Do you often find yourself feeling emotionally invested in other people, movies, and TV shows? Do you feel like you take on the emotional state of those around you? Have you been told repeatedly to “just get over it” or “don’t be so sensitive,” or “don’t worry about it?” If so you may have heightened “sensory processing sensitivity” aka you’re a “Highly Sensitive Person.” Some estimates say that up to 20% of the population would fall under the spectrum of HSP. HSP’s are believed to experience the world differently than others, and they are often more aware of subtitles, and often process information more deeply.
Today we’ll take a look at the research of Elaine Aron from her website Highly Sensitive Person http://hsperson.com and we’ll dive deep into Linda Moon’s article from WellBeing Magazine “Highly Sensitive People - Hailing from the hypersensitive crowd.” https://apple.news/AuVshlAvgQnCQniOI2R7OvwPlease subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/
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[00:00:00] So on July 15th, 2011, I made my way to Carson City, Nevada, checked into my hotel, and I was all by myself. And the next morning, the morning of the 16th, at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m., I can't quite remember, I was set to join a few hundred other ultra endurance athletes and head out on what was one of the most challenging one hundred mile race courses that I ever in the Tahoe Rim Trail. One hundred miler. But this is not a podcast to talk about the race or mental fortitude or the months of training and preparation that went into it. And it's not even a podcast to talk about my friends, Trevor Amanti, who changed my dirty socks and my 50, because that is true friendship, or my friend Mark, who ran well ahead of me in the early morning hours around mile 70 at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, as he discovered and ironically fell in love with the sport of ultra running. Ironically, I say, because he'll be running that same course in just a couple of months, some 10 years later, or Trevor chasing me and trying to talk me out of wanting to just lay down on the trail for a quick nap around the 90 mile and 9000 foot elevation mark, because it sounded like an amazing idea at the time. No, I am talking about what I did the night before the race when I found myself in my hotel room alone. My wife had the kids at home. At that time, they would have been ages seven, nine, 11 and 13. And they were set to meet me at the finish line sometime early early Sunday morning if everything went according to plan.
[00:01:20] But no, I was alone in my hotel room. And as I pulled up the channel guide on the TV, I was I was excited to find access to Animal Planet. And I sat there this evening before my run. And I I've been on all of those programs where they show animals in the wild and hunting and being hunted and how spiders trap their prey or how eagles go at lightning speeds to pick off a mouse in the field or a fish from the water. And speaking of fish, how a bear would catch a fish with his with his bare hands. I promise I didn't see that one coming and smack it against a rock that put it out of its misery. So why was this what I chose to watch when I was alone in a hotel room? Well, it's because these types of shows had been a bit dramatic, but banned in my home, my entire marriage. And I didn't resent my wife. I love her to death, but I didn't resent her for not watching them. But admittedly, I had I had always been curious or fascinated and enthralled by the HD cameras capturing extreme close ups of bugs and wildlife. But if Wendy caught me watching one of those shows, even if the baby monkey was super cute or the caterpillars that inched its way along a tree limb looked fake. She wanted me to turn the channel before those programs often did, tended to show the Predator now devouring the cute caterpillar or the baby monkey that was scared and desperately trying to find its mother. And as I look back on those times, apparently my comforting words of it's not a big deal or don't be so sensitive.
[00:02:45] We're not exactly being met by my wife with a sense of, oh, got it. I didn't even think about not feeling sensitive or not worrying about it. I'll try that out. Now, she was feeling sensitive about the situation because she was sensitive, even highly sensitive. And that is the topic today, the highly sensitive person. It's been over two years since I had my now very good friend, Nikki Eisenhauer, who is a fellow therapist and host of the phenomenal podcast called Emotional Badass, a podcast about highly sensitive people on my show. And that interview not only blew my mind and taught me so much, but I honestly had a handful of clients and even my own wife who felt like this data around highly sensitive people, clinically named with people with sensory processing sensitivity, that it finally helped her put a few of the final puzzle pieces in place on her own experiences of having an extra amount of the feels. The emotions of some people like to say so stay tuned, because we're going to go into a little bit more depth on what, in fact, makes up a highly sensitive person and what is the difference, or is there one between a highly sensitive person and an empath or what can you do if you're in HSP or highly sensitive person and you're in a relationship or a marriage or a friendship with somebody who truly doesn't understand or appreciate what you're experience as an HSP looks like? So we're going to cover that topic. The topic of HSP and so much more coming up on today's episode of The Virtual Couch.
[00:04:21] Come on in, take a seat, so.
