Overcoming The Need To Please

Highly sensitive people have many ways of handling their nature and the overwhelm that they experience. Being different means that relationships are often difficult for us. We often feel at a disadvantage in relationships feeling one down because we feel disrespected.

There re many reasons for this. Our compassionate non-competitive natures seek mutuality in a one-upsmanship world which does not respect our kindness. So we often want the respect we deserve but cannot claim. So we seek ways to achieve social acceptance. Pleasing is one of those ways.

Do You Feel The Need To Please?

The need to please comes from our need to establish and maintain the interpersonal bridge with others. there are many ways that the interpersonal bridge is created and sustained. Most of the time there is some kind of shared experience or other kind of bond created through:

  • blood relationships
  • being neighbors
  • school and school activities
  • shared interests
  • work
  • community activities
  • shared values
  • shared life experiences

Highly sensitive people have trouble with the interpersonal bridge because often their values are different from those around them and also because they are different and experience most things differently it is hard for them to bond over shared experiences. Many times HSPs are loners but not by choice.

The weakness of the interpersonal bridge is something that we live with each day and it is often a source of feelings of vulnerability. We do not fit in and know it. We suspect therefore that we are unwelcome.

Coming To Terms With The Challenges Of Being Different

Being different does not necessarily mean that we are unwelcome. Humans are notorious for comparing themselves to each other so we may remind others of undeveloped aspects of themselves and in that way create feelings of discomfort. That is not our fault but something to be aware of.

However, if we expect to be close with people whose values are radically different then we are probably inviting some hurt into our lives. There are many people who do not and will not “get” HSPs and that is something that we have to accept.

We can improve our social life if we reserve our serious social investments to those where our values are compatible.

When Do We Start To Please?

The need to please will surface when we are trying to fit in with a group that is different from us where we would like to have some social standing. It could be a work environment or family group. Whatever the situation, pleasing comes from thinking that the burden of the interpersonal bridge is primarily ours and that unless we make a special effort their may not be a relationship and we may be harmed in some way.

In these situations being ourselves is something we think will harm us or cause us to be rejected. We have to be someone else in order to survive socially.

Overcoming The Need To Please

The need to please is above and beyond doing one’s part in a relationship. The need to please is a function of being made inferior in some way. It is an outcome of trying to survive in a social structure where you are disfavored. It is a way of trying to cover up your differentness so that you can acquire needed resources. Pleasing is a social strategy of minorities and social outsiders throughout history.

So what can you do?

Here are some questions to ask about how you are living to see if you can make some changes that will provide you with more social safety:

  • what relationships do I have where I feel a need to please?
  • in what way am I dependent on others for supplies (of any kind) that causes me to be in relationships where I need to please?
  • what changes can I make to reduce my needs so that I have fewer relationships that require unnatural pleasing?
  • if I cannot reduce my needs can I find alternatives that are more supportive of my self respect?
  • can I create what I need?
  • can you ask for more of what you need from relationships that are one-sided to make them feel more mutual?

Sometimes a little strategy can make all the difference in helping us rebalance our relationships and make them more mutual.

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Identity And Thoughts: Changing The Narrative For Highly Sensitive People

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Do your thoughts drive you crazy?

Do you ruminate a lot and feel that you are going around in circles?

Do you think that your thoughts control you?

What Are Our Thoughts?

Our thoughts are mental pictures that we create.  They often seem automatic and out-of-control. They are a natural consequence of our interaction with daily life and are your way of processing and dealing with what is happening around you and to you.

Our thoughts are our mind’s desire to take care of us. They also are a way of our dealing with the unknown and unknowable. Our thoughts support our assumed identities and try to identify our place in the world. They help us to belong.

Unfortunately, our thoughts often seem to be running our lives.

Why Are Our Thoughts So Painful?

For many thoughts can be very painful because through our thoughts we determine here we stand in life. Our thoughts are essentially left brained operating in a linear way and aligned with the manifested world. They are mathematical and materialistic.

If we identify with our left brained thoughts then we are only looking at a small part of reality and not necessarily what is true.

One of the reasons thoughts can be painful is because they attempt to place us in an identity that works in a world that often has preconceived ideas about who we are and should be.

Our Thoughts And The Cultural Narrative

Our thoughts can be a lot of things. They can be about personal aspects of our lives as well as the public aspects. Sometimes they have a short term focus. Sometimes not.

Most often they seem to be a way of interpreting and dealing with the cultural narrative around us. The problem with continually engaging in this way is that the cultural narrative usually has a life of its own. For highly sensitive people, the cultural narrative is usually about non-HSP life and lifestyles so it is basically not about them.

We can, therefore, feel left out and our thoughts do not necessarily help us with that.

However, we are not here to serve a social structure. We are here to become our best self. Sometimes the social structure and our evolution are at odds and we are not suppose to fit in.

