Unmasking A High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person: Building the Foundation con't
Okay, after last post’s sojourn into Emotional empathy and responsiveness we’re continuing on with D.O.E.S., an acronym for:
- Depth of processing,
- Emotional empathy and responsiveness, and
- Sensory sensitivity
And exploring what I’ve been learning about how it relates to my HSP/HSS Trait. To read the previous blog post click here.
We’re heading into the questions posed last week about Emotional Empathy and Responsiveness. I hope you’ve had time to reflect on how it relates to your HSP/HSS. Here we go.
Are you deeply affected by the emotions or moods of others?
For this one I have to answer “Yes, I was when I didn’t know I was HSP/HSS”. But my HSP/HSS journey has brought me into the process of understanding that others moods are a reflection of how they think, feel and perceive first themselves, and then the world around them. This sounds like a relatively easy conclusion to draw and with which to navigate life; but it’s been a process.
Because before I was aware of this, before and during what I consider receiving the ultimate gift; to take the opportunity of the transformational journey I was presented with, the journey of Unmasking - I allowed myself to be rolled and tumbled along by the emotions of others; somehow without psychologically losing myself. And I believe my HSP/HSS both helped and hindered me in the process.
Eventually I was led to the understanding that it was actually a choice I was being given, whether or not to be deeply affected by the emotions or moods of others. But it took my commitment and agreement to go on what I call “A Journey” to the underworld and back again, and invest much effort and time into learning. It also took inner strength, fortitude and an inner knowing.
The degree of inner strength it took I’m only now beginning to vaguely comprehend. It prickles the back of my mind occasionally, reminding me to take a look at it, explore it, feel it. Because I realize now, it isn’t at all common for a person in western culture to embark on what I consider “a soul journey”, a journey that can last for many years; a journey that few undertake and fewer still successfully complete. Not because it isn’t possible, but because the journey requires a commitment to the process of building inner strength and responding to the calling of their soul, regardless of how it “looks” to others.
And doing so has given me the gift of showing me what my strengths and abilities are and how I can use them to benefit both myself and others. And this brings me a feeling of incredible gratitude and excitement for what’s on the horizon!
My journey was, in essence, ‘a psychological journey from a patho-adolescent emphasis from material wealth, escapism, and personal security towards a mature orientation towards soul-discovery, authentic service to others and true membership into the natural web of the more-than-human world.’ These aren’t my words, but are the words of others who have successfully traversed their own unique spiritual path in which they gained invaluable new understandings; and therefore, the opportunity to continue growing.
And it required; the understanding of the necessity of committing to the dying of unhealthy ego(s) and the healthy re-birthing of those egos, of moving through the process and understanding that I’d unknowingly allowed others to define my identity, of letting go of preconceived notions of what the world is and isn’t, and of what is and isn’t possible. On a side note, I believe the global culture is now entering the beginning stages of what I consider a ‘collective shift toward individuation’. Exciting times!
But in committing to this process I was given the opportunity to mature into a feeling state of being, something Western culture has forgotten, and so doesn’t acknowledge or understand. The incredible soul-transforming ability to feel; and that Nature is an essential part of this process. Western culture has forgotten the innate ability we have to feel and belong to both ourselves and our environment; to feel the plethora and depth of emotions available to us. To feel connected first to the Earth/Nature, then to Ourselves and then to one another.
Instead most are stuck in one of three child-like states; happiness, anger, or boredom. And while these are socially acceptable, they’re one-dimensional and pale in comparison to what we can feel. What we can experience. But, we have to be open to emotionally and psychologically maturing into this dimensionality.
Because we aren’t meant to only feel these three emotions, and at best, they serve as messengers to explore the rest of the emotions available to us, that we have access to, that can serve as catalysts for our growth.
Most see happiness as a state they want to be in perpetually, perpetual positive-ness, akin to the laughing Buddha – to strive for this. And its one-dimensionality is best left to children’s cartoons – silly rabbit. Because this is not what it is to be human, to be open to the full experience of what it is to be human.
And most have been taught that the only way available to them where they can express their sadness or pain is through anger. But humans are incredibly creative. Most don’t even realize the array of possibilities available to them to create ways to non-violently express whatever emotion we’re feeling, whether it’s negative or positive. I didn’t realize this either. I was no different than anyone else who was raised in western culture, and it was only through a great deal of spiritual experimentation (meaning attempts and failures), that I grew into this understanding.
And this leaves boredom – which only allows us to explore a myriad of empty activities that lead us away from what actually serves our growth.
So what I’ve been learning is that in order to fully understand any one emotion I’m feeling (and I’ve noticed usually my emotions are multi-faceted and complex) I have to first allow myself to hone in on the dominant emotion I’m feeling, embrace it, feel it in my body, feel where it’s residing, where it wants to move to, why it wants to move there, notice if it’s changing in any way, and then transforming that emotion into an energy that serves me. Because by allowing this process to fully express itself in a way I’m able to both intentionally and unintentionally shape, I allow it to positively serve myself as well as others.
