I was thrilled to find some literature on this topic for a couple of reasons…
#1 – because it helps back my natural thoughts about how I have felt a deep connection with animals and kids,
#2 – because this is a really cool topic, and I think that HSPs should pride their relationships with animals and children, because it is such a special gift we possess!
It makes sense if you think about it… I have written before on how HSPs have a natural empathetic ability to relate to others by understanding their circumstance and experiences. We pick up on emotional cues, are often acutely aware of and affected by our environment, and notice changes in other’s moods and energy more frequently than non-HSPs.
These perceptions all have something in common – they arrive through non-verbal cues.
This exact point is why I think HSPs are able to understand and communicate with animals and children so deeply and effectively.
Let me share some examples of situations to give some perspective:
Horses, Dolphins, Whales, Dogs, Elephants… these are some of the earth’s creatures that have been scientifically proven to have a high level of intelligence, especially emotional intelligence. Whales actually have an emotional part of the brain that doesn’t even exist in humans! No wonder these creatures are so social and connected with each other.
Do you know of the documentary “Black Fish?” Hearing the stories, and learning about the relationships that whales develop with each other and humans was incredibly powerful for me. The story is also very intense and sometimes upsetting, but if you’re an HSP with a love for animals, it is definitely worth watching.
I have been lucky enough to be around horses (from time to time) and dogs quite frequently in my life, and I have definitely experienced a deep connection with them.
For example, my mom, sister and I had an amazing golden retriever named Maggie while I was growing up. We called her our “family Angel.” Whenever my sister and I were fighting or arguing with our mother, Maggie would know. She would appear around the corner with a ball of socks in her mouth, or literally come up to one of us and lay at our feet. She wanted us to stop.
Sometimes if I was alone in the house with Maggie, I swear I could feel what she was feeling. I knew if she was agitated, sad, or content. I also felt her love. How special!
In particular though, I have one fond, outstanding memory of our precious family dog. I came home from grade 8 class one day quite upset about something. Maggie greeted me at the door.
She sat there (when normally she would be jumping up and down asking for a walk) and let me hug her. Her head was on my shoulder, and I cried into her fur. For 10 minutes she was there for me, sitting still, reassuring me it was going to be alright.
Now, don’t worry, I am not trying to claim I am an animal whisperer here…. (Though I think some HSPs probably are!)
I also know an HSP who is an incredible dog trainer. Through practice and years of reading, researching and observing, she has learned to speak their language. Watching her interact with dogs is fascinating. Major empathy and awareness of subtleties is required here.
I would bet money that most of the best animal trainers and care takers in the world are HSPs!
I have read stories about people with special connections to horses as well. They are such majestic creatures; highly intuitive, intelligent, and social. When reading some of Elaine Aron’s writing on HSPs and Animals, she wrote about HSPs and horses a lot. The “Sensitive” movie trailer features HSPs and horses too, and I am really excited to see that part of the film.
Recently, I visited a horse stable where 15 – 18 horses cohabited. One of the stable workers began to tell me about each horse, and how their temperaments and personalities varied and affected the group. I was fascinated.
A couple of horses who were new to the group stuck together like glue. The more dominant one was very protective of the other, constantly watching over her and coming to her defense if she neared other horses. The story behind these two was that the protected horse was mistreated and neglected while the other one watched from a distance, unable to help.
Horses, like dogs, are also extremely affected by their past situations and environment, causing them to be molded for life, often in negative ways if they were mistreated.
Now, let’s move on to another type of animal…. little humans.
When I was younger and unaware of my HSP trait, I had a lot of anxiety and fears and of course, I was very affected by my surroundings. Children made me nervous.
Not only did I want to make sure they liked me, but there was usually the pressure of adults watching me and observing my interactions with them (HSPs often become nervous and perform poorly while under examination).
The biggest thing in those situations for me though, was the non-verbal conversations I was having with them…even if they were old enough to speak, it was the conversation on a deeper level through body language and an unspoken understanding.
Kids usually gravitated to me because I acknowledged them in ways that I don’t think everyone does. I would pay attention to them and seemed to know what they wanted… I would empathize with them on their level.
If I ignored them for a time to engage in the adult conversations around me, I would sense their confusion, and sometimes frustration. I felt them non-verbally begging for my attention. Talk about sensory and empathy overload!
I actually recently spoke with another HSP about children, and sure enough, she was usually always the favorite. She said “I think it’s because I sort of connect with them, maybe it’s an HSP thing.”
Now that I am aware of my HSP trait, I am not as overwhelmed by children because I understand my interactions with them from an HSP perspective. I am easier on myself and appreciate my ability to relate to them, instead of feeling strange about it.
I hope this week’s post has guided you to think about your relationships with animals and children! HSPs are well equipped to support, understand them and relate to them. That is a beautiful thing, and one of the many reasons why HSPs are so needed on this earth. 🙂
Have a great week everyone!
XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie