Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A 10th Anniversary, of Sorts

It's hard for me to believe, but this spring it will have been 10 years since I first picked up a copy of Elaine Aron's book "The Highly Sensitive Person," and learned about this shared trait of ours.

In the ensuing 10 years, I have experienced quite an "evolution" in my relationship with the trait-- from curiosity, to denial, to learning, to acceptance... to the place where I am today, experiencing the trait as simply another puzzle-piece in the greater package that is "me." I suppose you could say that I have "made peace" with my HSP-ness.

The last 10 years have not been without change. A part of the "knowing" about the trait also serves to enable to to start living a life that "fits" an HSP. I have made considerable personal changes, as I have learned about the trait. At the same time, general awareness of high sensitivity has grown by leaps and bounds. 10 years ago, there was just "a book." Now there are scores of web sites, numerous books in several languages, and an increasing number of mental health and wellness professionals who are "HSP aware."

All of this adds up to a better chance for HSPs to live meaningful lives.

And yet, even as more people grow aware of what it means to be an HSP, it is also very obvious that only a tiny percentage of the world's HSPs (for many different reasons) are aware that their struggles in life is due to a biological trait, rather than some pathology. And many simply live in silence, believing that life simply IS "hard."

I suppose my suggestion here, is to urge those who are aware of their trait to "spread the word." Not in some forceful way, or by cramming your ideas down someone's throat, but in the sense of "noticing." Notice when someone seems to exhibit HSP-like traits, and find an opportunity to start a dialogue. Find out about this person, and then perhaps ask them if people have ever told them they are "too sensitive." From a simple dialogue, you have the opportunity to help some else find a sightly easier path in life.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Reading: Ted Zeff's New Book for HSPs

I have been reading a copy of Ted Zeff's new book, "The Highly Sensitive Person's Companion." Ted is an HSP, and author of "The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide," which came out in late summer of 2004.

Ted's new book is a small volume, which I expected to read through quite quickly. But actually, there's a lot more to this book than meets the eye.

The book is set up as a year's worth of weekly "exercises," with each short weekly chapter addressing some aspect of being an HSP, from challenges to self-awareness. I think it will be a very valuable addition to most HSP's library of self-help books.

I'll be writing more about it, once I have read the entire book, and worked on the exercises. No, don't worry, it won't be a whole year before I mention it again!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

HSPs and Relating, part II

I think "relating" is particularly important for HSPs.

Actually, I think what is important, is that we have peers to relate to. Other HSPs. Nobody understands what it means to be an HSP, like another HSP. And I feel it is central to our sense of emotional well-being to to feel "related to" on the deep level only one of our peers is capable of. Some might say it seems elitist or exclusive to specifically seek out fellow HSPs... and I have to ask "WHY those feelings?" What is telling you to just accept less than an ideal situation?

And that's why I always am recommending to HSPs that they make friendships with other HSPs. Even if you don't know anyone in your immediate circle, consider making friends with other HSPs online.

Better yet, make plans to attend one of the Annual HSP Gatherings. I have been to several of them, and a large part of my strong feelings about HSPs befriending their peers is a result of my personal experiences with the Gatherings.

It may seem expensive on the surface, but it really is worth it!

Friday, March 09, 2007

HSPs and Relating, Part I

I have been sitting here, thinking about how we relate.

What is it that makes one person interesting to us, and another not so interesting? For me, it is in the degree to which I relate to that person.

I have written before, about how HSPs often struggle with friendships and relationships. Most often, an HSP will lament that they just can't find "deep connections" with people... and I certainly understand those feelings, as they have been very present in my own life.

I am just not all that interested in which celebrity is airing out their dirty laundry this week. I don't really get excited about whether Brad and Jennifer have broken up, nor what the rest of the world thinks about that.

Phrased differently, I don't relate across that particular set of interests.

When I see HSPs struggle in their quests to make friends and have the kind of relationships they want, I often am witness to an inner struggle, of sorts. The struggle seems to be between the idea (usually fed to us by society and our immediate environment) that we "should" make friends, and "should" have certain interests to be liked and popular... and then the inner desire to just "be ourselves."

Apart from the obvious issue of "knowing who we are" it's not always easy to find the courage to stand up and say that we don't give a rat's hind end about Brad and Jennifer, in the face of everyone else at work being totally absorbed in their affairs.

HSP, or not, one of the bottom lines in being human is a desire to feel "part of," rather than "cast aside."

And, as HSPs, I suppose it becomes extra important to take the time to "find our tribe." More about that next time.

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