Reclaiming Your Narrative

It is important to have a sense of yourself separate from the narrative around you.

Narratives about life are just stories as the research on human evolution in Spiral Dynamics show. Narratives are the social structure created to support and justify a particular cultural embodiment. They change when we need to change. They are not sacred. One person’s narrative is not necessarily another person’s narrative.

Narratives are not necessarily the TRUTH.

When you try to be a part of the cultural narrative and take your identity from it, you may be creating problems for yourself.

Identifying with the cultural narrative works for many non-HSPs since the narrative usually reflects them.  It may feel wrong that they can be so comfortable in the cultural narrative when as a highly sensitive person you feel like an outsider.

For that reason you have to identify a narrative for yourself or your thoughts will be dominated by ideas related to a narrative that doesn’t suit you and only causes you mental frustration.

Creating Your Own Narrative

Highly sensitive people need to create their own narrative.

We need to separate ourselves from the dominant narrative. To do so we need to make some mental adjustments:

  • see the existing cultural narrative as hanging rather than fixed.
  • align your narrative with the evolutionary process going on around you. That way you support improvements in life and are not simply fighting the existing cultural narrative.
  • notice how your narrative can be helpful to others as a way to help you maintain your ability to connect with others.

When you take back you narrative, you can eliminate a lot of the thoughts you have about your place in the existing system and let your thoughts now serve where you are going and what you are becoming.

It is a great way to stop ruminating and start creating the life you deserve.

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Why We Need Highly Sensitive People Now

Why We Need Highly Sensitive People Now - HSP Health Blog

Thinker on a Rock, 1997 cast bronze by Barry Flanagan, British, born 1941 © by cliff1066™

Why do we need highly sensitive people now?

Are we seeing a renewed interest and dare I say respect for the sensitives of the world?

Conditions Are Everything

Conditions are everything. We are culturally bound which means that it is easy to lose sight of how other conditions may be changing.

Right now we are seeing a perfect example of a disconnect between human cultural systems and world conditions. Human cultural systems are digging in their heels in order to maintain the status quo, while the reality of deteriorating global conditions continues its significant harm to the environment, humans and other living creatures on the planet.

So perhaps  the concept of “mind over matter” – or left-brained linear thinking – has its limits although we do not seem willing to concede the point.

So many cultures have come and gone because they disrespected the underlying conditions that supported them. Jared Diamond has written about this topic in his book, Collapse. Too often cultures become inflexible putting themselves at risk. HSP’s can help with that.

Highly Sensitive People Notice Conditions

Highly sensitive people are masters of nuance. They sense everything and notice when something is not working. Their nervous systems pick up all sensory information around them. HSP’s nervous systems are somewhat like a lightening rod or an advance warning system. The highly sensitive person can tell when something is wrong when others do not see it.

Highly sensitive people pick up all sorts of signals from their environment:

  • sound
  • visual
  • tactile
  • psychic
  • energetic

if there is a signal or sensory information of some sort, HSP’s receive it.

What The Highly Sensitive Person Does With What They Notice

Highly sensitive people can become overwhelmed by the information they take in from our overstimulated and highly complex culture. And for many it is a huge burden. However it can also be a blessing because it provides HSP’s with some important skills:

  1. highly sensitive people process information deeply so their view is often complex and inclusive.
  2. HSP’s notice shifts and so they notice factors like: the strength and resilience of an issue, the relationship between forces, the interdependencies and where they are working and where they are dysfunctional.
  3. a highly sensitive person will process information contextually and will therefore likely have a holistic and integral approach to understanding the issues in any situation.
  4. because highly sensitive people take in so much information, they tap into many factors and considerations that others may overlook in sizing up situations and problems.

Why Highly Sensitive People Are So Valuable

Because of their holistic, complex and complete information processing skills, highly sensitive people are able to notice the changes in underlying conditions in a situation. They do not get locked into a system as the status quo. In fact, they will likely see any human system as having a lifecycle as everything else does.

HSP’s can discern both short term and long term challenges and fashion an approach to problem solving that integrates both.

HSP sensitivity is especially valuable in dealing with complex structures and systems because they have the ability to determine where the weaknesses are, and what the causes are including where changes in underlying conditions are creating problems.

Highly sensitive people are extremely valuable people at any time. Right now as we are having serious challenges to current human structures they are even more valuable because they can help us problem solve from a smarter place.

Changing times call for smart choices. HSP’s can help us do that.

For More Information:

About The Highly Sensitive Person

Are We All Becoming Highly Sensitive People

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Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person

Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person - HSP Health Blog

Frightened © by Simon Blackley

Do you like solitary pursuits?

Do you get overhelmed easily?

Do you hate small talk?

Even if you do, how do you know you are a highly sensitive person?

