Trust And The Highly Sensitive Person

Because we are all vulnerable, trust is one of the most important issues for human beings and especially for highly sensitive people who have a lot of awareness from all of the energy they take in.

What Is Trust?

According to the Free Dictionary, trust has many different faces. It is:

  • about individual behavior and character as in the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
  • about expectations: confident expectation of something or confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received
  • about beliefs: one upon which a person relies: God is my trust.
  • about keeping confidences: being entrusted with information, or valuables of some kind
  • about position: the obligation or responsibility imposed on a person in whom confidence or authority is placed: a position of trust.
  • a position in which trust is necessary and assumed: the fiduciary relationship of trustee or the legal structure that protects property of some kind.
  • commercial organizations set up to create monopolies (now illegal).
Trust, therefore, serves many functions:
  • it is an act of friendship. When we consider the needs of others we are acting to create social trust through friendship.
  • it means we can be accepted and heard. Trust is a vote for the good in ourselves, others and life. When we see and believe in the good we are more open to ourselves and others.
  • trust helps us develop confidence in ourselves. When we learn we develop skills and as a result are able to believe in ourselves. When we discover that we can learn one skill, we know that we can learn another skill and so our confidence grows.
  • it is social glue that makes it easier for people to work and live together
  • it can promote prosperity when institutions and businesses are trustworthy because it means people feel comfortable making investments in their communities.

Trust is the foundation of all healthy people, relationships and cultures. Without it no one can really thrive. So why is it such a challenge and even a problem?

Challenges To Trust

The lists above about trust also help us understand why trust can be a challenge:

  • expectations and trust are highly correlated. When expectations are not met people lose trust.
  • beliefs and trust are highly correlated. When people subscribe to the same beliefs there tends to be trust between them.
  • similarity creates trust because we have some confidence about what to expect. It is the basis of conformity and the feelings of safety that come with it. It also means that being different can call up feelings of distrust.

All of these things, expectations, beliefs and conformity are ways to create experiences that give people a feeling of safety. They are not intrinsically “bad” or “wrong”; however in a world that is ever changing and where diversity is reality they can be maladaptive and create problems.

How Trust Can Create Distrust

All social systems create values and goals. They are generally fixed and are like marching orders for everyone. When people conform they feel successful and are appreciated. When they do not they feel like failures and can be marginalized.

What happens when conditions change? It may seem obvious that when conditions change people change with them but that is not always the case and if some adapt and others do not that can be a source of friction. Here is an example.

If you are living in a place where people make a living growing olives and over time the climate conditions make olive growing difficult then you need to find a new occupation. If your family has an olive farm then that might be difficult since there is a huge investment in making olives. Some member of the family will want to find ways to continue with olive farming, others may want to switch crops and others may leave to do something else.

In this case olive farming has been the social and economic family glue. It is what everyone knows and trusts. Change over which no one had any control has destabilized what was a comfortable life. Some will feel that those who do not continue with olive farming are abandoning their family. Those that change may feel held back by those who are invested in maintaining the olive farming business.

The trust in the land, the farming business, the skills that everyone had to work in olive farming, and the ability to depend on each other has been eroded.

Trust when it is attached to a fixed idea is going to be challenged when conditions change. It does not matter what the situation is – change is inevitable as is the requirement that we adapt.

Trust And The Highly Sensitive Person

Highly sensitive people pick up on all of the energy around them and that includes all the discord and trust issues that are expressing themselves in the energy around them. In addition because they are outsiders, they often feel the distrust of people who live from a different set of values or identity. Trust issues, however, are great food for thought. They are like the loose thread on a sweater that if we pull it we can discover a whole lot of things about ourselves and others.

We all want to feel safe. There is nothing wrong with that. However what do we do when the price of that safety is too high? Do we give up too much of ourselves for a safety that is a fiction? Do we give even if we cannot afford to? What do we do when in order to be trusted by someone or a group we have to make huge sacrifices of ourselves?

Where do you draw the line? I would love to hear your strategies and answers.


Identity And Thoughts: Changing The Cultural Narrative For Highly Sensitive People

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 changing 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 your 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.

The Othering Of The Highly Sensitive Person

The highly sensitive person is different.

Being different means that they often live in the shadows.

I thought about this today when I was reading an article about feminism in Great Britain, written by Anna Ford, a respected British journalist.

What struck me about the article was her wonderful description about the marginalisation of women, an endlessly repeating story that she has experienced her whole life.

