A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Most HSPs I know assume that we as a group are mostly introverts (which is true, about 70%), quiet and observant types. This idea often serves us well in assessing situations and navigating through life. One of our primary traits is the trait of observing and then processing – deeply. This deep thinking is often, and I would say mostly, done quietly. So, a model for most HSPs might be watching, sometimes listening, then remaining still and quiet to aid our thinking.
We also know that all HSPs are not introverts; however, we are all observant. Sometimes we observe and do not voice our opinions for various reasons. I suggest a few in the next section.
Queen Elizabeth I of England had a motto in Latin: Video et Taceo, which is translated to mean “I see and remain silent. “ Although her motivations for its use might have been different from what a typical HSP might have, it seems a fitting motto for highly sensitive people.
How can this be interpreted?
There is a multitude of ways this phrase can be interpreted. Let’s look at a few.
So, how does this apply to highly sensitive people? What stood out about this succinct phrase was the emphasis on watching, listening, and pausing, not responding immediately, but rather thinking, pondering, processing. Isn’t this what HSPs do naturally? Aren’t we generally the quiet, contemplative, sensitive types who are NOT the loudest in the room? Doesn’t keen observational skills require almost a quiet attention to detail? Doesn’t talking, speaking interfere in some ways with observation and learning?
I think that this style of learning and observing is natural for highly sensitive people. Because listening is not a passive process and is now considered active, as is speech, there can be some interference in learning if the two overlap. For example, in learning languages, it was often regarded as critical to have the student speak early on in the learning process to solidify elocution. Now, the thinking is that more time initially needs to be spent actively listening before speech attempts to learn the mechanics of the language before attempting meaningful speech. If you think about that, it makes perfect sense. Isn’t that how you learned your native language as a child? You listened long before you spoke.
Comprehension is enhanced with extended listening. Listening for speaking does not fully utilize memory, which is a requirement for learning long term. However, listening for comprehension lays a solid framework for later learning to speak and uses both short- and long-term memory. You could almost slap a post-it note over the whole thing with the phrase Video et Taceo.
Environmental sensitivity factors shape learning styles. These factors help an individual to navigate their world. Some of the individual’s learning style is foundational, i.e., genetic, but other factors come into play due to the environment. Is it then possible that a “video et taceo” style of learning or operating is native to HSPs? Think of our quiet observational nature. One could argue that Video et Taceo would generally be a good motto for HSPs.
Some would argue that being quiet is not always a virtue. But it seems for HSP being quiet is almost a native state, certainly for HSP introverts. Perhaps, being silent is a precursor for wisdom, foregoing the constant chattering of idle dialogue, to devote more brain time to observation and learning. My father used to say to me when I was talking too much, “Son, do you have something to say, or do you just want to say something?”
Silence is golden or, so we are told. Can HSPs use our silence and observations to add value to the world? At what point do we break the silence and speak our truth? How long do we let our observational brew percolate before serving up to an unsuspecting world? I sometimes wonder if we can be too silent for too long. What use is the wisdom we glean from the environment if we don’t share it? Just like with learning a language, at some point, you must attempt to speak, however feeble that may be. Breaking the silence is like breaking wind; you can only hold it in so long.
A multitude of quotations from wise humans.
What is your favorite quotation on silence that encapsulates your personal philosophy? Reply in comment section.
Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Bill Allen currently 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.