Traits Of The Highly Sensitive Person

Highly sensitive people get the sense at a young age that they are different. They don’t fit in. They are not interested in the same things that other people are interested in. They are not motivated in the same way.

This profound sense of being different is life long. It does not go away, and can cause pain when the sensitive’s differentness is treated badly by family, peers, and early authority figures.

There are many reasons that the highly sensitive person will get the message that they are different:

  • physical sensitivities like loud sounds, too much noise, light and tactile or touch sensitivity may cause discomfort or pain, which is not necessarily true of non-HSP’s.
  • a highly sensitive person often needs time to themselves to rest after interacting with others. Non-HSP’s often recgarge with other people.
  • social interaction can be draining unless it is for a short time, with a few people in a quiet setting. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with big noisy social engagements.
  • the highly sensitive person hates small talk, something that non-HSP’s thrive on.
  • competition and the highly sensitive person are like oil and water. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with competition.
  • highly sensitive people are sensitive to the feelings of others and have a tendency to absorb the feelings of others causing much discomfort and unhappiness.
  • HSP’s are known for their empathy. Empathy in sensitives is more than a feeling for others – it is an active way of knowing the world .
  • HSP’s are right-brained. Non-HSP’s are more left-brained and  analytical.
  • HSP’s can have strong psychic and intuitive abilities.
  • HSP’s dislike pressure, which non-HSP’s accept more easily.
  • HSP’s need egalitarian social and work environments. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with hierarchical and competitive systems.
  • highly sensitive people do not like someone standing over them.
  • HSP’s need a simple lifestyle. Non-HSP’s are  more comfortable with busyness, stuff and activity including multitasking.
  • HSP’s need stillness. Non-HSP’s often avoid stillness.
  • many highly sensitive people are introverts.
  • HSP’s often feel a deep connection with nature and all the creatures in it.
  • highly sensitive people can be deeply spiritual.
  • many HSP’s will have physical conditions and allergies of one form or another.
  • HSP’s can form deep bonds with animals.
  • harm and abuse of all kinds are harder for highly sensitive people to heal.
  • many HSP’s dislike rrelationships and find them difficult based on values and lifestyle.
  • a highly sensitive person belongs in occupations that bring out the best in them: healing and creative occupations are among the best for HSP’s.
  • HSP’s intuition and sensitivity causes them to have profound insights and has the potential over time to lead them to great wisdom.

Deciding That You Are Highly Sensitive

Dr. Elaine Aron who pioneered the category of the highly sensitive person has written extensively about the highly sensitive trait. Her books are must reading for anyone wanting to know more about the trait – it is her life’s work. She estimates that 15-20% of people on the planet are highly sensitive. That is a huge number of people: more that 1 billion! Therefore it is highly likely that you may be sensitive or know someone who is.

There are many HSP quizzes online including the one on Dr. Aron’s site which you can take that can help you decide if you are highly sensitive.

However, in reading this list, you will notice how you feel around others: enhanced or drained, your relationship with nature and stillness, your values and attitude about competition and the type of environment that suits you the most. These are telltale signs that you are sensitive. If you are, you have an important journey ahead learning about yourself, and what you bring to the world.

Many see the highly sensitive person as vital to the changes we are making in the world, and I believe that it is true. The wisdom and empathy of HSP’s is badly needed.

So although being highly sensitive has been treated as a curse, it is now finally being seen as valuable as it should be. As our problems get worse and the need for wisdom and creativity rises, being a highly sensitive person will finally be welcomed in the world.

How The Creative Process Helps Highly Sensitive People

Many people think the creative process is some sort of magical inspirational event.

Actually the creative process is a wonderful process of engagement.

It can be enormously helpful for sensitives who want more control over their lives.

What Is The Creative Process?

The creative process is simply a process that lets us create something that did not exist before we created it.

If you research the creative process you will find many different answers about what the creative process is and how many steps there are in creating.

Most people believe that the creative process starts with an idea.

Not so fast, according to creativity expert, Robert Fritz, who has written The Path Of Least Resistance and Creating Your Own Life.

Mr. Fritz, a composer and film maker, consults with many organizations on the creative process.

He identifies the start of the creative process as the time when you decide on something that you want to create. You might have an idea for world peace, for instance, but that does not neessarily mean that you want to create world peace.

Once you know what you want, then you have to discover your current situation before you can begin to develop the steps you need to bring what you want into being. If you want to write a symphony and do not know what the scale is, then you have to educate yourself before you can begin. Your skills are an important factor in what you want to create.

So many people who want to create something become bogged down and give up. Often it is because they do not fully engage with their desire and where they are in order to determine how to proceed. Then they bump into limitations that deter them and give up. It is better to embrace the reality of a learning curve and resource limitations so that you can deal with them effectively.

