Starved For Passion? Top 10 Passion Killers For The Highly Sensitive Person

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Many say that the opposite of love is fear. I believe that the opposite of love is apathy.

In an apathetic or indifferent state, passion flat lines and numbness reigns supreme. A once technicolor life fades to black and white and well, what’s the point?

If I were brutally honest with myself, I would say that wallowing in apathy is an activity that has become habitual. I tend to drop into indifference when I am subconsciously starving myself with what I call passion killers. Simply going through the motions of life is excruciating not because its painful, it aches because it does not feel like anything at all.

 It’s not enough to invite passion back in. Been there, tried that.

Recovering Passion From Passion Killers

Passion killers are like weeds that take over our lives. If we want more passion in our lives, we must remove these so-called passion killers. Chances are, you may not even know that they exist. I didn’t. They hide deep in our subconscious minds and if you are a highly sensitive person such as myself, your predisposition to these passion killers may be higher than most.

The top 10 passion killers (in no particular order), are as follows:

  1. Indecisiveness Kills Passion – I am starting with indecisiveness because as highly sensitive people we tend to be vastly irresolute, and for good reason. Sensing life on a deep level allows for a more robust vantage point making choosing anything a challenge. We often have to own and  grieve the choice we do not go with which can prevent us from moving forward with any decision at all. But here’s the thing, when we do not choose, we do not get the opportunity to stand fully behind something. We live in this wishy-washy, spiritless land of letting others choose for us. We never get to discover what make our hearts race or what makes the hair stand up on the backs of our neck. We must choose something, anything; passion will follow.

  1. Competing Priorities Kill Passion – On the heels of indecisiveness comes vying priorities. We HSPs have the gift of experiencing energy on a subtle level enabling us to dream big and often. This is precisely where many of us get stuck, in dreaming mode. It means we start 10 projects and finish none of them. It’s good to dream, but not so good to be a dreamer who lacks direction and supplementary priorities. Giving part of our attention to several things at one time is a sure way to leak passion out like a sieve. Choose one priority and go all the way into it. If you are not sure what takes precedence, get quiet. Meditation or journaling are excellent yet simple ways to prioritize.

  1. No Vision Kills Passion – Having no vision crushes passion the same way having too many does. If you were ever asked what you wanted to do in life and experienced crippling shame that screamed, “I don’t know”, chances are you are familiar with this lack of vision. No vision can be correlated to an intensified outward focus. As sensitives, our heightened depth of processing allows us to be incredibly plugged in to the external world whether we want to or not. For this reason, our wants and desires tend to morph into the wants and desires of others. Of course there is no passion in this place because those wants and desires are not our own. Honing a vision begins with turning inward.  We must start asking ourselves what it is we truly want and go after it. If you aren’t sure what you want, there is no shame in that. The first step to discovering what we truly want is lurking right around the corner from what we don’t. Start there.

  1. Halfway Kills Passion – Being halfway is comparable to standing on the periphery of life.  It looks like not letting ourselves speak up fully. It comes across as  hiding, avoiding, playing out addictive tendencies and saying we are going to do something and not doing it. As someone who avoided most of her days as an emotional eater, I know firsthand how easy it is to give into cravings and hole up. I know what it feels like to be the committer who can’t commit. In a word, awful. It is so necessary that we hold ourselves accountable.  Fully showing up requires that we set goals for ourselves and more importantly, follow through. Goals give us a purpose and we NEED purpose. Making goals that are more about what we want to accomplish and less about when seems to be most effective for sensitive types. Time restraint squashes creativity , the natural home of passion.

  1. Inactivity Kills Passion – The inactivity I speak of here is not that of rest or relaxation rather it is inactivity born from fear or resistance; the analysis paralysis type of inactivity. Author Steven Pressfield writes, “Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” I have found that many highly sensitive people let the strong sensation that accompanies resistance halt them in their tracks. That resistance is what paralyzes us and keeps us running to food (or whatever your addiction of choice may be). Moving through the resistance requires that we expand our tolerance for its sensation; and it’s just that, a sensation in the body. Allowing for greater sensation permits us to show up in a greater way should, and when we choose. My guess is that if you are reading this now, your desire to show up is bigger than the resistance that has been holding you back.

