Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Life is a Series of Constant Re-Inventions

We HSPs are generally not fond of change.

Or we may be fond of change, but still find it massively disruptive and overstimulating to deal with it.

The latter, I suppose, holds more true for HSS HSPs.

I have been absent from these pages, for a while...

Once again — at age 58 — I find myself in the process of "reinventing myself."

As my three readers might remember, I have spent most of my adult life engaged in some form of self-employment. This is generally a really good "fit" for HSPs... we get to do things largely on our own terms, which typically includes creating a work-life that allows us to keep the lid somewhat on overstimulation, and at least manage it.

Of course, even when things are working quite well, change happens.

In this case, I am facing the reality that two of my four home-based micro businesses that have been sustaining us for the past decade+ have been in steady decline for some years — one due to an aging and dying primary demographic, the other due to competition from inexpensive alternatives in S.E. Asia — and we have reached a place (financially) where steadily increasing costs of living have overtaken steadily declining income.

So much for being in your "peak earning years" during your 50s!

There is always a "tipping point" in these situations... very minor events set a much larger action in motion. In our case, it was our homeowner's insurance. The renewal policy for the same insurance coverage we've had for six years arrived. Normally, the premiums have been ticking up 2-3% a year, which is bearable. This year, however, the monthly payments jumped from $108.50 to $132.17, an increase of 21.8%.

We all know that inflation is only about 2-3% a year, so what gives? Well, our home "turned 40" this year, which means being part of a different "risk pool."

Meanwhile, the fact that the "equation" is no longer working means not only that changes have to happen, but that the overstimulation is ramping up again. Well... it has already been that way for a while. Being perpetually late on your bills is stressful and overstimulating.

"Stuff Should be Free!" is Bogus!

Bit of a side track here, for a moment:

It's a nice piece of idealism to suggest that we should do things simply because it's the right thing to do, but until the supermarket thinks it's "the right thing to do" to give me my food for free, I'm not convinced. 

Much as I'd love for it to be real, we do not live in a "Star Trek Universe!"

Certainly, I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't do things for each other and help each other out; what I am talking about here applies on a larger scale. I am talking about things we continuously bring to the world that most people find to be "of value," and yet we are never compensated for them. Ultimately... there is no reciprocity!

I am also well aware that simply "Being A Good Person" is not a marketable commodity. Whereas people might appreciate our "goodness" we aren't going to get paid for it.

Not so long ago, I was having a conversation with a spiritual teacher who opined that you should never give away that which you have the most talent at. 

I can assure you that most "starving artists" don't want to starve; they are starving because other people keep insisting that they should do their art "purely for the love of it," and give them lots of pats on their backs for their amazing creativity, yet the moment they put a price tag on that art those same people instead start judging and accuse the artists of "Selling Out."

I agree with my spiritual friend that such a line of reasoning is not only hypocrisy, but also garbage.

Anyway, now I am reinventing myself... again

And so, I am also kicking life back into this HSP Notes blog, which — after all — remains the oldest chronicle of my journey through understanding this "sensitivity" thing in existence. I started this in 2002, five years after reading Elaine Aron's first book. Hundreds of blog posts over a 17-year period chronicle experiences, insights, lessons and the journey, itself.

I stopped, for a while, because I quite simply couldn't justify spending the time I spent here... without compensation. I had to spend that time doing something income producing. I also was working with a couple of other projects — and a different blog.

More about those, later.

Cha- Cha- Cha- Changes...

As I go back to writing more frequent articles about life as it intersects with being a Highly Sensitive Person, I will also be changing how this blog works, a little.

For some time, I have had limited advertising as well as some Amazon product links here... but these have gradually become less and less capable of producing more than a few cents, so they are going to go away over the next few months.

One of the things I have been increasingly involved with is the principle of "Voluntaryism."

To clarify, Voluntaryism is NOT the same thing as Volunteering. Voluntaryism is more economic in nature, and centers around the idea that things are basically free, but if a "recipient" believes that what they are getting "has value" — either to them, or to the greater community — there is a "payment system" in place that allows those recipients (or readers, or beneficiaries) to voluntarily compensate whoever created the thing of value.