The wonderful qualities that women bring to the table are mostly devalued.

Isn’t that also true of highly sensitive people?

The Marginalization Of The Highly Sensitive Person

Marginalization is an interesting and recurring experience for many people.

It manifests in the process of othering.

Othering is nasty.

It is a way of relating to someone as if they really do not have the same right to be here on the planet, that in being different there is something wrong with them.

Are there any HSPs who haven’t had that experience?

As a highly sensitive person, I have been othered my whole life.

Othering can be subtle or overt.

It is often patronizing or condescending.

When being othered you are often invisible.

What Is Othering?

According to Advanced Apes:

the othering process is the human tendency to believe that the group (race, religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, country, sexual orientation, species etc.) that they are a part of is inherently the ‘right’ way to be human.  As a consequence of this, people who other consciously, or subconsciously, believe that anyone who is not apart of their group is a threat, an enemy or a liability that must be converted to conform immediately to the norms and standards of their group, subjugated permanently, or eradicated completely…

The phenomenon of othering has its roots in our evolutionary history.  We know from primatological studies that group solidarity is exceptionally important in all of the African apes.  Knowing who is, and who isn’t a member of your group is exceptionally important for reasons intimately connected to survival.  And basic evolution theory states that any behaviour or trait that confers a survival advantage will be selected for; and the stronger the survival advantage, the stronger it will be selected for.  In the case of ‘othering’ behaviour, it probably became an extremely valuable behaviour that would have become permanently fixed within our lineage millions of years ago.  Whenever territory, food, and mates were scarce (which would have been frequently, and in most cases permanently), intra-species competition would have been strong and othering behaviour would have been selected for.  Forming a group can allow you to align yourself with other individuals altruistically to maximize your own (and everyone else in the groups) ability to acquire territory, food and mating opportunities.

The Experience Of Othering For The Highly Sensitive Person

Many highly sensitive people are very uncomfortable socially. They experience themselves as different and unwelcome in the world.

They may also be subject to bullying, taunts and social rejection.

Highly sensitive people are in the minority in the world since only 15-20% of the world’s population is highly sensitive.

Their different biology means that they do not share the interest in competitiveness and aggression that unites the non-HSP population.

HSPs offer wisdom, perspective, compassion and empathy to those around them, but those traits are not as valued as competitive skills.

As a result, many highly sensitive people, experience themselves being excluded, treated with condescension and even blamed for their different nature.

When we are othered, we are treated as not normal, and not right. People around us including our families often try to change us into a “normal” person, someone who is right by their standard of normalcy.

They are wrong to do so.

There is nothing wrong with the highly sensitive person. HSPs are simply different.




The Special Challenge Of The Outsider

To be an outsider is not an easy task. It is a special role that has great potential for personal transformation.

Who Is The Outsider?

The outsider is the person who departs their existing cultural home for a new unknown destination.

People do not become outsiders accidentally. It is a path that is deliberately chosen because it is necessary, important and valuable:

  • stage of life – the transition from adolescence to adulthood is one
  • issues within the culture that makes life their untenable
  • life changes like divorce that cause a person to leave a social system.
  • the search for the soul’s purpose

The outsider is the person who brings a fresh perspective to others, a new way of proceeding, valuing, or synthesizing information.

The outsider’s journey is the beginning of the process of transformation. It starts with an awareness that something is not right or that something needs to change. According to the book, Dharma Types by Simon Tony Chokoisky:

Anything that requires radical re-thinking, leaps of imagination, and creative synthesis of many elements is the Outsider’s purview. Ruled by the Space Element, there is no ‘where’ Outsiders cannot travel, just as there is no experience they cannot have. From the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, Outsiders trek the terrains of the wild and the inner spaces of the soul,reaching to depths and heights that no one else dares to follow. Laws and morals hold little power to obstruct their need for experience, and Outsiders are most creative in their interpretation of social strictures. As a result, they can just as easily fall into depravity, as soar to the heights of purity: such is the razor’s edge that defines the Outsider’s path. However, just as it is easy to fall off track, it is also simple for Outsiders to get back on, for they are never far removed from Redemption, though it may not seem that way to them. Examples of criminals-turned-saints abound in sacred literature, illustrating the Outsider’s roller-coaster journey from truth to error… and back again.

