A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Forrester: No thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is... to write, not to think!
From Finding Forrester
One of the four main attributes of Highly Sensitive People is the tendency to and the ability for deep processing. HSPs routinely process emotional and environmental content more deeply than others and dwell on a topic for a longer period of time. We HSPs are prone to deep thinking to what others may term as extreme lengths at times which requires alone and quiet time.
Sometimes this seems to be a curse – leaving those around us to question why we “overthink” things. The appearance of overthinking is true, yet, it is our nature and certainly a benefit for the most part, but can it be overdone? Can deep thinking be our worst enemy? Does deep thinking inhibit action – in effect holding us back?
HSPs do more deep thinking using parts of the brain that are associated with deep processing, and higher use of the part of the brain called the Insula – an integration tool that connects more of the brain in synchronicity. The myth that we are slower thinkers is not supported . Research shows that HSPs have stronger, faster reaction times exhibiting our faster brain processing. Our natural startle reflex would support that idea. The fact that we often process more data than Non-HSPs may give the outward appearance we process at slower rates, but in fact, we are processing more data at higher rates with more outcome options analyzed.
What is deep thinking? Is it something only intelligent, philosophical types do? Is it complex thinking? Or, is it simple thinking that is overly processed? Most deep thinkers display characteristics that seem good fits to what we consider HSP traits. They often are, introverted, observant, humorous (albeit quirky), voracious readers, forgetful, curious, planners, problem solvers, socially awkward, and independent.
A lot of the psychological studies involving deep thinking suggest that it is a part of the definition pertaining to levels of thinking. A lot of this relates to how memory works, the deeper the encoding, the deeper the processing. That makes sense, much like a hard drive on a computer stores data for later retrieval, deeper encoding makes the data available for later processing. Shallow encoding would lead to more short-term processing, which would effectively come and go quickly.
Another factor for enabling deep processing would be -- the more emotional the content, the stronger the encoding. Most HSPs are emotionally charged creatures. Much of our input would likely be highly charged and stored effectively in long-term memory, where it could be drawn and processed for longer periods. Because deep processing often involves the use of semantics; language helps to encourage the analytics of deep thinking.
Many of the brain areas associated with memory and depth of processing: the hippocampus, amygdala, and neocortex are areas often associated with HSP brain processing. Whether HSPs as a whole have more powerful hippocampal areas (memory) or more active amygdala (emotion) might give additional credence to the idea that we are naturally wired for this type of processing. Since the Sensory Processing Sensitivity characteristics seem to occur across species, not just humans, you have to wonder if this quality is not evolutionarily ordained and functionally important for survival.
But when does deep processing become overthinking? Overthinking is not considered to be a positive attribute. In fact, there are distinct health consequences for persistent overthinking. Two main outcomes of overthinking are rumination and worrying – both having stress consequences.
Rumination is a process where the past is relentlessly rehashed with no productive outcome. Sometimes rumination involves circular recursive logic that leaves the individual feeling helpless and hopeless. Worrying, the polar opposite of rumination involves deriving negative predictions about the future – utilizing previous unsuccessful outcomes as input.
Neither strategy leads to positive outcomes and can drive negative thought patterns deeper down. An infusion of emotions almost always energizes this exercise and can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. If you find yourself in this loop and recognize it, then challenge your thoughts; focus on active problem-solving. Give yourself time for neutral reflection and mindfulness. Or, give yourself a consuming distraction to break the cycle and if that fails to work, seek help.
Needless to say, the consequences of overthinking are much different than deep processing. I’m not sure that deep processing can spawn overthinking, regardless of what non-HSPs may think, but it would behoove us HSPs to be mindful of where our deep processing is leading us. Overthinking can lead to real mental health issues – anxiety and depression. It certainly can inhibit the benefits of your deep processing ability causing analysis paralysis and with that added stress can contribute to sleep disturbances.
Our HSP ability to rely on deep processing of inputs is certainly one of our shining characteristics. It doesn’t’ lend us to making hasty decisions or staccato-like shotgun decision making. But our ability to deeply process and forecast outcomes is what makes us good advisors, counselors, and teachers. At some point, you have to accept your conclusions and go with them by taking action or risk treading into the realm of overthinking. Trust your gut, as an HSP your instincts are generally right, in large part due to your deep thinking capabilities.
A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Morpheus: Neo, sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.