Accordingly, I have decided that some of the more elaborate and research-based posts here will become available only through voluntary subscriptions to a Patreon account. This Patreon account will also serve as the "front end" for my efforts of putting together a book I announced long ago entitled "Please Don't Yell At Me! An HSP's Journey," which I have partly written, but never finished.

Those who are willing to "co-sponsor" my efforts (basically, allowing me to spend time writing, rather than being at work during those few hours a week, making a living), would be helping me not only make the book possible, but they would end up having "prepaid" for their own copy, when published. Hopefully, it will be a win-win situation.

And no worries, we are talking about a monthly commitment of probably less than you pay for a cup of coffee or tea at your local coffee shop! And, again, it will be voluntary... but hopefully it will make you feel like you are doing a "right thing" for the HSP community, as well!

I am simply trying to make some things — things that are important to me, and to quite a few other people — functionally possible, in the context of my life.

Stay tuned for more frequent updates, as the process unfolds! At this point, I'm looking to have the whole redesign and new direction operational by June 30th.

Thanks for reading!

I want to hear from you! I grew up in the era of "social blogging," and I believe blogs should be interactive, like mini message boards. Thus, your comments, feedback, ideas and thoughts are always welcome here, and I will do my best to respond, as well!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Learning About the HSP Trait: What's the Ultimate Objective?

I went to the doctor yesterday.

Although we don't really talk much about it, my doctor knows that I am an HSP, and she respects what that entails. In the course of our conversations, we have gently agreed that "Being an HSP" is akin to what was once upon a time thought of as "being highly strung."

We don't talk much about it, though. It has become "old news."

Instead, we talk about my health. I suffer from hypertension (aka "high blood pressure"), and from years of observation, we know that my primary trigger for "hypertensive events" revolve around stress and anxiety.

Actually, I should phrase that very carefully.

You see, I don't suffer from any kind of "anxiety disorder," I simply suffer from overstimulation, HSP style. I am perfectly capable of going into the world and dealing with "whatever hardships come up," and there are few things I can't handle. My body, however, disagrees.

One of the interesting things we've learned about me is that — absent stress and the need to interface with the world — my blood pressure is actually within the "normal" range.

Yesterday, we had this conversation again, as my vitals were once again elevated. My body simply doesn't like the process of "adulting."

Alas, few of us have the luxury of simply sitting in a lawn chair, watching clouds drift by... while "the stuff of life" takes care of itself.

The Progression of HSP Self-Awareness

After the doctor's visit, I got to thinking about this whole thing called "being an HSP."

It has been 21 years and change since I first bumped into the idea. It seems to me that we go through "stages" of being a Highly Sensitive Person.

At first, it tends to be all shiny, exciting and new; we absorb everything we can read and hear; suddenly it seems like we have a natural and well-fitting explanation for why we are the way we are. Which is a marvelous thing!

Then we go through a period of learning and integrating. This often involves joining groups, going to workshops and doing something akin to "becoming an expert" on the topic, as it relates to ourselves.

Oftentimes, we slip into a state of cognitive bias — just about everything that happens is "because I am an HSP." Of course, that's probably rather inconsistent with reality, but we're looking for ways to "make the shoe fit."

After a while, we move onto "integration." We start to become more honest about the ways the trait affects our lives... and the ways it doesn't. At least... that's what happens for those who are honest with themselves; some, it seems, stay in that place where "EVERYthing happens this way because I am an HSP."

But THEN What?

Perhaps the ultimate objective of learning all we can about being an HSP is that we get to return to "just being a person."

As I look back on my doctors' visit, I came to realize that it has been several years since I have thought of myself through the lens of perception that "I am an HSP." The trait doesn't define me, it simply adds a layer of understanding to the overall picture of what it means to be me.

I understand certain things about myself, and understand which of those things happen to be a consequence of my high sensitivity, and I try to arrange my life accordingly.

In formalizing this realization last night, I also came to understand why we see "familiar faces" in online HSP groups, as well as keepers of HSP blogs and web sites suddenly "fall off the radar." They've simply gotten all they needed from their activities, and then moved on.