  1. Planning Kills Passion – This is a bit of a double-edged sword. There is a time and a place for planning. When we are in a weakened state, rigid planning is what nurses us back to vitality and allows for more flexibility down the road. You can see how this plays out for someone struggling with an illness, addiction, difficult life circumstance or major transition. Staunch care, steady regimens, and consistent routines are necessary in these scenarios. It’s when we cling onto excessive planning outside of these situations or beyond their expiration date where we fall into trouble. Our lives become too small for the limitlessness that we are. There is no room for passion to grow inside of the rights/wrongs, do’s/don’ts, and shoulds that are dictated by our plans. Let go. Let life flow in and bring with it the passion you have been searching for.

  1. Isolation Kills Passion – Apathy affects us especially during extended periods of isolation.  For HSPs this can be a loaded subject. We require solitude to digest all that we sense; yet too much solitude will throw us straight into apathy. As someone who spent much of her life isolated, I can tell you that I am still healing the parts of me that so desperately craved connection. As human beings we need to be listened to, heard and validated. When we retreat from the world because we feel too much or because connecting feels over stimulating, we begin to wither. We get lost in our minds and life becomes lackluster. Put yourself out there even though it feels frightening. Vulnerability is the birthplace for inspiration, passion, and love; all of which are found inside of connection.

  1. Perfection Kills Passion – Because highly sensitive people are processing things deeply (literally on a cellular level), we can easily see where we/others fall short.  When this becomes the measurement device for how we live our life and how others live their lives, it becomes incredibly painful. Maybe you have had the experience of being called “picky” when looking for a significant other? Or perhaps you have lost friends because they have behaved in a way that has gone against your principles? Or maybe you are someone who stands in the mirror each morning picking apart everything from your wrinkles to your stretch marks to your cellulite. I speak from personal experience in each one of these scenarios and I can tell you that exercising abrasive judgment and extreme perfectionism is a surefire way to keep passion at bay. Relaxing into our humanness is the only way to rediscover desire and it requires that we relax our gaze.

  1. Excessive Control Kills Passion – A heightened illusion of control is necessary for sensitive souls.Because we experience an uncensored version of life, there is an overwhelming need to temper its intensity. Our emotions often feel bigger than we are so we minimize them by eating over them, analyzing them, or going numb in some regard. It is in the minimizing that passion gradually disappears and life fades to black and white. Until we can welcome the vastness of our experiences to flow through us, life will continue to feel empty. Know that you are bigger than your emotions and much larger than the sensations and cravings that overwhelm you. Leaning into the enormity of all that we are will quickly create space for desire to return.

  1. Clutter kills passion – Literal as well as figurative clutter is a passion killer. Our external surroundings are definitely a reflection of our internal state. If you we are living and working in a mess, there will be no room for passion to come up. Think about it…if you have a messy closet full of things you don’t like, don’t fit, and don’t want to wear, how are you going to be enthusiastic about getting dressed in the morning? The same goes for a messy mind. If there are a thousand unchartered thoughts running around unaccounted for, how is there going to be space for true desires and inspiration to come through? Simplify your bedroom, your kitchen, your closet, and your bathroom. And by all means, meditate so that you can move beyond the thoughts that do not matter and give the thoughts that do a home. Write them down and add them to your list of goals. There is no such thing as oversimplification when it comes to rediscovering passion.

Highly sensitive people have so many ways in which they can contribute. It is unfortunate when their lives are cluttered by weeds of bad habits killing off our passionate capacity for living. It does not have to be this way. We can clear out those weeds to allow our natural passion and creativity . We are worth it!

 

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Are Left-Handed People More Likely To Be Highly Sensitive?

writing © by Vassilis Online

If you have an allergic reaction to a lot of noise are you highly sensitive?

