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Seven Strategies to Cope With the DIFFERENCES of Being a Highly Sensitive or Gifted Person. (Part 2)

 Strategy #3 of Seven Strategies to Cope with the Differences of Being Highly Sensitive or Gifted: CASIGYs Have Mascots!

Sports teams, schools and universities and even some corporations have mascots. Why not CASIGYs (Creative, Acutely Aware, Super-Sensitive, Intense and/or Gifted You-s)? After all, a Mascot is “an animal, person, or thing adopted by a group as its representative symbol and supposed to bring good luck”[i]. I’d say CASIGYs need all of this.

Having a Mascot may, first and foremost, remind you and your children that YOU’RE NOT ALONE! The story of these Mascots shows that they have both “experienced” and “overcome” similar challenges to those of CASIGYs. For this reason, they can also show you the way to:

  • cope with these differences
  • cope with the way others react to the differences and to you
  • heal from the hurts all of this causes,
  • make a creative contribution and
  • thrive in spite of it all.

Again, I’d say CASIGYs need all of this. So I have chosen Mascots for CASIGYs. They are four legged furry creatures, twins named Casi and Siggy, who were different from their peers. Because of this difference, (as you can see, they have red noses)  they were ridiculed, excluded, shunned, shamed, ostracized, (AKA bullied) and eventually banished into exile, just like their famous uncle and cousin, whose stories you may know.

CASIGYs’ Mascots, Casi and Siggy, were chosen not only because of their troubles, but more than that, because of how they handled them.  Casi and Siggy aren’t celebrities like their famous relatives, but they had many similar experiences, good and bad. They were all ridiculed, excluded, ostracized, shunned, shamed, and eventually banished into exile. They all later returned from exile to make a creative contribution in their community.

Like our Mascots,  CASIGYs’ differences often cause them no end of trouble. CASIGYs, too, are often misunderstood, ridiculed, excluded, shunned, shamed and/or ostracized, (AKA bullied). Or they may just be SO different from their peers that there is no good way to connect with them. In a classroom, campus or workplace full of people, they may feel isolated and very alone. Many have told me that they feel so different that it seems like they must be aliens from a different planet.

Our Mascots are able to make their creative contribution in their community─ not in spite of their Red Noses─ but because of them. If they had not had those red noses, they would not have been able to make the contribution that they did. CASIGYs, too, can make creative contributions in their own home communities. Like our Mascots, it is your differences as a CASIGY, the very ones that cause you so much trouble, that are the very same traits that will help you to make a creative contribution in your community.

But what if our Mascots had refused to return from exile and help their community? What if they were still feeling hurt, angry and resentful about all the mistreatment they received? What if they were so  convinced that they were defective, inferior and inadequate that their hopelessness took over and kept them in exile?  They didn’t HAVE to come back and be helpful, after all. This is the missing back-story that has yet to be told. There must have been an inner transformation that occurred while they were in exile. How else was they able to come back and help the very people who had ridiculed, excluded, shunned, shamed ostracized and eventually banished them into exile?

We are all familiar with the stories of gifted young people who were overcome by these kinds of hurts and shot up their schools and communities. Yes, unfortunately, Columbine HS, Arapahoe HS, Sandy Hook, and many more school shootings were done by Gifted students.

You may ask: What makes the difference between our Mascots and these youth? What can make the difference for you or your children? Inner inner healing and inner growth and development. Transforming the metaphorical manure of the hurtful things that happen in life into fertilizer is what will nourish and nurture the good and beneficial things in your life.

There’s a Cycle of Discouragement that often happens. Our Mascots experienced it. You or your children may also. It starts with having a metaphorical Red Nose and because of it, feeling like a MisFit. Knowing that you’re different, being constantly reminded of it, may lead to feeling like this difference is proof that something is wrong with you.

Being a MisFit often descends into being an Outcast. It’s easy to think, “If I’m going to be a misfit, then I might as well take charge of it and maximize it.” So you refuse to participate even when you could. You go out of your way to emphasize your differences and make sure that you are separated from others. Eventually it is no longer others who are separating you. You are separating yourself from them.

For some, this progresses into being in exile. You feel all alone even when you are surrounded by others. You feel like you are wandering in the desert with no food and no water – for your soul, that is. You’re consumed by a Black Hole that seems to be getting bigger and bigger, swallowing up more of more of you and your life. From the outside, this often looks like social isolation, depression, or the chilling cold of an iceberg around a person. This is often accompanied by an inner sense of helplessness and hopelessness.

Our Mascots experienced this. They also received an invitation to return from exile, AND they accepted it … eventually. Joseph Campbell, who coined the term “Hero’s Journey[ii]” says that when humans get this invitation, there is an almost universal urge to refuse it. Why? We don’t recognize it; we don’t trust it; we’ve lost hope that it could be real and that we could actually return. But if we are to have the possibility to return, we must take the chance. We must help ourselves and our youth recognize where they are in this Cycle of Discouragement and take the leap of faith required to begin the long road back.

For there IS also a Cycle of Encouragement. It looks like this:

  • First, we need Creative Coping Skills in order to cope with being different, and with the way society treats people who are different.
  • Second, we need tools for Creative Healing – for the emotional wounds that come with all of this.
  • Third, we need Creative Transformation – of our perception of ourselves and of what all of this means. We CASIGYs need to ‘get it’ deep in the depths of our souls that our differences are not proof of our defectiveness or inadequacy, but instead, are an engraved invitation to this elusive “Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey”.
  • And Fourth, we need to make the treacherous Return Trip out of Exile and back into Life so that we can make our Creative Contribution. And we need to understand that each CASIGY does have a unique contribution that only he or she can make. For example, the world problems that upset you the most are likely the ones that you have a unique perspective on, and therefore the ability to do something about, that no one else can do in exactly the same way that you would.

This may sound Pie-in-the-sky idealistic. True, not everyone will save the day for the whole global community like our hero-Mascots and their uncle did. But each CASIGY can find healing for your inner hurts, develop your Inner Core Strength and apply your gifts and talents to life’s problems, thus making your own creative contributions.

Next Week we’ll consider Strategy #4: Creative Coping Tools and Skills to Use Them.






[ii] Campbell, Joseph, “Hero With a Thousand Faces”

Featured Quote

The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.

— Maya Angelou