Race, Culture and HSPs: "Black People Don’t Do Therapy"

 

I am no doubt an HSP. I’ve read Elaine Aron’s wonderful and eye-opening books, I’ve taken the quizzes in the workbooks and I’ve been greatly helped by much of the advice given on HSP websites and by knowing that I’m not alone. And like very many HSPs I’ve suffered bouts of depression and very high anxiety, the type that requires professional help. Yet there’s still this nagging feeling I always have, one I have to constantly temper, that my sensitivity and the symptoms it causes are just my “weaknesses,” and that I have to work hard to not let my weaknesses show. Now I know this is just negative self-talk, which any white person who is also HSP can relate to, but my feelings and self-talk are largely influenced racially and culturally as is true for many black people.

Black People And Sensitivity

Admitting to and showing great sensitivity is a no-no in my (Black American) culture.  Being “tough” and not “letting it ‘get’ to me” are what I was always encouraged and at times, demanded to do. I can still remember my dad screaming at me, “You got a WEAKNESS!” when I was about 12-years-old and being picked on at school. My mother would threaten to hit me if I ever cried. And since we customarily “take over” for our parents as adults and end up treating ourselves just as well or as badly as they did, I got to the point in my late 30s where I couldn’t leave the house without having a four-alarm panic attack and the bravest thing I could do was seek treatment. I could no longer function in that anxious, unbalanced state. All that “not letting it show” made me physically, and severely psychologically and emotionally sick. So even though seeking help put me in a category that is downright scary to contemplate (according to a recent Al Jazeera America special report, black people are half as likely to seek treatment for anxiety, depression or any other mental health-related issue as Whites), I had to save my sanity and my life. I weighed 112 pounds. I needed help. I was sick.

Black People And Therapy

According to a paper published by the National Institutes of Health in 2008, many people of color who end up seeking treatment stated that it was the need to get well that triumphed over the opinions of the family and community when it came to seeking treatment, and often at the crisis stage.

112 pounds! Panic attacks! Hello?!??

Jinneh Dyson, now senior manager of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, VA, had debilitating depression while at college in Texas and rejected the idea of therapy for years. Loved ones would say, “That’s going to make you crazy. You’ve just got to pray and have faith,” recalled Dyson, who is Black and the daughter of a Baptist minister. “They said, ‘That’s the way of the white man, poisoning you.'”

But guess what? I’m not religious. And I’m intelligent enough to know that neither God nor prayer can stop a serious panic attack. Therefore, I, like Ms. Dyson, sought treatment.

The statistics are pretty scary:

  • African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites;
  • Non-Hispanic Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatment as are Non-Hispanic Blacks;
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233%, as compared to 120% of Non-Hispanic Whites.

Heart disease, obesity, diabetes and many other stress-related illnesses also affect Black Americans more adversely. This is no accident.  Therefore, it must be discussed and taken into account that all the anxiety and overstimulation affecting our community, and in particular those of us with highly sensitive natures, are large factors in these adverse medical outcomes, and can be addressed lovingly and effectively through good therapy.

Of course, race and culture weren’t the only factors in my getting sick. There was the job I lost, there was losing my sister, and losing the romantic relationship I was in at around the same time; there was even my lack of understanding about how important it is to my HSP nature to eat healthy, organic food and exercise regularly. Yet, I wasn’t thinking about those things when I opened the door to this new therapy center. I was thinking about connecting with someone of my culture, who speaks my cultural “language” and regularly uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in her practice, which I’ve been wanting to try (it’s the “doer” in me), to help patients with social anxiety, so that I don’t feel like such an alien in my brown skin anymore.

When Conformity And Stewardship Collide

Do you ever feel that inner conflicts can’t be resolved?

Does your desire to belong and be accepted conflict with other desires?

Does your higher self ever feel left out?

Conflicts About Conformity

Conformity and stewardship: sometimes they work in harmony and other times they collide.

All societies create structures and norms that define daily life and the predominant mission of the society. Generally the predominant mission which is another way of saying values, is driven by some type of necessity.

Our earliest ancestors were hunter gatherers. When humans discovered how to grow crops, our ancestors shifted to a more agricultural way of life. It was certainly less life threatening than wrestling with dangerous animals to get food. However, food needed to be stored and then protected from other humans who preferred to steal rather than farm.

