Ups and Downs and Why it is OK

If you have ever wondered about how much you seem to follow an apparently unpredictable up and down cycle, maybe this piece is for you….

HSPs have been described in various ways over the years, comments can vary in extreme from ‘rather neurotic’ to ‘so sane but intense’, ‘healthy’ to ‘unwell’, ‘eccentrically delightful’ to ‘weird’, ‘so chattery’ to ‘silent and withholding’, ‘emotionally unpredictable’ to ‘hardly expressing a thing’. I hasten to add, these descriptions have as often been from HSPs about themselves in my therapy room or at meetings, as from those who know or observe them. Some of us will bristle at such generalisations or interpretations, others will recognise people’s reactions or comments on our state of being, others will not recognise themselves at all. But when all is said and done, what are we, really, when it comes to those ups and downs that people notice, that we notice, even if we don’t show the effects – that propensity to seem emotionally very high one minute and very low the next, to seem apparently contradictory? Does it mean we aren’t normal, or there’s something deeply wrong with us? Should we immediately run off and find a therapist to ‘fix’ what’s wrong with our brain? Get a BPD diagnosis!? Or is it normal for highly sensible people to experience this level of changing emotion?

Let’s not forget, before we explore this a little further, to reference what actually defines us as highly sensitive people, having Sensory Processing Sensitivity (as defined by Dr Elaine Aron). We have:

  • Depth of processing and everything that comes with that.
  • A propensity to become easily Over-stimulated.
  • Emotional intensity.
  • Sensory sensitivity (including sensitivity to subtleties).

Remember these things? Did you read Dr Aron’s book on highly sensitive people or have you bypassed one of the most empowering books ever written in favour of websites that generalise and capitalise on something they often know very little about and can leave readers feeling disempowered or victims somehow? When you are thinking about your development out there in the world, remember to refer back to the source of the research on our trait. This really does help.

Of course we have ups and downs and of course they are noticeable. If we have intense emotions, are they not going to show, somehow? If we get easily over-stimulated is that not going to become apparent? If we think deeply about all sorts of things, or notice every little change or sensation around us, is that really not going to colour how we engage with everything and everyone around us? But is the simple fact of intensity, or moving from one emotionally intense feeling to another logically an indicator that something is wrong? Does it mean there is no rationale, or thinking process gong on? I don’t think so, which is why I wanted to bring ‘strong feelings’ to your attention. Strong feelings, for us, often don’t limit themselves to singular emotions – one of the reasons we can be quite exhausted at times. One day we might be feeling very sad. The next perhaps feeling angry. The next joyful? Are any of those feelings wrong? What if we experience all of them in one day, is that wrong too?

"When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and the valleys that got you here." - Morgan Harper Nicholls

So, why am I talking about all these things? How does it help to think about ourselves as prone to surges of joy and depths of despair? In particular, if you come from the UK like me, how does it help to normalise this in the face of a culture where the ‘stiff upper lip’ is part of the national character? It’s because it really does matter how YOU colour your normal behaviour. It really does matter how YOU assimilate experiences and respond to your environment. It really does matter what YOU think. And importantly, it matters what values you use to screen everything you perceive about you, your purpose, our purpose, what’s happening ‘out there’, as a part of that species called human.

Why? Why does it matter, that you continue to be intense, affected, a depth processor, aware of little things?

Well, if you haven’t already worked it out, your human tribe needs you to be just as you are. So much of what we see matters. If no-one is noticing, it’s our job to bring it to their attention, sometimes by just feeling things. It’s not always comfortable for people to see us in tears at witnessing something that is obviously cruel, especially if they haven’t noticed. However, if we don’t show it  how will anyone learn? If we don’t think carefully and in a complex way about long-term plans and effects, how will anyone who is busy under a workload of empire-building or drudgery ever know there is another way of doing things? And how do we know that any of these things need thinking about if we are not moved by our feelings, our sensitive nervous system, to notice, to consider at depth and hopefully, to communicate a question or an idea for alternatives? Feelings are a neutral thing – they simply indicate there is something to notice (and potentially, to act on).  They are neither right nor wrong.

