A Retrograde Reframe

Apr 06, 2024

As I learn more about the highly sensitive trait and how I am in the world, I find myself reflecting and reframing past situations and interactions. HSP isn't simply a disposition but a lens through which I experience the world - a lens that sometimes needs a little reframing. I’ve found it to be an important part of self-understanding and personal growth.

I can take my newfound self-compassion into the past and re-work a memory.

Human memory is notoriously unreliable. We carry memories about ourselves and our worth based on who we thought we were and who the world showed us and told us to be. That can now be revised or released in the light of awareness.

My meditation practice helps with this. It creates clearer conditions in the mind so it’s easier to catch a thought when it surfaces. A thought I often catch is, “What's wrong with me?” Something in my life isn't aligning and I feel this mismatch intensely.

One time - haha okay, many times - I found myself feeling crabby and critical for no apparent reason. The world has shown me that my dysregulated emotions are not okay, and they need to be stuffed or in some way hidden. I should be a nice girl. I was frustrated with this state and the well-worn thought floated through…”What’s wrong with me?”

But with a reframe, I can now be gentler with myself and recognize that my nervous system is flooded and I need solitude, rest or time in nature. It's not because there's something wrong with me. This is how I operate. This is the human condition. Crabby and critical belong along with contentment and compassion. All the colors on the palette belong.

Rather than a character flaw or being out of control emotionally, these prickly feelings were giving me a message, as all emotions do, about what I needed at that time.

I get a fresh perspective on who and how I am and can integrate the past into a new identity that’s more comfortable to wear. Many people who are highly sensitive mask to fit into the “norm” of society and I realize it’s like a scratchy sweater I can’t wait to take off when I get home. 

This is an excellent time, astrologically, to reframe. Mercury is in retrograde. This planetary energy has been given a bad rap, and the meaning of this could also use a reframe. Rather than the bearer of misfortune, let's reframe it as a time to review, reorganize, and reconsider—to reframe. It's an opportunity to view difficult times through the HSP lens, recognizing that the intensity of the moment might have been too much. Acknowledge that sometimes, what we needed was simply more time, more space, more understanding.

What a relief. It frees me up to move into the next phase of my life.

A journal prompt:

Recall a situation where you didn't like how you responded. Consider it through the HSP lens—were you feeling flooded, or overwhelmed? Did the intensity of your own or others' emotions inhibit you?

Using this new frame, we can stop the unconscious self-rebuke and step into the world to fulfill our purpose. This reframing is not about excusing—it's about understanding, giving love, and learning. Fine-tuning and course-correcting are part of the natural expansion of human life.

Highly sensitive person (HSP) is a personality trait that 20% of the world's population has. Do you? Take this quiz to find out.

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