So a new way of life came into being that supported that agricultural economic system. This is goodness. Who wants to be wrestling with dinosaurs or other predators every day? However there is a down side.

How Structure Helps And Hurts Us

We create structures to support us, which is an example of stewardship, and then create the mindset and practices that support the structure, which is conformity.

Spiral Dynamics, the book by Chris Cowan and Don Beck, calls the situation that gives rise to a particular economic and social system as “life conditions.” This is the reality or real problems that drive the creation of a societal structure.

Once a particular structure with all of its institutions, rituals, mores and values is in place it become the “reality” for the people of that society. After some generations have passed, no one will remember the prior social structure. Daily life, purpose and problem solving all take place within the framework of the existing cultural dynamics, which will seem like life itself.

Cultures Have Life Cycles

There is a problem, though. Many people do not realize that like each one of us, a societal structure has a lifecycle. It comes into being to solve a problem, succeeds and then creates the conditions for a need for change which ushers in a new system with new values and purpose.

A perfect example is the current systemic change going on in the world. The existing system came into being to create a better life for human being though innovation and human initiative. It was created when people were few and resources were plentiful and has succeeded admirably in its mission. Now its success has sown the seeds of change because of our dwindling natural resources.

When To Conform And When Not To

Most individuals, when a society is in a advanced state like ours, try to solve the problems they are facing by using the tools of the existing system. So if the existing system used growth to solve problems, growth is the assumed solution, when in fact a new solution, new structure and new values are required. This is where conformity and stewardship collide.

When a system is in its prime, the society functions well, and conformity to the system makes sense and feels coherent. When it has passed its prime that is no longer the case. Stewardship at different stages of the system lifecycle has different requirements; sometimes conformity is good stewardship and sometimes not.

Conformity And HSPs

HSPs are very sensitive to the conflicts around them at any stage of the life cycle of a society. They will pick up a sense of where the society is in its development, and notice when the practices of a particular cultural structure have become more destructive than constructive.

Highly sensitive people can be the canaries in the coal mine. They are in touch with the present, but usually ahead of the prevailing mindset. It can make them appear to be ahead of their time when they are really very in touch with the present.

HSPs can be very useful to a society that wants to be smart about managing its change. We humans have not managed change well in the past. Valuing our sensitive geniuses could make it much easier to know when to conform or not, when to change, and when we are being good stewards. HSP’s are worth embracing for this reason.

For More Information: Dr. Clare Graves Site

Does Ghosting Apply To Sensitive People?

Ghosting is a relatively new term that is applied primarily to dating. However, it is applicable to many areas of life including families.

Ghosting is actually a complex subject which means it can be easy to oversimplify it. This is the Urban Dictionary definition:

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.

This is an additional definition:

1.) The act of disappering on your friends without notice.
2.) Cancelling plans with little or no notice.

Essentially it is a form of abandonment. It used to be called abandonment and also shunning and is not actually a new phenomenon among humans. However, the term is an interesting one and I thought it could be a useful one for exploring taking our place in the world. Note: when we discuss abandonment here it is not referring to the self-protection of leaving an abusive relationship.

Can You Ghost A Trait?

Human societies have been encouraging individuals to behave a certain way or conform for as long as we have been around. In order to encourage conformity, cultures reward some behaviors and discourage others. Each culture will elevate some behaviors as desirable and others as undesirable. They then reward the behaviors they seek which means that there is a direct correlation between conforming and your survival and quality of life. This has been a successful process for thousands of years.

As a result, men have been taught to ghost their feelings except for anger for the most part, and women to ghost their strength and sensitive people their sensitivity. It is fair to say that we are all encouraged to ghost certain aspects of ourselves.

Ghosting Is Not Always Innocent

One of the most difficult challenges in dealing with stereotypes is that in fact some of the truth about a group of people is hidden. You can usually tell because ghosting often is presented as a simple generalization which is a tip-off that some ghosting is going on.  It is one thing not to know, but persisting in ghosting the attributes of others is harmful to them and a loss to all of us. Being female, I have had the experience many times.

When a group is ghosted they live with the perceptions that ghosting creates including the incorrect ones. That can be quite a burden and the damage can be hard to repair. The burden of repair usually falls to those being ghosted but if perceptions are considered true or the facts then one can feel like one is fighting a never-ending uphill battle. What a difficult burden to carry! It is difficult to convince people to change their perceptions.