There is such a lot going on around us. In the bigger picture, some people are screaming about the dangers facing us through our environmental negligence, others are concerned about walking backwards from hard-won human rights, greed run wild, building the rights of women, children, whole races and species. Does this mean we all have to be standing on soap-boxes? No, it doesn’t. We are empowered in different and varied ways. Let’s remember however that change can happen in the tiny increments of life – a little word, a little change, maybe just a little respect for the way in which our awareness and response to things outside ourselves can be intense. Giving ourselves respect for the deep, deep way in which we respond to what is going on around us, what is engaging with us, can empower us to have a voice or an idea that will make sense. Sometimes our very intensity is what what stops others in their tracks and gives them pause for thought.

Having feelings that are intense, and easily moved, gives us a very finely tuned view of what’s going on around us. We are responding to what is happening. If we can accept our feelings as normal, give them space and respect as signals to observe something, it gives us power. Just because our feelings can seem to change, it doesn’t mean any of those responses are wrong. If we disregard strong feelings, we do so at our peril. The ‘up and down’ is simply an indication of response to a tide that is sometimes inspired by negative experiences, or sometimes by the positive. Negative and positive things happen all day long, we have no idea what is going to happen, therefore we don’t know how we will feel. It’s not a fault, it’s not a weakness, it’s just a response. No feelings are wrong, they just are. The only wrong thing would be to count them as of no importance or to fail to act on them when the time is right.

And what about over-stimulation and the anxiety or fatigue that this can bring on? Often that fatigue or overwhelm will lead to feelings – are those feelings wrong, or are they simply indicators that something needs adjustment? As sensitive people, we need to make adjustments more often, we are affected more quickly. It’s all normal, unless someone else or we ourselves decide our response should match the unresponsive majority. So often I have heard HSPs talk about how they over-reacted to something perceived as disrespect, or felt embarrassed by tears of joy at something as simple as the first blossoming flower of spring. But when you look more deeply into these things, we don’t always ‘over-react’ – sometimes something did happen, it’s just no one else noticed. Sometimes assumptions from the dominant culture do curtail our freedom to do and act as is natural for us. Sometimes our sensitive systems and creative abilities do perceive new or wonderful ways to benefit ourselves or others, giving us overwhelming feelings of joy and expectation – imagine how hard it is when no one else realises how wondrous it is. Do allow yourself time to experience the disappointment and sadness when you are the only one who notices.

What might it be like, to truly respect your responses, to check them out for meaning, to accept those intense feelings neutrally as information rather than a fault? What part might that play in furthering your own empowerment?

Next time you feel your ups and downs are unwelcome, think about how they inform our intelligence, how they inform us if we are on the right path, how they enable us to finely tune our destiny and that of others. Find other HSPs, even for a few minutes, to hear how you feel, what you are thinking, what matters. You will be surprised how one other HSP can help you to manage the helter skelter of feelings that one minute seem to be troubling, the next minute seem to be nicely settled away, having been heard and made sense of. Sometimes only another HSP will be able to see the sanity in your distress, the numinous in your joy. And let’s be honest, if you really do have an issue related to your feelings, something that needs work, who better to advise you and help you seek a safe space to learn and grow, than a fellow HSP?

Enjoy those ups and downs as signs you are alive and well and ‘sensitive’ to everything around you. Don’t abandon your innate and natural wisdom – there is a reason for your response. You just need to realise you are the one to interpret these feelings, not the dominant culture who whilst needing our sensitivity, might mistakenly seek to suppress or negate it.

And then  – this is the hard part – we do have to learn to ride the disappointment of knowing something that others are slow to realise.  We are first aware, that means we witness the thing that needs to change over and over whilst others have no idea. That’s ok, but we do need to grieve and then accept that we, the first responders, will always need to wait for others to catch up to where we are. There are still ways in which we can use our feelings and awareness to bring about meaningful conclusions – just not all the things, all the time.

