Tuesday, August 02, 2022

HSPs, Responsibility, Conscientiousness... and Obligations

If you have ever completed Dr. Elaine Aron's "sensitivity self test," one of the items in the questionnaire reads "I am conscientious."

I suppose many people would like to think of themselves as conscientious, but HSPs seem to be especially so, sometimes to the point where it can start to feel like a burden, in some respects.

It is that burden aspect I want to touch on, today...

As part of ongoing self-awareness of what it means to be highly sensitive, we each have to learn where our potential "traps" exist. By traps, I mean the places where the attributes of our personality that feel natural to might end up causing us suffering in our engagement with the external world.

In looking back across my life, one of my "traps" has been my tendency to keep my promises and keep engaging in a certain activity even if it is no longer appreciated (or taken for granted), and it increasingly feels like a drag and obligation to keep going.

"Well, I promised I would... so I WILL keep  doing this, even though I wish I didn't have to!"

How often has that little voice spoken up, inside your head?

In time, I became aware that it is very easy for me to go from a place of happily volunteering to do something helpful — for another person, or an organization — to feeling like I have become trapped in something that now feels like an obligation... and offers me little of the joy I felt when I first got involved.

The "problem" is that there are many people in the greater world who discover that an HSP friend of theirs is super reliable and always does their best... something that can often be quite a rarity in our world!

And so, you might end up with a scenario like I have experienced a number of times, in which I was allegedly "temporary assistance" but because I have done an exemplary and efficient job — being "conscientious" — I seem to have become "permanented," without any conversation about it.

I volunteered to help out, not to take on a permanent obligation!

As I have aged, I have increasingly avoided responsibility, and tend to back away quietly, whenever someone needs help with some kind of project or problem. I do this because responsibility ends up feeling like an obligation pretty quickly, and in turn obligations soon enough leave me feeling overstimulated. 

In case you are wondering how and why... it's because the obligations feel frustrating, and frustration = overstimulation.

"But you used to be so nice and helpful!"

Sometimes I hear those words, and they definitely sting a bit! But then I also pause and consider the fact that when others classify me as "nice," what they are sometimes really saying is "you used to not have boundaries and I could walk all over you!"

It's no fun feeling like you are being used, and having healthy personal boundaries is an essential part of living a balanced life, as a highly sensitive person.

One of the better truisms I have heard along the way is this: "No is a complete sentence!"

Worth keeping in mind, as part of our self-awareness and setting of personal boundaries!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Life Feels "More Normal," but Will it EVER Be?

Midsummer has passed.

Were I back in Denmark, we would have had the annual bonfires on the beach to celebrate summer. Instead, I find myself sitting here, revisiting memories of the last time we were in Denmark.

It was in 2015, and things were "normal," then. Sometimes I wonder whether the pre-Covid world really was "normal?" 

Seems like life is slowly returning to some semblance of normalcy, even though I am not entirely sure what that even means. Restrictions are being lifted, and now travel to Denmark has become rather easier than it used to be, with the requirement to have valid "vaccine passports" having been dropped, at least in Denmark.

I bring up "normal" because it's a term we HSPs often find ourselves thinking about, although not in connection with Covid-19 and the world. What would it be like to be "normal," some of us wonder.

Over the years, this has sometimes become a heated discussion in some of the online forums, HSP meetups and retreats I have attended. I have never quite been able to get behind the whole idea that somehow "normal" is better than the way I am. I can recognize how normal might be more convenient in certain respects, but that isn't necessarily better.

Meanwhile, is humanity any better off, as a result of having had to pause and look at a greater threat... one that kept us locked in our homes (in many cases) for extended periods of time.

Will people remember any of the insights they might have gained, as a result of this involuntary introspection? Or will things — barring another severe outbreak — simply return to the way they were before Covid-19?

I was already a cautious type person before this all started, and now I am even more of a person who always thinks things through before taking a course of action. No impulsiveness here!

The feeling I am left with is that the entire idea of a return visit to Denmark doesn't feel as joyful as it once did, almost like the past 2 1/2 years or so cast a permanent shadow that no degree of superficial normalcy will be able to remove.

Thanks for stopping by!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Friday, April 08, 2022

HSP Life: Do we get More Sensitive as we Age?

One of the questions I have been asked a lot over the years is whether or not we get more sensitive, as we age.

It's definitely a worthy question, and many people I have talked to are convinced that their sensitivity has increased as they entered their 40's 50's, 60's and beyond.

