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  • The HSP Shadow

    Posted by John on 09/30/2023 at 2:56 pm

    Something I’ve become aware of is one aspect of the HSP shadow (in the Jungian sense of the word). I’ve not seen this mentioned anywhere before so I thought I’d create a post about it.

    I speak from experience when I say that “having limits” can be a shadow issue for people with highly sensitive physiology. With an exceptional ability to know what’s going on with others, we also have an exceptional ability to care for and about them.

    Some people have huge emotional deficits though. And those people might be one or both of our own parents. When this is the case, it can set up a pattern of emotionally caretaking others who cannot take care of themselves very well or at all. And this job or role can become a major part of our identity.

    Furthermore, as we go through life, we actually unconsciously seek out relationships that match the ones we developed with our parents in childhood. And in the cases where a parent had an unhealthy level of need that we were meeting, we were able to use our childhood abundance of energy to do what may have been a superhuman task. That’s the setup for the shadow aspect I’m talking about.

    This dynamic can be a fundamental problem in some people’s lives. It was in mine for several decades. I would be ignoring my own needs in order to maintain this heightened level of care for people around me. And in the background there is a sense of “at some point it will be my turn to be taken care of.” But where these unhealthy dynamics are at play, that turn may never come and can end up creating very dangerous situations involving finances or physical health deficits that build up over years of playing out this dynamic.

    If this is something you relate to, I recommend checking out The Human Magnet Syndrome by Ross Rosenberg. This book was very important for me, and adding awareness of highly sensitive physiology to the topics in that book makes for an even deeper understanding of some of the dynamics we deal with.

    Joyce replied 9 months, 1 week ago 5 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • Joyce

    10/02/2023 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks, John.
    I’ve spent decades taking care of others, as well. However, unlike what you described as wondering when it would be your turn to be taken care of, I find myself struggling to allow others to take care of me. I’ve become fiercely independent, perhaps to other traumas in my life. Yet, I still jump in to to take care of others when needed, especially if I don’t see someone else doing it. My heartstrings are easily tugged.

    • Linda

      10/03/2023 at 11:43 am

      Insightful reply, Joyce – I relate to what you said about striving for independence. For me it is a way to not be hurt again when care is not there.

    • Sunny

      10/03/2023 at 10:18 pm

      Spoken like a true HSP, Joyce. 🙂 I can relate in so many ways. Embracing the HSP inside me has been the greatest awakening I could ask for.

    • John

      10/04/2023 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Joyce, are you saying that you have people who offer you care and support (and are good at it) and that you have trouble taking it in?

      • Joyce

        10/04/2023 at 9:58 pm

        First, let me say to @Linda and @Sunny04 that I have appreciated your replies. I’ve been very busy and overwhelmed (seems a constant state these days) lately and wanted to at least react to your replies. However, that doesn’t seem to be an option for me in this thread. I’m not sure why ( @John ?)

        To answer John’s question, I am not sure those opportunities to feel taken care of emotionally have come up for me much in the past handful of years. I have many friends, so it’s not that people don’t care. But do they care like *I* care? Most, not really. I have one friend whom I’ve known for many years and we share the joys of a close relationship. If I mention something is going on, she is always willing to support me. But I recognize she is busy, too, and will often not bring up the need to be supported if I feel she is otherwise distracted, probably out of fear of being disappointed by her inability to attend to my emotional state (I don’t believe she’s HSP, if that makes a difference).

        On the other hand, I’ve had people offer to take care of me in other ways, such as offering to do things for/with me around my home which I might not have the skills to do by myself, or to carry in heavy boxes, etc. That’s where my independence kicks in. I try to do things like that which I should not and sometimes it backfires on me.

        I’m not 100% sure why I don’t accept help well. In trying to understand it, myself, I think it has to do with fear of a power imbalance. Does that make sense?

        • Sunny

          10/04/2023 at 10:16 pm

          My two cents on why we don’t accept help well (Since I do this all the time). For me, it’s always been a subconscious (now conscious) feeling that I am a burden to the ones providing the help. And prefer not to impose. Its a challenge but I try to make conscious efforts to accept help since I know that life is a hard journey alone. HSP or not, we are not wired that way.

          • Joyce

            10/04/2023 at 10:19 pm

            Thank you for saying that, @Sunny04
            You have hit the nail on the head and I don’t know why I didn’t include that in my comment above, but I have been recognizing lately that I don’t always feel comfortable taking up space in the world. This relates to what you just said, for sure!

        • martin

          10/07/2023 at 5:38 pm

          What you say Joyce reminds me of what my granddad has mentioned to me occasionally. He feels he doesn’t want to be dependent on anybody, something he was bought up by his mum that they didn’t want to be seen as being reliant on anybody, if they couldn’t undertake a task. Another example would be if someone planned a get together, they would feel obliged not to disrupt the plan if they were not all that happy if the get together was at a venue they didn’t like. I feel the same as I feel that I didn’t want to come across as a demanding person. Is this just being polite or being sensitive, I do not know. I understand how you feel Joyce.

          • Joyce

            10/11/2023 at 10:30 pm

            Thanks for your comments, @rockster Martin and I apologize for the delay in replying. I appreciate you chiming in and validating my perspective!

  • Linda

    10/03/2023 at 12:36 am

    Interesting idea related to shadow – a new perspective for me of what shadow can be. Probably will do some processing of that in the hsp way…🤔

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