Ghosting And Marginalization

One of the challenges of ghosting for groups is that when marginalized people in those groups often miss out on experiences that can help them become more effective in life. As a result, there can be a need to “catch up” in some areas and with some skills. Furthermore, when you have the experience of being ghosted, you can lose confidence in yourself. Your own perceptions that you are defective or that there is something wrong with you can grow.

That is why when you want to make changes from being marginalized to taking your place in the world, it is helpful to do so gradually with full understanding about what you are doing. It is important to learn what is valued and devalued in different cultures so that you do not take personally the misperceptions of others. It helps to take your place in the world intentionally. We take you on that journey in The Emerging Sensitive Program starting in January 2018. You can learn more about it here. It may help you as it has helped others.

 

 

 

Why Conformity Is About Group Norms

Have you ever thought one thing and done another? Have you ever changed your mind when in a group that had different ideas?

I know I have and it made me feel like a wimp.

Being an HSP means that my positions are not the norm, and I am always seeking ways to bridge the difference. Often that cannot be done and I feel bad when that is the case.

I am an introvert but I still care about people and relationships. So where does the need to conform against our best instincts come from?

Our Brains Help Us Cop Out

According to an article in Spero Forum, researcher Vasily Klucharev of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, conducted a study which demonstrated that

“when people hold an opinion differing from others in a group, their brains produce an error signal.”

“If you make an error, if means that something [wrong is going on]. And, whenever we experience an error, it means this error signal pushes us to change behavior,” Klucharev said. “And, we see it looks like we quite automatically produce this signal when our opinion is quite different from other people.”

“The researcher examined two brain areas,” said Klucharev. “The first, a zone of the brain popularly called the ‘oops area,’  becomes extra active signaling an error; while the ‘reward area”‘is less active, making people think they made a mistake.”

This explains why people are likely to conform and why in doing so they are responding to what their brain is telling them even if their instincts or “better nature” tells them something else.

This research tells us a lot.  It explains why:

  • people act against their better judgment
  • people are afraid of differences
  • people are afraid of what they perceive to be dangerous mindsets
  • people are more afraid of being different that the pain of giving up their authenticity.

Conformity’s Survival Value

Conformity has been necessary for us to survive. The human race would not have developed without the willingness of individuals to sacrifice their differences to create cultures that supported their survival need. You can say therefore that conformity has served our survival.

Our brains have developed in a way that supports our survival as well. As a result it has supported our conforming to group norms because groups have been the basis of an individual’s survival. Children know only too well how they must conform if they are to survive since they are unable to survive on their own.

The Down Side Of Conformity And Group Norms

This research also suggests that we can have difficulty when our brain’s error signals conflict with a need for change. Our brains may fight our intentions even when they serve our best interests. We may then suffer from ambivalence and procrastination.

Sometimes when we do not understand what is going on, we will feel bad about ourselves when in fact there is nothing wrong with us. Our brain is supporting our survival among others whether those others are right or not. Our group is our group.

Can We Become Mindful About Conformity?

It is not helpful to fight our brain’s attempts to protect us, not is it helpful to fight necessary change. Therefore we need to become extremely mindful about what we allow group norms to become because there are serious consequences if those norms are destructive.

Whatever group norms we choose need to be considered temporary to allow for changing circumstances. When group norms can become flexible as needed then our brain’s desire to protect us will not fight our needs for change.

Is that too much to ask for?

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.

The Emergence Of The Outsiders

From the beginning of time, there have been outsiders.

Who Are Outsiders?

Outsiders are different from everyone else in some way. They are a special group of people who have developed skills and often different cultural models and ideas that put them in a different place compared to the other people around them. If Einstein had been born thousands of years ago into a tribe he would have been an outsider because of his more developed intellectual capabilities.

For a long time now, people have been working on stretching themselves and growing. As a result, many have outgrown the cultural institutions of their societies. This is why we have more and more outsiders and the cause of the clashes between entrenched power and the emerging increasingly empowered masses.

What Are Outsiders Like?