Personally speaking, I don't really believe that we get more sensitive as we age. I think we just become more aware of our sensitivities. We also gain more life experience, meaning that we are more readily able to be tuned in to what's going on with us, in terms of emotions, stimulation level, and so forth.

To be a little more specific, when we start to feel overstimulated in a given situation we grow more aware of the fact that what's happening is overstimulation rather than something else like anxiety or nervousness. When we were younger, it was easier to just overlook or tune these things out. This heightened awareness doesn't necessarily mean that we are more sensitive it just means we're more tuned in to our sensitivity. 

Since I have experienced that growing awareness in my own life as I have aged — I will turn 62, later this year — the outcome is that I tend to step away from more situations than I did in my youth. To the casual observer number that might look like I have become more sensitive than I used to be, because I am a less willing participant in what I generally think of as "noisy activities."

From the inside, however, I really don't feel any more sensitive than I ever was. 

This particular topic has been discussed at great length at workshops and in a number of online HSP forums and other discussion groups and people never seem to arrive at a firm conclusion. 

I am just not convinced that we become more sensitive as we age, I just think we become less tolerant of/willing to deal with overstimulation when we know we're facing a situation in which it is likely to happen. 

I'll finish with the reminder that this is just my experience, and my opinion... and yours might be quite different!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What do You Want to Write About Today?

One of the things I often struggle with is that I have far "too many" interests.

Maybe we should scratch that and instead say there are far too many things in life that are interesting. Just because something is interesting doesn't necessarily make them "an interest," just means something interesting enough that I want to find out more.

And that's how I often end up going off track and wasting time doing something other than what I'm supposed to be doing.

It is one of the sometimes challenging side effects of not only being an HSP, but being an HSP who is afflicted with that thing our modern society likes to call ADHD. Of course I'm not particularly afflicted with the "H" (Hyperactivity) part of ADHD, mostly I'm just chronically inattentive and daydreaming.

When it comes to the question of "what do I want to write about today," I don't pose it merely as a reflection of what I'm going to write on this blog but as a reflection of the fact that I have multiple blogs and websites that I could be writing something on.

But let's make it one level more complicated!

I can ask myself the question of what do I want to write about today, but there's also a greater question of whether I want to work on art today, or should I work on my stamp business today, or work on editing today, or might I end up working on something completely different today.

That's a different "side effect," namely the side effect of being independent and self-employed, rather than having a structured job that I need to go to at a specific time every day to do some specific kind of task.

I gave up having a structured job many years ago. On the balance I would say that I wouldn't trade in the life I now have for anything, but one of the benefits that having a regular job does offer is a kind of structure and that can be important if you are naturally inclined to be wildly unstructured in your approach to living.

And so, I come here asking myself the question what do I want to write about today? And what do I even want to do today?

Let me underscore for the record that this isn't necessarily an HSP issue, it's just a being alive issue in my world. Still, I am an HSP and this is a blog about life as an HSP so somehow there would be at least some peripheral relevance to my posting this.

Much as I hate to admit it, the only approach I have really found to effectively manage my tendency to be very scattered is to make lists and schedules.

Ironic that, given that I hate being constrained by rules and schedules! And yet? Here I am touting the benefits of precisely those things.

So what is this post really about?

Well, it's about the fact that we shouldn't wholesale reject any one thing just because we don't like what it suggests or represents... because ultimately it tends to turn out that there are parts of both things we like and things we don't like that become useful to us and parts of those same things that are not useful to us.

Yes, it sounds a bit convoluted, I know.

The challenge becomes a discern what's useful, and then to make the most of ways to maximize the benefit for our own purposes.

I don't claim to have any secrets to doing so! It's a constant work in progress… as is, I suppose, this entire experiment of living. 

And with that thought, I'm probably going to go somewhere else, and write something else!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

A Life of Noise Sensitivity and Feeling Like I was BORN Overstimulated

Sometimes I have a feeling that I was actually born overwhelmed (or "overstimulated"), as it were. 

It seems like as far as back as I can remember I was always very hesitant to get involved in anything that made noise or in anything that had "flashy moving colors" or anything like that. At the same time, it seemed like I always wanted to do very "adult" things when I was a young kid... even though my mother was always "strongly encouraging" (read: "Forcing") me to get out there and do things that allegedly "healthy" kids were supposed to do. 

But I just didn't want to; it felt like having my head inside a garbage grinder or a drum that somebody was randomly beating on.

When I look back at many of my moments of great anxiety and terror, I can also clearly recall that most of them involved something that was very loud and in my face and made me feel like I just was going to explode if they continued. And it was on occasions like that represented pretty much the only times I remember the words "don't mind him, he's just too sensitive!" actually coming out of my mother's mouth.