From The Matrix
I recently watched an old video, of the British/American philosopher, Alan Watts talking about Moksha. He relayed a story about an Indian man, a prosperous businessman that left behind the business and his family to set out into the woods to seek Moksha. Watts described Moksha as, “…at the center of Hinduism is an experience called Moksha – liberation, in which through the dissipation of the illusion that each man and woman is a separate thing in the world consisting of nothing but a collection of separate things, you discover that you are, in a way, on one level an illusion, but on another level, you are what they call self, the one Self, which is all that there is.” In simpler terms, Watts described this concept of Moksha as forsaking what is known and pursuing what is not.
Moksha in Hinduism is a term which refers to various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, liberation, and release. It could also refer to self-enlightenment, self-realization or self-knowledge. It is a part of a quadruplet of stages that Hindus strive to achieve. One of these is Dharma, the striving for a virtuous, proper life. Another is Artha, the pursuit of material prosperity, used to support oneself and family during the middle stages of life. Then there is Kama, the pursuit of sensual pleasure which certainly makes sense in a material, sensual world, and finally striving to receive Moksha – liberation.All of these interweave throughout life, I’m not sure there is a firm chronology for each stage, but Moksha would be the crowning achievement.
Moksha is the final release and emancipation of self and the realization of the true self. It seems this realization of the earthbound ego, not being the true spiritual self, in order to obtain Moksha would require the abandonment of the ego-self on a path of self-development. As we find out who we truly are, reducing our negative attributes that limit our happiness would bring us an appreciation of the qualities of love, balance, and growth. Certainly, happiness comes from within and not from the outside.
It seems that many if not most HSPs are contemplative and spiritual creatures. Our intuition and empathy bring us insights into the connectivity we all share. Our ability to intuit information from the environment, helps us understand and interpret the world around us. It would seem natural that HSPs would follow a path of self-development and spiritual growth. A walk towards Moksha.
But, what would a practical path be for a modern, Western HSP man or woman to strive for with Moksha in mind? If the true self resides within, this would seem easier for most HSPs to explore. Yet, I see more and more HSPs lost and distressed over the external world and not being able to handle the overwhelm they bear. It is often recommended that anyone walking a spiritual path seek a meditative practice.
How does that compare with what HSPs naturally do introspectively? Lets first set a definition of meditation that is not solely about mindfulness, used often in Western terms. Meditation is a quieting exercise, an effort to quell the constant bombardment of incessant internal chatter – the monkey mind. It is not a practice of drilling down to the source of thought and mining it for truth. Rather it is a quieting of the mind so that truth can bubble up from within. I like many HSPs do the opposite. We drive down thoughts to a place where they are processed under our active, watchful minds. This is not meditation. This is rumination, a deep thinking cycle; that regurgitates thought over and over; often with no productive conclusion. It may be a good analytical practice, but it’s not a spiritual one.
It seldom leads to a place of peace or liberation. It can at times, produce insights, but it also can produce discomfort and turbulence. Yet, HSPs see this as a superpower or a curse. Most of us are never taught how to harness this power, and therefore we subsequently let our minds run amok, a mental firehose thrashing about in our minds, causing us to be overwhelmed and reclusive.
This is sad because I do believe our capacity to process all of this extrasensory information if handled properly can be beneficial not only to ourselves but to the world. So what should we do?
First, I think we should learn to manage our thoughts and all that overthinking. One way to do that is to learn a meditative practice, learning to calm the mind. Learning to slow down the mind perceptually to single thread thoughts for proper processing. This is like a quarterback in football slowing down the game in his mind to see the whole field at once in front of him -- watching the play unfold in slow motion.
Good decisions can be made when one can see all the options clearly.Slowing down perception to allow the mind to bring up from within the needed direction or thought. This is like bottom-up processing. We HSPs tend to do top-down processing, which overflows the system. We get overwhelmed easily, which is our kryptonite. Avoiding overwhelm is in some ways like the Hindu achievement of Moksha. Avoiding overwhelm is liberation, letting the true self (bottom-up) override the ego (top down), which allows clarity and insight in a calm, confident way. This will allow us to focus on what matters, letting the superfluous detritus of thought slide off and out of range.
Achieving this will help us, be grateful, learn to forgive, learn what love is. It will help us to learn what we as individuals need to be happy. By finding our spiritual path; we more easily connect with others. Giving freely of ourselves, finding our right livelihood and connecting with the tribe we belong to (not necessarily family). You can then be more calmly alone with your soul, understanding your ego’s role and not being a slave to it. Recognize that you are a creative spirit in a physical body. Your job is to learn and grow and create.
