From time to time, someone asks me what I think about all the websites and chat rooms, writers and professionals, all focusing on HSPs. I’m usually asked in a tone that implies I must disapprove of some of them. Actually, I do not keep track much–it saves me from worrying about what I can’t change. I remember my agent wanting me to trademark “Highly Sensitive Person” so that I could control its use, but it’s a scientific term, not a product. Nor is it possible to police something like this. It simply must blossom in all of its various ways.
Happily, I know that many people are doing wonderful things. I also know that, of course, a few people use the idea in ways I would not, say things about the trait that lack scientific basis (or that even contradicts the research), and associate it with things I’d rather it not be associated with, but that’s what happens with a useful concept having broad application. True, I particularly worry when people are trying to counsel people without professional training or sell products as if all HSPs need those things. However, I’m pretty fussy.
The alternative would be to pass judgment on people–to “certify” some and reject others. It seems like a terrible role to place myself in. Even if someone is listed on my own website, it does not mean they are officially sanctified by me! They are just there. Alas, my refusal to direct traffic in our HSP world means that some of you will be misled at times, perhaps seriously, or waste your money. On the other hand, I will not be directing you away from people who might be good for you personally. So I have followed a mentor’s advice, “Let the marketplace take care of it.” That means that you will have to be discerning instead of me. If you find you made a mistake in trusting something, please pass that on to others, speaking as objectively and specifically as you can, and preferably without making global judgments of character! Do the same when something does work for you.
Above all, retain a skeptical, “scientific,” wait-and-see attitude, in all things. I find that we HSPs tend to be trusting, or at least very open-minded, especially when someone mentions “HSP.” Given our trait, we ought to be more careful than others in making our decisions, and I think we are, in general. But we are enthusiastic about all things “HSP,” of course. Further, if you are one of those who have been seriously misused in the past, it is possible to reenact that again and again. So have a dash of skepticism. One very thoughtful sensitive man told me that he equated being highly sensitive with being a good person. Oh dear. It’s never that simple. We all have our histories, resulting in us all having our “shadow side.”
Maybe take the attitude that every product and service has a weakness, because nothing can do everything and most things have unwanted side effects. For example, allopathic medicine is not perfect and neither is any alternative approach. Until we know a thing’s shortcomings as well as its strengths, we really do not know it enough to invest very much in it. With people, until you have a sense of their shadow side, you can be warm, but you do not know them well enough to commit yourself fully. This bit of caution saves your own feelings, and saves you having to hurt their feelings later. In short, as Confucius would probably say, “Be thoughtfully, respectfully careful in all matters new to you.”