If you can’t stand crowds, are you highly sensitive?

If you are left-handed, are you highly sensitive?

Maybe.

The Elusive Trait Of High Sensitivity

The highly sensitive trait is not easy to pin down.

There are many different types of sensitivity associated with being an HSP, and they can vary in intensity. It is hard to identify a highly sensitive person because:

  1. the many different types of sensitivities can make it hard to identity
  2. many sensitivities can coexist on one person
  3. many highly sensitive people have characteristics like left-handedness that are not obviously associated with being highly sensitive
  4. many HSP’s also have other medical conditions like lupus, diabetes and learning difficulties
  5. childhood abuse can make the symptoms worse and add psychological conditions that may mask the HSP condition.

Why It Is Hard To Identify Highly Sensitive People

The manifestations of the highly sensitive trait can be so diverse that it is sometime hard to see sensitivity as one trait. In the past, people who were highly sensitive were often considered damaged in some way.

Throughout the centuries, the characteristics of sensitivity were often treated as isolated symptoms rather than one of a family of possible sensitivity characteristics. Lack of knowledge made identification of the HSP trait difficult.

Today we have a different challenge. We have – although only recently – identified the highly sensitive trait, thanks to the work of Elaine Aron, Ph.D. and Dr. Norman Geschwind.

However, our culture has so much overstimulation and toxicity it can be hard to identify whether or not you are in fact highly sensitive. Perhaps you are manifesting the symptoms of being overstressed.  Overstimulation can affect anyone including non-HSP’s. Perhaps you are suffering the impact of other forms of toxicity. The damage from water, food and workplace toxicity are real to everyone not just HSP’s.

So how do we separate out those who are  highly sensitive from those non-HSP’s suffering from toxic overload?

How The Research On Left-Handedness Helps Identify HSP’s

Left handedness has always been with us. Historically it was perceived as an anomaly and a defect so as children, left handed people were “trained” out of left handedness. Because of concern about left handedness, there has been much research done on left handed people over the years.

Dr. Norman Geschwind’s research from the 1980′s, often called the Geschwind Theory, gives us a clue on how the highly sensitive trait develops. He identified the relationship between maternal testosterone, lefthandedness, and genetic diseases.

According to his study, stress during pregnancy increases testosterone in the mother causing the fetus to develop differently. The result can be any number of conditions and genetic diseases including left-handedness. (The New York Times profiled the study in their article: Left vs. Right: Brain function Tied to Hormone in the Womb.)

The research on left-handedness over the years has been helpful because lefthandedness has been correlated with many other conditions and diseases. In investigating the relationship between left handedness and other conditions, the research community has unwittingly been providing us with clues to the highly sensitive trait.

It is only since Elaine Aron, Ph.D. wrote The Highly Sensitive Person in the 1990′s that we had a name to go with the condition that left handedness was pointing us to.

One of the best resources for highly sensitive people on the relationship between left handedness and genetic diseases is the H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P,written by David Ritchey. It shows the relationship between prenatal testosterone in the mother due to stress, and the creation of the highly sensitive person. He cites the Geschwind Theory along with other research including his own showing the prevalence of lefthandedness and genetic disorders among highly sensitive people or anomalous sensitive people  - his name for highly sensitive people.

Of course, the highly sensitive condition can also be inherited one the genetic profile exists in a family and frequently is.

Identifying Highly Sensitive People

There are a number of ways to determine if you are highly sensitive. Many quizzes are available on the internet which help individuals identify their sensitivity. HSP’s have a set of traits related to their make-up that sets them apart from non-HSP’s. They work differently, process information differently, and experience life differently.  The quizzes are a great place to start.

Another way to identify the trait is through an investigation of your family history. Do you have any genetic conditions that show up in the family? Although a genetic condition is not proof that an individual is an HSP, it may show that there has been at one time a pregnancy in the family where the mother had the kind of stress that caused a genetic condition to develop.

