The HSP World Podcast Ep. 35: Good Grief and Highly Sensitives

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Thomas: Hi and welcome to the HSP World podcast. With each episode we invite a guest with the HSP Trait to have a conversation about a burning HSP-related question they have. We’re not coaches or therapists. We’re HSPs holding space with you. I’m one of your hosts, Thomas and your other hosts are: 

Robyn: Robyn.

Rayne: and Rayne.

Robyn: Welcome back everybody to another episode, we have a guest with us today. We, in fact, have invited back a guest who was with us several episodes ago. So welcome back, Elliott, how are you?

Elliot: Hi, I’m doing good thanks for inviting me.

Robyn: Thanks for coming back. And, we were in touch a little bit between episodes and we actually determined kind of all together that it would be a good idea to revisit a topic that we looked into the last time that you were here. Right? So we were talking a little bit about how HSPs could deal with eco-anxiety.

And, now we’re going to maybe, look a little bit more specifically at the emotions that might be involved for HSPs, when talking about the climate crisis. So I understand that this is a topic that really a very dear to your heart Elliott, is that right?

Elliot: Yes. Um, I think it’s something that we don’t talk enough when we mention climate change. So I’m very glad that you guys were interested to make another piece about it.

Robyn: Yeah. I think, something else that I understood was that, you were reading, I think there was a particular book, right? About, some of the emotions behind climate change. Would you mind telling us a little bit more about that?

Elliot: Yes, so it’s a bit dense. So actually I read it a long time ago, but as I was reading my notes again, but it was really interesting to understand a little bit better about actually what is happening in our head when we talk about climate change and especially how to reverse it into climate action. So it’s, it can be linked to emotions, but also more like cognitive.

So it was a really interesting book written in French. So maybe not books you can read, but…

Robyn: Okay. Well, we’ll see if we can find a, we might have some French speaking, French reading listeners, so we can still put a quote to that in the show notes. We’ll get in a moment to specifically, you know, how this impacts HSPs, right.

I’m just wondering if you, have some takeaways from, you know, on the emotional side, what are some of the things that they said, what are some of the emotions that tend to come up or how that plays out for people?

Elliot: Yeah. So the, the main thing that I actually understood was actually what they define actually, what is emotions. Because I think it, I mean, we know what is emotion, but at the same time, we don’t really know what is it. And it was really interesting to, to understand that actually emotion is basically a kind of adaptation about how we interact with our environments.

So in here, in this context, we talk about climate change. So, from our perspective, of course it’s seen as the danger and we have different cocktails of emotions that pop up that are not meant initially to hurt us, but more like to make us react. But as you probably see no it’s climate change, there is eco-anxiety and those emotional actually are of doing the opposite effect of what they are supposed to be. That is instead of pushing us to act, we have different type of bad mechanism, if I can say that, make us looking away or feeling guilty or other negative emotions.

So it’s, it’s really complex. I got lost when I was reading the book, but at the same time, um, I think it helped me to understand a bit better about, yeah, why we act like this.

And actually this podcast is happening at the right time, because I guess you’ve seen the movie Don’t Look Up” and also how people were reacting, toward the theory that people may understood as it was a comparison to how we react toward climate change. 

Robyn: Yeah, good point.

Thomas: I think what you’re speaking to there is that sort of sense of overwhelm, right? We read, or we see what’s happening around us, especially when it relates to climate. And one of the directions that we might go is just feeling overwhelmed by it.

Like, you know, what, what do I do? What can I do? You know what-I am just one person. So, so that at least initially that sort of like where I go, when I think about it, it’s like, oh, I’d say, oh gosh, that’s so overwhelming. 

Robyn: That’s a good point. Let’s maybe segue a bit into how this group of HSPs who are on the call right now, um, you know, how have you been impacted by a situation that is objectively, you know, overwhelming, but emotionally, what, what kinds of things have been coming up for, for you? 

Thomas: Well, I can certainly speak to an event that is tied to it. And that is there was a day… So I live in San Francisco in California, and there was a day where the smoke from the wildfires that we have was so overwhelming and so dark that it was like at night, in the middle of the day, I went out at one o’clock to walk around and it was as if it was the middle of the night. That’s how thick the smoke was.

We have been experiencing many, many more wildfires in the last decade and a half here. But that experience is, is just it’s indescribable. I mean, to, to go out and have it be like nighttime in the middle of the day is a very overwhelming experience.

And there is sort of a, you know, it’s like, okay, I better just go inside and close the windows and, you know, turn on all the lights and not-think-about-it type of attitude that came up on me. Right?

I mean, I have to admit there was also, for me, there was also a bit of like, wow, this is, you know, a little bit of curiosity, I guess, a little bit of awe and wonder because it’s something that I had never experienced before, but, but also dread, right.

