Trying to educate the population about our trait has become not just important to me, but a passion. Oh, how I longed to be passionate about something. But where to start?
One of the comments I get is what is the difference between Highly Sensitive and Highly Responsive? A couple of factors come into play. Firstly, as I am mainly dedicated to help men (no offense ladies but there are tones of resources out there for you), the term sensitive not only shuts us down emotionally to the point we do not want to even talk about our trait, it’s painful and insulting. You see, men who hold a high-sensing nervous system do not consider themselves weak. Yet when that term is applied to them, society automatically assumes they are.
Women on the other hand are allowed to be sensitive. In fact, society even expects them to be. The misunderstanding of a word is one of society’s biggest problems, a problem we are not going to overcome in the near future.
Secondly, if we can, for just a moment, use the word sensitive in its true form, then the term Sensitive is true when we allow our emotional state to take control of our mental state. A highly sensitive person usually controls their emotions by force. These emotions then build up to a point that immense amounts of energy is required to keep them from rushing out in an uncontrolled state. Small unrelated triggers at the wrong time can cause that loss of control and thus exposing a flood of emotions that have been dammed up internally.
Using the term Highly Responsive is more appropriate for men because men tend to have far more practice in emotional control. That said, teaching men emotional management which leads to a higher degree of emotional intelligence is ultimately the goal.
Figure 1. HSPs Tend to Thrive with a Higher Level of Emotional Intelligence
HSPs tend not to have many friends. Acquaintances yes, but true friends, no. Often, their relationships with their families are also very distant or nonexistent due to the latter not understanding their trait. Hell, even most of us don’t understand it fully, how can we expect others to understand us that deeply?
HRPs equally have few friends or lack of solid relationships with their family, but for a vastly different reason. Once they reach an emotional intelligence level, combined with their heightened sense of awareness, they find it hard to be around people who do not hold the same emotional intelligence as they do. They crave intellectual conversations, and yet hold all the caring compassion and empathy of a Highly Sensitive person, without the emotional outbursts or loss of control.
Lower sensitive people will never feel what we feel, they can’t! Their nervous system has a limit, whereas our limits are much higher, ours being far more sensitive. Being an electrical specialist (now ex-electrical specialist), I often use the analogy of a volt meter and an oscilloscope. A volt meter can tell you roughly how many volts are there in an electrical circuit, but an oscilloscope is far more sensitive and can tell you precisely what voltage you have in different parts of the electrical wave. HSPs/HRPs are the oscilloscopes when it comes to environmental stimulus, and normal people are the volt meter. Oh, and by the way, narcissists and psychopaths won’t understand any of this because their sensitivity is that of a rock.
When we HSPs/HRPs try and explain our feelings to lower-sensitive people, they will never understand. They can certainly try, but they will never truly get it. Think of it this way, it’s like trying to explain the taste of rocky road ice cream to someone who has never tasted it nor have the ability to taste it.
Figure 2. Yummy Rocky Road Ice Cream
So, what we can do is, we can make them aware we have this trait and they don’t. We can make them aware of how we feel, realizing that they will never feel that way, we can make them aware of our efforts to manage it and just hope that they assist us. What we can not do, is use our lack of control as an excuse for inappropriate behavior, although there will be times this happens. Apologize and keep working on your mindfulness, hopefully with their unlimited understanding.
Further to that, get involved with other HSPs/HRPs, but do so cautiously. Many online forums with an HSP subject line are nothing more than pity parties. And that is more damaging than helpful. Some HSPs need professional therapy and use these forums to seek others like yourself to validate their emotional instability. No, do not partake! To gain true emotional control, surround yourself with people who equally seek to achieve it.
Again, as an advocate for men, I suggest reaching out to William Allan for starters. He runs a free program for men as well as puts out a great newsletter. You can find his contact info in my Links page. You can also email me; I may not have all the answers but I will do all I can to help the ones I can.