Masking Our Sensitivity

Edward BonapartianCreativity, Emotional And Mental Health, HSP Traits12 Comments

It’s two days before Halloween as my wife and I head to our favorite Italian restaurant in the city.  Entering the foyer of the restaurant, I notice a message written on the chalkboard listing the night’s specials. In addition to mussels with plenty of garlic and Venetian zuppa de peoci soup, a psychic is also on the menu tonight. “This should be good”, I tell my wife as we walk through the dimly lit dining room to a booth along the far wall. I had recognized the psychic’s name written on the chalkboard; a local woman named Carol well known in the area for her accurate readings on a local radio show. Our antipasto has just been served as the nights entertainment begins. Sitting on a stool in the front of the room, I notice as Carol politely refuses an appetizer brought over by the owner stating that she doesn’t eat before reading for people. Noticing the owner’s surprise she explains that the food will make her sleepy and affect her energy. It was an awkward moment; the food in this restaurant was some of the best in the area and I don’t think the owner ever had one of his dishes refused especially when he decides to serve it to her personally. But she stayed true to herself; not letting social pressures distract her from the job at hand. Taking note of her behavior, I was pleased to see her actions embrace her identity. Our main course was served as Carol began to walk around the room, stopping at each table. Since we were sitting over by a far wall, we had pretty well finished our meal by the time she arrived. Talking to my wife first, she addressed some health and career concerns my wife had before turning … Read More

Criticism Is Not Problem Solving

Maria HillEmotional And Mental Health, Social Anxiety2 Comments

Much has been written about criticism and the inner critic. So why another article? It seems to me that we take criticism for granted as an OK thing to do. Perhaps it is our consumer culture run amok. Isn’t complaining how you get something done? Maybe to some but I think we need a rethink about this topic. Does Criticism Really Solve Problems? I don’t think so. Criticism is not problem solving. Criticism often feels intense, but criticism can be deceptive because it feels as if we are doing something when we are criticizing someone or something. However, more often than not we are not really doing anything when we criticize except putting our displeasure on someone else. I am not suggesting that all criticism is a mistake – far from it. Without displeasure and criticism we could not improve and progress. However, all criticism is not equal. In our consumer culture, convenience is an expectation and the absence of it often treated as a problem. This is one  kind of criticism that deserves questioning. Were we promised a convenient world? Criticism And The Need To Be Right Criticism can often feel strange or a little bit unreal. After all, the sun does not rise and judge us. The wind does not criticize us. A red light will not mouth off at us when we are driving through it. So criticism is our personal expression of some sort of disharmony, dissonance or displeasure. Implicit in any criticism or judgment is the thinking that there is a right way to think, be, or do something. This is another form of criticism that deserves questioning. One of the biggest difficulties people have in relinquishing their critical views is that they may feel that their point of view is perfectly reasonable – and … Read More

Causes Of Social Phobia

Maria HillHSP Traits, Social Anxiety2 Comments

It is useful for highly sensitive people to understand the causes of social phobia which often result in the crippling self consciousness and which can contribute to the HSP tendency to have an introverted personality. Social Phobia is sometimes referred to either as Generalized Social Phobia, which NIMH states is the most common anxiety disorder, or Social Anxiety Disorder. In 2008, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) released the results of a study: Social Phobia Patients Have Heightened Reactions to Negative Comments. The researchers used functional brain imaging tools, fMRI, to map brain reactions to a variety of negative verbal expressions.  It was found that those people with social phobia had heightened brain responses only to negative comments about themselves. The study made evident that people with social phobia are extremely afraid of being judged by other people.  The researchers were able to observe that two different sections of the brain became activated when negative comments were made to people with social phobia: the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) which is involved in the sense and evaluation of self and the amygdala which is central to emotional processing.  According to the Free Library, “the medial prefrontal cortex is involved in imagining, thinking about yourself and “theory of mind,” which encompasses the ability to figure out what others think, feel or believe and to recognize that other people have different thoughts, feelings and beliefs from you.” This would suggest a connection between criticism and fear in the person with social phobia.  In this research, the reaction in the patient was raised by criticism, but only criticism towards themselves generated a brain reaction.  It raises a question about criticism that is worth exploring: why would one person be afraid of criticism and another would not be afraid? As we learn more and more about our brains, it … Read More