Human development is a process of growing in skill, compassion, and authenticity. Outsiders naturally see themselves differently from others which reflect their journey on their particular path to authenticity. This is how outsiders see themselves:

  • They hate constricting social, religious, and moral institutions, and feel it is their right to speak and act out against them.
  • They also feel justified in flouting an unjust law and not conforming to artificial regulations.
  • They are physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually different from others, and because of this find it hard to fit in.
  • They can see through people’s b——t, and that makes them want to run away from society.
  • Sometimes they resent ‘normal’ people, who were born with opportunities that they don’t have.
  • They would rather overthrow the status quo to allow fresh growth than try to patch things up piece by piece.
  • They respect an authority that allows them to be who they are and understand the gifts they have to offer.
  • Sometimes they think no one really understands them, and no one ever will. They love freedom and need to feel independent and free most of all.
  • Although they can fit into many crowds, they never really feel a part of any of them.
  • They wear many hats but none of them defines them.
  • People may see them as secretive or mysterious, but they are just the way they are– different.
  • By fate or choice, they are attracted to foreign lands, cultures, religions, and values, and have embraced some of these.
  • They have talents and abilities that are not always recognized, and it can be hard to make a living if they do not compromise with society.
  • Their ambitions are somewhat unique, and they have a quirky way of seeing the world.
  • Sometimes they feel lost— they don’t know what their true purpose is, but when they look at others they are reminded what it is not: they can’t conform to somebody else’s lifestyle just for the sake of security, even though they may not have found their own.

Being an outsider is a common experience of highly sensitive people.

Outsiders As Cultural Entrepreneurs

Outsiders are some of the most important people in society. I think of them as cultural entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs see what others miss, what might be and try to make it happen. Entrepreneurship is commonly associated with business but it does not have to be. There are different kinds of outsiders. Some totally shun society like Greta Garbo, others integrate and innovate so that you can hardly know that they are outsiders. Richard Branson comes to mind.

A book I have read recently compares outsiders to the skin of the body: it covers and contains the body but is also outside unlike the heart, brain, and liver. People who are outsiders are often multifunctional, and able to see multiple points of view. They are flexible and open and therefore not dogmatic and rigid. People who are outsiders have “space” for the variety of life of people, beings, and things. By virtue of their natures, they make space for the new to emerge.

The outsider develops when society fails. They see through institutions that would yoke them to a particular ideology or way of life. Outsiders love their freedom.

Nothing new comes into existence without the outsider. There is no innovation or revolution without the outsider’s instigation. Anything that requires radical re-thinking, leaps of imagination, and creative synthesis of many elements is the outsider’s purview. Ruled by the openness of space, there is no ‘where’ outsiders cannot travel, just as there is no experience they cannot have. From the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows, outsiders trek the terrains of the wild and the inner spaces of the soul.

Outsiders are brave people. If they are highly sensitive they are especially brave since being highly sensitive is a challenging path in and of itself. Being an HSP outsider is something to admire and applaud in ourselves because it is how we bring our unique and valuable richness to the world.

NOTE:

Famous outsiders include Brigitte Bardot, Richard Branson, Tim Burton, Albert Camus, George Carlin, Salvador Dali, Johnny Depp, Greta Garbo, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King Jr., Osho/ Rajneesh.

Exerpts from The Dharma Types: Secrets of the 5 Ancient Castes That Will Transform Your Life by Simon Tony Chokoisky.

Separating Ambition And Greed

Ambition and greed are often thought of as the same thing.

They are not easy concepts for highly sensitive people and can be a source of pain and unhappiness.

Greed does Not Work For Highly Sensitive People

Greed does not work as a life strategy for most highly sensitive people. Part of the reason is physical because it requires a lot of energy directed toward personal gain. Another reason is our natures. We see the dehumanizing side of greed and the destruction of animals and natural resources that is required to sustain greediness. A third reason is that it is our nature to reflect before we act.

We take in so much information that we have a high need to process what we take in and understand it before we leap to conclusions or take action. It helps us to be in integrity with ourselves. Our natures and natural processing style slows us down which means that we cannot do greed very well.

The Effect Of Structural Greed On Highly Sensitive People

Structural greed which is what capitalism is has a significant social effect. Whenever a culture structures itself to achieve an objective it then elevates the values that support it. When a culture is oriented toward making money, then greed becomes a positive value in the culture. Those who manifest the desired value advance in the culture and those who do not fall behind at least in economic terms.

That would not be so bad if social safety nets existed.  Unfortunately, in greed-based societies, they often do not, which means that you either participate in the money-focused structure or you struggle to survive. Many highly sensitive people struggle to survive.

