HSPs are not the only ones in our society who can and do devalue themselves. I think it happens to all of us at one time or another. However, because HSPs process things much more deeply and broadly than 80% of the rest of the population, this devaluing tendency can be more prevalent in our unique population group.
Elaine spoke of three reasons HSPs might devalue themselves. First, there is the culture here in America. Although many of us are extraordinarily gifted, talented, and conscientious, mainstream culture can often mirror back to us that we are ‘less than.’ Could this be because we don’t aspire to great outward achievement, but rather are content to work quietly behind the scenes? Much like other minority populations, if we compare ourselves to ‘mainstream’ we can be left feeling vulnerable – the second reason Elaine notes HSPs can devalue themselves. Couple cultural diversity issues with the HSP tendency to process deeply, one can understand how HSPs may be victims of devaluing ourselves much too often.
Elaine also shared six self-protections that can be subconsciously used to avoid the pain and discomfort of the devalued experience. These self-protections that everyone, at one time or another, may find themselves subconsciously falling victim to are: Minimizing, Blaming, Non-Competing, Over-achieving, Inflation, and Projection. You may ask yourself “in what ways do I minimize, blame, non-compete, over-achieve, inflate and/or project. The definitions of these self-protections are briefly explained below:
Minimizing: You might find yourself saying “It didn’t really matter, it wasn’t that important, I don’t really care.” If so, more than likely you are denying or minimizing the importance of something that has had a major impact on you, and it is simply too painful to recognize at the time.
Blaming: Instead of taking personal responsibility for our own feelings, blaming often takes the form of criticizing others with statements or thoughts such as “It’s your fault, You don’t have enough training, you aren’t doing this right.”
Non-competing: Avoiding any type of competition at all, perhaps for fear that we won’t win anyway.
Over-achieving: The tendency to see approval outside ourselves by: working all the time, producing more and more, or seeking more status in an effort to feel good about ourselves.
Inflation: Being overly concerned, usually subconsciously, with outward appearances, possessions, or status to convince ourselves and others that we are important.
Projection: Attributing to others what we cannot see in ourselves – either or unwanted or unacceptable thoughts or emotions. This can often be similar to blaming…and can be seen with comments such as “You’re so critical, he’s such a snob, you think you are so special, etc.