What Simon Chokoisky is talking about is that outsiders rethink the rules and what is considered conventional thinking. They are questioners and seekers of truth and in doing so can investigate anything and make many mistakes. Being an outsider carries the pitfalls of openness.

HSPs As The Outsider

Highly sensitive people are outsiders just because of their difference and because they are in the minority. Does that make them outsiders in spirit? Are we the adventurous outsider that Simon Chokoisky talks about?

HSPs in some ways are reluctant adventurers. Our nervous systems take in everything and we cannot escape that. Our sensitivity also means that we cannot escape consequences. It causes us usually to be cautious and conscientious because when you take in everything you cannot be in denial.

When you take in and process everything around you develop the ability to look at the world from multiple perspectives. Highly sensitive people are very much outsiders in that they are the integrators and synthesizers of the human race reworking and reweaving the human story into one that seems more authentic to them. The range afforded the highly sensitive person is offset by the values that come from having an empathetic nature. Thank goodness! It will cause us to reweave the human experience into one that is healthier and more compassionate.

We humans are creative people. However, creativity is not always constructive. HSPs have the chance to make creativity something positive by applying their empathetic values to the open experience of the outsider in a way that serves us all well.

Are You Suffering From Cultural Depression?

I see a lot of depression around me.

Perhaps you do, too.

But it is a strange kind of depression the kind of depression that comes when everything around us seems wrong.

Depression And Culture

What I am seeing is a fairly complex depression that comes from a number of sources – like an octopus messing with our inner well-being. I am calling it cultural depression.

Culture and psychological well being are closely related. If a culture does not support the well-being of its members, then numerous emotional and psychological conditions can be expected. According to Time Magazine, one in five Americans are taking medication for mental health issues. That number does not take into account the numbers of people medicating themselves in other ways.

Depression And How We Value Ourselves

We humans have an important need: the need to like and be happy with ourselves.

Our ability to do that is aided or harmed by our culture through rewards and punishments, approval and disapproval, being included or excluded. How that is handled is very important and can make or break a society.

We humans also have a need to be a part of and contribute to the culture that sustains us, and we also want to be proud of it. We need to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror at night and know that we did our best, made our contribution and had something to do with the  good in our world.

What happens when that contribution is marginalized? limited? controlled? and diminished?

What happens when we are treated as commodities? treated as burdens? made demands of without having our own needs met?

What happens when our ability to solve our on problems is taken away? our skills are undeveloped? our talents unwanted?

What happens when we are nothing more than cogs in a wheel rather that the important creative force in our lives? How many can say that their real self is truly valued?

Cultural Depression And How We Define Ourselves

Because we grow up in a particular cultural context, we learn to define ourselves in terms of the culture we live in. Question the culture and you discover quickly how much culture and identity are intertwined. Want to abandon a culture? You will soon discover how much you depend on it.

Of course we can practice detachment and that is healthy. However, it is equally valid to assert that a culture needs to serve its members and needs to have a healthy purpose and healthy practices. Which means that it needs to support the health and self-actualization of its citizens.

How Cultural Depression Feels

I am mostly interested in how it affects us on the inside, which impacts our ability to function and live well. Our highly mechanized economic system has an affect on how we feel. Many people have some of all of these feelings:

  • we are incidental. Most of our living comes from  a “system”.  What is not systematized? We have systematized food production, all sorts of goods production and distribution, and the education and economic system.  It is operated by humans working machines. We are largely incidental and feel it.
  • we are displays. We are able to display the results of all of this systematization: through the clothes we wear, cars we drive and houses we live in. We are all mannequins in this store called Earth.
  • we are dependent. We cannot usually leave this system because when we go to school, we learn the skills necessary to survive in it, not without it. So we have become dependent on it which can make us feel insecure. Are we living our lives or just passing through on a conveyor belt from birth to death?

A highly mechanized and systematized winner-take-all economic system like our current version of capitalism leave a lot of people feeling depressed and unhappy. And that is a reasonable response to a difficult situation. Often it feels uncomfortable because

  • it seems relentless –  the activity and production. It’s a system that seems afraid to stop.
  • of the hustling: hustle to work, to feel good, to smile no matter what. The forced and expected validation of a system that we have to support to survive.
  • then comes the fear:
    • the fear of not being included or dropping out.
    • the fear of the judgment of others should you not measure up
    • the fear as one famous critic said, “of being irrelevant.” Being irrelevant is often seen as a failure and the end of your livelihood.
  • then the exhaustion, because no matter how hard you try, it is very difficult to get to a place where you can rest. In essence the odds are stacked against you. It’s not just a rat race, it is a rat trap.

