A Political Post from a Highly Sensitive Person

The more I think about it, the more I feel that highly sensitive people should make themselves heard in this current (far too heated) political climate.

Because we HSPs think deeply on things and process information more deeply than most, we go beyond the binary.

The HSP’s depth of processing is described this way by Dr. Elaine Aron:

At the foundation of the trait of high sensitivity is the tendency to process information more deeply … HSPs simply process everything more, relating and comparing what they notice to their past experience with other similar things. They do it whether they are aware of it or not. …
Studies supporting the depth of processing aspect of the trait have compared the brain activation of sensitive and non-sensitive people doing various perceptual tasks. [Research has found] that the highly sensitive use more of those parts of the brain associated with “deeper” processing of information, especially on tasks that involve noticing subtleties.
In another study, by ourselves and others, sensitive and non-sensitive persons were given perceptual tasks that were already known to be difficult (require more brain activation or effort) depending on the culture a person is from.
The non-sensitive persons showed the usual difficulty, but the highly sensitive subjects’ brains apparently did not have this difficulty, regardless of their culture. It was as if they found it natural to look beyond their cultural expectations to how things “really are.” 

Dr. Elaine Aron, in The Highly Sensitive Person

When it comes to the political system, this depth of processing that highly sensitive people have often means we do not default to the current (and highly divisive) structures of the two-party system that has become so unhealthy and even dangerous for our nation.

Because this two-party system – the Republicans and the Democrats, the conservatives and the liberals, the red and the blue, the right and the left – has grown so pervasive in recent years, it seems as though this is the way it has always been and the way it must be.

But it’s not.

And as difficult as it might be for some to grasp this, there are ways of looking at things that fall outside the two binary categories.

It is deeply flawed thinking to assume that just because a person aligns with some aspects of one part of the party system that they must align with every aspect of it.

It’s like saying that because you enjoy eating blueberries, you must therefore like everything that is blue, including blue cheese and blue raspberry ices and any other food that is blue.

Okay, so that wasn’t the greatest analogy, but I hope you understand …

And if you are also a highly sensitive person, I trust you understand what I’m trying to say.

A person can be more than either pro-life or pro-choice.

More than either pro same-sex marriage or homophobic.

More than either pro Trump or pro Biden.

And if we neglect to see this, then we are not thinking deeply about matters that will be affecting our world our nation for years to come.

We have grown far too used to strawman arguments and one-sided simplistic explanations.

We have grown far to use to casting doubt on “the other side” and throwing everything about that other side under the bus, when there is so much more to life than two sides.

I know, when it comes down to voting, it is said that if you choose to vote for a third option, rather than the most popular Republican and Democrat in any political race, you’re throwing away your vote.

And I know that votes are important because they help to determine what direction the nation goes in overall.

Yes, I’ve heard it all before, but forgive me if I admit that I don’t agree with it at all.

This is why I have never voted and why I never will unless something changes about this current political system. It is limited, and flat out wrong.

What about a person who is anti-war yet pro-life?

Or someone who believes that two people can love each other, no matter who they are, and who agrees with more gun laws and free education for all, but who also understands the concerns of the more conservative among us?

I have never watched a presidential debate, as they are too intense and anxiety-producing for a highly sensitive person like me to view, but I do remember thinking this when hearing some people talk about how much mud-slinging there was during one such debate:

Why should the future of a nation depend on how well someone argues?

There is so much more to life than arguing.

Why not ask the candidates to write a poem? Or require them to spend a couple of hours playing with preschoolers or volunteering at an old folks home? Why not have them play an instrument or choreograph a dance or paint a picture?

How has one of the most advanced nations in the world become one known for arguments and an inability to move forward because of the deeply divided political climate?

It has been said that a house divided against itself cannot stand …

How much longer can such a divided nation continue on?

But all is not lost, and I am hopeful …

Hopeful that the emotional and the sensitive among us will find our voices and be willing to speak out for options that do not fall into one or another binary.