[00:04:27] Hey, everybody, I am your host, Tony Overbay, welcome to the virtual couches since episode number two hundred and sixty six and I'm glad to have you here today. We're going to be talking about the topic of highly sensitive people. And as per usual, I am host of this this podcast. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. A certified mind will have a coach, a writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner, as we talked about in the intro, and creator of the Path Back, which is an online pornography recovery program, coaching out Pathbackrecovery.com. Or go to Tony Overbay dot com and you can follow some links there. And you can snag a free e-book that talks about five mistakes or five myths that people fall prey to. And they're trying to put pornography in the rearview mirror and doing some group calls. I've talked about that on the podcast, but group calls with that, some pornography recovery group that are amazing. I am the the largest no shame person, a strength based, become the person you always want to be kind of way. And we get results. So that's all I'll say about that. And I also wanted to briefly mentioned I was on a podcast that is airing this week, and it is by a friend and it's Jeff Stoor and it's from crisis to connection. And Jeff did a two part podcast with me, and it's titled Protecting Your Marriage and a Faith Crisis.
[00:05:36] And he's got a part one and part two, because we just talked and talked and talked. And I love talking about this topic. And I just presented on this topic at a worldwide mental health conference a couple of weeks ago. So this really is something that I really feel like is happening in a lot of a lot of the couples that I'm working with where there are people that are on their own faith journey, maybe a different faith journey than their spouse. And so that can bring up a lot, bring up a whole lot of things in marriage. And so in Jeff's podcast and the two part episode, I really feel like we covered not only how to how to manage a faith journey, but also how to put some context or framework there so you can have conversations so that you can find ways to remain connected and to to navigate what that looks like. Even if going into your marriage or the early parts of your marriage or however long in your marriage, that wasn't something that you anticipated. So I highly recommend checking that out. But let's get to today's topic, which is highly sensitive people. And here's where this started. There's an article on the Apple news app that is from a magazine called Wellbeing, and it's called Hailing from the Hypersensitive Crowd. And it's by Linda Moon. And I really like the article. And it's something that my wife actually sent me and said, hey, this might be good timing for a podcast.
[00:06:51] I love when she does that, when she's thinking about me and sends me something that might be good to do a podcast episode on. And the reason she said that is because I pointed out to her on Facebook that a couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine who I had shared some information about highly sensitive people with her. Then she shared that information on Facebook and said that this has been kind of a game changer for her. And she pointed to, I believe, the podcast episode that I did with Nikki Eisenhauer that I referred to in the opening today. And so I shared some other resources. There's a wonderful website called S Person Dot Net, but then this article pops up and I just thought it was perfect timing because I'm dealing with are working with and I have the privilege to work with people that are figuring out or processing sensory processing sensitivity or highly sensitive person in themselves and their own lives. And there is so much relief, I think, at times or normalization of the way that people feel when they learn of something like highly sensitive people. And so I just wanted to go over this article because it covers so much of the HSP looks like what it looks like in the brain, how to how to work with that. If you're if you realize that you are a highly sensitive person and I feel like this is one of those episodes, if I look back on the episode with Nikki, that this is one that I think you might want to forward to people if you feel like they might be a highly sensitive person or you might want to send it to a spouse or a family member or somebody, if you feel like this really describes you or speaks to you and you would like for somebody else to to know.
[00:08:19] So if you are a spouse or a parent or someone that someone for to this to you, I hope that you'll sit back and kind of listen with a sympathetic ear or from a not a perspective of. Yeah, but don't listen with your elbow, as my friend Preston Buckmeier likes to say and to say, well, OK, but you need to they need to hear this or they need to understand this. I would love for you to sort to take it in and say, wow, if the person that sent me this feels like this is what they're experiences, that that might be really difficult or that might be hard. And I want to know more. And so you have this amazing opportunity to now reengage with somebody if they sent this to you and say, tell me more about that, what's that like? And it isn't something where you have to defend and say, well, I did this because of this.
[00:09:01] No, just just hear the person out and listen. Because when people understand or discover this concept of a highly sensitive person, it really can be liberating. But it also is frightening because it also it may make so much sense to the person that recognizes these traits of a highly sensitive person in themselves. But the whole point is that now they're a highly sensitive person. So putting themselves out there, being emotionally vulnerable or handing their heart on a platter to someone. They are afraid that this might not go well, and that is part of the big challenge that a lot of highly sensitive people don't put their emotions out there because no one, they feel them. They feel them so much more than someone who doesn't have sensory processing sensitivity. But an even more so that when someone reacts in a way that maybe invalidates the highly sensitive person, it's really, really difficult for the highly sensitive person to continue to show up and and in essence, go into this unsafe territory when they're trying to explore topics, maybe even low charge topics, but especially the high charged topics. So let me just go over. There's a before I even get to the article, the the site, the highly sensitive person, which is a person, dotcom. This is where I just spent so much time after my interview with Nikki. And here's here's the first part. It says, is this you are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights or strong smells or course fabrics or sirens nearby? You get rattled when you have to do a lot in a short amount of time.