The Creative Process Can Keep You Grounded

When you know what you want to do and where you are at the current moment, then you are always in touch with reality, which gives you more control over your life.

It not only helps you to focus on your next steps but also keeps you out of pie in the sky daydreaming that gets you nowhere and can even cause you to become depressed.

The creative process is a great tool to keepvyou moving forward.

It keeps you focused on where you are and the next step you need to take. one of the beauties of it is that you do not need anyone else’s approval or permission to create whatever you want.

The Special Advantage Of The Creative Process For HSPs

Highly sensitive people often have difficulty maintaining control over their own lives, because they have different priorities from non-HSPs which means that they often have little say over work and social agendas because highly sensitive people are usually outnumbered. Therefore in work and social situations we often get preempted which is very uncomfortable.

However, HSPs are often creative. In embracing the creative process we can start to regain control over our agenda.

The creative process is about setting your own agenda and following it through to completion. When you take back your life using the creative process you start to create freedom for yourself not only by choosing what you want but by becoming so in tune with what is needed to make your goals happen that you start to use that skill in all areas of your life.

You acquire an understanding of what is necessary and what is possible, that no one can take away from you. It helps you in managing not only your time but also your boundaries.

The Creative Process Creates Empowerment

Rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty to make something happen is a wonderful way to grow, learn and get control over your own life. Making something happen provides you with knowledge based on experience. It enables you to notice when the demands and expectations of others are inappropriate. It puts you in charge of what is possible and makes it easier not to be subject to the whims of others.

HSPs have too often found it difficult to protect their boundaries and well-being because their values and priorities are different. However, without enough experience and knowledge, HSPs have no way of defending themselves.

The creative process provides highly sensitive people with a way to their own authority so that they do not have to be subject to the authority of others as much.

It is therefore a wonderful way for the highly sensitive to create a meaningful and healthy life for themselves.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

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Michael Jackson: An HSP?

michael_jackson © by bartleby78

Was Michael Jackson an HSP?  The odds are that he was. Highly sensitive people are known for being different and suffering because of it.  They are also frequently highly gifted and often geniuses.  Unfortunately, many HSP’s suffer from any number of genetic, stress and anxiety disorders that impair their functioning. It is not my purpose here to dissect the course of Michael’s life and treatment because that is beyond my knowledge. However, it is interesting to notice in retrospect how many of the characteristics of being an HSP he had:

  • Apparently even when he was young he was shy.  He found it difficult to do the missionary work of the Jehovah’s Witness religion that his family belonged to.
  • By all accounts, he suffered from extreme child abuse.  Apparently, he was frequently beaten with a strap, and experienced nightmares from having been terrorized by his father.  Many HSP’s are people who have suffered from severe child abuse. If he was born a highly sensitive person, the child abuse would have made his sensitivity worse.
  • Although he was alienated from his father he did express his love for him. Many highly sensitive people are very loving and highly empathetic people.  That he could love his father in spite of all the abuse makes me think that he had the HSP’s capacity for empathy but also perhaps some challenges with effective boundaries.
  • He was apparently an introvert. Even as a child in a very large family he felt lonely.  Being abused can create loneliness because abuse is a form of rejection of another person. In addition, if one feels lonely also because of being different that can increase the pain of social isolation dramatically.  It appears that Michael was not able to effectively handle his social pain. The Daily Beast interview of Deepak Chopraa bout Michael Jackson’s life provides a lot of insight about his shyness and loneliness.
  • He had a genetic disorder.  Michael was diagnosed with Lupus and also had vitiligo.  Lupus is considered one of the genetic disorders affecting highly sensitive people according to David Ritchey, author of the book, The H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P. based on a study of highly sensitive people.
  • He had insomnia.  Many highly sensitive people have insomnia, because they suffer from nervous system overload because of their sensitivities and have difficulty handing them.
  • He was exceptionally gifted.  This needs no explaining, but it can be a characteristic of HSP’s.
The purpose of this is to notice characteristics of the highly sensitive person demonstrated in Michael Jackson.  I am sure that there may be others of which I am not aware.  There is enough evidence, however, to suggest that he was in fact an HSP. It has only been recently thanks to the pioneering work of Elaine Aron, Ph.D., that the highly sensitive person has been identified as a type of individual, in fact one out of five in the general population.


HSP’s suffer from many genetic, stress and anxiety disorders, and need a strict health regimen to manage their health.  Apparently his good friend Deepak Chopra was able to help him develop some healthy habits, but for some reason he was not able to maintain his healthy lifestyle. Perhaps he was unaware of the HSP trait.  Perhaps he felt like a failure for having the dificulties he had.



We are just beginning to understand the highly sensitive trait and all its manifestations, emotional, mental and physical.  I hope that the Michael Jackson’s of the future will have better access to a more understanding world that will truly be able to offer effective help.