What I learnt about 'Lockdowns' working in a prison as an HSP
I know...it sounds like a paradox doesn't it! But I am an HSP and I did work in a prison for ten years. Eight of those in senior management as a prison governor so in a roundabout way, I’m used to 'lockdowns'. There were five lessons I learnt during my time there and I'm sharing these with you because many HSPs are feeling 'imprisoned' in the current lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
1: LOCKDOWNS = SAFETY
I know that seems obvious but I’ve also seen the patterns that develop if people are locked up for long periods of time. If the global lockdown remains indefinitely we will get frustrated, bored or lonely being inside all the time, our mental health might start to suffer or we may get tempted to break out from our own ‘prison cells’! So it’s important to reach out to supportive people by phone or join a HSP support group online if you are struggling.
2: THE IMPORTANCE OF PREVENTING OR MANAGING OVERWHELM
Self care and self love are the foundations for preventing overwhelm. Looking after your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health are of the utmost importance. There are also many different self help tools to prevent or manage overwhelm, and these include:
Grounding/Walking in nature (if you are allowed out for daily exercise like we are in the UK)
Bach flower remedies
3.THE IMPORTANCE OF ENERGY PROTECTION.
Learning how to protect your own energy and implementing a daily energy protection routine is the single most important discipline HSPs can do. Being highly empathic means that we can feel other people’s feelings and emotions as if they were our own. It often takes HSPs longer to process difficult incidents and to separate out our own feelings from other peoples. This pandemic has triggered everyone and emotions are running high - particularly fear, anxiety, loneliness and grief. Many HSPs are struggling to work out which emotions are theirs and which they are picking up on at a collective level. Protecting our own energy can help to stop us becoming empathic sponges. A simple visualization like the 'Golden Light of Protection' method can help strengthen your energy field. I recommend doing this first thing in the morning when getting dressed.
Start by bringing your awareness to your heart centre. Using your creative imagination, see, sense or feel that you have a miniature sun deep inside your heart. Imagine it shining brightly, just like the sun in the sky and its rays of golden light radiating through every cell and every atom in your body, filling every part of you from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. See, sense or feel this golden light expanding outwards now, above your head, below your feet and out the sides of your physical body, until it surrounds you completely, forming a protective bubble of golden light.
4: PRACTICING ACCEPTANCE AND FINDING THE GIFTS IN CHALLENGES
When I felt frustrated because I couldn’t get on with my normal day to day work during a prison lockdown, the gift was learning about ‘acceptance’. When I felt anxious or overwhelmed because the lockdowns were linked to incidents or potential riots, the gift was learning about faith and trust. Not just in my colleagues that were trained to deal with it, but in a spiritual sense that I was looked after and protected. All of us are dealing with our own challenges during this pandemic, whether financially, emotionally, mentally or physically. It isn’t easy, nor is finding the gifts in these challenging times. But we can start by finding the little things we are grateful for or by turning to our faith or spiritual beliefs.
And even though we may not be able to change what is happening in the world right now, we can change our thoughts and how we respond to what we are facing. When we change our thoughts, we change our feelings. Repeating positive affirmations can help that process. Here’s one you could try:
‘I am safe, I am healthy, I am sending healing thoughts to everyone in the world right now.’
5. REMEMBER THAT SENSITIVITY IS YOUR SUPERPOWER
HSPs often choose roles that use their listening or ‘advisory’ skills and/or their healing abilities. These include teachers, authors, therapists, healers, researchers, nurses, doctors, social care and healthcare workers. Others are drawn to the legal, justice or public protection services due to their concerns about social injustice. Many work for charitable organizations, especially those that deal with the mistreatment of children, people, animals and the environment. But, of course, HSPs can be found in any job or role, especially if they feel they can rebalance the focus away from domination, aggression or danger back towards peace, love and protection – which is why you will often find them working in challenging environments. (Challenging the misconceptions held by less sensitive people that we are too weak or broken to work in these places!)
You will see many HSPs working on the frontline in the midst of this pandemic and many others working behind the scenes (that includes spiritual work - sending out healing or saying prayers). I’ve learned that sensitivity is your superpower, whether you recognise it as that or not. It makes a huge difference to people and to this world, so let us all stand in the power of our sensitivity, compassion, empathy and love and radiate that out - not just now but always.
(‘The Handbook for Highly SensitivePeople’ by Mel Collins is available through Amazon.com, Kobo, Barnes & Noble etc. The Handbook will also be translated into ten other languages to date.)
(Image by Priyam Patel - Pixabay)