[00:10:25] You make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows. Kind of how I talked about in the intro. Do you need to withdraw during busy days in a bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from a situation? And oftentimes I add to that one, do you feel like sometimes you just need to recharge your batteries? It's not that you want to withdraw after going through something that can be intense or emotionally intense, but you just need a place to step back and withdraw and recharge your batteries. Or do you make a make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations? Do you notice or enjoy delicate or sense taste sounds or works of art? And have to tell you that one just blew me away when I would have people then after I did this episode a couple of years ago with Nikki and I would go over this highly sensitive person website when people would say, hey, I heard your podcast about that, and I think that might be me. I, I don't necessarily enjoy delicate, refined sense, taste sounds or works of art. And so it's one of those where I didn't even know how significant that was.
[00:11:24] And some people that were coming to my office and talk about how they with certain fabrics, I remember somebody talking to me about just being so overwhelmed in a sense by the fabrics denim felt, you know, those kind of things or just just the texture of fabrics or the texture of paper, or had people talk about stickers and adhesives and so many different things that they just felt like that was just too much. Do you have a rich and complex inner life, a very vivid and colorful imagination, or when you were a child that your parents or teachers, the U.S. sensitive or shy? And if you have some of those traits and on this website, there's a link after that that says click, click here to take the self-test. You may be a highly sensitive person or HSP and the woman who pioneered the research. And this is a woman named Elaine Aaryn. And she said she began researching high sensitivity in nineteen ninety one and then continues to do the research on it. Now it's called sensory processing sensitivity, the scientific term. And I love the fact that Eileen said that there wasn't anything that she ever planned to write about or do any self-help books. But then the more that she dug into it, the more that she realized this is a population that did not have a voice for so long.
[00:12:33] And here's why. This is this is what just this is pretty fascinating as well. She says your trait is normal, that it's found in 15 to 20 percent of the population, which makes it too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you. And if you take that piece of data alone, if you have 80 percent of the population that are not highly sensitive, not experiencing sensory processing sensitivity, that's where that's where I'm at. I'm one of those people where then when if you are the one who often tell somebody, hey, don't worry about it, it's not a big deal. It's nothing to worry about. It's nothing to stress about, then most likely you're someone that doesn't necessarily experience the sensory processing sensitivity. And so it can be really difficult to have empathy for someone that does have these big feelings or big emotions. And I understand that. I mean, that was one of the big aha moments. As my wife and I talked about this a couple of years ago of where I found that I would I would say far too often, don't worry about it. Don't let it get you down. It's not as big of a deal as you're making it out to be. You know, don't make mountains out of molehills or all those sort of things. And here's the thing that I'll probably get back to several times, even in this interview is, ah, in this podcast, is that the highly sensitive person because of that sensory processing sensitivity? Because of that, I hope they don't continue to often advocate for themselves.
[00:13:53] So when they are up against someone that says, don't worry about it, get over it, and that person is not willing to listen sympathetically of what that person's situation is or how they feel or what that's like to have that high sensitivity, then the HSP or the highly sensitive person often just acquiesces. They give in, they say, OK, and then meanwhile, now they have to try to process things or figure things out internally where we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. That's one of my favorite quotes by Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy. And so here's this person that. Would desperately like to connect and process emotion with another human being, especially your spouse or somebody that you're close to, but if that person doesn't understand or doesn't even know what they don't know, they don't know what that's like to have this high sensitivity, then you can see how that can shut those conversations down. So Ellen Air and also says that this is an eight. This one's mind blowing. She says, in fact, biologists have found highly sensitive person or sensory processing sensitivity in over one hundred species and probably many more from fruit flies, birds, fish dogs, cats, horses and primates.
[00:15:02] And this is where it starts to really click or make sense that this trait reflects a certain type of a survival strategy, which is being observant before acting. So think about that one. If you grew up in a tumultuous home or an emotionally abusive home or even just a bless, their hearts allowed home, if you were the kid in that scenario that oftentimes those kids were being observant before acting, they were learning to read a room. And she says the brains of highly sensitive persons actually work a little differently than others. And she has a tab there that has some pretty amazing research on that. And because of that, you're often more aware of other subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even she says if you wear glasses, for example, you're still going to see more than others because you notice more. But what can that lead to? You are also more easily overwhelmed. And this goes back to my Animal Planet example. If you notice everything, then you're naturally going to be overstimulated when things get too intense or complex or chaotic or novel for a very long time. And she said this trade is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood because they prefer to look before entering new situations. Again, reading the room, they're often called shy or standoffish or reserved. But she says that shyness is learned, that it's not innate.