Greed Energy Is Different From Ambition Energy

Greed and ambition are very different energies. Greedy energy is built on fear of not having enough or being enough. Greed is a grabby energy and has a competitive social view. Greed is short sighted. It seek to maximize short term pleasure. Greed energy is hoarding since you can never be certain about survival in a competitive world. Greed is a lonely world view. Each person under its spell is essentially on his/her own.

Ambition is a very different energy. Ambition is for something or someone. Ambition requires some kind of improvement because all ambition seeks some kind of benefit. You cannot be short sighted and be successfully ambitious because ambition requires a long term effort to become fulfilled. As a result, ambition develops a different set of abilities.

The Benefits Of Embracing Ambition

Ambition is a way for us to release our natural positivity into the world. It is a way to take our place and to serve the evolution of the world. Where greed is primarily grabby, to be ambitious we need to take stock of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses to identify our unique potential contribution to the world.

Ambition requires that we develop ourselves and work at turning our raw potential into something that becomes useful to ourselves and others. It requires sustained effort and commitment in a particular direction over time. Ambition is an enhancing energy. It creates something new and therefore is a part of our evolution. Greed is depleting. Ambition adds.

Ambition For HSPs

Ambition can be embraced by highly sensitive people. Naturally we have to choose to direct it in a way that works with our values, however, it is a wonderful way for us to work with all the insights we gain from being highly sensitive and direct them in a way that offers something new and beneficial to the world.

Ambition in health, the arts, and other humanistically oriented disciplines lets us work slowly to develop our ideas and lets us be who we are. As numerous researchers have found, it takes a long time to become good at anything. 10,000 hours, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, and discussed in this recent article in the New Yorker, is a requirement to realize significant ambitions.

The more complex our world the greater our need for people who are ambitious enough to tackle subjects that require ambitious commitments of time and energy. Being ambitious is a great way for highly sensitive people to put their natural depth to work and also a great way to turn our ruminating into something positive. Ambition is not about greed; it is about serving the larger good. As a result, it is perfectly suited to the highly sensitive among us.

Tyranny of the Clock

People in an economic system based on production learn to live with the tyranny of the clock.  Although people have been tracking time since the early days of humans, our relationship with time has become different.

Time used to be related to something going on in nature.  People measured the hours of sunshine, the seasons, and how long crops took to grow.  The day began when the sun came up and ended when it set. Our survival was directly related to what nature offered us and so our relationship to time was related to nature also.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have changed our relationship to time and nature. We treat nature as something we control.  It is understandable that we sought to control nature because we felt so out of control in relation to nature: the weather was so unpredictable, the basic needs of people were not being met, and disease was rampant.  At the time, natural resources were so plentiful. So we created machines and production processes to harness natural resources to take care of our basic needs and kept on going.  Time became a factor in production costs and therefore directly affected profits.

Time And Limits

There were understandable reasons for the economic system that we have created.  Human society at the time of the Industrial Revolution was saddled with all sorts of limits that needed to be challenged. Some of these limits were based on belief systems. Some limits were geographical, others political. Even time felt limiting because we were limited by the amount that each person could accomplish which in turn limited our ability to meet our needs. Since the Industrial Revolution, the clock has been used as a tool for challenging limits through productivity measurements which evaluate how well we produce in a specific period of time.  Our educational system is organized around time.  We have a certain period of time to learn a given amount of material, whether we learn or not is often irrelevant, when time is up, time is up.

When the clock controls how much attention we give to something or someone, we relinquish control over our lives because we are not really engaging with life and the realities around us.  If it takes two years to learn a subject but you only have six months, then essentially your learning is controlled by the demand for speed. If it takes 2 hours to accomplish a task well and one hour is all that is allowed, again you relinquish control over the quality you are able to bring to the work by the demand for speed.  If it takes a year to grieve the loss of a friend, and the people around you demand that you grieve quicker, then your life is diminished by the demand for speed and your health may be negatively affected.

Speed And Sensitive People

The demand for speed is a serious issue for highly sensitive people since creativity, deep listening, and serious problem solving do not lend themselves to time pressure. HSP’s inevitably suffer from distracting and unhelpful conflicts when they are expected to work under artificial, and unnecessarily restrictive time schedules. To the highly sensitive person production is not the end and be all of one’s work life. Qualitative considerations are more important than quantitative ones – within reason of course.