There was a feeling, it was like a hush. Is this going to be, you know, something that I have to deal with every year now? You know, is it going to be every August and September and October where we go outside and, and we, well, we can’t go outside because of the smoke, you know, because of the particulate matter and all that.

So there, there was that dread that came up as well in me. 

Robyn: Yeah.

Thomas: How about you? 

Rayne: Well, I think for, for me, there’s a bunch of different emotions that come up, um, anger, would be one, you know, shame that we’re at this spot with what’s happening. Um, you know, a lot of, a lot of the uncomfortable, not great to feel feelings, that, we, we’re not, we’re not really, um…

You know, in our fast paced society it seems that we’re constantly being pushed or, or, or I feel, um, that I’m constantly being pushed to just push that aside, push that aside, push that aside, move forward, move ahead, move ahead-kind of a thing. Just ignore it. Right?

And I think that really, speaks well to an opportunity that we can miss out on.

Which is one of the greatest strengths we have is our ability to feel deeply, right? We can perceive and feel deeply, and connect. A lot of HSPs are very much enjoy nature and, and received a lot of sustenance from it.

So, for me, it’s, it’s realizing that it’s not about pushing it aside or, you know, rushing through it or, or not wanting to look at it.

Which is what, you know, depending on where a person’s at and how able they are to process that and be okay with processing it, because I do feel like there… we’re missing out on a lot of, of beautiful opportunities to actually  transform that into something that is beautiful. 

Robyn: Okay. I find that really interesting that you bring that up Rayne. And I know a little bit towards the one place that we’re hoping to go in this conversation is to talk about, you know, some of the constructive elements that come out of feeling so deeply.  But I can, I can, share that it’s definitely something that’s difficult for me.

Most of the time, I would say as much as I would not like to admit it, the truth is most of the time I’m walking around in denial. I don’t live in a, in an environment where the current effects of climate change are very evident. I live in a place that already has a harsh climate, so there’s a little part of me that’s like, well, you know, so it’s going to get a bit colder or I was going to get a bit hotter whatever. We’ve been doing this forever. Right?

And just kind of being, going along with the lifestyle, going along with normal consumptive capitalist lifestyles and not, um, I mean, yes, sometimes questioning, you know, should I really be buying certain things or disposing of things certain ways.

But If I think about it, I very quickly feel overwhelmed. So it’s, for me, it’s a lot of helplessness, cynicism, not trusting that I, as an individual, have much impact. And also not really having faith in larger institutions that potentially do have enough power to make a change.

So I don’t really have faith in my abilities or in theirs, and sometimes just, just really have a very dark view, like, okay, maybe, maybe there’s nothing to stop this train right now.

So, yeah, so, so kind of a little bit of despair and throwing my hands up and either pretending the problem is not there. Or just thinking I really don’t think there’s anything that I can do about this.

I would also add, I thought of another, emotion, disgust. Occasionally, you know, when I drive by big box stores and just think my God, like, how are we still doing this? How are we still consuming in this way? You take your SUV from the suburbs into this area that’s solely dedicated to consumption and you know, for which they’ve razed either communities or, or at the very least like a bunch of trees, right? A bunch of green areas, the very least they’ve they’ve destroyed that to be able to create this.

So, so occasionally when I see that there’s, there’s a little bit of awe, like, wow, I can’t believe we did this. And I mean, think how future generations are going to condemn us for this, you know, in the same way that we, we look at practices of the middle ages and just shake our heads and say, how the heck did you guys do this to yourselves?

I think, you know, future generations will likely see us in the same way. So, sometimes seeing myself as small in a little piece of history, sometimes it makes me feel more connected and more in awe of things. But most of the time it’s just uncomfortable and a bit sad, I would say.

Rayne: And you know what, you know what this is kind of making me feel. It’s almost as if the feeling of, of grief, right? The feeling of grief, because I don’t know about, about you guys, I’m not sure I’ve actually really seen anybody deal with grief in a healthy, transformative way, and…

Robyn: Sorry. Do you mean with regard to this issue or in general?

Rayne: Yeah, no, just, yeah. Well, grief is grief. I mean, you can have grief if somebody passes away, you can have grief if you’re, you’re talking about the state of our climate, you know, and what’s happening and, you know, with climate change. So to me, it almost feels like grief is, is the pinnacle thing. And so few people seem to be versed on how to go through that transformative process.

Robyn: Yeah. Well, I think you’re actually, my guess is that you’re actually emotionally a couple of steps ahead there, Rayne. Because I don’t think again, you, first of all, I think you have to have a concrete sense of the loss, right? Like, if it’s not clear, if a person has died or not. Or if someone is gone from your life, but they’re kind of around, you kind of see them on Facebook or whatever, right?

