Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being

Hah, I knew it! In this Scientific American article, a psychotherapist discusses the benefits of “negative” emotions, and the risks of repressing them. Maybe we should stop calling them “negative” and instead refer to them as transformative. What’s that you say – “transformative” could apply to all emotions? Exactly.

When Opportunity Knocks, but it Isn’t Looking for You

How about those women’s marches? I feel better about my country than I have in months.
View of the January 21, 2017 women's march in a major city with protestors filling the street between tall buildings and holding signs
As it happens, I didn’t attend one. Pop-up protests over the past few years have been a major source of stress in my life, and I’m pretty angry about that. The same few demonstrators show up to anyone’s march, looting, breaking windows, vandalizing random cars, and stoning police. Not a constructive way to espouse a cause. I depend on public transit, and a few dozen demonstrators can close it down for hours. As I result, I have often been stranded far from home, in the middle of a very tense situation, lugging 30 pounds of perishable groceries.

Because of this, I am on alert lists for the bus company and police department. Which is how I heard about the women’s march – the bus company sent out an advance email about expected service disruptions. Other than that, I saw only a TV commercial, which surprised me. Protest marches advertise? That’s new. But given aforementioned experiences with protests, I wasn’t intrigued enough to find out more.

But on the day of the march, when texts from the police department started coming in with massive numbers, I realized something different and historical was happening. I briefly considered going, until I got a text from the bus company saying they had completely closed down bus service to the downtown core. I texted back “completely unacceptable!,” but I was relieved from the decision of whether to enter an intensely crowded, noisy situation where my ability to retreat would’ve been severely limited.

Maybe I would’ve risen above the limits of sensitivity on the group high. Then again, I tend towards disturbed-hibernating-bear syndrome in January, so maybe not.

But even from my armchair, it was pretty cool. And the more I learned about it, the more amazing it got. It wasn’t just the massive turnouts in major cities. There were also hundreds (not an exaggeration) of marches in smaller towns, and even tiny villages, some of them in very bad weather and/or unfriendly environments.

I’m something of a coward about putting myself physically and visibly on the line. I’ve found some peace with this reluctance, now that I understand it’s a pretty natural reaction for an HSP introvert. There’s more than one way to be an activist. Still, I respect people who expose themselves in that way, even if it feels less risky to them than it would to me. If you participated, thank you. A lot. Thank you for showing me I wasn’t alone.

But this post isn’t about that. The rest of it isn’t, anyway :)

What’s New – or Not – with Me

My self-employed career isn’t going well. It turns out there is a fatal flaw in my business plan (this is a figure of speech. If you happen to be comparing yourself with me, I don’t want to deceive you into thinking I have anything as organized as a written plan). I’ve done a really excellent job at finding people I emotionally resonate with as clients. Over and over, they tell me they chose to work with me because they felt I understood them.

And I do. They are people who are going it alone, carving out their own career niche, plus a few passionate bloggers who just have to write. Like me. Most of them are struggling financially, also like me, with a very limited budget for things like… my services. I have done an excellent job of finding my peers. At creating myself an income, not so much.
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SensitiveType on Facebook

My brain is abuzz with all of the things I read and see that I want to share with you. The backlog is getting too huge to ever catch up, though, so I set up a Facebook page where I can post things that don’t make it into a SensitiveType blog post. Check it out (there’s also a link in the right sidebar).
A screenshot of the SensitiveType Facebook page

The (Over)Thinker

An outdoor casting of Rodi's famous bronze statue, "The Thinker"This article proposes an adjustment to a widely used theory in psychology, shifting the definition of “neuroticism” from overly reactive to highly reactive, and concluding that such reactivity offers benefits in the form of foresight, creativity and drive, not just the costs of anxiety and depression. Do I see subtle signs that HSP and introvert advocates are making a dent?

Those who have wrestled with depression and/or anxiety will immediately recognize the references to “Self Generated Thought.” There’s actually an acronym for that, SGT. Who knew? It’s more judgmentally known as “brooding” by those who never do it.

Just because everything’s been said doesn’t mean everybody’s heard it.

I thought for most of my early life that I had very little imagination. In fact, I despaired over it in my twenties, around the same time I realized that everything profound had probably already been said. (I later realized this doesn’t really matter, since wisdom needs a constant stream of carriers across the generations to keep it alive and relevant. Just because everything’s been said doesn’t mean everybody’s heard it).

Twenty years later, when I became conscious of “negative self-talk” and other fantasies of doom that fueled the ouroboros loop of depression, I was ROFL at the notion that I had no imagination. Au, so contraire! In reality, I was constructing scenarios in my mind non-stop. Almost all of my energy went into it. Maybe the content needed a little tweaking, but it had been irrefutably established over decades that I was not only creative, I was extremely focused and prolific!

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back: HSP Kudos and Call-Outs

HSPs, attend. First we have this outrageously negative and misinformed post about sensitivity from a life coach and “mental health administrator,” whatever that may be. Scary to think she might be “administering” the mental health of HSPs by taking their money and telling them they aren’t trying hard enough to “get over” their obnoxious sensitivity. Hint: You can leave comments. I suggest being kind, factual and constructive, since she was none of these.

Don’t listen to bad-mouthing! You are beautiful!

Don’t listen to bad-mouthing! You are beautiful!!

Also, the Wikipedia entry on sensitivity has lately been labelled as a “fringe theory.” Admittedly, the article was not as thorough as it could’ve been, and I can only applaud Wikipedia’s general intention to improve the quality of psychology-related entries, but have they considered what the effect might be on a given population to have a category they identify with suddenly labelled “fringe”? The person who applied the designation admitted he didn’t have the time to follow up, which strikes me as highly reprehensible. I mean you, Genandrar!

Most of the criticisms of the article as it was in April, when the “fringe theories” tag was applied, have now been addressed, and I would suggest that it is past time for Wikipedia to remove that tag from the HSP entry. I would also suggest they develop a more sensitive way to improve psychology entries without dissing people. And what, pray tell, is “appropriate  weight to the mainstream view” (emphasis all mine)? With that kind of thinking, kiss innovation goodbye.

Inhale… aaaaaannnnd exhaaaale.
The universe is vast. Annoying humans are transitory.

By now, you are probably ready for this delightful post, chockful of suggestions for HSPs that are actually insightful and useful (take note, Faydra Rector):

When You Need Stillness

Love her image of the mind as a ping-pong table. I was just thinking, “this woman has got to be an HSP,” when she said she was. I do so enjoy being right :)

And on the introvert side, we have another charming post:

12 Problems Only Introverts Understand

It gives me hope that one day we might enjoy Friday dialogues like this one:

What are you doing this weekend?

I’m going to stay inside completely.

Oh, that sounds wonderful, I’m so jealous. I have to go to a party.

Oh, you poor thing. Take a hot bath and don’t call me after.