Think of it a but like attending University: You learn a lot, and then you get a degree and graduate. Maybe you stay on and keep learning, getting a graduate degree. But eventually you're done. And that's actually the natural order of things —if you're NOT seeing that, you run the risk of becoming "that eternal student," working on their 6th degree because they never found the courage to actually go out and be part of life, using the learning they'd experienced.

And so — aside from the fact that I occasionally teach and give workshops — I am done with "being an HSP." I have returned to simply being ME.

How about YOU? Where are YOU, on your HSP Journey of Learning? How long ago was it that you learned that there is such a thing as a "Highly Sensitive Person?" How did it change your life? Do you feel you know what you need to know, or are you still "studying?" To what degree to you find that you "identify" with being an HSP? Leave me a comment-- be part of an ongoing dialogue!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing with others through social media, your own blog, or your Facebook feed! Thank you!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

"Make America Great Again"... and other illusions

A while back, I had this notion that I was going to write a meaningful post-election article about how to navigate a turbulent and uncertain world, especially if you're an HSP. It seemed like a good idea at the time... because many folks presented as deeply distressed and lost at the end of a very "noisy" Presidential election year here in the US.

As time passed, I started realizing that I felt "stuck," so the article progressed into becoming a "Thanksgiving Message," then a "Holiday Message" and ultimately a "New Year's Message." And still, I remained stuck. For some reason, I didn't really have any words-- let alone words of wisdom-- to share. 

A quick side note: I should hurry to add that this is not a political post... and it was never intended to be. It's a human post.

All other things aside, it was not until earlier today-- when a photo of Donald Trump from the campaigning days rolled across my Facebook feed-- that I understood why words had been failing me, and why so many people I know had been feeling strangely immobilized and unmotivated for the past few months.

"Make America Great Again!"

If you live in the US or follow the news, it's almost inevitable that you've seen this campaign slogan, regardless of which side of the political fence you sit on. 

"Make America Great... AGAIN!"

The words made me pause for a moment to remember how often I-- and many people-- tend to look backwards during periods where we feel under extreme duress, stress, disappointment and uncertainty. Sometimes this inclination arises as a result of loss-- a loved one dies, a relationship ends, we lose our job, our beloved pet passes, our core beliefs are rocked-- so we seek some kind of emotional "anchor" in the chaos we feel. At other times, we perceive our lives to be so uncertain that we focus on a solid memory simply because it is known, and the known affords us at least the illusion of control where we otherwise feel like we have none.

It's a natural thing we do. Regardless of whether we consider ourselves "forward looking" or prone to nostalgia, it is psychologically easier to recall feelings and events that have actually happened than to imagine feelings and events that are yet to be.. or maybe not to be. The tangible and recorded past outweighs the uncertain and ambiguous future. There's nothing wrong with that... it simply is.

But here's the rub: there is no recreating the past. This type of escape is merely an illusion. The cold reality is that the past only exists in our memories... because neither we, nor our environmental reality, exists today as it existed ten, twenty, fifty years ago. 

The "Good Old Days" are an abstraction. What's more, we tend to look back through a selective filter of positivity... we remember our favorite dog wagging his tail, not the three years where he peed on the floor twice a week.

Looking back may offer a moment of comfort, but it's not only fleeting, it's nothing more than a thin veil over a present reality that's not about to disappear.

I am originally from Europe and grew up there until moving to the US in 1981. That said, my parents lived in Phoenix, Arizona for many years, before going back "home" in 2002. 

Not long after they left the US, I went to visit them in the south of Spain where I spent my teen years. Having not been there in some 20 years, I went "time traveling," with the vague hope-- a longing-- of somehow "re-feeling" moments from my past. It was a difficult time in my life and I was perhaps trying to "run away." 

It was then I came to understand that "The Past" is not an actual thing, not a place, not a person, not an event... but simply a basket of feelings attached to a moment in time. I stood under the same trees in front of the house where we lived and looked at the same mountains across the same riverbed... and yet felt nothing. I sat in the bar where I had my first beer and drank the same kind of beer... and felt nothing. I stood on the beach where I sought solitude with my teenage angst... and felt nothing.