Our culture has supported our growth in some important ways, however, the growth that is supported is very limited and confined to the  direct needs of that economic system. So if you decide to define yourself beyond the economic system, you may find yourself out on a limb.

What started innocently as a way to improve the material well-being of the human race has now become an albatross around our necks – a shallow and relentlessly materialistic model that has turned human beings into commodities like everything else.

Unfortunately this system needs for us to be dependent on it so that it can survive – a dependency that causes us to feel vulnerable when something goes wrong. Then we have to take notice of how many of our basic needs are met by products transported to us from elsewhere. We are living with a societal structure that has so many points of failure that we are all excessively vulnerable. That does not feel good.

What Can We Do About Cultural Depression?

Our current system is mature and entrenched. It is unlikely to respond to individual needs and concerns in a meaningful way. That is asking more than it can do. But we do not have to leave it at that. We can start to get rid of cultural depression by taking our lives back by:

  • taking our bodies back from processed and fast food, soft drinks and snack foods.
  • take our minds back from packaged entertainment that offers a negative view of people and the world.
  • take our livelihoods back by  investing in skills that help us and others to become healthy.
  • investing in local sources of food and other necessities so that we are less vulnerable to supply disruptions in other places.
  • investing in our local community so that it becomes the life supporting and sustaining place it can be.

We do not have to be victims of cultural depression.  Everyone has natural creativity which can be used to make life more enjoyable. sustainable and satisfying.

It means living on a human scale and just requires a leap of faith.

How Prejudice Creates Grief

We are all born into a world filled with and built on prejudice, which the dictionary defines as preconceived ideas.

We are all socialized into the existing prejudicial arrangements.

Although we cannot escape the reality of prejudice in the human condition, we can challenge it.

Before we can, however, we need an understanding of prejudice and, if possible, some new insights.

5 Reasons Prejudice Exists

There are five important reasons why prejudice exists:

  1. we use categories to quickly process information. Our threat processing minds use categories as a defense against outside threats. We learn that a hot stove can hurt so hot stove is a category of potential harm. From our earliest days, we are building up an inventory of causes of potential harm. Some we learn from experience and others are passed down to us from our family and social group. Sometimes we question our perceptions and assumptions. Most of the time, however, we probably do not question what we consider to be potentially harmful. Since we are all vulnerable creatures we often protect ourselves by being “safe rather than sorry.”
  2. we survive through the support and protection of our social group or “tribe.” We adopt the attitudes and beliefs of that group as a way to maintain our membership. We are built to live in groups. One way we know that is that our brains give us an error message when we deviate from group norms, according to research on how the brain supports social conformity. So not only are we meant to live in groups, but our brains reinforce our conforming with our group. Not to do so will raise a perception of threat in the mind. We will continue to feel a threat whenever we act outside of group norms unless the consciousness of the group changes.
  3. groups create structures around their beliefs, which also reinforce them. Because social structures require a significant investment in time and other resources, it can be difficult to change them. In addition, since people develop skills that enable them to succeed within a particular structural system, they may not have the skills for a different social arrangement.
  4. we often form our identities around our social group and our place in it. It can come to feel like “home,” making it difficult for us to envision a different set of circumstances for ourselves. Often we treat our circumstances as reality when they are really a situation, and situations can change. Losing our group and individual identities can seem very threatening.
  5. group norms, structures, and identities all have a profound effect in that they create and perpetuate expectations. Expectations can be comforting. They can help us feel that we understand or know our world when in fact we do not. They give us predictability and stability in a world that is always changing.

How Prejudice Creates Grief

Prejudice is a natural result of our efforts to create stability for ourselves. Cultural systems inevitably value some characteristics over others, causing us to feel that parts of ourself are not welcome.  The result will be feelings of loss of:

  • our openness
  • our wonder
  • our innocent trust
  • our true self
  • our status as co-creators of our world with others
  • our hope of being welcome fully as ourselves
  • our self-respect our dreams

All arrangements that promote stability do so at the expense of our true and whole self. Our feeling of loss can be reinforced when we interact with others. We may feel unseen.  It does not matter what the prejudice is, we can still feel rewounded. The pain can drive out our true selves and cause us to withdraw our best self, and a process of self-diminishment can develop and even accelerate.

