Forgiving and the Highly Sensitive Child

 Photo credit: symphony of love / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: symphony of love / Foter / CC BY-NC

Throughout my life, I’ve heard the familiar well-meaning advice: ‘just ignore them’, ‘let it go’ and ‘don’t take things so seriously’…Yes, but HOW??

Being Highly Sensitive predisposes you to feel things deeply – a real gift when you’re experiencing positive emotions, but not so much when they’re negative. This is something I think I’ve struggled with from a young age, feeling hurt by other people’s actions or insensitive words and then remembering the hurt – seemingly forever.

Some of the things etched on my memory are: the teacher at school who slapped my leg because she thought I was trying to trip her up (as if), the humiliation I felt in front of my class when a music teacher picked on me to answer a question I had no clue about, then blowing up at me and a friend who was prompting me with the answers, my teenage best friend refusing to talk to me for a whole term because we both fell in love with the same boy. These are things that happened over 30 years ago, let alone the things that have happened in the past 3 decades!

Photo credit: WolfS♡ul / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: WolfS♡ul / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Talk about holding on to negative experiences, I was the expert. Until recently, that is, when the Universe threw a few pretty major things my way until I really wanted to throw my hands up into the air and shout ‘ENOUGH ALREADY’! 10 years ago, my dear father spent 2 weeks in hospital after a heart attack and sadly died there. A couple of weeks ago, history seemed to be repeating itself with my mother, though thankfully, she’s now home after an agonising 10 days of stress and worry. And a few other things happened, but I won’t bore you with those!

In amongst all the angst, I started to think that maybe this was a valuable lesson for me. Maybe I needed to take this opportunity to work on forgiving. Forgive all the injustices and hurt that I’d been carrying around with me for so many years, stop acting like a victim and really let them go. As a firm believer in the Mind/Body connection, I realised that bearing grudges and carrying negative feelings through my life would only end badly with me being the one in hospital with cancer or heart disease. And so I did some reading on  ‘Forgiving’ because surely there would be someone wise out there in the world that knew how!

I came across many interesting takes on the subject, but 3 things really stood out for me:

Forgiving is not forgetting

When we forgive someone we aren’t condoning the other person’s behaviour – we are merely saying ‘I did not like or appreciate your words or actions, but I am willing to let it go because it does not help me to hold onto those feelings’.

(from ‘How to Teach a Child Forgiveness’ by Jamie Perillo)

Everyone is doing their best

‘…that everyone in their own unique way was doing their best. And when you think about it, if everyone’s doing their best, what’s to forgive – doing your best?’

(from ‘3 Unconventional Tips for Forgiving and Letting Go’ by Lisa Esile)

Recognise the other person’s pain

‘When you find yourself feeling righteous, angry, entitled, or victimized by the actions of another, can you find within you any seed of softness, some place deep within that recognizes how much pain that person must be in, how burdened their soul must be, how deeply armoured they must be in their heart in order to behave in a way that is surely out of alignment with their own integrity’.

(from ‘How to Keep Your Heart Open When You’re Angry’ by Lissa Rankin M.D.)

And so I started on my journey of forgiving. I forgave the teacher that slapped me, I forgave the friend that didn’t speak to me for months, I forgave the music teacher, and many others, and I’ll keep going on that journey!

For all of you out there caring for a Highly Sensitive Child whose feelings are easily hurt and who may be prone to holding on to negative experiences, please give them a head start in life and teach them how to forgive and let go. (There’s even a great song about it!)

Let’s help build a world where our children, highly sensitive or not, are able to go through life feeling lighter and more compassionate towards others. Maybe the hospitals won’t be as crowded!

If any of this resonates with you or you can share more ways to forgive, please leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.





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