HSPs and the Importance of Emotional Permission

In the previous blog post we looked at How HSPs Can Benefit From Understanding How “Projection” Works

In this post we’ll be exploring the importance of Emotional Permission for those with the HSP Trait.

A good friend and I, who is also an HSP, have noticed this about many HSPs as well as ourselves - and as always great conversations and sharing our perceptions with other HSPs is an enlightening experience, and one that reveals what we’re really struggling with as well as creative solutions we can apply.

We’ve noticed it’s quite common for HSPs to hold back from emotionally expressing themselves.

Why though?

Because most of us, as children, were repeatedly given messages, and therefore formed a belief, that emotionally expressing ourselves just wasn’t okay. I know I was quickly told to stop “being silly” or “stupid” and/or either ignored or sent to my room. So basically I was punished for having feelings.

From this I learned I could have emotions, I just couldn’t express them. An added complication was that I could swing from being overwhelmed to being bored in a matter of hours (because I’m HSP/HSS).

But for an HSP there are a myriad of emotions we can experience, sometimes complete opposite emotions, at the same time. But the ability to vocalize this, in whatever way we tried to in childhood, led us to the belief that this just wasn’t okay. Sometimes these feelings were linked to euphoria or intense joy, sometimes to being overwhelmed, and other times to intense sadness.

Not knowing how to process these emotions and then how to express them in a way that felt safe for us – led us to the belief that it just wasn’t okay to express our emotions. That giving ourselves permission to express our emotions wasn’t an option.

And so we stopped. We stopped ourselves from expressing our emotions and at times from even feeling our emotions. We did this to self-protect, knowing we didn’t have the tools, knowledge or experience to fully understand our emotions. All too often, without having a positive role model to show us how to effectively and responsibly honour our emotions, we were left us no choice but to not give ourselves permission to express our emotions.

But what I’ve been finding as I continue on my journey to developing more self-compassion, self-acceptance and self-forgiveness is; this has a lot to do with changing that belief and giving myself permission to express my emotions in a way that feels balanced and comfortable for me.

It includes giving myself the time and space to first accept whatever emotion(s) I’m feeling, and then the time and space I need to sort through these emotions. Because when I do this, I allow myself the time to feel my emotions, process my emotions and then determine how I’d like to express my emotions.

This process requires that I begin at the beginning, where the beliefs were formed. So I begin with the exercise of Reframing.

The Reframing exercise allows me to begin the process of acknowledging feelings I didn’t feel I had permission to express as a child. I do this because it’s important I honour the feelings I’ve attached to these memories or events, even if, and especially if, the memories are painful - but I also know it’s just a story, a perception, and Reframing allows me to release myself from this ‘story’.

When Reframing, I allow myself to acknowledge and hold space for myself and these feelings while using compassion, I give myself permission to exercise self-acceptance and self-forgiveness as healing tools. This is a type of grieving process, but it also it breaks down what isn’t helpful; and sheds light on what is helpful for me that can be expanded on.

This began the process of understanding that in many instances, my feelings were trying to help me. Help me with the understanding of what’s overwhelming to me, what’s beneficial for me, what helps me grow and what hinders me. This is why it’s been such a powerful tool. It allows me to reach in and extract what’s meaningful for me.

I’ve found this process to be an upward spiral in its very nature. As I keep practicing this I’m getting better and quicker at dealing with what I perceive to be obstacles.

And as I let go of the old, I make room for the new - a new reality, a new experience of myself; an experience of myself that allows for emotional expression.

Now, if the situation warrants it, I can say, “This conversation and/or relationship is harmful to my emotional well-being, and unless and until we can look at positive, helpful solutions together I won’t be participating.” This both leaves the door open, but closes it at the same time.

I’m also quick to notice who dismisses my emotions. For me this helps me non-judgmentally accept where they “are” spiritually. It shows me they haven’t yet begun to honour their own feelings, just as I hadn’t in the past.

Instead, it allows me to form new relationships or expand on relationships that are emotionally balanced - where I’m able to express my emotions, whatever they may be, while at the same time holding space for another as they give themselves permission to express their emotions.

It’s an incredible gift to be able to emotionally hold space for yourself while at the same time receive the gift of someone else holding space for you. For me it includes a deep gratitude for those who are able to do this with and alongside me.

It also allows me to delve into feelings that are light and playful, and find creative ways to expand on these feelings, which in turn, grows my experiences of these emotions as I move forward. And this brings me more peace, joy and a sense of well-being.  

Are you in the process of giving yourself emotional permission? Or are you thinking of it? If you have, what have you noticed?