It is worth investigating your family history to get an idea for genetic transfer of health conditions. Taking a quiz can help as well. If you think that you may be an HSP, it is worth seeking the help of an advisor experienced in helping HSP’s develop skills at handling their sensitivity.

5 Reasons Why We Need Highly Sensitive People

5 Reasons Why We Need Highly Sensitive People - HSP Health Blog

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Why do we need highly sensitive people?

HSP’s make up approximately 20% of the population. Highly sensitive people have received increased interest lately because of books like Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person and Susan Cain’s book Quiet, which are helping us to understand more about the quiet members of our world.

Our culture is predominantly as an extrovert culture. Extroverts are externally driven to seek rewards, prestige and power. Introverts bring an important and different perspective that we need.

This is what they give us:

  1. highly sensitive people’s take in all kinds of stimulus. Their sensitivity means that they see what others do not. Extroverts often are very fast in their actions, however, speed often means mistakes. The insights from HSPs can protect us from the mistakes that come from going too fast.
  2. highly sensitive people are often deep thinkers. They can see connections and factors that are important in a particular situation that others may not be aware of. They are able to notice pitfalls and potential land mines in our plans and strategies saving us needless headaches.
  3. highly sensitive people are holistic thinkers. This means that they offer an antidote to our fragmented society.  Fragmentation increases the disconnection between different parts of a group, company, or an entire society. Holistic HSP’s see and act as bridges between different parts of social or economic ecology to ease and improve problem solving.
  4. HSP’s are sensitive to all the various forces at any given point in time. They often work from a longer time frame which enables them to see current, emerging and dying forces at the same time. This ability to notice makes it possible for HSP’s to set priorities from  a big picture and longer term perspective.
  5. HSP empathy and sensitivity can reduce polarization between different groups or parts of organizations.

HSP’s are very sensitive to potential consequences of actions and therefore provide an important balancing function in a fast paced world and fragmented society making them valuable members of our homes, companies and communities.

Stress in the Womb

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There is a growing awareness that stress in the womb plays a major role in the creation of genetic diseases and the highly sensitive trait.  Maternal stress during pregnancy results in higher levels of testosterone in the body and by extension a fetus. The higher levels of testosterone change brain development increasing the chance of genetic diseases, the highly sensitive trait as well as high creativity and giftedness.

The BBC  Mum’s stress is passed to baby in the womb reported recently about a study in the journal Translational Psychiatry showing that women under the stress of potential violence have children with a genetic change in the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which regulates the response to stress, making the children more sensitive to stress.

The article discusses how a change occurs in methyation, an important biological process in “gene expression.”  The best lay explanation comes from Discovery. This is their description:

“Methylation is a process by which a gene’s behavior is altered, but the gene itself isn’t changed. This is almost like following all the directions in baking a batch of cookies correctly, except for the oven temperature. Even though all of the ingredients are the same, those cookies won’t bake — or behave — the same way when baked a couple hundred degrees lower than they should be.In methylation,  environmental exposures or different lifestyle choices have the potential to cause methyl groups, which are groups of one carbon and three hydrogens, to land on top of our genes and change how they are expressed. This, in turn, changes the ability of our genes to share the directions they contain for making our bodies’ proteins.”

Apparently, stress in the womb affects the methylation process during pregnancy, altering gene expression.  Methylation seems to be a major factor in the biochemical processes responsible for a fetus becoming a highly sensitive person.

This is just one study, but it points to an increasing awareness of the impact of stress in the womb in the creation of highly sensitive people.  It is an important tool for developing approaches to minimize genetic diseases of all kinds and shows us how genetic mutations and environmental factors can create unintended results.

For more information about the traits of highly sensitive people, HSP Health offers information about the biology and characteristics of HSP’s.

What Causes the HSP Trait?

 


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What causes the HSP trait? In the 1980′s the findings of an important medical study were released.  The study laid a biological and scientific basis for understanding the highly sensitive trait.