Stay on the path to your own personal Moksha. Don’t be static. Continue to advance through your own personal evolution, realizing that every experience, both good and bad is an opportunity to grow.
Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
From The Matrix
A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Peter Klaven: So what do i do? How do i make friends?
Robbie Klaven: If you see a cool looking guy, strike up a conversation and ask him on a man date.
Peter Klaven: Ok.
Robbie Klaven: You know what i mean?
Peter Klaven: No.
Robbie Klaven: Casual lunch or after work drinks. You're not taking these boys to see The Devil Wears Prada.
Peter Klaven: Ohhhh god i love that movie. No I wont.
From I Love You, Man
Every man needs friends. Males need a network of people that can serve social purposes, act as confidantes, and as a peer feedback group, providing emotional support. Highly sensitive people often are perceived as quiet loners that draw strength from their own company. That downtime, the alone time and the time to process the day are important to all HSPs, and in the context of the HSP behavioral model, it’s a necessary health consideration.
But having a male counterpart to share with and experience life in close proximity is as important as having a partner for romance and companionship. For Highly Sensitive Males, who are typically a little different than other males, finding the right guys to hang out with might be challenging. Being an HSM means it’s important to find peers that we can identify with, and it’s important to find men who share or appreciate our unique qualities.
First, it’s important that all men have male friends who can be your touchpoint for sharing feelings, concerns, and issues. Not just for watching a football game or playing golf, or going fishing or camping or partying. Men need male bonding experiences complete with emotions.
Social interaction is critically important to men’s health and longevity. Strong social networks correlate positively with overall health and long life. You are more likely to die earlier if you remain solitary and isolated, all things considered, such as health habits, lifestyles, etc. Social isolation ranks with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, and smoking as a high health risk factor. To be blunt, the consequences of not being at least somewhat social may be heart disease, autoimmune issues, high blood pressure, and cancer. Social interaction also means lower levels of depression and anxiety.
The upshot of all of this social interaction is the support network that humans need contributes to overall wellbeing and contributes to health. We are pack animals. Social connection is a fundamental human characteristic. Under stressful conditions, it even aids in emotional recovery, which benefits the body.
The key to good social interaction is allowing a certain degree of vulnerability for social bonding to take place. The recognition that one can’t always do it alone is a difficult concept for some men and often prevents them from attaching themselves to other males. Their fear is that they will be perceived as dependent and weak. Ironically, the more social interaction, the more oxytocin is released to create the bonds, which in turn produces a certain resiliency to stressors in the environment. The very thing men need is to be able to bond to others to make them stronger.
It’s also important for HSMs to bond with non-HSP men, this is a networking opportunity to reach out to the other side and interact. Mutual influence is a good thing. It’s also a good opportunity for educating other men about what sensitivity really means and correcting the perjorative narrative about what it doesn’t mean, i.e., weakness, frailty, emasculating. There then would be more opportunities for teaching other men how to express feelings in a meaningful way and for teaching non-HSP males in the finer points of raising HSM sons.
Men natively interact with other men, based in large part on social conventions and activities like sports, fraternities, veteran’s groups and competitive venues, which are more active than intimate, more casual than deep, more transactional than emotional and more side by side than face to face. Perhaps, some of the lack of attachment comes from a homophobic fear of close connection with another male. This often gets discussed in the recent spate of Bromance movies, which seem to have replaced the older genre buddy movie.
Recent notions becoming radicalized by extreme male groups promote fearfulness about the increased feminization of men. Modeling female like friendships between men fly in the face of western traditional male values. Yet, male bonding is simply the actualization of a human social interconnection that leads to the formation of personal relationships between males. Perhaps, the more recognized ideal of camaraderie suggested in the military, of bonding under mutually egregious conditions, make it more palatable for some men to embrace this concept. Nevertheless, all men need allies.
The male bonding dynamic has been observed and studied for years, yet culturally we struggle with this idea of the need for male bonding at an intimate and emotional level. Are men really solitary creatures? When given the opportunity, would they prefer to go it alone? Are men less communicative and only band together for tribal and communal purposes? Is this trait amplified in HSP males? Do HSP males have more difficulty in bonding with other men?
Because HSMs are different and know our differences -- by associating with other males, do those differences stand out and make us uncomfortable? Do HSP men find it easier to bond/ befriend females for close personal friendships just for the intimate emotional contact?
