The HSP World Podcast Ep. 35: Good Grief and Highly Sensitives
by The HSP World Podcast
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We all know somebody who doesn’t care if they’re sitting next to, I don’t know, a parking lot or a forest, and then we know people who want to go hug trees, literally. So it may, I think it’s intuitive that there’s a range for this, this level of this kind of trait.
And there is a study that came out. So this one was done by Annalisa Setti and her colleagues. It’s hot off the press it’s or it’s going to be available soon. So you do have to take it with a grain of salt, but it’s interesting.
She did a few studies and found that in a study of, well collectively for over a thousand people, there’s a correlation between sensitivity and reporting feeling connected to nature.
So these feelings of being connected to the natural world are likely to be more present in HSPs. And this is really interesting because, you know, you’re just talking about social connection before, but I think connection to nature as well could be a very good motivator for well, for climate action, of course. Right? And as a reminder of why we might be doing what we want to do, right. So it could be a good, it could be a good motivator.
She did another study, where she also found that the other traits of High Sensitivity kind of correlate with consideration of consequences on the climate.
So she did a study with 800 participants and she found that people who identify as HSPs are more likely to report doing things like recycling or turning off appliances when they’re not in use or engaging in environmental stewardship.
Oh yeah, and she, she, she specifies also in addition to the, feeling of connectedness with nature, they also have a tendency to experience awe in general. And I think that’s come up already and in our personal experiences.
So what she’s concluding from all of this, is that people who are Highly Sensitive might be well positioned to, well, her in her word, she says to become ambassadors of pro-environmental behaviours, as it’s in line with the way that they experience the world.
So I think we’re very much coming back to Elliott’s example of being the little hummingbird who says, well, I’m just doing my job here. Even if it seems very small, even if it seems like nothing to everybody else, I’m quietly, you know, dedicated to the cause and, and doing my part.
And you might see it as optimistic, or you might see it as, as a special capacity or strength of, of HSPs to kind of lead the way on that, you know?
Thomas: I love the hummingbird analogy. Because I have hummingbirds come to my office window all day long. So I have a connection with them and I definitely can identify with the awe that I feel.
I go often to the beach here and I’m just in awe of this magical interface between water and air.
And one of the things that I do is I’ll pick up some garbage. I do it every time I go out there, you know?
There’s a ton of garbage out there, but for me, it’s like, this is my little hummingbird effort to, to clean up a little tiny patch of beach every time I go out there. So Yeah.
I can definitely reflect that.
Rayne: You know, it’s interesting. I, I was roaming around looking for, you know, tools, helpful tools, and I found this Mindfulness in Grief podcast and episode 48 was featuring, Ronald Mathias. If I am saying his name right? And it’s called the Art of Visualizing Grief, Translating Pain into Pictures.
And this is one of the ways that I feel like being so connected to nature, it feels to me like being open to the process creates an energy, already you’re starting off with a transformative energy, you know, you’re not kind of blocking it off right from the get go, like saying, oh, no, these are very uncomfortable feelings.
I don’t know how to deal with them, or I don’t want to deal with them or, you know, whatever it is, but just piece by piece, a really cool way to sort of gently step into it, would be doing something like this. I’ll leave the link to that podcast because I did find it really interesting, and you know, maybe that’ll be helpful for somebody.
Thomas: Yeah. Elliot, I’m curious. How do you feel when you’re out in nature?
Elliot: Sometime it can be a really strange because it can be a form of overwhelming, but
Elliot: almost like if I drugged, but in the good way.
Robyn: You feel high.
Elliot: Yeah. Yeah, because the first time it happened, I was really questioning, did I eat or drink something? Because it was, I don’t know. I like lots of things in my mind.
And I just went to a park, like during corona lock down. Even like the, the muscles in my neck were completely relaxed. It was really strange. And then that I was more careful about it. I realized that it was happening a lot. So from that, I realized that it’s good to, try to spend like some time in nature or, you know, trying to take a small walk every day.
If it’s not, it’s not necessarily easy to go into nature. We live in a city, but at least, you know, in a park or something. And could really see that it was easier after to focus or to, to relax. And even like if I had some dark or negative, not necessarily emotions, but feeling like not good, it was not necessarily done, but I could see it from another perspective.
Robyn: Yeah, and I mean, there’s a lot of research backing that up too. Not even just for HSPs. There are definitely connections between the time spent in nature and your physical and mental wellbeing, like it’s, it is, it seems like a strange concept, but for whatever reason, it, it really it’s, it’s a solid link that’s been proven.
Maybe we should tell everybody, like all the drug, like a very important drug is about to disappear, you know, like if I don’t know if all the cannabis in the world was about to disappear, maybe people would act more.