Like they call that complicated grief, but it’s especially complicated if you don’t know, you don’t know if, if the end is really there. Right? And I’m not, I’m not even talking about like a denial of climate science here. I’m I’m just saying, like, in my case, I don’t, I don’t physically see the loss. So mentally and emotionally, it hasn’t registered with me yet.

I think maybe some people who are either working at the forefront of these problems or who are really immersing themselves and doing the research, uh, or, or reading up a lot on it and maybe like Elliott is doing like, I think in that case, yeah, you can, it has occasionally hit me occasionally, uh, to have a moment a sense of loss and grief.

But most of the time it’s not… You just can’t, you don’t witness it. Right? But we’ll, I think we’ll get there. I think more and more people will get there as we start to observe these things or feel the effects in a real way.

Thomas: And, and it may also be something that you become aware of more as you get older, because, I’ve certainly noticed in my lifetime, some dramatic changes in some of the beautiful, natural areas that I’ve visited. 

Rayne: Yeah, and I, I suppose that’s, how I feel about it is that it’s it’s processing grief and transforming it is, is a skill, you know? And it means not shutting down, you know, which is something, as HSPs, we’re told not to feel,

Robyn: Yeah.

Rayne: You know, to stop being so sensitive. Right? And we, we see it having an impact on, you know, some people, you know, not a huge amount, but some people.

So to me, it almost feels like being able to navigate through that process, the emotions, the emotions of grief. And then allowing that transformation to happen is, is something that we could, we could benefit from. It feels to me like sensitives, we can benefit even more from, and, and like I say, not just for climate, you know, that these different things that are happening with climate change.

But also, you know, with our day to day lives. If a loved one passes away or, you know, anything like that, being open, I suppose, being open to exploring the process of grief and moving through it.

How that turns into a skill, a skill that we can use to navigate the big things that can make us feel helpless to, you know, it’s not a small thing if somebody passes away that means a lot to you. I mean it’s a small thing to somebody else probably it’s not to you. Right? But having that skill to do that in a way that that is meaningful, that’s, what’s sort of coming up for me. I don’t know. What do you, how do you feel about this Elliott?

Elliott: Actually I was thinking a lot about the emotion of grief. If I’m in this stage, because I actually, I think that I understood the connection that I had with HSP. Actually, how I felt about climate change more than actually the relationship with people. And uh, I think, since I’ve been always really curious about the nature, like the complexity, I, I started to learn more about it.

So of course, when I understood how it was modified by our impacts, I think I kind of coped directly by, I, well, I can say activist, if I, if it’s not like there is different level of activism. And I guess I have the opposite issues that may be doing too much in order to kind of like shut down all the fear and anger that I have about how we don’t do enough about it.

Um, but, yeah, actually, I was reading a book. And there is an environmentalist that use this African proverb or story that I really liked.

That is about the Colibri that is in the forest on fire. And all the animals are like scared and they’re not doing anything. And they are just watching the forest, this occurring. And you see this small bird that is just bringing a drop of water in order to just do something. And all the animals are just telling him he is stupid, is not going to manage to do anything. And it just answered that he’s doing what, what is meant to do. And I kind of see myself in like this. That I, of course, I’m kind of like, angry when I see that, okay, now we should really act for climate change.

And again, we elect a president or someone that is pro oil and like this, but at the same time, it helped me to think that, okay, we don’t know how it will end either. We manage to save ourselves or we, we fuck it up but there is either the opportunity that I just watch and I do nothing, and I feel bad about it that it’s stress. Or I act.

So in the end, if the result is still bad, at least, I guess you get busy and you still managed to get some positive emotion, the feeling of fulfillment, uh, the feelings also, when you, you meet other people that actually are really inspiring. Also the way that you see that to manage you manage, maybe to see people to do small things.

So I, I don’t know if, yeah, I, I think I maybe, try to avoid the grief as much as much as possible maybe, I might not be about right now to cope with this.

Rayne: Sure it makes sense. That makes sense.

Robyn: Yeah, I think, it’s really, yeah, it’s an interesting point though. If you like, action can be ambiguous, right?

Like acting a lot, could be trying to turn your feelings into positive action or it could be avoiding your feelings. I think, yeah, from the outside, there’s no way to tell. But you know, that that’s something that you yourself figure out. Right?

And maybe it’s a bit of one, um, one day and a bit of the other on the other day, but yeah, I think if you still can, I think just awareness of the emotion, right?