How do we overcome this? Why is it imperative for HSP males to form a “bro” network? While there is nothing inherently wrong with males having platonic friendships with females, the age-old question posed by the movie When Harry Met Sally, suggests that true friendship, without the romantic element, is nearly impossible to achieve between males and females. These types of relationships have been studied, and that question has been asked, “Can men and women have non-sexual friendships?”
What we have learned is that men and women have somewhat opposite views on platonic relationships. Surprisingly, the men tend to screw this up, more than the women. Men overrate romantic involvement in platonic relationships more so than women. Women, once it’s established that the relationship is platonic there is not a romantic shift seen in the female friend, whereas, the male begins to drift into a more romantic appraisal of the relationship more often. This, of course, leads to more complications and if there is an incongruity in the assessment of the relationship may end the friendship in disappointment.
Perhaps this is because men are less familiar with forming close personal, non-sexual relationships, and when presented with an attractive female friend, the dictates of sexual attraction blur the lines between friendship and something else. Interestingly, there are others studies that suggest certain intimidation of males, when around women. In one particular study, men appeared to be cognitively impaired in doing a mental task, when they were told they were being observed by a female. Perhaps, there was more pressure, when trying to please the female observer, but the point being that men find it difficult to be more relaxed and themselves, when around females.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that men and women cannot or should not be friends. I have many female friends, where the relationship is platonic, and the boundaries of interaction are very clear. Some of these friendships have been spawned from failed romantic attempts, but now, have found a comfortable and rightful place in each of our lives as friendships. The overall view, however, is that men can often be more comfortable and open with male friends and it is this openness that promotes well-being and should be encouraged.
So, how to build your bro network? Reaching out is important, even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s important to have a confidante this is the same sex as yourself. It helps in my mind, to promote the yang energy within your psyche. It is important, however, to find those men that are supportive of your nature and appreciate your insights and intuition. Perhaps, to begin, we need to find like-minded HSP males. This isn’t just about joining online groups but keeping your eye out for men that share HSP characteristics. Some may be the same age; some may be younger or older, so it may require the stretching of your normal social circles. Engage them in conversation and let the process of getting acquainted be organic.
Once established with some HSP bros, then reach out to other men, those that share a common value or activity and allow friendships to grow. Be discerning for sure, but don’t make the mistake of picking only friends that are exactly like you. Growth takes place when we expand our outreach. Consider them to be like your council of advisors, your board of directors, people that you trust and will give you honest and useful feedback. I like the way the author Napoleon Hill described his coterie of advisors as his Mastermind. Your bro network can serve a similar function but in a more intimate and emotional way. For most HSM’s I suspect that a few good friends are all that is needed, so this shouldn’t be a ponderous task, but maybe a lifelong endeavor.
On a personal note, I recently reconnected with an old high school friend. We were the best of friends back in the day. When we reunited a few months ago, we literally picked up where we left off forty years ago. It’s been a great experience to have him back in my life. While we were sharing, I told him about my blog and about the characteristics of highly sensitive people. After some quick evaluation, we determined he was an HSP, too. Amazing. No wonder we have been such great friends and allies.
A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Gordon Gekko: The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I've still got a lot to teach you.
From Wall Street
A fairly recent article in the Washington Post highlighted a study that suggested that wealthy people tend to be more immoral, unethical and less empathetic than people who don’t have great wealth. Recent studies support this hypothesis. Wealthy people are more likely to cheat on taxes, on spouses, shoplift (really?), and cheat at games of chance. They even give less a proportion of income than poorer folks do.
Are rich folks inherently like this and does this make them more likely to become rich because of the entitled attitude? Power effects behavior and money brings power. Studies show that wealthy individuals feel above the law. The power of money strips people of inhibition increases risk taking and risky behavior and feelings of entitlement and invulnerability. People with money are more likely to follow and execute on their desires, because they have the means to do so and that sometimes means acting unethically and immorally.
What types of characteristics do many of the wealthy have that lead them into this deficit of empathy and scruples? Interestingly, evidence of psychopathology is four times greater in the ranks of CEOs than in the general population. Presumably, these CEOs, are representative of wealthy, entitled types. The similar traits they share with psychopaths are quite alarming. There is a definite lack of empathy in their interactions with others.
One could say that this is just dispassionate business their practicing, however, could we assume that at some point simple human kindness would prevail? Apparently not. It seems reasonable that wealthy individuals would have massive egos with all that power and would exhibit behavior such as self-centeredness, self-promotion and a die-hard strategy of vanquishing competition. In order to accomplish this, these individuals often display a superficial charm and élan that is manipulative and endgame oriented. The ends justify the means and with that comes lack of remorse at their mercilessness and machinations over others.