How To Get Your Inner Critic Under Control

Kathryn NulfEmotional And Mental Health, Personal Development8 Comments

Are you familiar with your inner critic? I’m talking about that little mean voice that can just show up unannounced and uninvited. As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I’m sure you are already very familiar. You may even be well versed in some of your critic’s favorite go-to lines. Your inner critic can show up just about any time. It could be at a party among friends. You’re meeting someone new. Suddenly you’re in your headspace thinking and worrying. What does she think? Do I look OK? Am I saying the right things? Or you’re putting on your bathing suit and heading for the beach. But wait a minute. Somebody’s got something to say…“You’re not going to actually wear that, are you?” Or, my favorite, when you actually create other people’s thoughts for them, and those thoughts always just happen to be a negative mess. What’s up with this? And where is this stuff coming from? HSP, Social Anxiety And The Inner Critic As an HSP, you probably can relate. We feel things more intensely. We pick up on other’s emotions. We become easily overwhelmed. All of this sets the stage for a “preparing for the worst” state of being. It’s when we are in this place that we hear the little voice telling us it’s safer to not shine too brightly. It’s just too risky to live life to the fullest. And it’s really unsafe to be crazy in love with your life…and especially happy and at peace with who you are. I took this inner critical voice seriously for a long time and am still recovering from it. It’s exhausting, right? Are You Taking Your Inner Critic Too Seriously? If you start hearing your inner critic trying to get your attention, start to question it. Who is that? It’s … Read More

A Taste Of Our Sensitivity

Edward BonapartianPhysical Health, Stress1 Comment

Linda and I had just passed the 3-mile mark of our marathon training run, when she commented on how tired she felt; “My legs are like lead today, probably has something to do with all the ice cream I ate last night.” I smiled at her comment. Ironically, having also eaten my fair share of  Gelato the previous night after a crappy day at work I knew all too well the battles of appetite that highly sensitive people face. Rather than engage her in a self-deprecating conversation, I stayed silent. Since I often experience food binges after having a bad day, as we rounded the corner of the road surrounding the fairgrounds I wondered how stressful her week had been. But I wasn’t one to judge because I knew from experience that while our egos are quick to judge us on our perceived lack of self-control, for the highly sensitive there is much more to the situation than just a non-stop urge to eat when stressed. Food Is Comfort My BeachBody coach, Daryl Bart, wrapped the mental aspect of binge eating up succinctly when she replied that food is both comfort and habit to us after I asked her about dealing with late night binges. While for most people food is indeed a source of comfort, to fully understand the pattern of binge eating with the highly sensitive, we need to look deeper. Although binge eating is often a mental reaction to a stressful day, for the Highly Sensitive, the source of our hunger stems from a physiological reaction our body experiences when reacting to the energy of the environment without our being consciously being aware of it. I learned of this physiological response during a presentation given by Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D at one of her Intuitive Healing workshops held at the Kripalu … Read More

In Search Of A Real Conversation

Maria HillEmotional And Mental Health, Personal Development, Social Anxiety3 Comments

I like a real conversation. I do not like a faux conversation. I do not like pretend conversations. I do not like manipulative conversations. It can be quiet around me. What Is A Real Conversation, Anyway? It probably sounds silly and perhaps a little whiney – but what is a real conversation? It may be easier to talk about what it is not. I have no trouble with people being pleasant with each other except when it becomes so rigid that real issues and problems cannot be discussed. A real conversation talks about what is and needs to be. When I see conversations that are stiffly pleasant, I often think people are talking to what they want life to be like rather than what is. I don’t want conversations that feel like some sort of weird dream. I prefer a conversation that feels robust and timely. It should be present. A real conversation is present. A real conversation doesn’t nee to manipulate. I have enough going on, I don’t really have the time. A real conversation does not demand a big acting job on the part of others. There is nothing to gain or lose. There is just the getting on with it. Real Conversation Is Slow Real conversation is slow. It starts but does not necessarily end at the same time. I like the kind of conversations that feel like a kind of weaving of information, thoughts and feelings. The results are not the primary concern, the exchange is. It makes the conversation less about an agenda or result and more about groundedness. Conversation can be a way to ground. A real conversation does not have winners or losers. A real conversation doesn’t have rules or authority. What is is the authority. A Real Conversation Is Lighter A real … Read More