Being sensitive means that we notice the cost of our highly competitive and highly demanding capitalistic system. We notice the stress in ourselves and others, the loss of time for connection and the kind of deep teamwork that is satisfying and inclusive. We see the loss of our cherished natural environment and all the cost to animals and humans. I suspect that to most HSPs the cost-benefit analysis does not read the way it does to an accountant. As a result, how we use time will also be different.

Time And Quality Of Engagement

The tyranny of the clock does not allow for the freely engaged way of relating to living and problem solving that results in deep satisfaction. It does a lot of damage and creates more problems than it solves. There is such a need for healing caused by the destructive shortsightedness of a high-pressure economy.  As a result, it is bound to be unsatisfying to highly sensitive people.

Time is precious. A high-pressure system is not very appealing to highly sensitive people who will treat time as they treat other things with regard and diligence. Finding a way to live true to your sensitive self and still contribute to your culture is a central challenge of sensitive people everywhere.

The Wound Of Materialism

Materialism destroys our environment as this picture shows. It also destroys so much more.

It destroys our humanity.

Every society defines its purposes and priorities. There was a time when the material side of life was extremely lacking and improving the human standard of living was a necessary and important goal. So the Western world, starting in Europe, created an economic system to rectify an existing problem. So far all is well.

Unfortunately, at some point, the goals of society went beyond rectifying serious material deficits and needs. Culture became about materialism: wealth accumulation and fame. This change may have been one of the biggest mistakes we ever made.

All social systems have a stewardship responsibility in society. Stewardship involves considering the past, present, and future. Stewardship honors the broad need for quality of life and sustainability. Stewardship promotes the health of all living creatures and their institutions. It is transpersonal.

When wealth accumulation became the agenda, stewardship went out the window. It pitted one person against another because it was no longer OK to seek to have your real needs met, if you were not part of a wealth accumulation system, you essentially did not exist. Those who could advance the wealth agenda had their needs met over those who were less able to do so (or less interested).

So if it mattered to you that we do not harm the environment unnecessarily then you were not only unimportant but also considered dangerous to the wealth accumulation agenda. If you think getting a good night’s sleep matters then you are not available to work ridiculous hours to further the wealth accumulation agenda. If you think that compassion matters then you may be interfering with profits.

I have heard very intelligent people express a fear of being irrelevant, lost and unable to support themselves. This is not living. In many cases, it is not even surviving. This is, in fact, slavery. And we all know that slavery is very damaging to the essence of a human being or any living creature for that matter.

We are not here just to be used.  We are here to live and to be cherished, and our existing social and economic systems are failing us miserably.

The human race has been demoted to serve a wealth agenda. It is definitely time for change,

And it cannot come soon enough.

Fixation On The Bad

I suspect that our fixation on the “bad” is a habit left over from our ancient past.”Bad” is a very problematic word.  Mostly because it is used to cover so much territory.

It can mean unpleasant, or refer to something that does not work well. When two people are in disagreement we may have a dysfunctional relationship, to cover our incompatibilities or developmental deficits.  It can mean inconvenient.  It can easily be used as code word for something else.

I suspect that bad may have been less social for our early ancestors. For them, bad may have been an unwelcome dinosaur coming for lunch, a storm or not enough basic necessities. Of course, bad could also have been any number of diseases that were not understood and had no cure. Bad could have been a visit from headhunters or other marauders, or the plague. Bad was often linked to challenges of our species living in a difficult physical environment.

As we seem to have conquered our environment, and that may be a matter up for debate, “bad” has become more ambiguous and that may be why people have so much difficulty with it and why it is so hard for people to feel good.

I think that feeling good is our normal state.  Many people like myself who meditate come to see bliss as our natural state and all the other stuff going on as distractions from our natural state. However, as long as we are being graded in one way or another by ourselves or other people and treated like we are on trial every day of our lives, most of us are probably going to have a hard time getting rid of the bad feelings that plague us.

Certainly, people have been judging each other for centuries. Perhaps it only seems worse because there are so many people on the planet now.  Seven billion people judging each other like crazy is a lot of social overhead that has to be dealt with.

For highly sensitive people, judgments, in particular, cause a lot of pain because they are not only felt acutely but also they are experienced in the body.  HSPs need to be particularly mindful about how clogged their systems can become with social judgment as well as other forms of pollution to prevent themselves from drowning in social pain.  Meditation, energy healing, and healthy dietary and lifestyle practices can do a lot to minimize bad feelings that HSPs are prone to have.