Hopeful that we who learn who we are – with our sensitivity and our tears, our depth of processing and our longing for beauty – will learn to inspire others to also seek these things.

I am hopeful that we will be able to use the gifts we have to share a desire for peace and beauty and a better world with others.

And who knows … maybe one day someone who identifies as a highly sensitive person will hold the highest office.

Maybe one day, presidency will be determined by poetry and music rather than mud-slinging and arguments.

What have we if not hope?

And where there is life, there is always hope.

Does Higher Education Encourage Creativity… Or Quench It?

I’ve sometimes wondered how my education has affected my creativity as an artist and writer.

I wonder if my degree in higher learning has curbed my enthusiasm for writing and other forms of creativity.

In my college years, it felt like I was always jotting ideas down between classes or using longer stretches of time write up some story’s plot line or scene or dialogue while other students passed me by on the way to their classes.

This is the time of year I often think of new ideas in stories.

The ideas are still there, but something isn’t. Something is missing. Maybe it’s the passion and enthusiasm … or perhaps it’s just the energy.

Years have passed, after all, since those college seasons.

Maybe it’s the space that I lack. Perhaps any space really is creative space.

But then I also wonder if it is all the reading and education, at least in part, that has caused my creativity to wane.

With so much reading and learning, which I love and which I continue to do, I’ve realized in part just how much is really out there.

So many styles of writing and art. So many genres.

With so many niches, I’ve learned just how difficult it is to establish one’s space as a writer or artist.

It seems as though even every niche and subgenre and sub-subcategory has been not only written about and taken … but extensively (and many times uncreatively).

It feels sometimes like the people with the marketing degrees are the ones who make it as writers and artists … not because they have the greatest skill in the art of creativity but because they know how to put themselves out there in this modern context and culture.

Of course, some good writers can be marketers and some marketers can be good writers. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

But in this modern culture of needing to have a large platform or regular speaking events and using SEO (to reach not people but spider bots I think they’re called), much of writing and much of making it as an artist is not the creative act itself but the building of one’s brand and platform and marketing oneself.

For me, as a highly sensitive person and an introvert, that takes the heart out of writing.

It steals the joy out of it.

I know there are extroverted writers and artist out there and perhaps some marketing experts who are also introverts or even highly sensitive. I don’t know.

The statistics say that 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts and I know that many introverts do work that involves interacting with people and they just muscle through it.

In my professional life, I do the same.

But that one-on-one social interaction takes all the energy I have and I don’t have more left over to think about setting up speaking engagements or writing SEO articles or figuring out every social media platform in order to build my platform.

Several years ago, I completed a manuscript.

It went through a number of drafts and revisions, beta readers, and editors.

Then I sent it out to both agents and independent publishing companies, all of which got back to me with pretty much the same thing.

You’re a good writer and this material is solid, but you don’t have a platform.

Maybe I’m just sensitive, highly sensitive at that, but something either broke or died inside of me since then.

I’ve continued reading and studying and honing the craft of writing, but some part of the enthusiasm, the hope, faded.

Some introverts, like Susan Cain, while embracing and teaching on the power of quiet has still had to play the game of the extrovert world …

Speaking and engaging in order to get the message out.

Perhaps I have not educated myself too much.

Perhaps it is not the scores of classes or the passing of years that has caused me to set down my pen and pencil for a time.

Perhaps it is not even the overthinking that we HSPs are so prone to doing.

Is not the knowledge itself, but what I have chosen to do with it.

In this case, unfortunately, I have chosen to grow discouraged and let that keep me from writing …

At least from seriously writing toward a specific end.

Maybe this very knowledge or realization will be enough to get me out of this funk, this furlough, this neglect, of writing.

So I overthink. I’m a highly sensitive person, after all.

So I don’t have a platform that is worthy of our modern culture’s attention.

But I still have a gift.

I still find joy in writing and art.

And because of this combination of skill and joy, I think I have a calling.

And I think I can no longer ignore it.

I think it is time to write.