Selfishness, coupled with unethical behavior and a tendency towards easy boredom, lead those at the top to often live on the edge: lying, cheating and stealing their way to success.
With increased power comes increased feelings of entitlement and a separation of sorts of the privileged ego from those in subordinate roles. It’s difficult to determine if power and wealth corrupt the ego or if the corrupt rise to powerful and wealthy stations in life. I suspect that both apply.
Rich kids or kids of entitled families tend to be indoctrinated early in life to their entitled thinking. Yet, with the entitlement comes enormous pressure to succeed and excel at all things. Pressure comes from the parents, teachers, coaches, and peers and is relentless. Many parents value success over personal decency and kindness. Relationships suffer as a result, and fewer intimate relationships form increasing a sense of isolation and lack of empathy towards others. This bad start at home leads to instances of crime, drug and alcohol abuse to combat the stress. The privileged status is a protected status and gives the child a feeling of invulnerability to repercussions. Thus, the pattern begins.
I often wonder if the drive to wealth is a predatory instinct, more reptilian and less mammalian in nature. The love of material things and the love of the hunt may be two different things, but they often seemed to be paired together. Acquisition and accumulation have no inherent utility value for the super wealthy, as they generally have more than is necessary to exist and live a comfortable if not opulent life.
You would think at some level, that a feeling of satiety would set in, and that increased wealth would produce a bloating of sorts. Like carrying more weight than is comfortable. But there is a type of narcissistic drive in sequestering all the toys in the room into your own private toy box, that depicts metaphorically a small child mentality that says, “ love me now, I have more than you, I’m better than you.” These narcissistic wealthy have a self-centered agenda that sucks the life out of the world around them, making them feel omnipotent and imperial. We are seeing a resurgence of this today, as wealth consolidates to those at the top.
I realize that this is not true of all wealthy individuals. And it’s easy to generalize evil characteristics to all rich folks. Maybe a little sour grapes here. Perhaps, it's more recognizable in the Nouveau Riche, who tend to be more conspicuous with their money. The established wealthy are less conspicuous and harder to observe. They like the cloak of their wealth, which hides them from public view, but nonetheless, makes them even more prone to their machinations without public scrutiny. The traits that garnered their wealth were no doubt, present in their progenitors. Maintaining and preserving wealth is a much different game than acquisition and accumulation, but the same characteristics would be useful for both.
Contrast that with the natures of highly sensitive people. Are we the naturally the antithesis of those that strive for wealth? Is it harder for HSPs to acquire wealth because we lack the predator qualities needed to advance above and beyond the common? Do our traits of empathy and kindness, which we often wear like weights, prevent us from taking the necessary steps to rise above in matters of money and wealth?
Making money is fundamentally about taking the money out of someone’s pocket and putting it in yours. Of course, you could argue for the barter model, but we live in a society where upward mobility requires one to go beyond simple tit for tat trading and focus on exploiting profits. This takes cunning and somewhat of a killer instinct. Cue the language of business. This sordidness is just not what HSPs are largely about.
Most HSPs are less likely to be interested in the troubles of making money and acquiring wealth. High wage work is exhausting and can tax the HSPs’ systems. HSPs tend to be focused on nonmaterial matters, spirituality, and quiet, contemplative endeavors. This would suggest that we do not have the fundamental characteristics of our personalities to become the kind of entrepreneurial or capitalist types that are driven by financial success.
Would that explain why HSPs are less likely to be wealthy or powerful people? Do we not have the chops to be financially adept? Is it possible for us, who enjoy creature comforts, and are HSPs, to override or reprogram our HSP nature in a thoughtful way and still acquire wealth or at least succeed financially? Or, maybe, I’m wrong, maybe it’s just not that important to most HSPs.
I think it might be of interest to more HSPs if it could be managed within our HSP framework. Part of the aversion for many of us may be fear or dread of some of the draconian measures used by the wealthy to become rich. For the average HSP or for the average person, there are a couple of ways I can think of off the top of my head to approach this. Certainly, this is not exhaustive.
One, you adapt yourself to the system using HSP characteristics instead of predatory ones. This requires some skill acquisition and a willingness to push some boundaries but doesn’t’ require you to sell yourself out. The second is longer term, broader and even more fundamental. That is changing the way you play the system, working a different angle and being creative.