If course, they were far more of a criticism and excuse than any kind of supportiveness of my sensitivity.

My maternal grandfather thought I would be interested in seeing the trains, so we'd walk down to the nearby rail line. I did love looking at the trains... as long as they were just parked. When they were actually passing by, I wanted to be several hundred yards away!

I just wanted things around me to be quiet; soft.

Of course, they never were... except when I'd ride my bicycle out into the nearby woods to be with myself and nature.

Ironically, I ended up working at my dad's bottle cap factory when I was in my teens... one of the noisiest environments you could possibly imagine. Think of the sound of a cascade of metal bottle caps raining onto a resonant hard surface, and you get the idea. I wore earplugs and gradually adjusted to the dull roar because about $8 an hour was a LOT of money in 1974, and when you were just a 14-year old kid!

Noise has an interesting effect on my system... it doesn't matter what the source is, it feels like it is slowly sucking the life force out of my very being. That can even be applied to ostensibly "enjoyable" noise like rock concerts, or even loud car stereos.

Needless to say, I never went through a "headbanger music" phase!

I still go to great lengths to avoid noisy situations, and turn down many invitations if I get the sense that they will be very loud. My preferred noise level is to sit somewhere with no human-made sounds, just listening to the sound of waves and wind rustling the leaves of the trees.



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Thursday, December 09, 2021

At The Edge of Tears: Reflections on the General State of the World

One of those “things” that seem to go hand in hand with being an HSP — I'm sure this is no new news to anyone — is that we tend to break into tears very easily.

Lately, I have increasingly found myself in a freame of mind where I feel like I am almost always on the edge of tears... for no particular reason.

I go through the usual “12 point check” for myself, trying to determine whether this sadness is coming from somebody else rather than myself; trying to remember whether there is some important anniversary of a tragic event that I've overlooked somehow; considering whether I got some bad news from a friend via social media... but these days I always come up blank.

This resigns me to the fact that what keeps me at the edge of tears all the time is simply the world at large. As best I can describe it these particular tears are related to a pervasive sense of frustration, exasperation, resignation, sadness, disappointment... I just can't quite come up with a word that concisely and elegantly encapsulates my mind.

Whatever it is, I just want to cry about it.

I think perhaps what I am so often tempted to weep for this is the sensation that we live in a world that on one level seems to be changing constantly and yet when we pull back the curtain and look at the underpinnings of humanity nothing has really changed.

I have wandered around on this planet for a little over 60 years now, and we still have wars and we still have famine and we still have domestic violence and we still have child abuse and we still have addiction and we still have pretty much every problem “the adults” were talking about when I was a little kid.

How can that not make a conscious and thinking person feel sad?

It's tempting to take the easy way out and make COVID-19 the scapegoat, but that really doesn't address the deeper issue. COVID is merely a symptom of a world out of balance; a world that has been out of balance for a very long time.

Not related...

I am writing as much as ever these days; this blog has just not been a venue I have been using very often. I'm sorry for that. It's not that I don't consider myself an HSP anymore (of course I'm still in HSP!), it's just that in the last few years things other than “hello, I'm an HSP!” have been taking center stage in my life.

All in all, I think that is part of the natural evolution we undergo as we familiarize ourselves with high sensitivity as an inborn trait. It's all exciting and takes center stage in our existence for a while, but there comes a time — unless we are called to teach — where we simply move on and incorporate the knowledge we have into our daily lives, without making it the only thing we're ever thinking about.

And yet? From time to time I long to slip back into that mode where “being an HSP” becomes almost like my hobby; a point of comfort I could always return to and seek refuge in whenever the world seemed a bit rough.

"Ah well, I'm a Highly Sensitive Person, so therefore..."

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit here so I guess I had better post this before I get too longwinded!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Moment for reflection: No, I Didn’t Stop “Being an HSP!”

As I sit here reflecting on a rainy afternoon, I found myself pondering a question somebody asked me not too long ago: they quite sincerely commented on my Facebook page as to ”why I had stopped being an HSP.

I felt a little taken aback by the question because you can't stop being an HSP, since we're dealing with an ingrown trait here... and the person wondering was an HSP, herself.

But I chose not to fall into "affronted and reactionary" mode and instead pondered the deeper meaning of the inquiry. 