Now this may sound relatively easy, but in accordance with how much you believe what you’ve been told about yourself, about who you are, you will accordingly have difficulty doing this. Because it involves being open to the process of the giving away of a false identify, and we have a number of these, in order to claim your true identify. It involves identifying and then understanding what thoughts, beliefs and emotions don’t serve you, sustain you, or allow you to grow and change. Those thoughts and feelings that don’t allow you to touch base with your emotions, with who you are, what your gifts are and what you want to do; at a soul level.
My soul has required me to follow a path that has been incredibly interesting; not in the sense that what’s “out there” is interesting, because it is and it isn’t, but more so – it’s what’s within me that is wholly interesting. And the co-creative aspect of my being now relies on the understanding that my emotions are also my guides.
For example, the other day I was running an errand that required me to take two transit buses and a train. As I began walking to the bus stop I pressed play on my MP3 player and a song began playing. The sun was shining brightly and the weather was a warm 9 degrees Fahrenheit (very warm for Canada in November). As I stood at the bus stop a feeling came over me. An intense joy. A feeling of joy that I was a living, breathing part of this organic thing we call life! And I began to move my feet. And then my arms, and then my hips, until I was dancing with abandon.
Did I care what I looked like dancing alone at a bus stop in the middle of the day? No. Because in that moment it was more important to me to fully embrace the experience of my feeling – joy. And so I kept dancing, on the bus, at bus stops, at train stations – all the way to and from my destination. Reveling in the feeling of joy!
Oh, I imagine some people were perplexed or confused or wondered if I was sane. But more importantly, it didn’t matter to me. What did matter is that I gave myself the freedom to express myself. It didn’t matter to me whether I was cleaning at home or running an errand. What mattered was that I’d allowed myself to take the opportunity to feel and express that feeling. The only thing that mattered in those moments was how I was experiencing and then expressing that feeling. And, it felt good!
And in this way I feed myself, I feed my soul, I feed my inner guides. And it isn’t always joy. There are many feelings, many depths to these feelings, and as I mentioned sometimes there are overlapping feelings. Everything from; love, optimism, serenity, joy, trust, acceptance, compassion, vigilance, ecstasy, admiration, to anger, shame, guilt, loathing, disgust, grief, sadness, pensiveness, remorse and disapproval.
What I’ve now embraced is - what emotion I’m feeling in any particular situation. What is it telling me about myself? Is it showing me where I need to grow? Is it showing me where I need to heal? Is it showing me a belief I hold that doesn’t serve me? What is that feeling trying to teach me? In almost all cases where it’s a negative feeling it’s leading me to feeling more compassion, acceptance and forgiveness towards myself.
And in this way I’m able to continue this process and speak for my emotions, which helps me navigate situations with confidence that by not only aligning with my feelings, I open myself to new experiences of myself. I’m all about the growth. Fast or slow, it doesn’t matter to me – growth is growth.
Now looking at how my HSS has joined the mix, in the past I can see that when I saw or felt someone in pain, distress or suffering I’d feel compelled to take on, on some level, their psychological/emotional pain, and want to “fix” the problem for them. Because in doing this my HSS was activated (remember, for me my HSS is the MO for curiosity) and my HSS wanted to know why they were in pain. And so I’d delve into the why’s of their pain - which was helpful in that it allowed me to understand the breadth and scope of my abilities, but it also depended on the person and the situation.
But the problem with taking on another’s psychological/emotional pain and trying to “fix” the problem for them is it doesn’t allow the other person to develop their own inner strength and grow. The thing about “problems” is in most cases – they’re disguised, and are actually opportunities for growth and empowerment. That doesn’t mean a person can’t be “guided” if they want to be, but it has to be of their own free will.
And I’ve also learned - it isn’t my job to convince or force anyone to want to move to the next level. I am able to be a guide, if the other person chooses to go and I as well choose to guide them - but the choice isn’t mine alone.
You may laugh at this understanding, but as an HSP it’s a natural response for me to respond by “helping”, to use my abilities to help others. It’s a way of being for most HSP’s. But without an understanding of how to use my HSP abilities in a way that serves both myself and others, I had to create a wholly distinctive way to live my life with integrity while being authentic to who I am and who I am becoming; while at the same time learning to honour other’s journeys.
Instead, I now understand how to better utilize my HSS. How to use my HSS to delve into my why’s, the richness of my own emotions, of feeling them, understanding them, and then expressing them. In this way I allow my emotions to behave like Nature, the giving and taking cycle that allows my journey to become more multi-faceted and dimensional as I continue to grow.
Do tragedies affect you intensely? And are you deeply moved by music, movies, theatre, art, books?