In the first strategy, one must adopt some of the positive characteristics of wealthy individuals. Creating a positive and optimistic outlook means modifying the overthinking quality most HSPs possess. It might mean abandoning the uber-cautious attitude HSPs tend towards and employing calculated, optimistic risks (business development, investments or employment opportunities).
Perpetuating a strong ability for resilience is necessary, not just for wealth but for life. Adaptability and recovery are traits that can be learned and are key to surviving in wealth-building. HSPs could actually be quite good at this, because of our capacity for rumination and review of our experiences. Learn to remove the powerful emotions, and this leaves raw experience, which can be reframed and repurposed with new vigor, and sent back out into the world.
Staying connected and developing the skill of networking helps build social capital. To assuage the urge not to socialize, HSPs can do this like Ninjas. Develop a purpose for networking with a clear objective. Laser in on the target individuals that will provide value, and reach out to them. Of course with our HSP nature, we also should look to reciprocate the value gained. This keeps our empathy quotient high and makes us good people to network with.
Firing up a passion for objectives, without flaming out is important. Passion is fuel, and burns brightly and quickly, use it wisely. Make sure you stock up with fuel before you go out to face the world – exercise, sleep , diet, and meditation, will aid in moderating your passion against your energy stores.
Learning and practicing good financial habits are necessary to maintain what you gain. Let your innate conscientiousness and attention to detail prevail.
Finally, express and show gratitude for success, learning from mentors and showing empathy, compassion, and appreciation for all that aid you.
The second system is more about changing how you play the system than changing you. This system would be to use your HSP characteristics to create a value proposition, and then let the market multiply it for you. You need not start a business per se or become a capitalist to do this. Many artists, authors, and musicians have employed this method.
My best example would be to create an artistic product or creation. For example, write a book. The idea of writing a book is the type of task that an HSP would be likely most comfortable with. Expression of thought, quiet time to write, creating an imaginary world, or expounding an idea, and then letting it go into the world to seek its fortune. This is a solitary task, done once. Your intellectual property then is sold, by various means, then replicated for distribution, whether in print or in electronic format. The scale is up to you – large or small. Paying you over and over for a single effort. Not everyone is going to have the success of J.K. Rowling, a famous HSP, but, yet a decent life could be made with this model.
The economies of doing this allow you to multiply the effect of your work, without draining you. You have played the system to your strength. Yes, I know, granted it must sell, granted that you have to do some promotion work, but the idea is to use the multiplier effect in a single endeavor, a very HSP kind of thing. Maximum efficiency, with minimum effort. My point is that making money is not inherently evil or greedy. If you can produce something of value and sell it, the world can beat a path to your door.
Money is power, but its also energy and energy potential. Energy is a neutral force, neither good or evil. It can be used both ways — the beholder of the energy colors the result of using that energy. Money is like the genie in the bottle; it merely does what you command it to. Money can be used for a lot of positive things in life. And HSPs would be good stewards of large sources of money. In an upcoming blog, I will be talking about our presuppositions of money – either scarcity or abundance. It may surprise you to learn that all rich people don’t think in terms of abundance. It makes a difference. More on that later.
Maybe money isn’t your thing after all. If so, perhaps, you are the luckiest of us all. Live simply, with what the Universe has given you, work on spiritual matters and rest in your thoughts. As for me, I’m going to work on the money proposition. I think we can turn this thing around. I’ll let you know how I do.
Gordon Gekko: The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
From Wall Street
A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
Chuck Noland: We both had done the math. Kelly added it all up, and... knew she had to let me go. I added it up and knew that I had... lost her. 'cos I was never gonna get off that island. I was gonna die there, totally alone. I was gonna get sick, or get injured or something. The only choice I had, the only thing I could control was when, and how, and where it was going to happen. So... I made a rope, and I went up to the summit, to hang myself. I had to test it, you know? Of course. You know me. And the weight of the log snapped the limb of the tree, so I-I - , I couldn't even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over *nothing*. And that's when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that's what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I'm back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass... And I've lost her all over again. I'm so sad that I don't have Kelly. But I'm so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?
From Cast Away
I think it’s about time we HSPs and in particular HSMs stop complaining about our sensitivities and start living with it and learning from it, exploiting the advantages and looking for best strategies to thrive within the framework of Sensory Processing Sensitivity. That may sound harsh, but, as men, we need to explore our options on how we can best deal with SPS and then take that knowledge and share it with our HSM brothers and young men and boys. We might even consider sharing it with our non-HSP male counterparts to help them explore other aspects of their personalities they probably have veered away from.
