Welcome to our revised hsperson.com website and new format for Comfort Zone as a blog. We hope it pleases you. The theme of this first post is stretching and changing, for sure. We all need to change when it is time, but HSPs generally do not like risks, and therefore do not like change. Even the high sensation seeking HSPs, who like something new and exciting to try out, probably quiver at making a permanent big change.
As for the website, it had been unchanged since the beginning of the internet. Marcia Norris, who set it up, did a great job or it would not have been flexible and functional for so long. But as we grow, we need more room for tabs and “drop downs.”
Stretched by a Film called “Sensitive”
Speaking of growing, as you can sense from my first email about the film, I am being stretched to the max, and in the process you will be to some degree as well. Most of you saw that first email asking for money for a “sizzle” to put up on Kickstarter for you to see and to show other potential donors. The filming of the sizzle is almost completed, thanks to some large donations from some of you (and many other generous offers of somewhat lesser amounts and of help). Much of what we did for that can be used for the movie, too. This is really happening.
When I said you will be stretched as well, of course we’ll be asking for donations. You will be helping to fund this film about all of us, if you decide to. And if the film happens, you’ll be seeing a real movie about HSPs, as will, we hope, millions of non-HSPs and HSPs who do not yet know they are. That means we will all grow—be stretched—in unexpected ways.
I had no idea how serious this was going to be. Will and Diana Harper are just my neighbors, right? If they do it all themselves, how Big Time could they be? But suddenly there was a crew, lots of lights, three cameras, and real directing. Will is a fine director and cinematographer with twenty-five years of experience. Will and Diana have made many films, and when I called their references just to check them out, the raves never stopped. One former CEO said the only problem with Will was that “He’s too nice.” Typical HSP. He’s also very artistic, of course, and I can’t wait to see what the sizzle and the final film will be like when he has edited all this footage and made a story from it. We discuss it as we go along, and I will give the final approval for the film itself, but the sizzle is going to be a surprise.
Hollywood Meets Highly Sensitive People and Horse
It’s been, well, shocking for me to be in front of these lights and cameras. It began Thursday July 3, out at the stables where I ride once a week. Will was coaching me on what to do and Diana interviewing me from off camera. Shari Dyer was behind the second camera. John, not sure of his last name, operated a camera attached to a tiny camera that could fly overhead and film looking down from above, making for impressive shots. (This is not your ordinary movie.) Larry assisted everyone. Besides it feeling odd, it has been challenging, thinking every word I say is so important. But they try to keep me loose. They are all HSPs, so they understand.
It’s been fun being part of the film, too. They must have known how to relax me, because the first day was entirely outdoors, most of it beside a horse. We began at the stable, where I ride Holly, a Rocky Mountain Trail Horse. (I don’t own Holly, but “sponsor” her—that is, pay a monthly fee to share her with her owner.) I answered questions about sensitive animals while standing beside Holly, a definite HSH, and compared her to another, non-HSH horse, Dancer. Next I led Holly around for some nice scenic shots.
Holly behaved like a seasoned actress until she realized that buzzing little white camera/helicopter was actually following us every place I led her. Then she pranced like an anxious racehorse. Mostly, however, she just stood and dozed while I was interviewed on camera, or she was fed carrots and petted by the crew. The real star. Until five o’clock, when the horses in the pastures are given their nightly allotment of hay. Suddenly, although we were a half mile from the stable, she started snorting and stamping her feet. It was dinner time! She was saying, “My Animal Actor’s Union contract says I must be brought home promptly for dinner! That means NOW.”
They also filmed me looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, and at a beautiful beach, in that glowing hour before sunset. We had plenty of laughs as we drove around, sharing stories about our sensitivity. Each of us is very different, yet we have that common experience.
Of course the film is not all about me standing on the beach looking nice. Will and Diana are interviewing all sorts of people—not only HSPs of all types, but researchers and those who are not HSPs but have experiences with them. The film is going in many directions, including an effort to make it multi-racial and multi-national. Fortunately, all the footage taken for the sizzle can be used in the larger film as well, so we have really begun that, too, with the hope that as we move forward it will continue to be funded by HSPs and their loved ones. It’s a gamble, but I am very excited about what a high quality movie might do for us.
Stretched Even More
As I write this, we are doing the paperwork to start a foundation, so that all donations can be tax deductible (retroactively—it takes months to get such a foundation set up). What excites me about the idea of a foundation is that it could also fund research. We could describe the next study that we think should be done, or a graduate student or post doctorate fellow who would like to do research on HSPs, and if we do not already have some money (hoped-for profits from the movie), then perhaps HSPs will want to support that research as well through crowd funding. Scientists are doing that more and more now.