I’m combining these two questions because to me they’re in the same arena and my answer would be yes. But where before I would’ve considered this a detriment; I now see my emotions as a strength and as I mentioned, guides to better understanding my own psyche and the world around me. Again, this isn’t something our current culture understands or responds to in a way that benefits us. You’ll need to create your own support system.
For me, I now understand my emotional responses to tragedies, beautiful music, art and books as energy I can use to propel me forward towards my own personal goals, as well as being guided by the energy and inspiration to experience a wholly beautiful co-creative life.
Again balance is required. It can be easy for an HSP to derail if they aren’t responsible for and participating as much as possible in maintaining balance in their lives. A healthy diet, little to no medication (as our nervous system is highly developed medication and foods will impact our systems to a greater degree), exercise (outside preferably), and balanced, caring individuals in our lives help a lot. Plus,some daily laughter. HSP’s often see and feel what others don’t and so this added information can be something we can try to make sense of. Don’t bother. You control your environment and your mind and if you hadn’t noticed, about 80% of the population doesn’t think or feel to the degree that we HSP’s do. Just a fact.
Again, knowing I have the HSP Trait allows me to make better choices for myself with regard to my vocation, people I choose to interact with, and what types of information and activities will benefit me.
Now, how does my HSS join in the mix? I don’t know. I’ve thought about it but I’m still not sure. I’ll get back to you if anything comes to me.
Can you tell when others are not being genuine or are hiding something?
Yes. For me this has been a most interesting portion of my journey.
Before and during my journey I was like everyone else; distrustful of those who I felt, on an instinctual level, weren’t being genuine or were hiding something. Knowing someone was approaching me with a disingenuous energy caused me to feel fear. However, now I understand this to be a reflection of how this person navigates their reality, how they “survive”; how their fear(s) cause them to feel the need to protect themselves.
Again, this is common in western culture for reasons already mentioned. But this seemed incomprehensible to me. I mean, why are some people so full of fear? I couldn’t understand it.
And because I was like everyone else in western culture when I first began my journey, and without knowledge or understanding, I reacted defensively. In my view if they weren’t being genuine or were hiding something then they were attempting to harm me in one form or another. And while that may, or may not, have been true - it was my reaction that was most interesting, because it caused me to react with fear.
And again, this is where my HSS kicked in - why were they not being genuine and/or trying to hide something? I can honestly tell you that my HSS caused me the most frustration, and probably caused others much angst, but it also provided me with the most information, however confusing it was for me at the time.
But what I learned was that the “why” always ended up being about that particular individual’s own fears and had absolutely nothing to do with me. And this is where I gained the most wisdom. Because it allowed me to delve into my own fears, which is part of the underworld journey to soul, the work of evolving into a mature being.
And my experiences so far have shown me that others long for a way to discover and “grow into” who they really are, follow their own unique journey and mature naturally into a state of being we’re meant to grow into. I also understand that no matter what current society deems as “traumatic” each one of us contains that undisputable knowing that our being is completely and wholly able to navigate our own unique underworld journey to soul and back again, to a mature state of being.
A way forward that can be embarked on in a way that is much more natural; a natural and accepted progression into a tribal way of being, a more indigenous growth path that understands and accepts that a natural progression of life is to embark on this underworld journey. A way of being that western culture has forgotten but needs desperately.
And this is where I go next. Because I realize I’m one of those that has traversed this journey successfully, without a guide in a mostly psychologically immature culture (which is why it probably took so long), but that with some added professional development I can and will be offering this service to others. Of course it will be nature-based, anything otherwise would be ridiculous. And being open to my feelings has led me to this fork in the road, towards a path I know will be unequivocally rewarding. Only those at least in their early twenties will be able to begin this process, a process that begins with the unfolding of the Mysteries of Life, and our place in it as an organic, living being.
As well I’ll be; continuing to blog this book, co-creating with the HSP Global for Sensitive Leaders, serving as a member on both the Advisory Council as well as an Education Subgroup to increase awareness of the HSP Trait – because, hey, while I understand there is some awareness of the HSP Trait, there isn’t enough if it took me half my life to discover it. And I have a creative writing project just bursting to come alive. Plus, I like to explore a bit and take pictures with my brand new camera lens!
And in this way I feed my own soul and continue on my path of growth. Because the gifts I’ve received, that I’m so grateful for, have allowed me to comprehend some of the mysterious ways of “energy” and Nature, while also quenching the thirst to mature into a way of spiritually “being” that enlivens, inspires and brings a soul-centered multi-faceted meaning to what I call “life”.
And this is what I’m learning and have learned so far with respect to Emotional empathy and responsiveness. For the next blog post we’re delving into Sensory sensitivity and exploring these questions;
- Do you notice the smallest of details?
- Are you better at spotting errors and avoiding making errors?
- Does your body react to certain foods and/or chemicals in your environment?
- Do you need more personal space?
To read the next blog post click here. As always, I’d love to hear from you and how your HSP/HSS Trait works for you.