The Path To Recovery

Recovery from the wounds of prejudice can take some time.

Here are some important steps you can take to support your own healing:

  • set up a grieving process for yourself.  Group therapy and writing in journals can be very helpful in finding acceptance for your pain.
  • develop a health program for yourself. Every act of self-care is a validation of your life. It is something you deserve and it feels good.
  • find some energy healing practices like EFT, reiki and meditation to help you heal since they can address deeply buried hurt.
  • recognize the greatest causes of reinjury for yourself and start to move away from them into activities and social groups that offer greater self-acceptance.

Prejudice and all the pain and emotional harm it does often hurt our health. Reclaiming our health is part of reclaiming our lives.

Deep-seated prejudices are being questioned more and more as the world becomes kinder.

As the world changes, we will all benefit and feel better, but as the process unfolds we all need to do our part by engaging with our own grief and grieving process as we join with others to create the world that we all want to live in.

It is worth the effort.

We are worth the effort.

The Safety Of The Good

 The safety of the good,  it is a natural attraction.

Do you seek harmony – or the good – especially in your relationships?

Many of us, especially HSP’s do.

If I examine my experience, I notice how often I feel an inner pull towards the good and working with others.

Working with seems natural. Working against does not.

Working with feels good; working against does not.

Our Early Need For The Good

As children we need to harmonize with our social group –  in particular, our parents and family  – because it is a matter of life and death. We also have an instinctive awareness and need for the goodness in ourselves and in others to be real.

We are all born with a naturally open and trusting attitude toward the world. Our trust is our psychological safety.  Therefore, when we are treated poorly, we maintain the “trust”  by assuming, often with encouragement from our caretakers, that the defect lies with us.  When our need for a caring, encouraging and supportive environment is challenged in childhood, a young person is often made to believe that their expectation and values are problematic or wrong.  I certainly was.

Too often we are taught that the good in the world and ourselves is a scarce commodity which sets up the power over others dynamic that creates the struggle and misery called reality.  It turns the “bad” into something abundant and dependable and the good into something that cannot be trusted and something scarce. Even worse, the abundant good becomes something we are expected to earn. Reality becomes a form of misery and our wires get crossed.

The Frame Of Reality

Perceptions about reality are passed from one generation to the next. In good faith, we often take our attitudinal “gift” as gospel. It is, however, our job as alive, aware beings to continually challenge our assumptions. We are, after all, stewards of our lives and the world we live in.  And the world is continually changing.

I suspect that the negativity that we are born into was, in fact, valid at one point in human history.  The ancient memory system in our brain, however, does not get updated.  Once it has received the imprint of “reality” it becomes a kind of know-it-all about life, our point of reference and our frame of reference.  The same was also true of our ancestors, near and far.

And we see our caretakers struggling for the good and we assume they can’t be wrong. We are rewarded for our struggles and even learn that not to struggle means there is something wrong with us. Unnaturally easy becomes uncomfortable.

A Pat On The Back

So what happens when as children we need to align with our caretakers and we need to align with the prevailing view that the good in the world is undependable?  Doesn’t that teach us not to trust ourselves and each other?  For the sake of our psychological safety and maintaining our necessary dependency do we give up on ourselves? When we reach for the good in ourselves do we consider it a fluke?  Do we have the courage to disagree and refuse to go along?  By the time we are adults have we forgotten how?

There is no question that the history of human life has been a challenging one.  To make human life possible, to survive as a species has required a huge effort.  So when I see so much negativity around me I can’t help but wonder if we are aware of how far we have come, and how maybe it is about time that we give ourselves and each other some credit.  Perhaps we can then let go of some of the struggles and find the cooperation and harmony that we yearn for.

So, fellow humans, here’s a pat on the back! We have done well to get this far.

Who knows, maybe in recognizing the good more, we can relax a little bit and feel safer as well.

Can You Identify These 5 Different Types of Loyalty in Your Life Or Our World?

Loyalty is one of those complicated subjects that can touch a nerve. It is like a two-edged sword; it can help us and make life worthwhile and also hurt us.   Loyalty is an important subject that is worth thinking about because issues around different types of loyalty are part of our basic social fabric and always have been.