[00:16:18] In fact, 30 percent of species are actually extroverts, although the trade is often mislabeled as introversion and it's also been called and happiness inhibited ness or fearfulness or neuroticism and some HSP behave in these ways. But it is not innate to do so. And it's not the basic trait. And when you take this since highly, highly sensitive person quiz on a person dotcom website, there are different categories. And one of those is the high sensation seeking highly sensitive person. And those are people that I run into more often not than people that that seek that thrill or that excitement. But then they need an extra amount of downtime in order to process the transitionary time can be really difficult. And finally, Elaine, Erin says that sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. And this is this one is pretty interesting cultures where there's where it's not valued. Hopes tend to have low self-esteem. And I worry that that's in our culture. Probably everyone listening to this podcast that they're told, don't be so sensitive, rub a little dirt in it, get over it. It's not a big deal so that they start to feel abnormal over time. And so she says that you're definitely not alone, for example, that the more that the research comes out on this, the more that people are bringing this to the attention of others, the more this tribe of highly sensitive people is starting to grow and back to that value differently in different cultures.
[00:17:37] And I tried to find this, I could not find this, but when I was looking about two, two and a half years ago, before my interview with Nikki, I found a pretty pretty interesting article that talked about if you go to, let's say, a third world country where someone had been, this sensitivity had been nurtured from birth. So instead of the person feeling like they are less than we're told, did not worry about it or get over it, if people had from the time that person was born, looked at this person as, oh, my goodness, what a gift this person has of being able to to read the room and to feel people's vibe and energy, that these people in these cultures where it was more valued, became the shaman, the medicine people. They were people that people would bring them to in the world of, let's say, an arranged marriage and say, all right, look at these two. What vibe do you get? Will this marriage work? And they were able to predict a lot of putting people together that worked with pretty amazing accuracy. So we we definitely in our culture don't necessarily appreciate or recognize or even utilize, I guess, in that sense, often highly sensitive people. So let me get to the article from The Wellbeing magazine. And again, this is by Linda Moon. And the article says, Hailing from the hypersensitive crowd, a small but growing body of neuroscientific research confirms the existence of empathic and highly sensitive people.
[00:18:57] And she says here's what to do if you're one of them. And I have found that when you get people to come in in your office and they are being open and emotionally vulnerable, that you often do hear people say that. I know it might sound crazy, but I feel like I can feel other people's emotions or sensations or I feel somewhat like an empath. And and I would hear people two and a half years ago and earlier in my career, I would hear people and I would want to meet them where they're at. Hey, tell me what that's like, that sort of thing. But in learning more about highly sensitive people and especially that tab on the brains of a highly sensitive person off of a person dotcom, I realized again it was something that I don't understand. And so it makes me even more empathetic toward the plight of the HSP. And I find it even more empowering when they come into my office and open up and say, this is how difficult this can be. So to this article and I'll be reading quite a bit, and then I always count myself but saying react like a reaction video like the kids love on the YouTube. So Linda, what she says is she says, Do you feel deeply affected by the suffering of others or do you pick up easily on vibes around you? Or maybe you avoid negative social media and the news because the way it affects you and what makes one person more sensitive than others? I think that we often wonder why, if we have a highly sensitive child, I mean, there's a there's a quiz on person dotcom that even talks about highly sensitive children.
[00:20:21] And so what makes one person more sensitive than others and what problems or potential advantages might we face if we are one of the more sensitive we are in that sensitive crowd? And Linda Moon talks about she references Dr. Judith Orloff, who's a US based psychiatrist and an author, and she's spent decades investigating these questions. And it was a surge that grew from her own experience as a child. Dr. Orloff said that she always felt like something was wrong with her, said I felt criticized for being overly sensitive and told to get a thicker skin. She said that crowded places, shopping malls with their noise and overstimulation exhausted her. And I think that's one of these key phrases that it's so mentally taxing and mentally exhausting when people have to be on high alert, when they can't turn that off and their brain, that that becomes mentally exhausting. And she said that those places also caused anxiety, depression, aches, pains. And so, unsurprisingly, Orloff preferred spending time with one best friend over groups.