Well, not exactly "nothing.

What I felt was emptiness. Disappointment. The same feeling you have when your favorite coffee mug shatters and you realize you will never have it again, even if you replace it with an identical one. The past may look rosy, but we can never go back.

Something similar happened at a different time, years later, when my parents passed away. And at an earlier time when my beloved aunt-- who helped raise me-- passed away. Both times, I looked for points in my past where things seemed... simpler; less painful; less confusing.

In each case, the memories were intact, but the attempt to recreate something "that once was" felt flat and colorless... because the person originally having the experience in real time no longer existed

Bringing this back to current reality in the USA, I find myself feeling for all those people in down-and-out coal country who voted for Donald Trump with dreams of looking back to an easier time when jobs were plentiful and their lives did not eternally center on where their next meal will come from. I realize that their past time of relative comfort cannot exist again because neither the society nor the people they are now are who they were then.

We can't make things anything "again." We can't unlearn what we already know to be true.

Even when we make our late mother's apple pie exactly as she did, it will never be exactly the same because the original circumstances cannot exist outside our memories.

So, regardless of whether you're a liberal who longs be in in the days of Obama or Bill Clinton, or a conservative longing for the "good old days" of the 1950's... the past for which you wax nostalgic (and perhaps make your choices based on?) cannot and will not ever exist again.

All we have is now... this present moment... and the future we can co-create by stringing together the most meaningful series of "present moments" we can come up with. Sure, our choices can be informed by our past... but there is only now as far as actually living our lives go. 

So, if you feel stuck and spend  lot of time on "if only" thinking, it's time to let it go and find the strength to get up and create a new set of memories to look back on, from some future time... 

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 05, 2016

"... When the World Overwhelms You."

I realized, this morning, that it has been almost 20 years since I first came across Elaine Aron's book "The Highly Sensitive Person."

As I pulled out my ancient dog-eared copy, I also remembered that it was less the actual title than the byline "How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You" that I related deeply to.

"... When the World Overwhelms You."

Part of me wants to say that I have felt overwhelmed by the world since birth... but I don't know that, for sure. But I do remember that the sense of overwhelm was in full flow when I started first grade and every day felt... exhausting.

As of late, I have not been writing much, not contributing much to the HSP "dialogue" for the very simple reason that the world has been overwhelming me.

In fact, I'd submit that the world has been "overwhelming me" on a full-time basis for about 4-5 years, now. Before that, the overwhelm was more "sporadic and periodic."

Don't misunderstand me, here. I am not trying to start a "wah-wah pity party" here, I am merely observing reality as I am experiencing it, in a non-attached Buddhist sort of way.

Nonetheless, my current state of mind leaves me pondering the question "Have I changed... or has the world changed?"

They (whoever "they" may be...) say that our sensitivities heighten as we age. I am not sure I agree entirely with that. It seems more likely to me that as we age we become more self aware, and thus more capable of recognizing that we are experiencing an extension of our innate sensitivity, rather than attributing our turmoil (or whatever we're feeling) to something else.

So that leaves "the world."

Thanks in large part to technology, I have no doubt the world is eternally "speeding up." Stated a little differently, the volume of stimuli-- information, news, activities, entertainment, obligations and so on-- increases every year. Meanwhile, a great many people-- at least here in the USA-- are experiencing that they need to spend ever more time and effort to merely "swim in place," financially, socially, functionally, psychologically and so on.

When I sit with that and contemplate it, it feels like I have less and less time to process more and more stuff. I am simply like an hourglass-- I process a fairly constant volume of stimuli well, but if more and more sand gets poured in the top half, the narrow opening can never "clear" the inflow. As an HSP, that leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, it also seems like there is a lot of pervasive "time thievery" going on, these days... and I have to admit that this time thievery contributes significantly to my current feeling of overwhelm. I'll try to explain, and maybe you can relate.

For example, it's one thing that there was a controversial election that seems to have polarized this country. It's also a thing that there's a standoff over a pipeline in North Dakota and there's naturally a flood of attendant news. I can deal with that.