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But that’s ok. It’s the life of a sensitive person to be up and down in truthful response to what is going on around us. We will survive, but let’s not add to our distress by putting ourselves down for our up and down experiences. They are normal and signs that there is hope.

Barbara Allen

Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)
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On the Quiet – NCHS Update

It’s been a while since our last Newsletter, not because there is nothing to report, but simply because such a lot has been going on behind the scenes, both to slow things down but also to speed us forward. So, it’s a pleasure to write a summary of some of the latest things we would like to share with you about our work here at the National Centre for High Sensitivity during the last year.

Thanks firstly and as always, to Ildiko Davis, our Newsletter Editor, website editor and also facilitator of online HSP meet-ups, both for HSPs and HSP therapists. Ildiko’s work has helped us to keep you informed and also, to focus our attention on where we are going and what’s going on ‘out there’. It’s been a long, slow road, getting the NCHS on its journey and Ildiko has been such a support and strength through this process over a number of years.

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.During the last twelve months, a tiny team has been forming here in Andover, made up of volunteers offering a little of their skill in helping me to bring ideas and plans forward. I would like to thank Anna Pell, Bridget Woodward, Rosanna Leigh, Claire Bailey, Andrew and Sophie Kidd and Jordan Leigh for stepping forward, offering time this and last year that I know is hard to find in this busy world, but so very much needed. There are more waiting in the wings to offer skills and ideas, I know, and it feels like this year, our little team is going to form a foundation that will be a springboard for much useful work for and on behalf of HSPs in the UK.

Our next major piece of work is around funding. So far, funding has been very small and provided mostly by a combination of donations from my private practice, Growing Unlimited, and small donations from HSPs to cover some of the costs that naturally arise. In order to progress, we need to bring in many thousands, rather than a few hundreds of pounds, so once again I have been wondering where it will come from. I have recently had an offer of some help from a fund-raiser and I am hoping over the next couple of months to meet with them for ideas and guidance in where to find funding and how to go about asking for it. I’m excited by this and profoundly grateful for this offer of help.

One of our exciting plans is to hold a conference in late Spring 2020. I am hoping for April but it will all depend on finding the right venue at the right price and when it’s likely to be available for us. The conference will be two days and will include talks, discussion groups, stalls with relevant books and other HSP-related items, networking tables for HSPs who can offer informed and appropriate support or anything else that HSPs might find useful. Topics will include science-related info, talks by a variety of professionals and others who have an interest in appropriately supporting or educating HSPs, highly sensitive children and their families. There will also be a variety of discussion groups so that people with common interests can get together to learn more, get support, share ideas and so on. It’s important to us that we find a way of holding this conference in a way that will work in its intention but also work for HSPs strategically.So, I will be looking for a conference organiser with some intelligence and imagination :).

During 2019, we have a few interesting meet-ups and workshops coming up (see our listings in the newsletter), one of which will be our HSP Retreat Weekend, 29th and 30th June. My colleague, Annet de Zwart from the Netherlands will be co-facilitating this event with me. She has co-facilitated HSP Gathering Retreats with myself and Jacquelyn Strickland/Elaine Aron in Europe and the UK and she also attended the training with Dr Elaine Aron last year. So, she is perfectly placed to bring something special to our upcoming event. The two topics we will cover this time are: Understanding and managing over-stimulation and The path to HSP empowerment. The two days will consist of information and exploratory activities, a chance to get to know other HSPs in a gentle setting, time to unwind and be social (if you want to) and above all, a chance to grow. This will be an intimate event and held in our dedicated Andover space to help keep costs for participants down. If this event goes well, we may expand it a little next year, we will see! We don’t have a lot of places on the retreat this year, so if you think you might like to join us, do book early.

We are in the process of developing a new website which we hope will be easier for non-techs like myself to update and will encapsulate the information our current site has, plus bring into one place a blog, a chat facility, a forum and also our event listings which are currently hosted here and there on Meet-up.com. Hopefully this will simplify things and help to make sense of all of the different things we are involved in. With no funding to speak of, we are dependent on volunteers to help us with this new website, so thank you Andrew, Sophie and Jordan for starting us on the road to our new and expanding website.

