the dark soil, elements, plants, animals, ancestors and all who’ve enriched the earth below. Invite your ego-mind to recognize the polarized worldviews that generate many of the problems our modern world struggles with today, and ask it to partner with your wise, whole soul by relinquishing fear-driven control.
SOULution 1: When in doubt, RE-TREE-T
2). AIR – WISDOM: The air element connects us to the big picture, long view, and our highest truth. Through mindful breathing, it infuses spaciousness, creative insights, out-of-the-box solutions, imaginative play, and fresh perspectives into our personal stories –– outdates and ingrained scripts about ourselves, others, and the world that need updating.
SOULution 2: RESPIRATION = INSPIRATION
3). FIRE – PROTECTION: Connecting with the element of fire protects us from overstimulation by helping us to establish a clearer visceral sense of where we begin and end. HSPs tend to perceive anger as the culprit of disharmony. This is not the case. Like a fever, it’s main objective is to concentrate our energy to push out the threat and re-establish homeostasis. It requires that we carefully listen and establish physical, emotional, psychological and energetic boundaries accordingly.
SOULution 3: HEAT IS WHAT TRANSFORMS, NOT LIGHT
4). EARTH – GROUNDING: Connecting with earth helps you to seed, root, and nurture your spiritual growth in tangible and gentle ways. Earth functions like a grounding rod by neutralizing overwhelm and reducing power surges. It provides structure and aligns you with Mother Nature’s slow, steady growth. You become more patient, stop comparing yourself to others, and bloom and sun-ripen in your own time when connected to earth.
SOULution 4: EARTH HAS YOUR BACK
5). WATER – CLEANSING: This sensual SOOTHING guide offers comfort and clarity by translating your e-motion –– your energy in motion –– into understandable messages. Your blood, sweat, and tears cleanse, nourish, and detox your heart, mind, body and soul, lead you into your oceanic and emotional depths and dig up your most hidden treasures and wisdom for continuous growth and integration.
SOUlution 5: TRUST YOUR FEELINGS & FLOW
Your Crystal Clear Heart Compass
Your sacred heart center –– your soul’s compass –– lies at the nexus where these 5 antidotes intersect. This is where your truth-body will eventually take front and center stage and demote your default pain-body from this throne.
Regular engagement with these elements and their guidance is the key to transforming - for good. Your spiritual growth will simultaneously bridge the gaps and places where collective soul retrievals and energy reboots are needed in larger society. It will align you with your soul’s grand design, allow you to reclaim your intuitive superpowers, and reset you and your True North whenever you get derailed. You have your highly sensitive system to thank for these powerful tools and blessings.