The point , of course, was that I didn't seem to be writing about HSPs anymore, and I wasn't active on HSP forums the way I had been in the past, and I had to confess that I had reached a point where the whole highly sensitive person community just didn't seem like it was very interesting to me anymore. I could even look at the posting archive of this HSP Notes blog and see a distinct dropoff in the frequency of my new contributions.

The person who had commented was not actually being critical, they were lamenting my absence. 

It will soon be 25 years since I first came across the term “Highly Sensitive Person.” That could very well be one-third of my life!

I think it would be safe to say that we all go through an evolution of sorts from the first moment we learn that there is actually a name for this “thing” that we are to the present moment we find ourselves in. 

Some years back I reached the point where I realized that the statement “I am an HSP” no longer was appropriate as the centerpiece of my self-definition. Yes, I am still in HSP, but I don't really have anything to prove and I don't really have a world I need to change anymore. That is, I'm not on some kind of active crusade to make everybody aware of the trait of high sensitivity. 

There was a time when I was, and I even thought I would end up teaching and giving workshops about the HSP trait. But I realized that it was/is not really who I am! 

In other words, I have moved on to the next phase of my life, one in which I am simply a PERSON living their life and “being an HSP” is simply one of many attributes that describe me. 

I suppose this is a change on some level, because there was a time when “teaching” was more important to me. I can't say exactly when it happened, but at some point I decided that I'm really not a teacher and that there are others out there who do a much better job of it than I do. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy passing along information to somebody who's struggling to find their path through life, it just means I don't go actively seeking it anymore. 

As such, the “HSP Notes” blog and website is perhaps becoming less about parts of the trait itself, and more about how a human being — who happens to be an HSP — is living their life.  

Somebody else had asked me if I had “grown bored” with being part of the HSP community. The answer to that is also “no.” More than anything, it is as I determined before: that I don't really have a great interest in being a teacher, nor in being a "banner bearer" for the HSP movement.

And with that, we can perhaps find another puzzle piece in the evolution of an HSP: I have reached a place in my life where I openly embrace what I want to do, rather than feel pressured to do what others think I “should” do. 

And I believe that's an important point to make here. I think it is true of many highly sensitive people that they tend to succumb to feelings of “obligation” rather more often than is healthy, and when that really isn't their highest and best path. 

Anyway, I felt compelled to put out a few words while I'm sitting here in the middle of doing some minor redesign work on the HSP Notes website.

Part of what I will be doing, is adding more links to the other places where I write. That, in itself, is another of my puzzle pieces: I still love to write but my writing has changed from writing about being an HSP to writing whatever it is I want to write, albeit through the eyes of an HSP. Maybe those two sound very similar but they're actually a bit different. 

How different? Well, that remains to be explored!

As always, thanks for stopping by!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

Friday, April 02, 2021

Just Because You WANT it Doesn't Make it TRUE!

Some things come to me as fairly clear ideas, but are not easy to explain, all the same.

Sometimes HSP's seem to run into some trouble because there is a big difference between having philosophical leanings and actually having a genetic trait. What I mean to say is that simply "feeling very sensitive" is a different thing from actually being hard wired to be highly sensitive .

People ascribe certain attributes to the trait of High Sensitivity. One of the things I wanted to touch on here, is the fact that a lot of people who attribute these characteristics to HSP's are — in fact —  not HSP's themselves .

One of the common sources for unusual dichotomies and misinformed thinking is the field of metaphysics. People claim that they're "highly sensitive" because they enjoy talking to trees and have lots of healing crystals in their personal space and perhaps possess certain extrasensory gifts.

What I was hoping to clarify in this particular situation is that indeed there are lots of HSP's who enjoy crystals and talking to trees and are into metaphysics, however whereas there might be a correlation, such apparent "sensitivities" are not necessarily an indicator of being an HSP, in the scientific context Elaine Aron defined. 

Let's face it, there are also lots of people who enjoy crystals and metaphysics and astrology who have nothing to do with being a Highly Sensitive Person.

Understand that the trait of high sensitivity is a genetic trait not something you can just choose one day because of an interest, nor is it even something you can become

You either are, or you're not. 

Lest this all sounds a bit IN-sensitive, keep in mind that when you are trying to live an authentic life, you gain nothing by pretending to be something you are not... however interesting or alluring that "something" might be!



I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account. Or support my creative endeavors by purchasing one of my hand painted stones — links in the right-hand column!

I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!

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If you enjoyed your visit to HSP Notes and found something of value here, please consider supporting my Art and Creativity Patreon account. Although it was created primarily to generate support for my ART, there is a special $2 support level for HSP Notes readers! Look for the link in the right hand column... and thank you!