A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
For the next eight to ten weeks, I am going to be providing excerpts from my upcoming book, Confessions of a Sensitive Man, An Unconditional Defense of Sensitive Men. The E-book is and soft cover of the book is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Bookbaby.com. Please enjoy this free preview of the book.
From Chapter 8 – Struggles of Being an HSM
Being too Sensitive in a Macho World
“Son, are you a man or a mouse?” My dad delivered these few words to me every time I got a bit too weepy as a little boy. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, it was not wise for little boys to show too many traits of emotional sensitivity. Might look like a sissy, if you know what I mean. So, my father would chide me with this little question, and I would abruptly stop my sensitive ways and buck up and act like the little man I was supposed to be.
As the years went by, I began to shield myself from this type of criticism by trying to live the manly life I was taught to live. But it always felt a bit disingenuous and inauthentic. The older I got, the more I began to realize that I was no less a man because I could feel deep emotion, get in touch with my inner core, and freely express the emotion within. When I began to read about the highly sensitive personality type, I felt vindicated and liberated. Dr. Elaine Aron gets a lifetime achievement award from me. And I’m sure a lot of HSMs feel the same way.
When I first started researching this topic, I was looking for male sensitivity and found that the first page or two of the search was focused on penile sensitivity. Interesting, but not what I had in mind. But I suppose there is some metaphorical tie-in too obtuse for me to elaborate on.
Is there a sensitivity spectrum within HSMs? Are some HSMs more sensitive than others, more prone to emotional display or sensory overload, than say, other HSMs? I, for one, believe there is some truth to this. I mean, after all, we are all individuals, and science accounts for individual differences.
We may have the same predisposition for an active amygdala, but perhaps the signals get muffled more so in some than others. Maybe there is some broad gradation starting with a threshold HSM, who is lowest on the scale of HSM sensitivity, a moderate HSM that straddles the wide middle, and a high HSM, one bordering on hypersensitivity. This could explain some of the diversity in HSM capacity and expression of that sensitivity. I know all HSMs are not what the general population would peg high sensitivity to be.
Of course, no one is better or worse than the other, just a way to stratify further the traits of HSPs. This might explain why some HSMs weep at sad movies, while others just get the obligatory lump in the throat and wet eyes. In any case, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, if you are an HSM, you are a man with fully functioning tear ducts. Be proud of that.
This still remains about sensing capability, our high capacity to sense our world. It’s the inputs that affect us so. Sensitivity is the reaction to that sensing, and perhaps this sets us apart from our non-HSP fellows. So whether it is sights, sounds, smell, taste, or touch, or even the unconscious sense of intuition, we are always sensing deeply. And it will always affect us deeply. And, yes, we react sensitively and passionately. Yet we HSMs are still men; we are simply broadening the masculine definition.
Fitting into a world that values machismo, the hyper-male, and toughness is always going to be a struggle for HSMs. The ridiculous focus on aggressive and dominant behavior, which is often seen as the epitome of masculinity in our culture, naturally divorces the American male from the emotions that are native to all humans. In other words, you are no longer a male unless you reflect a set of traits that are better suited for 10,000 B.C. than the twenty-first century.
You can see this in our militaristic, warrior archetype that is reflected throughout our society in board rooms, bedrooms, and now bathrooms. We are still fighting imaginary wars every day at work, at home, and play. Even some women have adapted to this model to succeed in this dysfunctional paradigm.
Our world is very troubled. The political discourse these last few years, the racial divides, the wars, the poverty, and all the detritus that swirls around this world, makes me think there has never been a better time for HSPs and HSMs to find our place in this world. It’s a time that is ripe for a shift away from the machismo politics of the Reagan Republican brand and back to a more compassionate, empathetic form of government.
If this shift fails to take hold, I fear we are heading for a dark place as a culture and as a people. The HSP is often the canary in the mineshaft. Pay attention, world. We are uncomfortable in this manufactured male macho world that generally insecure and paranoid males have created. We HSMs need to assert ourselves in a distinct HSM way and penetrate the corporate ranks, the world of politics, religion, art, and journalism and serve as new role models for men everywhere. It is our sensing nature that will help change this world, and as men, we can help reshape the balance of things. We need to do something challenging for us—stand out.
A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
For the next eight to ten weeks, I am going to be providing excerpts from my upcoming book, Confessions of a Sensitive Man, An Unconditional Defense of Sensitive Men. The E-book is now available on Amazon. The hardback is coming November 4th. Please enjoy this free preview of the book.
From Chapter 7 - Behavioral Quirkiness
Honoring the Anima for Men
Hey gents, for those of you who slept through high school biology class, here’s a little news flash for you: we all start out as females.[i] So when I mention honoring the anima, Jung’s delineation of the unconscious female mind in all men, then you realize that perhaps a biological component played a part in creating that facet of men. You see, when the fetus is about nine weeks, testosterone kicks in for males, and it just keeps kicking in throughout our lives. Even when the hormone dries up, the after-effects of all those years of raging aggressive hormones leaves its residue on our psyches.
For thousands of years of human history, the male domination of culture, religion, politics, and civilization has left the planet exhausted and nearing depletion. It’s an unsustainable path, with no room for escape. And Gaia will revolt if we don’t alter our course.
We must all embrace the role of the feminine energy that permeates all of life on this planet. We are cut off from our sacred creative core when we only follow the destructive path of unbalanced masculine energy. Without the calming, nurturing, and creative alliance with the feminine, we are on a one-way ticket to hell. Balancing the aggressive yang energy with calming, life-giving yin energy means we all must embrace that side in us that brings healing. This includes men accepting and encouraging feminine energy within and outside of themselves.
This means honoring the feminine energy in all things. As HSP males, we are perhaps perfectly suited to usher in what appears to be an impending era of female leadership and feminine spirit. As males who are often more in touch with our emotions, we unconsciously embrace both the masculine and feminine. We are in tune with the subtle differences between the two and can aid in leading this movement forward in conjunction with wise female leaders. We know of the anima within and must learn to accept the gift that it brings.
Yet, this movement requires more than just HSP males to champion the transition. Highly sensing males must aid other men to acknowledge and promote the critical need we have at this juncture in our history to restore the ancient wisdom of feminine inspired leadership. The need for a feminine influenced direction is dire as we witness the destruction of our planet, our human values, and the decency of nurturing our planet back to its point of equilibrium.
Embracing the feminine does not mean that men have to become female. It is not about vanquishing masculine energy either. It has and always will be about balance.
HSP males are going to have to put themselves out there. This is not a comfortable position for most sensitive men. We need to push back on an aggressive and powerful force that has long been entrenched in our culture. We will need to convince not only males, many who have profited from this current era of male dominance, but females who are still entrenched in the old male authoritarian model. Many women need to be educated and liberated from this antiquated philosophy, and some may only listen to male figures, rejecting the advice of their feminine peers. This is a place where HSP males might be quite useful. Our sensitivity and compassion, coupled with our male personas, might help with these females’ transitions.
So how can we men embrace the anima within and facilitate the change to the divine sacred feminine?
Bill Allen currently lives in Lutz, Florida. He previously lived 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.