Loyalty comes in many flavors and means different things to different people. Ideas about loyalty have changed as we humans have changed. Here are five different types of loyalty used in human culture:

  1. for some, loyalty is an absolute whether it is loyalty to a tribe or religion. Loyalty under these circumstances means loyalty not only overtly to the group, but also the beliefs, practices and expected behaviors. Since groups that seek absolute loyalty create dependency in their members, escape can be difficult.
  2. loyalty demands can manifest in rules and role requirements that have nothing to do with the individual’s abilities. These kinds of demands can feel like a kind of rejection of the individual, a yoke of slavery to group norms.
  3. for others, loyalty is extremely conditional. This is the type of person who operates on the “what have you done for me lately?” premise. The point of view of this kind of loyalty is economic rather than institutional.
  4. others think everyone deserves at least some loyalty since we are all “in this” together. The point of view of this person is universal.
  5. another type of loyalty is loyalty based on the inherent dignity of all living creatures, a kind of transcendent and transpersonal loyalty. This is the most spiritual kind of loyalty.

Getting A Handle On Different Types Of Loyalty

Loyalty on a one-on-one basis isn’t too difficult and is sometimes straightforward and based on the quality of the relationship. However, when you add the complex expectations of societal structures it can become messy. In all kinds of loyalty expectations, there are values underlying them that are often tied to the identities of people. This is why changing the values in an individual or a society can be difficult.  People create lives around our values and identities.

Highly sensitive people have a challenge with loyalty that others may not have. Since HSPs love very deeply, it causes them to act on values that others may not have. If I were to characterize HSP loyalty, it would be of the universal and spiritual kind. Unfortunately, this brand of loyalty may not be valued or reciprocated by others causing an HSP serious emotional pain.

It is very important for highly sensitive people to recognize the type of loyalty in those around them so that they form realistic expectations about their relationships with others. Errors in expectations can create a lot of hurt for HSPs, which they do not recover from easily.  As part of your self-care program, you need to take care of your relationship expectations.

The Value Of Evolutional Thinking For HSPs

Does the world sometimes seem ridiculously messy? Does it seem impossible to deal in an effective way with the infinite number of different human beings?

Do you ever want an easier way?

What Is Evolutional Thinking?

Evolutional thinking is a way of getting a handle on the complexity of the human race. Evolutional thinking is how one uses the new research on evolutional psychology to manage people and situations better.  It provides a lot of insight into how people come to be who they are and think how they do. It gives you a window into the ever changing nature of human identity so that you can feel less “at sea” in working with people differences.

The value of evolutional thinking is in how it help HSPs navigate different cultures and social situations with improved decision making and social skills. What is it? Evolutional thinking is a different and more complete way of thinking about the inevitability of differences in people, communities, organizations and countries in all areas of life.

It is a tool that makes it possible for highly sensitive people to be more easily constructive in their interactions. Evolutional thinking helps HSPs process social information so that they become less stressed and can handle information more easily. Evolutional thinking considers the context of any situation so it accepts each person and situation within the larger human evolutional framework.  It is a way of having and maintaining perspective which helps to reduce stress.

Where did this come from? During the last half century, one of the most important areas of research has been psychological and human evolutional patterns. One of the most important  researchers was Dr. Clare Graves, a psychology professor at Utica College in New York.  Dr. Graves conducted many studies to identity psychological identity.  In doing so he identified the evolutional model that became the basis of the book, Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Chris Cowan.

Dr. Graves evolved a different idea about intelligence.  According to Chris Cowans’ website on Spiral Dynamics, the Gravesian model integrated biology, psychology and sociology into what he called biopsychosocial systems. This approach sees different and multiple intelligences at work at all times based on the realities of the life conditions at hand.

The Spiral Dynamics website elaborates further: “The term, bio-psycho-social, reflects Graves’s insistence on the importance of a multidisciplinary, multidimensional approach to understanding human nature:

  • “Bio” for the neurology and chemical energy of life and the organismic part of us
  • “Psycho” for the variables of personality and life experiences, our temperaments and sense of self and relationships to other
  • “Social” for the collective energy in group dynamics and culture as the interpersonal domain influences human behavior in collective settings ranging from small groups and families to corporations and entire societies
  • “System” for the interdependence and action/reaction of these three upon one another in a coherent whole according to principles laid out in General Systems theory and other approaches to how things work and interact”

Graves demonstrated that there are certain stages of human evolutional development that become the basis of our self-identity. These stages of human evolution arise from the current living conditions of the people which results in a world view that then creates a social, cultural and economic structure. The worldview also is the basis for defining the identities and behaviors of the people in the system. The person it defines is the person who will support the structure, so the person and the structure are mutually reinforcing.