I have talked a lot about our culture’s boy and man code, toxic masculinity and living our own protective denial about who we are and covering up our differences. The world, for now, may not get us-- our moods, the tendency towards overwhelm, the depth of processing emotions and stuff, that many label “over-thinking,” --because this all spells drama to outsiders. Drama in familiar parlance is any kind of intense emotion that doesn’t fit the circumstance according to the labeler.
They don’t get our quiet ways, sometimes think we are conspiring against them. They never understand our need to process to infinity and beyond on what they usually consider trivial matters, until, of course, they need to pick our brains on advice for one of their vexing problems. When you consider it, work, relationships, friendships, activities, social life – all are impacted by our high sensitivity and how we deal and cope.
Nothing about our living goes unaffected by our SPS trait. Part of the overwhelms of life for most of us comes from not having effective coping skills to deal with the extra sensitivity. This is consternating for us HSP adults but is profoundly confusing for HSP kids. Many parents of HSP kids, some of which are not themselves HSPs are confused, embarrassed, frustrated and sometimes plain angry with their HSP offspring. They struggle because they don’t know of, or can teach the coping skills these children need.
Although I am grateful at the growing acknowledgment and work about SPS from the likes of Dr. Elaine Aron, Dr. Tracy Cooper, Dr. Ted Zeff, and many others, we are far from universal awareness and understanding about how to cope, strategize, raise and bring up healthy HSP children.
As many of us adults acknowledge our shortcomings or the lack of tools to help in this undertaking, we as HSPs must all band together to share our insights and teach each other those coping skills that have worked for us as individuals and to share the experiences we have had that might be useful to parents, teachers, and others that interface with HSP children.
This is true especially for HSP boys that are not only up against one size fits all societal norms for masculine expectancy but the general bias against HSPs as a whole. This is hard for young HSP boys, because not only do they not match up with what is expected from most boys, but are often sensitive about this disparity. This disconnect contributes to self-esteem and self-confidence issues that will affect them as men and as adults. So what do we do?
Let me talk first about some of our tendencies when confronting life’s conflicts. Our instincts generally lead us always to go within, retreat or isolate when we reach these obstacles. It just seems normal for us to withdraw at the first sign of resistance. We almost universally process in this way, or some close variant. For HSPs this may be to allow for more processing or rumination on the issue or for soothing purposes. To quiet down, rest on the problem. Yes, we all nod in an agreement that this is a good thing, but is it always a good strategy? For sure, it is a natural strategy for HSPs, no one has to teach an HSP to do this, but following our natural tendencies – does this make for best practices? Could it lead to passivity, inaction, and avoidance?
I think about this a lot when I contemplate the idea of teaching proactive coaching strategies to young HSP men or boys. I often ask myself – what could have been taught to me as a boy, that would have made my life better, more fulfilling and instilled a higher degree of confidence in my ability to navigate the world. Instead, like many highly sensitive men, I just figured out on my own by trial and error, a cobbled together strategy.
What we need are tools to teach ourselves and our young men how to take our gifts and our challenges as HSPs and use them to better ourselves and for that matter, the world. These tools would instill confidence and teach us how to use our unique voices. We could stand to learn more precise skills to regulate our emotions or how to throttle them when they are overwhelming or inappropriate. We need to learn how to communicate our needs to others, without sounding whiny or complaining.
There should be a method that would be equivalent to mental aikido when we are attacked or feel that way, that would allow us to calmly use our opponent's negativity to flow through us, as opposed to draining us or hurting us. This could be a method to protect us. We need to understand our dark selves, too, those moods that might arise from negative upbringings or from other’s insensitive treatment and learn to show love to all those that don’t understand us. Most importantly, we need to learn the fundamentals of self-love, how to find and nurture it within ourselves.
We need good roadmaps for finding our best career options and accelerate the proliferation of good tools for HSPs for identifying the HSP trait early on, either by testing (thanks Dr. Aron) or by trained observation. We need to cultivate how to guide our young HSP children towards careers that would allow them to prosper and thrive, helping them to get in touch with their life spark (read: passion) and show them how to map it out into an awesome life.
We need career coaches and counselors to provide career “clouds,” which are general guidelines for options for broad occupation categories that HSPs can match to their individual personalities and characteristics. We need to match our young ones to mentors that can help them at schools and medical facilities, that understand them, and can encourage them in ways that stimulate HSPs in gentle ways.