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful placesI thought I would also mention a new project that is coming along later this year. The project is the idea of Rosie Raleigh, who attended the UK HSP Gathering Retreat last year with Jacquelyn Strickland and became inspired to use her skills to help with reforming policy to include the needs of HSPs. As you may know, working with high sensitivity as a cultural diversity issue is close to my heart. Rosie will be working with higher-level policy-making and has a lot of experience with this, so I have high hopes. Rosie has named the project ‘Vantage’, after the name given by scientists to a particular aspect of our genetic trait.If you want to know more about Rosie’s project e mail her at rosieraleigh@gmail.com.

Finally, I would like to give a little more of an introduction to Claire Bailey, who has recently joined me as an administrator and support. She is very well qualified in all levels of managing behind-the-scenes in organisations, so I’m very lucky to have her. Claire is a volunteer for the NCHS and for now she is very part time, so as always, if you get in contact with us here, do forgive us if we need to take some time to get around to answering any queries :).

barbara_allen-wWell, that is all for now I think. If I have forgotten anything, do let me know and I will add any information to an email or to the next Newsletter. Thank you for reading this far and I look forward to meeting you at one of our events in the near future:).

With warm regards
Barbara

Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Merging our Meetup Groups for HSPs

The National Centre for High Sensitivity (NCHS) is running currently three Meetup Groups for highly sensitive people:

We will be merging these Meetup groups to a single Meetup group for HSPs at: https://www.meetup.com/Growing-Unlimited-Hampshire-HSPs/, to simplify the administration of running our Meetups. The Hampshire Meetup group has the most members and events.  Also, this is the HSP group that has been longest in existence. So, it makes sense that this will be the only merged Meetup the NCHS will be running. All our future Meetup events for HSPs will be listed here, regardless of the location of the event from now on. This will also simplify checking upcoming HSP events for you.

Sadly, when we will  discontinue some of our HSP Meetup Groups, the record of events and messages held on those Meetup sites will be lost. I wish there would be a way to archive that somehow, but according to Meetup.com, one can only archive things individually with copy and paste. If any of our readers would know an easier way to archive our events held in the past and our messages on Meetup.com, we would be grateful, if you would let us know about it!

If you have paid to be a member one of the  discontinued meetup groups, we will transfer your membership payment to the Hampshire HSP meetup group, once you sign up to be a member of that group. Alas, we are not able to transfer this to your name, unless you sign up yourself. So, please remember to do that, if you would like to get regular information about the events we are running for HSPs.

We apologise for the bit of extra work it will take for you to sign up for our merged Meetup group at: https://www.meetup.com/Growing-Unlimited-Hampshire-HSPs/

We hope to welcome you on some of our future events organised for highly sensitive people at some point.

Warmest wishes,
Ildiko Davis
NCHS Newsletter Editor, NCHS Website Coordinator and Online HSP Meetup Facilitator

Article written by Ildiko Davis (e-mail: ildiko.davis@yahoo.co.uk)

Why HSPs Need To Forgive Their Own Past

I think this is something important for a lot of sensitive people. Often, once we realise important things about our trait and re-frame our life experiences to understand why it was hard to thrive, we can unaccountably go through a time of thinking we ‘should’ have realised things earlier, done things differently, started thriving sooner.  We might berate ourselves as if we have used up all our chances in life already.  That’s when we need to forgive ourselves, the way we often reach out and forgive others, over and over again.

Forgive Yourself

At any moment in time, we are doing our very best with what we have, just like everyone else.  The good news is, things can change a lot once we forgive and let go – when we realise who we are when we are not bending out of shape to fit the model of the non-HSP world.

Forgiving ourselves means our energy can be focused on the present. This helps a more positive future unfold, filled with others who can now recognise us for who we are and move towards us, since we are showing a more authentic, recognisable face.  It’s important to forgive and stop judging ourselves if we want to really fulfil our destiny as highly sensitive people.”

barbara_allen-wBarbara Allen

Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Is Our Educational System Making Highly Sensitive Pupils Sick?

