Why Too Much Healing Overwhelms Your Highly Sensitive Nervous System

This is what people don’t tell you about healing: it’s stressful.

If it’s not, no good change is happening.

Why? Because change itself is stressful.


In our mind, we like to think that surely, good change is all good, right? It doesn’t hurt does it? It just makes things better, right? Yet, good change is stressful precisely because it’s change:

  • Things are new, and hence unknown.
  • You’re not exactly who you were before.
  • Maybe the old situation sucked, but at least it was familiar.
  • Change takes energy. It tires you. When you’re tired, you have less capacity to deal with the ups and downs of life.

There is a lot of big and small re-balancing and re-adjusting that happens after healing. That’s normal. What – I think – is not normal though is that this part of the process is often ignored.

illustration of Highly Sensitive person receiving healing from a wizardThere are so many healing modalities out there that will encourage you to ‘come in for a session’ to ‘get healing work done’ and then, when the healing work kicks in, you’re on your own to sort out and integrate the changes.

I mean sure, you can book another session, but another session would mean again more stressful change, and you’re still processing what happened last time. That, actually, is what you’re needing help with.

Unfortunately in much of the self-help industry, getting a massive healing of some kind is promoted as a kind of essential break-through that will fix everything.

That’s like having the builders come in to knock down a wall in your living room, and then leave you amidst all the dust to clean up, re-organise your furniture, and figure out where to put the paintings that were previously on that wall. It sounded so good when you were handed the brochure, but after the noise, the dust, the knocking out of cement and the inevitable grime left in unexpected places, you’re just tired and wondering why on earth you ever thought this was a good idea.

The same thing can happen with healing, and I’ve seen it happen way too many times. Especially as a Highly Sensitive Person, it’s important to take into account that:

  • Healing work will really shake up your system. When it’s good work, it’s also like a mini earthquake. You need to have a plan for dealing with the inevitable debris after.
  • Because you are Highly Sensitive, you need less shaking to get the same intensity of healing earthquake vibes. Less is more. Yet, if your healer doesn’t know this about you (or doesn’t accept this as a very real thing) they can actually blast you with too much of their modality, leaving you much in pieces after. (And sadly, yes, I’ve seen this happen, especially with energy healing that promises huge shifts and encourages lots of sessions with ever more energy to blast through the blocks so to speak)
  • If you’re feeling down and overwhelmed, more healing can be tempting, but is probably not the answer. What you need to is to re-stock, re-fuel and fill up with little things you love. In other words, healing takes fuel, and you need to keep an eye on your healing fuel gas tank. When it’s empty, going on a break-through trip is not the answer. After all, you don’t even have the fuel it takes to drive down your metaphorical driveway.

Unfortunately, these kinds of limits are not something most healers and practitioners teach. In a way, perhaps it’s not their job to do so. However, if you’re looking for real help to heal, that definitely does include practices for rejuvenation and nurturing self-care.

So, what’s the solution? Short from a revolution in the way various healing modalities are taught, the best thing I believe is to take charge of our own self-care and boundaries. When you know what your limits are, when you know how to recognize your own stress signals in time (so, well before you crash, so that you still have time to course-correct) and you know what you need to take care of yourself at each step of your stress cycle, then you can work with pretty much any healer or modality you want, without getting overwhelmed or burned out by the healing process.

The tricky thing is, there is no one size fits all formula. Your boundaries are intimate and somewhat flexible indications. Your personal code red, can look very different from that of your friend. Your strategies for rejuvenating can be the opposite of what works well for your partner.

In many ways, our sensitive nervous system speaks its own language. It’s communicating with you constantly about where you’re at and what you need, but most of us were actively untaught how to listen. We were told:

  • “You’re too sensitive.”
  • “Oh, that’s nothing, just keep going!”
  • “It’s all in your head.”
  • “You’ll be fine, just relax.”
  • “Nobody else seems to have a problem with it!”
  • “Why do you always have to be so difficult?”
  • “You’ll feel better later, you just don’t believe in yourself.”
  • “You’re always so emotional!”

etc. etc.

What happens as a result is that we learn, in a million different ways and places to:

1) Ignore our body’s early signs of stress. As a result, we don’t notice something is wrong until it’s too late. We’ve literally trained our brain to stop noticing those first S.O.S. signals.

2) Blame ourselves for not feeling well. So instead of making things better, we make things worse because on top of what’s happening, we beat up on ourselves for not being stronger and more resilient.

3) Try harder to achieve. Healing can become another race against the clock in an attempt to finally be o.k.

Ultimately, healing works when we can accept and understand ourselves enough to say: I’m o.k. today, where I am at today and I know where I want to be next year, and I am taking steps to get there.

Healing this way is a back-and-forth between creating shifts and break-throughs that are big enough to create change, and small enough to handle, while knowing how to rest and rejuvenate inbetween these shifts. This gives you the energy to enjoy the process.

Learning how to pace your healing is – I believe – fundamental to Highly Sensitive well-being. It’s really hard to be happy when in the process of improving your life, you’re too stressed to enjoy the improvements.

Learning how to do this has been a huge part of my own healing journey and – if you’re interested – I’d love to teach you. It’s a skill for life.

Knowing how your own sensitive system works will support you in every single area of your life because, in the end, it’s our state of mind and being that determines the quality of our decisions. Knowing how to take charge of your stress levels, by regulating your day from the inside out, is what makes that difference.

I’ve seen this time and again with clients: it not your outer circumstances that determine your happiness most, it’s the little daily decisions that you make, the things you do control (when you know how), that have the most impact.

You can find out more about how I can help you here  or hear me talk more about this in an interview with Sarah Starrs. (The interview takes a little while to load after pushing the play button. Towards the end of the interview I mention finding calming solutions at different stress “stages”, this is literally a sneak peak from some of the work I do with clients 1-on-1 in the Happy Sensitive Foundations Programme )

clarity call after  post transp

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