Speaking of research, the brain study of HSPs and empathy that I described in the last mini-CZ email received quite a bit of media coverage after a press release was sent out by the State University of New York, Stony Brook, where the research was done. In particular, it was on the CBS evening news in New York City (millions watch it every night).
You might find it fun to see some of the other places where the story was covered.
- New York Daily News: Do Sad Movies Make You Cry? Blame Your Brain
- Laboratory Equipment: Empathy May Be Genetic
- Business Standard: Empathy may lie in your genes
- Daily Mail: Cry at films? Blame your genes: Scientists say 20% of people are affected by ‘sensory processing sensitivity’ that makes them more emotional
- Device Space: Sensitive? Emotional? Empathetic? It Could Be In Your Genes, Stony Brook University Study
- FARS News Agency: Sensitive? Empathetic? Could be in Your Genes
- IAfrica.com: Being Sensitive Could be in Your Genes
- International Business Times: Why Some People Are Genetically More Sensitive or Empathetic than Others
- Malaysian Digest.com: Do Sad Songs Make You Cry? Study Identifies Sensitivity in the Brain
- Medical News Today: ‘Sensitive people’ show heightened activity in empathy-related brain regions
- Medical Daily: Are You a Cry Baby? You May be Part of the 20% of the Population Affected by Sensory Processing Sensitivity
- Nature World News Empathy: Being a “Softy” Might be Genetic
- Science Alert: Some People Do Feel More than Others, and It’s All in Their Genes
- Science Daily: Sensitive? Emotional? Empathetic? It could be in your genes
- UK Newsday: Scientists say 20% of People Are ‘Highly Sensitive’ and Predisposed to Cry at Films
- Yahoo: Why Some People Are Genetically More Sensitive or Empathetic than Others
- Yahoo News (UK & Ireland): Why Some People Are Genetically More Sensitive or Empathetic than Others
- Yahoo News Singapore: Do sad songs make you cry? Study identifies sensitivity in the brain
- Yahoo Philippines News: Do Sad Songs Make You Cry? Study Identifies Sensitivity in the Brain
Another treat was to find that the journal in which it is being published, Brain and Behavior, chose a brain image from our study as its cover art. The caption is “Sensory processing sensitivity scores correlated with activation in multiple brain systems.”
I joke that these days, with all the emails and complicated plans, I am a civil servant in the HSP Empire. Even my husband feels that way, as he completes the methods and results section of our research paper on HS parents and turns to other HS research that has been stalled until summer because of his teaching and other research demands. Being a creative person, I would like to be working on entirely new subjects, or retire to a hermitage in the forest to meditate out my days. But I have “submitted to my fate,” as it were, and it is a sweet one, really. There’s a reason I was given this opportunity/responsibility, and when such things happen, it is wise to accept it rather than turn away. It’s just that it keeps stretching me.
I had a dream that I wrote about in the November 2012 Comfort Zone about taking the next step as HSPs, an authentic next step. You might enjoy reading it if you missed it at the time. However, we also can fear our next steps, and sometimes the psyche tells us why in a dream, even if it doesn’t say what to do about it. What to do about it is the task of our waking-state ego. (Remember, Joseph was warned in a dream about the coming famine, but not what to do about it.)
I had a dream after the first day filming that I told you about above, that brought up what I think might be my deeper fear of stretching, and it may be yours as well. The first part involved a huge flood, which I am sure symbolizes my fear of being overwhelmed. Although I enjoyed the filming, it is still highly stimulating. I know what to do about this, although as I write this today, I wonder. I am ridiculously busy, as there is so much like this blog to do, and even a little more filming tonight (being neighbors, Will can grab me any time for a little more footage). Only after that can I finish packing to leave tomorrow on a two-week rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. That’s another huge stretch, as I have always feared white water rafting, and another story. But I will meditate and do all those good things.
In the second part of the dream the Devil drove up in a huge green truck (green for envy—as a child I suffered due to another’s envy, so I fear it still). Then he levitated me gleefully as I protested. I’m think the appearance of the Devil refers to the Devil tempting Jesus when he was in the wilderness, a Bible story that always impressed me. Levitation is of course a sign of exalted spiritual development, attributed to saints and to the enlightened. This second part of the dream almost surely symbolizes my second fear, of “inflation,” of thinking I am a big deal—hey, even a movie star even. In the dream I don’t like what the Devil is doing—probably a good sign—but the fear is real.
I suppose I handle this fear by being hyper aware of it, thanks to my knowledge from social psychology on the effects of ranking, power, and influence on anyone who is looked up to by others for anything. When we HSPs become more “empowered,” as Jacquelyn Strickland likes to talk about, we are going to become leaders in various areas of life, or so I hope. But having been down so long, we may not know how to handle being “up.” Remember, it is not about ranking, but linking!
Stretching, change, next steps—they do not come without fears, at least for the highly sensitive. What are your fears?