[00:21:17] And she said a turning point came when she met a woman named Dr. Thelma Moss while working at an intuition lab at UCLA. And Moss was the first adult, she said, to frame all of sensitivity as a positive ability. And that's what I love about my interview with Nikki. If you go find that one of the virtual couch archives is that she does talk about HSP, that you have to learn how to turn it into your superpower. And so Dr. Mohs told Dr. Orloff at this time she told me I was an intuitive empath or Lauffer recalls, and she said it felt liberating to know that there wasn't something wrong with me and I had nothing to be ashamed about. And she said, a whole new, exciting world opens up when an empath discovers who and what they are and that they can begin to really embrace themselves. And they really can they can kind of step into or take ownership of their their gifts, their talents, their abilities. And Orloff went on to coined the term an energy term energy psychiatry to explain how some people's mental health can be affected by subtle energies in their environment. And she has a couple of books, one including Second Sight, one is thriving as an empath and a growing number of blogs. And then there are now films that have given those who feel more deeply attuned to their environment a voice and a sense of validation and empowerment.
[00:22:28] So Juvonen says the empath and the sensitive movements, as it's become known, has the lingo to explain and differentiate what more sensitive people experience. She said there's highly sensitive people, so those are peace or energy absorbers, for instance, impasse, intuitiveness and psychic's. So she says peace and impasse are not the same thing or clarifies. While they tend to get lumped together, they are separate, though they often have related traits. So sensitive people have an increased reaction to external stimuli, including other people's emotions, whereas impasto have a greater than usual capacity to share another's feelings, but from their own framework. And whether whether or not you believe or what your thoughts are around an empath, then, you know, I'm presenting this data to you because I think the key point is if that's something that you have not experienced yourself, then I feel like how can I be one to say their experience is not valid or their experience is not real? And I'll tell you with my marriage therapist hat on, that's been one of the most difficult things or also one of the most powerful things when I'm working with couples. And one basically figures out how to express that, they feel like they are a highly sensitive person. And when they finally put a voice to that, when their spouse dismisses that, that can you know, it can be even more it can be even more detrimental when somebody becomes that Volant.
[00:23:47] Bull, about this experience or something that they have now put the pieces together and then their spouse, the one that they really want to bring that to invalidates them, she says that research suggests that most of us. And she says even psychopaths have the capacity for empathy. But Orloff describes it as the spectrum. And I love that concept of anything on a spectrum which she says is a spectrum with each of us sitting at different levels. She said there's the middle of the spectrum, which is the regular person who has empathy, where their heart goes out for other people in pain or maybe enjoy a little bit up on that spectrum of the highly sensitive people. And then you have even higher on the spectrum is the empath. And she says HSP is are highly sensitive to all the sensory elements of the environment, including light and sound. Other sources of stimulation, again, like we mentioned earlier, can be smells, it can be anything. And also said that she says empath possess all of that, plus a higher level of intuition. They tend to be sponges who take the energy of others into their own body. And Orloff says it's possible and common to be both an empath and an HSP. But not all experts are impressed. And then she even referenced something that I have not experienced, at least not that I'm aware of, that some people, and it's said to be only around one to two percent of the population, have an extreme type of empathy known as mirror touch synesthesia.
[00:24:57] And such individuals literally feel physical touch within their own bodies when they view someone being touched. And if you do a quick Google search on mirror touch synesthesia, I mean, this is something that can be charted with a nice functional brain scan. So it's not something that someone just makes up. And then she said so that some highly sensitive people have developed the sixth sense and are able to tap into information that they feel intuitively, such as possibly even what another person's thinking. And I will I will just say this. I really will. This is why I mentioned that a couple of years ago after having Nikki on my podcast, that my my thinking began to shift a bit on this. And not to not to say that that I had some experiences that were completely out of the ordinary for me. But what I started to recognize of when the more people felt safe in expressing themselves in my office around this phenomenon of highly sensitive person, the more I did hear people that talked about having a pretty unusual amount of situations where they they actually did be able to tap in a little bit more to what somebody else was thinking or some other people's experiences. And I just heard some amazing stories in my office since having this episode on highly sensitive people.
[00:26:03] And again, I'll be honest, it's not something that I personally have experienced, but being able to hear of other people's experiences, people that I trust, people that I've worked with for a long time has been just a fascinating part of this work. So Orloff often does call people that are ones who do feel like they can tap into a little bit of maybe what somebody is thinking is intuitive. And in her book, Second Sight or Love, give an example from her own experience as a psychologist where in a peaceful lapse of concentration, she was hit by what she could only identify at that point of premonition, which proved correct that her cheerful client was about to take her own life. And those are some of the stories that I do here often are some of the people that do feel like it's this gift and as well as a curse where they feel like they're constantly thinking or feeling about what others are feeling as well. So how common are impasse and HSBC? There's no true figure on impasto or HSBC, but more people are identifying with these personality types with self branded impasto trending all over social media, Moon said. For example, the Facebook group Impasse and Sensitives from Surviving to Thriving, one of many groups, she said, has eighty one thousand four hundred members and starting in twenty seventeen. And it's continually growing now. Unsurprisingly, females, long recognized as the more intuitive caring of the sexes, are more prevalent members.