As an HSP male, I can’t emphasize enough, how important it is to identify and outreach HSP boys early on in life. A great deal of their socialization as males takes place early in life, from both males and females. Self-esteem and self-confidence begin here, and no one, HSP or not, is born with the means to self-confidence. It is all learned.
Some of the coping strategies out there from a variety of sources, speak to the special needs of HSPs without really talking about the proactive tools approach. It’s almost a stimulus => response approach, that is most often offered. Nevertheless, not criticizing these approaches, they are coming from great sources, but still seem lacking in providing a walk out the door and into life approach, which anticipates challenges and provides a means to let life flow through us. I do believe as SPS gathers more research these tools will appear.
Now, I am going to share a broad stroke of these ideas, a sampling of the advice for HSP coping. More detail can be found by linking on the references. In addition, at the end of the article, I have listed a few of the essential HSP books, that every HSM should have on their bookshelves or on their Kindles.
Most authorities on HSPs speak to the need for HSP emotional regulation. This is very important. Like most HSPs, no one ever taught me about how to deal with the onslaught of heavy emotion I would deal with in my life. It’s easy to get addicted to the highs and lows, and without a good strategy, the roller coaster analogy really begins to take shape in your life. Dr. Aron speaks of acceptance of your feelings, being with them, realizing they are transient and will pass. She advocates remaining hopeful, realizing you can cope and with practice can receive the experience that allows you to feel that you are in control. This is the mindful thought sculpting approach many therapists utilize. She acknowledges that body matters are important too, such as sleep, diet, and exercise. How and where you spend your time will aid in dealing with overwhelm so keep matters of association and isolation in mind.
Dr. Ted Zeff talks about raising HSP boys, in a gentle way, acknowledging their nature, being extra cautious to be mindful of bullying in and around their lives, and being cautious about placing them unprepared in stressful circumstances, where they may be humiliated or overly embarrassed. He emphasizes the importance of a strong, leader male – a father figure to guide them in finding their way. This is imperative to HSP boys to receive recognition from a respected male to aid them in developing confidence in themselves. HSP boys need to be engaged in physical activities that will help them be physically fit. Many HSP boys lack a positive body image and exercise and movement are key to improving that image.
HSP boys need help in developing critical thinking skills to abate the tendency towards runaway emotions. A great skill for young men, HSP or not, is to learn meditation skills for relaxation and to increase mind calming. We need to teach them to regulate self-criticism, which often takes an emotional tone. We often suffer from recursive intrusive thinking. Critical thinking coupled with mindfulness and self-awareness can help tremendously here.
I envision here a kind of Shaolin priest training program that balances both body and mind. For those of you who remember, the TV show, Kung-Fu, offers the character Kwai Chang Caine, who is a sensitive, spiritual and thoughtful man who walks with mindfulness and confidence in the world and I think a kind of cool role model for HSP boys.
All of these activities should have a goal of increased self-esteem, via awareness and use of a variety of tools, many of which, are free, and only need to be taught. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or tapping is a great example of one of the tools. I would also recommend working with a therapist that knows EMDR (a tool that releases unconscious material quickly) or that offers some type of neurofeedback training. I personally, use Neuroptimal, to help calm my mind and build resiliency.
All of this advice suggests some of the tools that, although not necessarily developed for HSPs, can be modified or adapted to be used for HSPs. We do need to stop treating SPS as if it were a disease. It's not. I am not above my own advice. I am still struggling with the idea of this trait as being a gift at times. I often let unknowing, sometimes well-meaning people frame my experience as being a liability or that I must make draconian changes in my personality. We all need to start looking at ways /strategies for being more proactive with our trait. Getting out from underneath the confusion about the trait, examining what’s good about it, and teaching ourselves and others how we can best use it to thrive makes sense now.
I would welcome hearing about strategies that you may have tried to aid yourself in your life. Good or bad, they all bear mentioning.
Chuck Noland: [to Wilson] We might just make it. Did that thought ever cross your brain? Well, regardless, I would rather take my chance out there on the ocean than to stay here and die on this shithole island, spending the rest of my life talking...
Chuck Noland: ...TO A GODDAMN VOLLEYBALL!
From Cast Away
Books You Must Have or Read:
Dr. Tracy Cooper – Thrive!
Dr. Elaine Aron –Highly Sensitive Person
Dr. Ted Zeff – Strong Sensitive Boy
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.