This week I finally found I had had enough.  Over the years, I have heard, supported and vicariously experienced the difficulties of highly sensitive pupils, from all age groups.  Working alongside parents, I have observed a variety of school situations, referral protocols (educational and psychological), attitudes, beliefs and effects and quite frankly, I am in the main, very disappointed with the lack of training provided to teachers and other professionals responsible for meeting the education and emotional needs of sensitive children.  The lack of support given to parents of highly sensitive children and the sheer lack of critical thinking that is behind the way educators respond here in the UK to struggling HSCs in my opinion is beyond belief. So often I have met with parents who are in fact afraid of the educational system and its representatives and I have met with numerous highly sensitive children who are crying out for mercy from within a system that is exhausting, critical and judgmental.

As tempting as it is to have a jolly good rant, I realise that it would be more constructive to put together a proper plan of action to tackle these sad and unnecessary situations more powerfully and usefully.  So, if you are interested in addressing the lack of understanding and support for highly sensitive children in our education, these are the ways that you can have an input towards making a difference:

  • Firstly, if there are parents out there who are experiencing any concerns, or have in the past, about how their highly sensitive child is doing in the UK educational system – please let me know.  Is it something that is a general malaise, or has your child developed particular difficulties, either in their learning, their physical or emotional health?  Did you notice a change once your child went to school, or moved schools or got to a certain age?  Is the cause of the child’s discomfort a result of being in school, a particular activity, a topic, a cultural tone or unfair expectations, or is the school simply failing to take account of how outside matters are affecting them?
  • If you are a child who wants to tell me your concerns – please also contact me – teens can probably do this without help, but if you are younger, ask your parents to help you with this.
  • If you are a teacher who feels concerned that there is not enough knowledgeable support for you or your sensitive pupils, please contact me.  Also contact me if you feel the current set-up doesn’t work well for highly sensitive teachers.  Tell me about your training or lack of it, in the area of sensitivity.
  • Secondly, remember that if you have managed to sort out something positive from the situation, I will be delighted to hear about this also – what did you do?  who helped you?  what needed to happen?  what difference has it made and how are things as a result?  Have you consulted us here at the NCHS and found a way forward?  If your child has had a wonderful education in a wonderful setting, tell us all about it and why you think it worked.
  • Thirdly, tell me why it matters that sensitivity is taken into account and accommodated in our educational system.  We all know that each HSP is different, and some HSCs are more highly sensitive in different ways, so yes, some HSCs will cope better in some situations than other sensitive children – but even so, what is it that has made the path to resolution and thriving hard for both your child and you as a parent?
  • Is there an attitude or belief that schools, educational systems or others have that you feel is mistaken or blocking progress?
  • Lastly, when things go wrong, and you have a highly sensitive child who is beginning to suffer mental health or physical health problems due to stress, how well do the interventions you are offered do?  How long do you wait?  Do they correctly diagnose a problem, do they misdiagnose sensitivity for a problem.  Do they take your child’s sensitivity into account when they decide what to offer?  What do your children think?  What options do they have for improving their situation or future educational path?  Are there any myths expressed to you as parents or to your child about fitting in and getting on in life that you would like to ‘bust’?

I look forward to hearing from you via leaving a comment to this article at the bottom. If you write to us, I would be very grateful if you would be prepared for us to quote (in a generalised and anonymous way), the situation you are describing and the concerns and needs you feel you or your sensitive child have.  Writing up the real experience of this (large) minority within the school system might help us here at the NCHS to find a way to make a difference and get your views heard.  We may later also design a questionnaire to assist us in understanding and analysing where improvements are needed and where the best examples of our educational system lie in terms of how it meets the needs of HSCs. Please do consider letting us know if you would be prepared to fill out a questionnaire at some point (again, anonymously).

barbara_allen-wWell, thank you for reading this far!  I did not expect to be writing this today, but having done so, I do feel a bit better – even though I see that I have given myself a useful, but jolly big task to complete :).  I look forward to reading your comments about this.