But now the new "time thief" is this whole concept of "fake news." Not only are there endless news stories, but now I have to spend additional time trying to determine whether any given story really IS a news story, or just some sensationalist clickbait created by a couple of profiteering vagrants who find it amusing to watch other people fall into a chaotic frenzy. IF (and that's an important question, here in our modern world) I want to remain a truly informed citizen, a five minute news story has now become a 15-minute research project.

But my day didn't become 24 hours and 10 minutes long to accommodate the new paradigm.

And so, the world overwhelms me... which is also a somewhat long-winded explanation for the repeated question I often get as to why I don't write anymore.

Of course, well meaning folks tell me I should turn it off and simplify my life... but isn't the whole ignoring it and sticking our heads in the sand with the excuse that "we can't deal with it" precisely part the the problem that created this whole mess? And how can you hope to make the world a better place if you're tuning it out?

Aside from which, how do you simplify a life that has already-- out of functional necessity-- been trimmed to the bare bones? I'm sorry, but living in a tent in the woods is not going to reduce my overstimulation... I like indoor plumbing and a bed! Of COURse there are lots of people who are "far worse off" than I am, but comparing our situation to the lowest common denominator doesn't fix the problem, it merely creates a greater pool of discontent... a sort of "misery loves company" circle jerk. I'm sorry, but that's not the world I'm looking to live in.

So how do we "thrive" when the world overwhelms us?

As of this moment, I am not entirely clear on that, but it somehow will involve a reiteration of a process I last went through in my mid-30's, when I abandoned working in the mainstream and became self-employed... which wasn't just about changing how I worked, but about changing how I lived, removing the expectations and trappings of "corporate life."

With 20 years of "creative independence" under my belt another revision now seems due, as I sit with the reality that I am not exactly thriving... I am surviving and getting by. I may have more "psychic income and wealth" than ever before, but the supermarket and electric company does not accept that currency in consideration of groceries and power. Which ends up creating a sort of inner dissonance which is another contributing factor to the overwhelm... if I am spending 70 hours a week in the business of simply maintaining, there's little left over to pursue other interests.

What is clear to me is that Being A Highly Sensitive Person is merely a piece of information about who I am. Whereas it influences and affects how I experience and interact with the world around me, it's not "a thing," in and of itself. It doesn't "do" anything. It doesn't "entitle" me to anything, nor does it make me "special" in some cosmic way most people give a rat's ass about. I am still a Human Being who needs to negotiate life, just like everyone else. Go to work, make dinner, pet the cat, take out the garbage, pay the bills. I am primarily a Human Being... who happens to be a Highly Sensitive Person.

In closing, I am considering that this is perhaps the natural "end point" in the journey of understanding ourselves, as HSPs. We start as "confused humans" who then learn we are HSPs; there's relief. Nothing "wrong" with us. We learn. We take on the "label" and adjust. We become wise in the ways of our sensitivity. And then we go back to simply being human, with an additional body of helpful knowledge.

Stay tuned for more ramblings; as I wrote a while back, I have let a number of my web sites and blogs quietly pass on... as a result of which, this will now double as both an "HSP" and a "personal" blog space. But not to worry, I'll still post the more inflammatory political and social commentary elsewhere!

Feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Endings: Point of Contemplation

Last week, I found myself saying goodbye to an assortment of web sites I own-- and have owned-- for a long time. A couple of them for close to twenty years, which is practically "the history of the world," in terms of the Internet.

In a purely practical sense, my reasoning was simple enough-- faced with a hosting and domain service bill for $329, I realized I simply couldn't afford-- nor justify-- to keep these things running anymore. My inner dialogue was centered around the core reality that "they cost money to keep and take my time, but don't help me pay my bills, so they have to go."

The whole process of dumping these sites that had been part of my life for many years-- as well as part of my efforts to familiarize the world with the concept "HSP"-- made me pause to consider this world we live in. And it made me pause to think about the numerous HS people I know who are eternally "living on the edge" of barely making it.