[00:27:15] But it's this reliance on self reporting that invokes the criticism of what they call the empathy movement. And so the question is, does science actually back up their existence, the existence of an HSP? So this is where we go back to the clinical research by psychologist Eileen Erent, who we talked about a little while ago, that she's been studying high sensitivity since nineteen ninety one. She has multiple books on the subject. And in a 2014 Journal article, she claimed that the 20 percent, 15 to 20 percent of humans that possess a measurable trait related to a higher level of sensitivity and responsiveness to environmental and social stimuli. And so that's where she talked about the trait being observed in more than a hundred other species. And in nineteen ninety seven, that's where Aaron developed the highly sensitive person scale, which is a diagnostic criteria for determining XPS. And I will tell you, I took the scale and I did not score high as a highly sensitive person. But that's OK. I got to her. I had to own it. So the neuroscience of sensitivity and empathy. Aaron's research found a relationship between high HSP scores and specific genes. And so there's behavior, psychological reactions and patterns of brain activation. So in the first of its kind study in 2014, this is where Aaron and her colleagues found the brains of people with high, highly sensitive person scores have this increased activation in regions involved with attention, action, planning, awareness, integration, sensory information and empathy.
[00:28:35] So then that confirmed what sense of people have long suspected that they really are feeling different emotions or feelings, that they may not be exactly like everyone else. And so Aaron believes that the brains of sensitive have a heightened response to how they. Process sensory information, and this is where I remember when I first started doing a little bit digging into HSP, you start learning more and more about the concept of mirror neurons, and these are specialized nervous system cells in our brains that are triggered when we feel pain or witnessed that of others. And I remember one of the first one of the well here. I think that she talks about it here. But this understanding of of mirror neurons has has transformed the understanding of empathy from a soft skill to this innate competency that can be literally wired within our brains. So the mirror neurons, it's a mirror neurons, the neurons themselves fire when we perform an act in response to our environment, such as brushing a bug off our skin. And when we observe someone else doing the same, there's the key. That's what I want to talk about. So the the mirror the mirror neurons are what makes us flinch or grimace when we see somebody cut their finger while chopping food and science. Scientists hypothesize that mirror neurons systems help us understand other people's motivations by allowing us to feel and even just a small amount of what they feel.
[00:29:49] And so in more empathetic people, it's thought that these cells may be more active or prolific and in fact, the psychopaths less so. That's not to say that empathy can't be taught or cultivated because it absolutely can. But the person has to truly be aware and take ownership of the fact that empathy may be something that's hard. So that leads to the question of HSP is a genetic or learned or believes that being overly empathetic or sensitive can have a genetic basis, that it does often run in families. But for so many it's related to some sort of childhood trauma. She's talked about being raised in an abusive home, strips down your boundaries so that you're raw, you're open. So she said the world is a threatening place when you don't have supportive parenting and you process the world differently, you don't have the same filters and you are more hyper vigilant. I think that's the key, again, is that learning how to read a room or if you grew up and you had to watch what you say or it wasn't a safe environment to express yourself, then you're definitely going to learn from a very young age to to just be more hyper vigilant and read the room. And so is it a gift or a curse? And that's what I when I had Nicky on or she talked about that, it's absolutely she says, own it.
[00:30:55] It's a super it's a super power. It's a gift. And so in their 2014 study that was published in Brain and Behavior, that's where Erin and her colleagues propose a sensory processing sensitivity involved to enhance the survival of the species. So HSP have this increased responsiveness to potential danger or threats or opportunities in the environment which can benefit an entire group. And on the downside, she says, she suggests the increased sensitivity can place greater mental and metabolic demands on people or these individuals. She said those with the sensitive survival strategy will always be in a minority as it would cease to yield special payoffs if it were found in the majority. And I love that. So if everyone were highly sensitive, then that could be a challenge. It could be a challenge of of maybe taking more greater action if everyone was so worried or and idc me watching what I'm saying, because I don't want to be offensive with this, because that is not me. I mean, I know that I don't understand what that's like, but she said that again, let me read that in the sense that a survival strategy will always be in a minority as it would cease to yield special payoffs if it were found in the majority. She says on on the up impact are more likely to enjoy music and potentially other positive stimuli.