Best wishes to you all and thank you in advance for any help you can give, whether in terms of telling us your story or opinion, or donations to the National Centre for High Sensitivity, (even if its just enough to buy a ream of paper!).

Barbara
Founder and Director
National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC
Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Get Involved With Our Work

I’m in the midst of pushing to clear the way for the National Centre for High Sensitivity to receive funding and to fulfil more of its work in the ‘bigger picture’. It’s a long road and is taking even longer than I hoped. My meeting with Dr Elaine Aron in March impressed on me how important it is right now to raise awareness (of the accurate kind) and to push ahead in offering info and services in the UK to individuals and organisations. In order to do that, I need to spend more time on those activities, plus get enough rest and follow advice regarding recent health issues, so I have allocated time between now and September to plough ahead, with the help of one or two dedicated colleagues.

My main reason for emailing you at this time is to suggest that perhaps some of you might like to put on some Meetups for fellow HSPs during the Spring/Summer while I’m busy doing other stuff? It might be just offering what we have already, meeting up for conversations, info and cake, or, it might be that you have something else you would like to offer, either for a couple of hours or a full day. My dedicated HSP space in Andover is here if you want to use it, just give me enough notice so I can make sure it’s free. If you decide to run an event/Meetup here, do make a charge for whatever you are offering and make a partial donation from those funds to the National Centre for High Sensitivity CIC to help us with our fund-raising. Wherever you run your Meetup/event this Spring/Summer, do consider raising some money for the NCHS as part of its purpose.

Due to spending more time on other tasks, I’m going to need to refer HSPs and parents of HSCs for support and mentoring. Please, let me know if you would be willing to undergo some specific mentoring training from me to help HSPs either face to face here at the centre or by Skype/Zoom. In order to make sure that the National Centre benefits from having trained official NCHS Mentors, you will be expected to either pay for your training upfront, or, receive free training if you volunteer to provide 4 hours of mentoring per month for a minimum of 12 months. All trained mentors will have access to consultation with me both at an online group meeting every 6 weeks, plus individual time for urgent support – for volunteers, this support and consultation will be free of charge. Whilst counsellors may be suitable as Mentors, please be aware that Mentoring is not counselling, therefore you may be asked to refer any mentoring clients to appropriate counsellors should they also need counselling. More clarification on this will be provided during your NCHS Mentoring training.

Lastly, do you know of anyone who would like to be trained to voluntarily run regular NCHS Meetup group somewhere in the UK? Ideally someone who is used to supporting or leading people as individuals, in teams or groups. We have a Meetup in Hampshire and Berkshire at the moment. Hopefully we will restart a Sussex and Devon group soon, but we need more! HSPs contact the NCHS everyday asking about Meetups near them and most of the time I can’t even offer them something in the same part of the country let alone in their county – you can imagine how frustrating that is. Training for this is free if you fulfil twelve months of monthly Meetup facilitation as a volunteer. You can also pay for the training and do your own Meetup if you want to, or just set up without the training or the NCHS umbrella – the main thing is to get more Meetup opportunities out there for isolated HSPs. As an NCHS Meetup facilitator you would be trained to facilitate the Meetup and also expected to do some advance work ahead of the start of your Meetup to make sure people know about it and know where to find it. If you are a therapist, do discuss in supervision any boundary implications that you may need to negotiate – the NCHS would not expect to find itself turning away HSPs from Meetups because of past or ongoing counselling relationships with the facilitator. Please only apply, if you are truly in a position and enthusiastic to commit – I’m happy to train two facilitators for each county if necessary,  so that this relieves pressure of sickness and holiday cover.

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Well, that’s it for now. I hope you all have a lovely summer and hope there will be some interesting and fun events appearing on our HSP calendar soon 🙂

Best wishes,

Barbara

Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Attending Elaine Aron’s Advanced Training

In March this year I was invited to attend an advanced training on Sensory Processing Sensitivity (the technical name for high sensitivity) with Dr Elaine Aron, the person who has conducted important research and written books that have helped us to understand and make the most of our genetically inherited trait.