We want to make a difference, and we want to have fun, and we want to make the world a better place but find ourselves living a world that demands 110% of our energy, focus and bandwidth merely to stay alive.

I suppose I am a bit of an idealist and I am trying to swallow the (somewhat bitter?) pill that my inner sense of how an ideal world could be seems to be perpetually at odds with the reality around me.

Although I have never really been someone who's "motivated by money," I am-- to some degree-- motivated by the idea of reciprocity. Not in the "giving to get" sense, but in the sense that it's nice to see one's efforts rewarded to the extent that continuing them seems worthwhile; at least to the extent that "doing right" is minimally self-sustaining... not just an expense.

I realize it's not just about me. It's about the world. The lady who has the shop next to our art gallery gets organic farm fresh eggs from her auntie. They cost $5 a dozen. I know as well as the next person that supporting local organic farmers is the "right thing" to do. I also have a coupon from the local supermarket for eggs at 79 cents per dozen. $5.00 vs. 79 cents. In so many cases, our choices are made for us, because we only (metaphorically speaking) have two dollars to spend.

As I pondered-- with a bit of sadness-- the demise of my long-time projects, my mind drifted back to earlier times when I was writing and trying to get articles published. And how often I was met with statements like "We'd love to include your article, but we're not able to pay contributors at this time... but it'll look great on your resumé!"

I used to believe that something good would come from persevering, anyway... so I did. These days I am more cynical, knowing that the supermarket doesn't accept "great looking resumés," they accept money. And I like to eat... at least occasionally.

Back when Sarah still had her radio program (another attempt at "doing right" that cost money, rather than made money), one of the things said by one of her guests on the program was "It's hard to change the world when you're always broke." As I thought about that, I realize that most people wanting to change the world are broke... because when you're doing well, odds are you're interested in keeping the system that led to your success.

In a strange turn of events, I was looking for a (re-) starting point for HSP Notes... and it became this story about endings. Funny, how that sometimes works out.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Random Musings on HSPs, Marketing, Social Media and Overstimulation

Sometimes it's the "little things" that bother us and can lead to HSP overstimulation. But what exactly ARE "little" things?

This morning, as I was wading through the daily deluge of email, there was an update from an HSP group I belong to on Google+ (It's a nice group, if you want to look at it). I expect many of us get these "so-and-so posted a new message to such-and-such a group" updates.

Anyway, because I am actually interested in HSP-related stuff, I clicked on the link... and got a "the content you are looking for is not available" message, and realized that the original post had been removed.

OK. Had it been spam? That didn't entirely make sense to me as the "so-and-so" person who'd shared the original post was somewhat known to me and is definitely not a spammer.

So I decided to poke around a bit to see if I could figure out what was going on.

Then I understood (I think). The original post had been an announcement of this person's new web site. Nothing wrong with that-- it was definitely "on topic" and relevant to HSPs and might be both useful and informative to those learning about our trait.

The real problem? The post had been an announcement of a web site that wasn't actually built or running yet, just "in the works." The splash page at the end of the link did nothing more than announce that "exciting content coming soon!" and then offered a popup form to ask for email addresses to "be notified of exciting new features."

Whether it's an "HSP cautiousness" thing or not, I now understood why the group owner had deleted the post. I, too, find it annoying to be be asked to support something that "isn't there." And if I am going to give someone my email address... I want to SEE what I am actually agreeing to, not just be offered some promise of future benefits.

As always, I had a lot of items in my email this morning. Whereas I had just experienced a "tiny incident," it made me consider how much time, energy and bandwidth we often waste on "empty information," especially in these days of every more complex social media.

Of course, it's easy to just take an all-or-nothing approach and shut ourselves off by saying "I'm just going block EVERYthing in order to keep my sanity!"

But is locking out all the noise of life really the best solution?

When I look at all the email I wade through, it is frequently overwhelming, and I sometimes wish we were back in simpler times with less information. On the other hand, I have to confess that there's lots of marvelous stuff I would never have learned about or experienced if I'd just applied a wholesale "nothing for me" approach.