[00:32:04] A study by Southern Methodist University found that high empathy individuals process music differently with higher activation of the reward and empathy systems of the brain. But since intuiting her her client suicide attempt, Orloff said that she's embraced intuition as a tool to better understand and help others. And so she said that she now views empathy as this advanced feature that's important to the salvation of the human race. She said, Our capacity to understand what's going on and someone else, whether we like them or don't, whether we agree with them or not, is the path of peace. And she said that she thinks it's the one of the number one most important qualities in humankind. And she said it's in most people and it's to help us evolve personally. So it helps us to love deeply or be open to nature or the universe or to enjoy ourselves. So she said you may really want to develop this sensitivity, but you also want to develop self care techniques with it. And I think this might be the perfect time to see if I can do a impulsive off the cuff. Very quick. When we talk about self care techniques, if you are seeking help, if you need to seek help from a licensed therapist or a licensed clinical counselor or a licensed professional and you can't find one in your area, go to Betterhelp.com virtual couch and do it.
[00:33:12] Over a million people have done now literally over a million people and find someone that can help you process the things in your life. You owe it to yourself, your family, everyone to be able to to have some self care, especially in the way of therapy or counseling. And Betterhelp.com virtual couch will give you 10 percent off your first month's services. And you can be speaking with a counselor or you can be emailing or texting or video conferencing or whatever you want to do with a counselor, sometimes as soon as 24 to 48 hours. And they make it really easy. If you don't find that you fit or jive with your therapist or counselor, then it's really easy to make the break and find another one. So do me a favor, go to Betterhelp.com, slash virtual couch, because you really do owe it to yourself to develop these self care techniques, including therapy. So the pitfalls of being energy sensitive. Moonen said that while generally viewed as an adaptive trait, being overly empathetic or highly sensitive can have, she said, a dark side for the host. Because many people that struggle with sensory processing sensitivity or high sensory processing sensitivity suffer from empathetic overload. And she said that's related to absorbing excess energy from their environment and other people that are carrying it as if it's their own or Lefsetz. Symptoms can include exhaustion and sensory overload. Feeling emotionally flooded and common health issues related to empathetic overload include adrenal fatigue, which is just this chronic fatigue or anxiety, depression, panic disorders, chronic fatigue, even be weight problems, insomnia, she said.
[00:34:33] And supporting this notion, research suggests that those who are more sensitive to others emotions may be more prone to depression. So a study by psychologists at Queen's University in Canada found that depressed people were significantly better than non depressed people at correctly judging the emotions of people simply from pictures. So impasto can also find relationships overwhelming. They can often struggle or have fear around intimacy because their ability to deeply feel another person's problems and needs. Orloff said that a lot of impasto don't even know how to express their own needs in a relationship, she adds, because it can be so overwhelming. And unfortunately, most professionals as I was, was not aware of the problem. And doctors and counselors don't know it exists, much less how to treat it. But empathetic overload is a very real problem to energy sensitive people. So what do you do? Self care becomes one of the biggest things that you can embrace. And this is where I so talk often about my emotional baseline theory that when your baseline of emotions gets low, then you're going to process everything around you from a lower emotional state. And I feel like this is all the more important when it comes to people that have highly sensitive person, highly sensitive sensory processing sensitivity.
[00:35:40] Self care becomes it becomes the thing to focus on, you know, raise your emotional baseline so that you can go out and deal with the world because the world is there on a day to day basis around you, your job, your relationship, your parenting, all of those things are happening. So it's important for you to be able to present yourself with a higher emotional baseline, and that starts with self care. I did a whole podcast not too long ago. Please go find it on. Self care is not selfish that you have to put your put your oxygen mask on first in the airplane analogy or fuel the tank of your car in order to be able to go and all those other kind of wonderful analogies. But self care. Orlov says it is important for impasse and each piece to carve out alone time to decrease the level of stimulation that they're getting. And this means learning how to set clear boundaries. And I talked about the Gestur at the beginning of this podcast that I was on his podcast, but he's coming on mine and he's a bit of an expert in the world of boundaries. And so I thought, what great timing to bring him on to talk about what boundaries really are, what boundaries look like, and how to set real clear boundaries. But I feel like if you really look at the physiology of what can happen when people are overstimulated, that's where you get your cortisol levels increase and that zaps the or shuts down your your prefrontal cortex or your ability to think logically, irrationally at times.
[00:36:55] So too often when highly sensitive people get all up in their amygdala is I think I like to say, then they are shutting down that logical part of their brain. So no wonder it can be you can feel emotionally flooded or emotionally overwhelmed. So she said again, after setting clear boundaries, nurture. Yourself, take regular social media fast, avoid distressing media of any kind, she said impasse can't take violent or scary movies, and violence against animals is just unbearable to watch or hear about as anything she says. Go back to my example at the beginning of this podcast. If crowded places causes you stress practice centering strategies before you go out, such as meditation or a blood sugar grounding, high protein meal and breathing exercise, she said. Also, take many breaks and time out if you need and limit the time that you're out and importantly, learn how to express your own authentic needs rather than remaining quiet, she said. Impasse can be a little shy and not want to offend people so they don't say anything, Orloff said. If a chronic talker comes up to them in a party, they'll sit there and listen for hours and then be exhausted and feel sick. So you have to learn how to interrupt in a polite way and deal with energy vampires.