Elliot: But I was reading about it. I don’t have the name of the studies, but we can actually compare people in hospital at the window with a view to a tree or park. And the one that had like facing a wall or another house. Then they could really see that they were in need of less pain killers or sometimes also they were getting up earlier and it was just this effect of seeing green.
And apparently it was working the same ways, you know, something did with water.
Elliot: So it could be either like this feeling of, you know, focusing on some things to being kind of mindfulness. And of course, people try to find a more rational reason and try to express that for water. For example, it’s it make you feel that, okay, water is an important biological need and seeing water makes you feel like, you know, you’re safe.
So I was questioning with, nature in general was the same? Because a lot of people, they did some studies in term of evolution and they kind of say that our brain hasn’t really changed since we were, you know, hunter/gatherer in the forest.
So basically our brain is more adapted to live in this kind of environment than with a few people from actually being in the cities where you interact with, I don’t know how many people per day, and also so many stimulation. So in a way maybe it’s just people’s wellbeing.
Like, what is actually good for us? What is not maybe not? I mean, they maybe don’t see it that way, but then, I mean, you see people having burnouts on stress and without necessarily understanding the source. So.
Robyn: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve heard that said before that sometimes HSPs are like the canary in the coal mine. Right?
And the way that they react. You know, the, the, the old idea that you would send a canary into a coal mine and to see if it, if it came back alive then, okay. The mine was probably safe for workers to go into, and if it didn’t, if it died then okay, there’s probably something that may be hard for us to detect, at human sensitivity, but that the canary is quite sensitive to, and that would eventually be poisonous to humans.
But yeah, just this idea that, um, you know, why, why do we have one proportion of the population that is so much more sensitive than the others? It could be because one advantage of that for the collective is that they pick up on dangers more quickly.
And if we listen to them we might avoid some issues. Unfortunately, we don’t always, so I don’t know. Maybe that just underscores again, the importance of HSPs speaking up about what they feel.
Thomas: I agree with that. You know, we have to speak our feelings. It’s not only good for us, but it’s good for everyone else as well.
Elliot: But I just wanted to add that it’s, you know, HSPs, it’s part of this neurodiversity movement that they just, they are trying to explain to people that the fact that we have people with such a Trait in the population in that at some point they had some, role or purpose in their population.
So it’s where actually I would be really interested to see. Because I was actually questioning a lot about comparing HSPs with, you know, in population where you have shaman or, you know, this type of people that is really a bit not, well, not, I don’t know if I can say well-integrated, but that kind of aside, and they are, you know, the people that are using advising, but also kind of this mystical connection with nature.
Elliott: And yeah, and I was really, I really would like to see a kind of studies that maybe if they can, because I know that they started to identify some genes that could explain High Sensitivity.
So I would be really interested if they were doing this comparison between those roles and HSPs. Because I think, you know, it’s being sensitive or Highly Sensitive. It’s not like a handicap or, not as a syndrome or, but it’s more like, yeah, the capacity that we lost in our daily life.
Robyn: I think you’re, you’re hitting on a concept that I know Elaine Aron writes on about. She writes about that quite extensively. She talks about the priestly adviser. The priestly advisor class.
So this idea that, for example, and I mean, this is a real example from history, Alexander The Great his teacher, and at later point in his life advisor was Aristotle the philosopher.
So it’s a perfect literal example of the warrior and leading class being advised by, I mean, I don’t know if Aristotle was an HSP, but presumably if you prefer to philosophize rather than to go out into battle, that suggests a sensitive disposition or, but at any rate we could see why an HSP would do well in a position like that.
So that’s a really great concept, maybe a nice topic to explore for the future.
Thomas: Well, Elliot, thank you for today’s conversation. And I’m curious to know how you feel about the conversation, were there points that resonated with you?
Elliot: Yes. it was really interesting to see people who have maybe different feelings or emotions, especially the grief. I learned a lot. I’m actually I’m questioning myself a lot about this. So, yeah, it was really, I really see things from a different perspective. So it was really interesting and I am sure that the people that will be listening to us will also enjoy this.
Thomas: Well, thank you. We’re always trying to uncover new perspectives or at least, think about different perspectives. Thank you.
Rayne: Thank you so much, Elliot. It was great having you back again.
Elliot: Thank you.
Robyn: Yeah. And thank you for bringing up this topic. I believe it will be helpful for, for other HSPs, it certainly was helpful for me.
I have to say it’s, I find it a difficult topic to discuss and preparing for this call actually helped me process a little bit. So thank you for that. And of course thank you to our listeners.
So please join us for our next episode where we’ll be having another interesting HSP conversation and to any Highly Sensitives out there who have a burning HSP-related question, big or small, we invite you to ask it on the HSP world podcast, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. And a friendly reminder to visit the website at hsp.world.
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Music credit: Intro and Outro music from the YouTube Music Library. Song is Clover 3.