A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
You don’t have to look very far to find negativity around everywhere. Highly Sensitive People seem to have a unique sense of picking up negativity in the environment. Perhaps, it is a keen nuanced sense of emotion floating about us, or maybe a collective receptor for sensing people’s moods, but we always seem to know when an environment is harmful or toxic. The problem with that is that we tend to internalize the negativity and hold it inward for too long, causing us issues emotionally and physically if we don’t find ways of detoxifying quickly energy that will alter our internal moods. Here are some hacks for releasing and letting go of negativity – something every HSP should know and be adept at doing.
# 1 – Mindfulness Practice – Some of our emotional reactivity is learned behavior and can become automatic at the trigger of negativity inputs. To prevent this automatic loop from running on autopilot, you must first become consciously aware of the triggers and the subsequent behaviors that follow the triggers. One way of breaking the loop is to become mindful of your mind/body reaction to the trigger. You will feel the response in your body as well as in your mind. This should be a clue to the intensity of the negativity by the reaction in your mind/body. By being aware of the trigger, you can “thought lock” the response by consciously overriding the reaction with a calming reaction. This takes practice and time, but in time will rewire your brain for a more neutral reaction to the stimulus. Remember, mindfulness is awareness. And awareness provides choices in blind spots you had before.
#2 –Isolate the Rumination – Once you find yourself in a rumination moment, where you continuously rehash the event/trigger needlessly and incessantly – you by way of awareness, can isolate the feelings associated with that trigger. Consider it like fencing off a rogue bull from the herd. Instead of allowing these repetitive thoughts, to spread around your consciousness, wreaking havoc, you can isolate and fence off the negative ones. You can even use the imagery of fencing off the negative thoughts if that makes It more real for you. By isolating, you are now managing the negativity directly. Isolation of these thoughts is the first step towards releasing them. HSPs are prone to emotional reactivity, and this must be channeled into constructive action, i.e., from overwhelm to resolve.
#3 – Release the Emotion Underlying the Negativity- Releasing negative thoughts or emotions is an active process and somewhat of an art form. There are many activities, I have suggested in the blog over the years, that are excellent at helping you become mindful and allowing release. Meditation practice is perhaps one of the best. Finding a meditation practice is an individual choice, but there are many information options online that can help you in choosing. The practice of yoga and Tai Chi are like meditation in motion; the quiet fluidity of careful body movement with breathing installs a calm and peace that is both active and still. They both create a flow state condition that empties the mind and is a perfect place for release.
Other activities such as neurofeedback training, aerobic exercise, or even digitally enhanced mood-altering music are great ways to prepare your mind for release. Your body will reward you with mood-enhancing endorphins that will help you pass the negativity outward from your mind and body. Releasing is not an act of vulnerability but rather empowerment. Releasing does not mean you have to resolve the negativity; it is merely the act of letting go. This will return to you a state of flow.
#4 – Retreat, Rest, Rejuvenation – In extreme cases of overwhelm, when the above doesn’t work, then downtime is in order. Quarantine (as if you’re not doing enough of that lately) yourself in nature or a special sanctuary that you have created for yourself for a retreat. Surround yourself with self-soothing artifacts and distractions – movies, music, books, hobbies, or passions and indulge yourself in silence. The goal is to seek peace and calm in your soul. Most HSPs know how to do retreat natively, so this should be a familiar activity or non-activity. Rest and recharge. Self-isolate. You have permission.
#5 –Talk with Empathetic Souls – Do not hold this inside you! There is a time when talking to an empathetic soul is imperative. Externalize your thoughts with trusted family and friends and seek a measure of validation of your assumptions and concerns. You may be blowing the negativity way out of proportion, so seek some confirmation. This will help you confirm or refute your feelings and help you formulate constructive actions.
#6 – Practice Peace and Calm, Serenity Living – Quieting the mind for HSPs is work. I mean real work. Yet doing so via practice and repetition will teach you to discipline your mind to manage erratic emotions, which often lead to overwhelm. This practice will train you for dealing with negative onslaughts, the kind that is quite common these days. Imagine that you are becoming a mental Aikido master. You fend off negative attacks by flowing with the energy that is opposing you. You take that energy and let it flow through you, not at you. Imagine you move in mindful motion with the attacker and disarm this energy by using that momentum to pass by you. You disarm it with mental Aikido, steps you learned above.
#7 –Be Selective in Your Environmental Choices – The environment we choose to be in, is highly reflective of how much negativity we must cope with. Choose your companions wisely. You may not always be able to avoid negative people, but you should not consciously seek them out. It is real work to deal with negativity in people and will drain you of your resources. Additionally, be where you are most energized and feel flow. The places you allow yourself in can make a huge difference in your productivity. Be where you are most natural. Finally, surround yourself with peace and calm emitting amenities. A pleasant environment means a mind/body calm.
#8 – Recognize that You are Different in a Good Way – We HSPs have different sensibilities. It comes with the territory. Some of it is sensory, some of it is intuitive, and some of it is HSP logic. We all need to learn to accept ourselves and embrace the gift of high sensitivity. Use it to enlighten, educate, and to uplift others. Spread positivity to negate the negativity. Refuse to believe or see sensitivity as a weakness.
Bill Allen lives in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.