Not being a scientist, I expected to find myself a little overwhelmed by the in-depth information, but was pleasantly surprised that despite my lack of familiarity with the ‘lingo’, I was able to understand, with the help of Dr Aron’s explanations, more about our trait and why it’s important that we understand even more about it.

We looked at many studies, including those of UK researcher, Michael Pluess and his colleagues, and grasped interesting insights into the neurological and genetic components that relate to SPS, (our differential susceptibility), what SPS is and equally importantly, what it is not, bi-modalilty and tri-modality.  I won’t go into all the ins and outs of the information here, its a bit complex for a short piece, but hopefully you will have the chance to look at some of the papers we studied at one of our events and take away a list for further study.

I was surrounded at this two day event, by 12 amazing colleagues from around the world, many of whom have researched and written books on the trait, are consciously working with HSPs and who like myself, had been invited for a reason.  It was clear that Dr Aron wanted to impart the ability to be able to talk about high sensitivity more fully to both the media and other professionals about our trait and most importantly, why it matters that we both understand it and make room for it in the way we design our world. Needless to say, it was an inspiring training and left me with renewed enthusiasm to return to the UK and do what I can to help educate and support both HSPs and non-HSPs to appreciate how we can improve the day-to-day experience of HSPs both adults and children, and also think about the roles they can play in families and  society as a whole that perhaps they feel they are limited in just now.

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So, onward and upward.  There’s a lot to do in the next couple of years, not least of which is trying to find some funding to help underpin the NCHS and its fledgling work in supporting highly sensitive adults and children.  Please don’t underestimate how much a small donation can do, to help us in reaching out and spreading accurate, useful information and appropriate support to those who need it.  If you would like to donate or know someone who does, please ask them to email me at accounts@hspsensitive.com and I will send the bank details so they can make a contribution.

Enjoy the summer and I hope to see you at one of our events later this year 🙂

Article written by Barbara Allen (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

We are a CIC now!

We have some wonderful news for you: The National Centre for High Sensitivity (NCHS) has recently become a Community Interest Company (CIC!)  You may appreciate what this means for us HSPs in the UK, if we write here a bit about our humble origins, as an organisation that supports highly sensitive people.

The National Centre was founded by Barbara Allen- Williams, to provide accurate information about the trait of high sensitivity (sensory processing sensitivity – SPS), for HSPs themselves, professionals and those they come into contact with; and to provide HSPs opportunities to meet others like themselves in a suitable environment. Barbara started a Meetup in Winchester for highly sensitive people in 2009, and by 2010 had founded the beginnings of the NCHS. The growth of the National Centre has been slow and organic since then, which mainly has to do with the limited resources we had. With most of its funding coming from profits of Barbara’s private practice, Growing Unlimited Therapeutic Consultancy, the NCHS has been focusing on providing links, resources, connection and training about the highly sensitive trait. Becoming a CIC (Community Interest Company) means that we will be able to seek funding over the next 12 months from various sources to develop our services for HSPs throughout the UK.

I am only one, but I am one.With more funding, we want to continue to fill our website (www.hspsensitive.com) with relevant books, resources and links. Ideally in the next two to three years, we would like to establish at least one HSP Monthly Meetup in every county in the UK, with facilitators trained by the NCHS. We want a comprehensive and searchable directory of NCHS-trained counsellors and other professionals for both sensitive adults and children. This is in its infancy at present and you can see more about how you could join this in this newsletter.

We want to progress our educational and training arm, so that training is available to more professionals. Our training for introducing professionals to the highly sensitive trait is CPD, quality checked by the National Counselling Society. It is currently available either at our head office in Andover, Hampshire, or can be provided in-house for organisations on request. A charge is made currently for this, however, we are seeking funding to allow us to make a heavy subsidy for this training, particularly for charitable or other not-for-profit organisations. We also wish to extend our workshops, walks, retreats and events for HSPs, so that they can find support for their social and personal development and career ambitions. With the help of Dr Elaine Aron, we will also be seeking to collaborate on research projects related to high sensitivity and within three years hope to host a conference for both research summaries and for professionals seeking further understanding of this genetic trait. Probably one of the most important of our aims, is to continue to provide support and encouragement to parents of highly sensitive children around their normal home and school needs, as well. This is how we can support future generations of HSPs to be more at ease with who they are and be able to fulfil better their essential role in our society.