For the Highly Sensitive Person, what really matters is finding balance, not shutting yourself off to all forms of external noise. And that means we do have to take the time to decide what is really meaningful and allowing those things in.

I still meet HSPs who fiercely state that they "don't do Facebook" with fiery determination... but ALL of Facebook isn't evil, per se. Like most things, there are good bits and bad bits. "Not doing social media" may eliminate that aspect of stimulation from your life, but is that necessarily ideal?

To that end, I am reminded of one of my Teachers of many moons ago-- I was attending a workshop, and the discussion somehow ended up on our social lives and connecting with people. A number of people commented that they felt like recluses and that "nothing ever happened" in their lives. The teacher then asked what they were doing to create a better social life. There was generally silence. In the end, he made the point that in life-- be it 3D social, or with managing social media, or with general experiences and adventures-- we can't expect much of anything if we are not willing to put ourselves "in harm's way," metaphorically speaking.

And so, in the end, I may complain a lot about information overload but ultimately I feel more informed, educated and balanced as a result of allowing my own version of "filtered noise" to reach me... because some of it really does turn out to be "gold nuggets."

How do YOU handle social media? And the endless stream of information we're subjected to? Have you found a good balance? Have you created "filters" that allows the useful, and lets the useless go? 

Monday, March 21, 2016

HSP Notes "Renovation," Updates and... a Change of Voice

A Day of Sidetracks

Sometimes, we just get sidetracked... today was such a day, for me.

If you haven't been by "HSP Notes" recently, you might notice that things look a little different around here. Even though it wasn't planned, I found myself spending most of today undertaking a much needed "modernization" of this web site.

These days, technology changes so fast I can barely keep up, and HSP Notes-- now in its 15th year-- was starting to look a little bit "dated." That... and I'd received a few messages that the site didn't present itself well on mobile devices.

So now we have a new look, and there's even a mobile friendly version of the site.

What's New?

Aside from a more modern appearance, quite a bit of site content has been updated-- and there's a lot more to come, in the upcoming weeks.

Meanwhile, I also want to draw your attention to the HSP Notes Bookstore which has been greatly expanded.

The bookstore attached to this site is a lot more than just "your average collection of amazon links from a web site." Instead, it is a large collection of handpicked books that are either in my personal library, or I have read, or have been recommended to me by people I know and trust... no "fillers," no "fluff."

There are hundreds of titles either directly about high sensitivity... or about topics that are near and dear to many HSPs. I hope you'll check it out!

Yes, I do earn "a few cents" from having it... but trust me, it's a few cents; If I'm lucky, enough to pay my annual web hosting fees. I mention this because some HSPs are put off by any and all forms of sales/marketing. I also mention this because-- absent those few cents-- I probably wouldn't be able to justify spending as much time as I do, doing this. So this site wouldn't even exist.

A Change of Voice

Last, but not least, what I publish here is going to change a bit. Well... the type of content won't change, but the way I write will. Here's the deal:

I started HSP Notes in 2002 as a mostly personal journal and place to share some ideas and experiences resulting from learning about this thing called "Being A Highly Sensitive Person." Back then, there wasn't a whole lot of information about our trait out there.

To be honest, I didn't really expect to get "a readership," but was certainly thrilled (and felt very validated) when others started reading these pages and shared that they could relate to my experiences.

HSP Notes was a very "personal thing" back then.

Somewhere along the way (perhaps inspired by "wisdom" from the greater blogosphere that blogs should fit niches and have a tight focus?), it seems that my posts became more and more academic and "third person."

As I was updating the site and looked over old posts, I became aware that I have increasingly "written myself out of the picture."

I won't comment on whether that is "good" or "bad," but I realize now that the increasing time interval between new posts could be attributed to the fact that the blog was no longer serving me-- as a cathartic journal-- and so I was less interested in writing.

Who do we do things for?

This made me consider the age-old question many creatives and artists have asked themselves: "WHO am I doing this for?"

Sure, I write in a public space because I hold an idealistic belief that maybe my words will resonate with and help someone, but ultimately I write because clarifying my thoughts in writing helps me solve problems and answer my own questions.