[00:37:58] And she said, if you don't learn this, that you have a potential to be pretty miserable. So I highly, highly recommend that if you vibe or if any of this made sense or just you felt like this is you go take a look at the article, this article and well-being. I'll link to that in the show notes. But even more so, go to person Dotcom. And I highly recommend getting Eileen Aaron's book and go subscribe to Nikkie Eisenhower's podcast called Emotional Bardash. She talks about highly sensitive people and the challenges and the struggles and the gifts and the all of it on a weekly basis. And her podcast is incredibly it's so good and she covers all of these and a lot more detail. So I appreciate you joining me today. I really am grateful that we were able to go over this, something as important as sensory processing sensitivity. And let me let me just kind of end with this is going to make no sense. So I say that at the end or I worry that it won't make sense because this is where I work a lot with as anyone listening to my podcast knows, what people that are in relationships with people who are struggling with narcissistic tendencies or full blown narcissistic personality disorder. And what I found is that there there is there's a concept called the Human Magnis Syndrome, where a lot of if you Google Hauspie and narcissism, you find a pretty, pretty solid link there.
[00:39:10] I can't lie. And I think that it is because of the kindness of the there's in the book Human Magnis Syndrome, the author talks about the pathologically kind person, which I believe is a lot of this HSP vibe and then the pathological narcissist who is not going to take the ownership or that sort of thing of their situation. And I'm saying it from a bless their heart childhood trauma. They don't know what they don't know kind of a way. And I mean, there's so much more I could talk about there. But I feel like often that is what becomes this human magnet, is that the chronically or the the nice person and this is where they talk about the author talks about being stuck at a party, talking to somebody for hours that they feel like sometimes people get stuck in their marriage feeling like they're they can't do anything about it. They feel emotionally overwhelmed, but also emotionally their partners emotionally unavailable because they live this life of someone telling them, don't worry about it. I can't believe you said that. It's not a big deal, which is a lot of the basis of what can be considered gaslighting. So it's just something to be aware of. The part where I'm saying that I worry that won't make sense. I've got my hands held now. I didn't do a video on today's podcast, but I often feel like the HSP is over here.
[00:40:15] And if I'm holding my hands up in front of me, the far left of this this continuum and then the full blown narcissism is at the very far right. And I like to think that I'm somewhere in the middle that my wife might say I'm a little bit more toward the right. But I feel like from this standpoint, this continuum is that you you can only look up the continuum. So the highly sensitive person can understand up the continuum more of what that person's feeling, thinking. And and so they have that empathy moving forward. But I worry that people that are further up that continuum, if they try to look back down the path, anyone behind them is going to get the don't worry about it. It's not a big deal, as I know that I used to do a lot. And so I feel like the more that we bring awareness to this highly sensitive person and the more that we can say there is science behind it, that I hope that that will help people that were like me two and a half years ago to say, oh, my gosh, again, I cannot imagine what it's like to have high sensitivity the way that this data shows that it is. And that led to a lot of amazing conversations around my wife and some of her feelings around even struggles at times with parenting and family relationships and church callings and just expectations in general, because it can be emotionally overwhelming when you are looking at that from a highly sensitive person point of view.
[00:41:33] So I hope that you've got a little something today. If you are an HSP, I hope this was empowering and if so, go do more research. And if you're married to somebody that is is on this HSP continuum, then learn all you can about it and embrace that it is their superpower because it's pretty amazing to have somebody that can care that deeply. But my goodness, if you are the spouse of somebody that is an HSP, as I have learned over the last two, two and a half years, just treat that person with kindness because that is a good person and they want to do they want to do well. And I know that you don't necessarily mean anything bad when you're saying don't worry about it, it's not a big deal. But just now know that. This is an opportunity to say, hey, tell me about it, tell me why it feels the way that it does for you. Tell me more about that and know that you will not necessarily have that ability to truly relate. But this is the part where to be heard is truly to be healed. All right. Hey, if you have questions about HSP highly sensitive person or anything, feel free to shoot on my way and to have an amazing week. I'll see you next time on the virtual couch.
[00:42:36] Compressed emotions flying. Starting out the other end, the pressures of the daily grind is wonderful. And have placed in Robert Ghost voting past midnight, and they push aside things that matter most to. Sales of discount
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