Dr. Norman Geschwind, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, conducted a study of 3000 people with Dr. Peter Behan, a neurologist at the University of Glasgow.  He was attempting to discover the correlation between left handedness, learning disorders and genetic diseases.  The report, titled  “Cerebral Dominance” revealed his findings.

Apparently what causes the HSP trait is stress during pregnancy which sets a chain of events in motion that results in changes to the development of the child.  Higher levels of testosterone in the mother caused by stress cause the fetus to develop differently because the testosterone creates reserve lateralization of the brain. Reverse lateralization of the brain slows the left brain’s development as a result of the increased testosterone and advances a greater developed right brain.

One result is that brain functions may be located in atypical places in the brain -an example would be language skills changed to a location in the right brain;  speech problems may be a result.  Another result is a greater chance of  left-handedness, a known characteristic of highly sensitive people.  Since each side of the brain controls the opposite handed, handedness located in the right brain results in left-handedness – an HSP effect that is more pronounced in males than females.

The study that Dr. Geschwind did with Dr. Behan showed left-handed people were 2 and 1/2 more times more likely to have autoimmune disorders and 10 times more likely to have learning disabilities.  Near relatives of left-handed people can also be affected and may acquire HSP traits.  Apparently there is a familial genetic basis for these conditions so that any family member can be right handed and also experience learning difficulties, autoimmune disorders and other human genetic diseases because the family has a history of left-handedness and the highly sensitive trait.  It is possible that what causes the HSP trait in some individuals is a familial genetic condition, possibly from a prior generation where stress during pregnancy resulted in the birth on an HSP child.

It is amazing that stress can be so powerful that it can cause a human being to become a different person – that it can effect such a powerful change in a human being.  Violence and the threat of violence are bad enough under ordinary circumstance.  When they occur during pregnancy, a human being can be born with a variety of sensitivities as well as any number of genetic diseases.  That’s a lot of damage!  What causes the HSP trait is stress.  In a world of 7 billion people, reducing stress would seem to be a humane solution to the consequences of excess stress.

Are We All Becoming Highly Sensitive People?

 

DSC_0098 © by fantasy prof

Are we all becoming HSP’s?  The question recently crossed my mind for a number of reasons:

  • when I tell someone that I write about highly sensitive people, frequently people whisper to me that they are highly sensitive too.
  • the recent love affairs we have had with the penguin, Happy Feet, in New Zealand and the race horse, Zenyatta, in the United States tell me that there is a inner longing for a happier, friendlier world.
  • I suspect that Arab spring and other uprisings are an expression of exasperation at the systemic violence in that part of the world and a move toward a more humanitarian model of society.

What do all of these things have to do with the highly sensitive trait?  For starters, one of the main characteristics of highly sensitive people is their empathy.  Whether we are identifying empathy in ourselves, having empathy for an animal in trouble, an animal with a great spirit, or empathy for those who may be suffering extreme poverty, all of these actions speak to evidence of empathic sensitivity. Although systemic abuse like racism has been challenged for the past half century, social media is now making evident how far we have come as we stretch across borders and boundaries of all kinds to extend a helping hand to each other.

Many people do not know that there is a relationship between violence and the highly sensitive trait. According to this Time Magazine article about a study by Dr. Norman Geschwind of Harvard University, people who are born highly sensitive do so because the mother experiences severe and violent stress during pregnancy increasing testosterone in her system which causes developmental changes in the fetus.  The result is a highly sensitive person with great empathy and an inability to tolerate the pain of violence in any form.

The upside is that HSP’s are holistic, complex thinkers with significant creativity, although they may also suffer from any number of genetically based diseases.According to Elaine Aron, PhD, and the author of the Highly Sensitive Person, highly sensitive people are one out of every five people.  Essentially HSP’s are 20% of the people on the planet – over 1 billion people!  That’s a lot of people.

Empathy seems to be on the rise; perhaps the violent early years of human life have brought us to a point where we are becoming nonviolent.  That would be truly wonderful.