I recently moved, and I am still learning to identify various sounds I hear in this new environment. One day, I heard a heavy train going by, and I was surprised because the noise was not coming from the direction it was supposed to come from, the north. My sense of its direction was strong, and I was confused because I can usually tell pretty accurately where something is coming from, and I was positive this sound was coming from the south. Well, obviously not, I concluded after a short consideration, shrugged my shoulders, and attributed it to the valley and its slopes; the sound obviously bounced somehow and came from the other side.
I didn’t give it much thought afterward, but I did notice the insecurity; I doubted my (strong) perception because the evidence – my knowledge – did not support it.
This pattern was and is evident in different areas of my life, and it concerns various types of perception and knowing.
Does this sound familiar?
Maybe you, too, grew up in an environment with other people’s perceptions being different than yours – especially due to High Sensitivity. Perhaps you, too, have been marked by strong opinions others had of what is possible for you to perceive and sense, and how intense that can be, their judgments about what obviously is your imagination since you are definitely not able to perceive it that way – in short, their opinion of what should be true for you and what shouldn’t. Those opinions and judgments might have impacted you to the extent that you don’t trust your perceptions at all.
For me, the above caused many challenges in defining and trusting my reality, identifying the accuracy of what I am sensing and experiencing, all of which was weakening my self-trust and eventually undermined it.
The path of rebuilding the (many kinds and layers of) trust in different areas of my life was long. And I am still on it. This incidence elegantly reminded me of it all.
In case you are wondering about the valley, sounds, and trains – a few days later, the big revelation came.
The sound of a freight train going by caught me standing by the window facing south, and it made me smile. I saw the train. And I started laughing loudly because I actually know there is another railroad there – I just completely forgot about it.
After all, my perception was on point; I just didn’t trust it – simply because I thought my conscious knowing is more accurate and thus trustworthy.
I see this pattern of distrusting one’s own perceptions showing up often, not only in me but also in my clients, friends, and people I know or encounter. It is definitely not something that would be reserved for individuals born with the trait of High Sensitivity – but it is more likely for a Highly Sensitive individual to develop this pattern. I see at least two reasons for that.
Perhaps our caregivers, teachers, people around us missed the opportunity to allow us our own perception and sensing and validate it as something possible to experience in the way we do – even though they did not perceive it the same way or could not comprehend it themselves because their experience was different.
Highly Sensitive individuals perceive the world differently than the majority (approximately 80%) of the population; we notice more, we process it deeper, we emote more intensely, and we can read between the lines better – and that includes sensing what others think, expect, want, feel.
It might be because of this different perception that we sensed what our caregivers, teachers, people around us thought about that different perception of ours – even if they never said a word about it or showed anything explicitly. And it made us doubt our experience.
What is your experience?
If you are insecure or (occasionally) doubt yourself and your perception, I have something for you.
In those moments of doubt, when a thought like “This does not make sense” comes, stop and ask yourself some questions.
* What if it does make sense? What if it is true?
* What is it that I need (to know) before I trust myself and my perceptions?
* What am I afraid will happen if I trust without that?
I realized asking various questions and allowing myself to answer them honestly helped me a lot on this path toward self-trust.
It was not something I managed to do on my own. There are things you cannot see for yourself; sometimes you need a mirror to see the reflection, and sometimes you need a spotlight that shines on your blind spots and illuminates what lies in the shade.
In case you feel you need one or the other, I can help you.