barbara_allen-wCurrently, the NCHS are just a handful of enthusiastic volunteers mostly, who are passionate about supporting highly sensitive people and raising awareness. With more funding coming in hopefully in 2018, we will be planning to expand our workforce, as well. This is a significant and necessary step, in order to be able to fulfil our ambitions to expand what we can do for HSPs all over the country, and maybe even further afield. 2018 is looking to be an exciting year for stepping forward and growing towards becoming the kind of organization that we have been wanting to be for many years 🙂

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Thank You for getting us this far!

Any organisation that depends on donations and grants, knows that the dedication and support of volunteers or benefactors makes all the difference as to whether a project moves forward. I want to draw attention to the valuable assistance offered over the years by volunteers who have played a number of roles and also those who have given donations, both small and bigger. I know those who have given donations often feel shy, so I’m not going to name them here, but they know who they are and I hope they know their help has made a difference.

Volunteers of course, can’t hide! We see them or hear from them from time to time as they make their contribution. Here are just a few of the people, whose time has helped to give the National Centre for High Sensitivity and its members, the support and opportunities needed:

Gratitude is the heart's memory. Thank you very much.Ildiko – currently on sabbatical, but still editing our Newsletter and a constant support for me in the background, thank you!
Meetup faciitators – Tony in Brighton, Glenna last year in the Professionals group, Cindy in north Berkshire, Helen and Michelle in Glasgow (just started), Shyron and Helen in Exeter, Chris in Reading. Alan who has run yoga meetups for us and HSP games and offered HSP Walk and Talk sessions, Caroline who has organised our HSP Group Walks and is also one of our Walk and Talk volunteers, Christine who ran an HSP art workshop for us, Jordan who helped create our new NCHS website as well as funding some of it, and Rosie who offers help from time to time in terms of research. Lastly but not least, Suzie who has joined us recently as a volunteer to help with ideas to spread information to those who need it.
PLUS, all the HSPs who have given their time or favours in little ways that are often invisible, yet make a difference all the same.

There are a couple of people who are not HSPs, but who have been helpful to me and as a consequence, our NCHS. My husband who has helped with accounts and filling out complicated CIC forms, (and not least, has donated the money to pay the fee for the CIC to be registered and processed professionally!); my mother-in-law who has encouraged me to keep going and my life-long friends who console me when I think I can’t carry on and cheer me on when I am inspired to push forward another step with the vision of seeing a UK service in place.

barbara_allen-wThank you to all who have ever offered your encouragement and support. It really has made a difference both to myself and those who have benefited from the HSP services that have been offered so far.

Lets hope that funding organisations will feel the same positivity about this project and that we will see some financial support coming in during 2018 🙂

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)

Regular NCHS group walks for HSPs

Hello fellow HSPs 🙂

I am delighted to announce that the NCHS is now offering more regular group walks. HSP Caroline has done a sterling job facilitating these, so I have asked her to make it a regular monthly thing. The locations will vary and go further afield at times, but will still have that HSP-friendly energy that HSPs have loved. You will be able to see the walks on our Meetup calendar for events in Hampshire.

If anyone in other counties in the UK would like to run one of these for us, do contact me and I will see what we can do to support another regular walk opportunity.

barbara_allen-wPlease note that you will need to RSVP and pay in advance from now on our Meetup site (£3.50 currently). We have previously had a little difficulty collecting the small sum of cash on the day – some have forgotten to pay or come without cash on them. We really do depend on the contributions to help keep events running. If you cannot pay by PayPal, let me know and I will give you the online banking details. Alternatively, send a cheque and I will RSVP you from this end once a I receive it (payable to ‘Growing Unlimited’, Annadell House, Clatford Lodge, Andover, SP11 7DH).

Enjoy your walks, I hope to join you from time to time 🙂

Best wishes,

Barbara

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: accounts@hspsensitive.com)