So not only will HSP Notes return to its more personal roots, I am planning to "free" some of the more "personal insight" posts I have written but kept private in the course of the past couple of years.

Of course, I still want HSP Notes to remain useful-- to which end I will be adding more book reviews and more web resources, as time goes by.

In the meantime, thanks for being part of this journey!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

And Now for Something Completely Different: Self-Promotion and HSPs on the Radio!


Many HSPs-- whether self-employed or otherwise-- struggle with the concept of promoting themselves. For a large number of reasons, we find the idea of "tooting our own horns" distasteful, in some ways.

Elaine Aron and Barrie Jaeger, both, allude to this in their books on HSPs when it comes to our work life... many of us end up "underemployed" because we don't stand up and sell ourselves to get a well-deserved promotion, or even to let people know about our talents and capabilities.

Many HSPs work in creative fields-- as artists, musicians, performers, writers and more. I'm one of those... and like many of my peers, I have struggled with "promoting myself."

"Promotion" sounds so... pushy... to me. Brings to mind insurance salesmen and used car dealers who scream at me from their home made advertisements on TV.

Of course, that's really just unfair stereotyping. And the fact remains that if you have a talent, or service, or art, or something else creative... unless you're willing to let people KNOW what you have, and allow yourself to be SEEN, nobody's going to even know that your marvelous creative "thing" even exists. The point being, nobody's going to magically show up at your front door, just because you "made something."

In my almost 20 years of studying the HSP trait, it's a common source of suffering for many self-employed highly sensitive persons that "nobody sees us," so we end up working hard for little reward. In doing so, we overlook the basic fact that we are partially to blame because we are almost afraid to "sell ourselves."

A couple of days ago, my wife (also an HSP) and I were having a discussion about this very thing... and remarked on the way many HSPs almost UN-sell themselves by downplaying the value of what they have to offer ("Oh, it's nothing... just something I play with now and then..."), rather than openly sharing it.

I am not excluding myself here... in fact, both my wife and I suffer from some degree of "unselling ourselves" in our various ventures-- she with her counseling and life coaching, radio show and healing organization... me with my writing, with my art and with my collectibles business.

Perhaps the first thing to keep in mind is that the "ugly" part of self-promotion (those loud car dealers, mattress shops and insurance salesmen) are not representative of authentic self-promoting with integrity. There's really nothing distasteful about letting people know that "I'm an artist, and this is my work" or "I'm a writer, and this is what I do."

This means we have to be willing to "be seen," and that means stepping outside our comfort zones.

Part of this post is about me stepping outside my comfort zone: I am going to do something that is FAR from my normal approach to things: I am going to be on the radio!

Now, granted, this is "baby steps."

My wife Sarah (yes, she IS an HSP, but more of the "HSS" variety) has a bi-weekly radio show, and she's doing "HSP month" and talked me into being on the show, since I have been studying the trait for a long time.

Yes, it's fairly "safe" because it's an interview done my someone I know and love, BUT it's still me allowing myself to "be heard" by a worldwide audience of thousands of people. Not only that, part of the show is going to be about "my creativity" (my art-- the hand painted mandala stones in the photo) not just about "the HSP trait." And that's the scary part... I'm not just on the air as a sort of "expert witness," but to talk about something creative that is near and dear to my heart.

That's where we HSPs-- especially the ones in creative and artistic fields-- must find the courage to stand up and "be seen" and "be counted" and get over our concerns that what we have to offer doesn't have value to the world-- it DOES.

So, I'd like to invite everyone to listen in (the show first aired on November 12th at 7:00pm US Eastern time/4:00pm US Pacific time)... to a couple of HSPs chatting on the radio! Don't worry if you missed it, or couldn't listen at that time-- the show archives instantly after it ends.

You can hear the archived version by clicking the ► below:


Talk back! How do YOU-- as an HSP-- deal with "self-promotion?" Have you missed opportunities in your life because you failed to "speak up" when you had something to offer? Do you wrestle with idea that your work isn't "good enough," even when it is clearly the best? Are you in a creative field, but struggle to promote your writing, art or other talents? Help start a conversation! Please leave a comment!

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