Since these cultural structures have values, feelings that support the society are supported and feelings that are not are rejected.

The Emotional Values Of Spiral Dynamics

The emotional values that Spiral Dynamics identified emerged from the real living conditions of the people and their interpretation of those living conditions which gave rise to their worldview. Each worldview was limited by the existing knowledge and experience of the people involved, and as we learned more was revised or discarded as new more up-to-date world views emerged. We are a work in progress.

This table is a very simplified view to give an idea of how identities and strategies are related to the stage of human development and evolutional thinking:

StageInterpersonal Strategy
Tribalappease: individual participates in tribal life to
appease spirits
Conquestdominate: exploit, act egocentrically
Religiouscontrol: authoritarian, demands total obedience
and conformity
Entrepreneurialwin: pragmatic, results oriented, achievement
Communalshare: life is fluid and we are all in this
Chaoticopen: flexible, questioning, accepting
Chaordiccollaborate: interconnected and

Using Evolutional Thinking

Highly sensitive people are naturally attuned to more holistic views of reality.  The Graves Model is a more holistic view of human nature and be useful when trying to understand people who are different.  It is particularly beneficial for highly sensitive people who are seeking a way to handle a complex social world with greater ease and reduce their social stress and anxiety as a result.

Meanness And The Power Of Stories

Do you ever wonder why there is so much meanness in the world?

Do you ever feel that it makes no sense, that it is a mistake?

If you do, you are right.

The Power Of Stories

Meanness is as old as the human race and it exists in other species as well. However, the human race has carried its meanness to an extreme.

To understand the evolution of meanness it helps to put yourself in the shoes of our early ancestors. Imagine what life was like several thousand years ago. You live in a small tribe of people probably in Africa, Australia or South America. You live in mud huts and have little to protect you from harsh weather conditions, and the aggression of other tribes.

But that is only the half of it. People do not know why anything happens. They do not know enough about cause and effect. They often felt at the mercy of nature and forces beyond their control.

So what did they do?

They did what people do – even today. They started creating stories about what was happening in order to create a rationale a way of handling the events that occurred around them and to them. They dealt with uncertainty and tragedy by creating explanations:

  • they created gods and goddesses and also sorts of myths to explain human behavior
  • they became very attuned to nature and created many supernatural explanations for the behavior of nature.
  • they were very attuned to the energy of the universe

A perfect example is Dreamtime and dreaming created by the Australian aborigines. Dreamtime is the aboriginal creation story is the starting point and basis of aboriginal culture. Dreaming is used to explain everything from how a bird got its colors to how humans are created. Aborigines used Dreamtime to explain spiritual concepts like eternity and earth concepts like weather events.

The point of this is not to describe aborigines as mean people – far from it. It’s to help understand something about stories.

How Meanness Got The Upper Hand

It isn’t really meanness that got the upper hand. Stories did.

To this day we attach to stories about ourselves and others, our country and other countries for better or worse.

Stories are powerful.

At one time, stories were all that we had to communicate cultural identity and life. They were our first form of education and are a wonderful way to talk about the mysteries of life. Stories bring our experience to life and help us connect with the web of life that constitutes our world. Certainly the aborigines used their stories that way.

The Dark Side Of Stories

However, stories can have a dark side. Because of the way we engage with stories they can take on a life of their own.

Look at what happens when a story is created and used to bully someone. Some people commit suicide because the story being told about them becomes entrenched and they cannot do anything to correct it. Stories used in such a malicious way can destroy lives.

Stories are often wrong although that may be hard for us to understand when we are in the middle of one. One of the reasons stories are so powerful is because they engage with our imaginations. Our imagination can be a very open place, susceptible to stories that play on our fears. Stories that play on our fears, negative experiences or our wounded self can easily be malicious and escape the serious scrutiny that they deserve.

Stories form our connection with others and our identities. What happens when we have a story that is totally different from everyone else in our social group? It may be interesting but it will also feel uncomfortable. Then again how many of us allow our stories to be the cultural story we are told when we are young? How much of the differences between men and women are about the long cultural story of each sex and not about the actual people in a relationship?

Using Stories Wisely

It is important to be very mindful about the stories we tell as well as the stories we believe. It will help us to support stories for their positive social and cultural contribution and help us avoid promoting malicious stories that feed the meanness between people.