Awareness of the emotion and awareness of whether or not you’re in touch with it too. Right? That would be, that would be really important. And for HSPs, so, so really narrowing in, on, on how HSPs are feeling about all this. I mean, one thing to expect is that your feelings are likely to be more pronounced, right? It’s going to have the volume turned up.

Thomas: Right.

Robyn: So that, I think, I mean, that, that in itself can be scary, right? Like I think, for myself sometimes when I’m resisting actually having a feeling it’s because I think that feeling could, could be very strong.

It could be in itself, could be overwhelming, if I got into it. Well, yeah, I think there are, there are more or less constructive ways to, to address that. So maybe, maybe we want to move on to this other point, about what are some ways that being deep feelers, could actually help us in this situation. 

Thomas: Well, the, the place that I’m going to in my mind now is, I was going to say collective action, but actually that’s not necessarily where I wanted to go. I wanted to say like collective, um, collective feeling. If you know what I mean?

There’s the power that, that I get when I am expressing my feelings to others, to someone else, it may be even just be a one-on-one situation, but still it’s it, there’s something very powerful about speaking those deep emotions to someone and being heard and listening to someone speak their emotions to you. So I think there’s something about…

Robyn: Yeah.

Thomas: Not just collective action, but collective… I’m trying to find a word for it.

Robyn: Yeah. I think collective feeling and an awareness of feeling, because like we’re saying you can’t… You can’t process what you’re feeling, if you keep avoiding it. Right?

And it’s, it’s going to take you in a place that isn’t rooted in something real. So, you know, maybe one way to shake yourself out of complacency and in turn shake other people’s out of a certain level of complacency is to start naming these things about how we feel and how we’re being impacted by things.

Rayne: Yeah. I very much agree with that Robyn, because allowing ourselves to feel those feelings, not getting carried away on a tide by them, but, but still allowing ourselves to feel them. And like you say, Robyn, I know for me, if that, feeling gets to be too much, what I’ll do is sort of in my mind I’ll imagine the feeling it’s usually a color and I’ll like, you know, it’s like a pie and I’ll like just, you know, cut a piece of the pie.

Robyn: Oh wow!

Rayne: And that piece of the pie is, is what I’m going to deal with 

Robyn: wow. 

Rayne: today

Robyn: wow.

Rayne: kind of thing. Right? And then applying my energy and, and, you know, the cycle of grief and the transformative energy, the way those feelings can be transformed right?

So that I don’t feel overwhelmed by it. You know, because we’re, you know, when you, I mean, I really do, it feels to me like it really is it’s grief. Right. And when we look at, you know, how grief is dealt with in our society. I mean, what, you know, what do you get? Five, five days off of work, you know, if a loved one passes away, kind of a thing.

And we, we very much know it’s, it’s a much longer process than that. Well, for HSPs it is. So for me, it’s much more about the energy of the emotions. And being willing to explore them, while not, you know, not, not sort of coming to the point where you’re drowning, you know, it’s like you’re heading out to sea, but not, drowning.

Thomas: Also, you know, remember that in other cultures and in older cultures, grief was processed in a much more collective way as well. 

Robyn: That’s it. That’s it!

Rayne: Absolutely.

Thomas: Right. And that’s, that’s one thing, you know, that’s, uh, I was looking for collective transformation. That’s really the word I was looking for.

There’s there’s a, there’s a transformation that happens when you can feel together. 

After the break, Robyn expands on the idea of collective transformation, and the need for connection when processing feelings. We’ll be right back, after this.

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Now let’s return to our podcast.

 Robyn: I was going to say, Thomas, I think, part of what you’re pointing towards is the necessity of connection, connection as a, as a healing for, for grief and for loss. And it’s absolutely true that if you are not connected to your own emotion, and you’re not able to communicate that in some way to other people, then you are compromising your ability to connect with others. There is no connection, if you don’t know what’s going on with yourself.

Again, it doesn’t have to, you don’t have to necessarily put words on it and name an emotion, you know, with a specific word, but you have to have some real relationship with it and understand what it is and be able to somehow communicate that with other people, if you want to have a strong connection.

And I think, you know, it’s something that, well, I don’t know if I should say this because this is something that leads me to overwhelm too, is that I, I see, often, philosophers will talk about the interconnectivity, right, of all these issues, right? Of eco-justice and gender justice and, people’s rights and all sorts of different things.

And I think indeed, it’s a social crisis, it’s not just an environmental crisis, it’s a social crisis as well. And it is this inability for us to have, social structures that bind us in a, in a nourishing way. And without that, then it makes, yeah, it makes collective action harder to do and it harder to, to carry out and it just reinforces the problem.

Rayne: Hmm. The problem being the opportunity.

Robyn: Yeah, do you want to say a bit more on that?

Rayne: Oh, um, well, you know, just, just that oftentimes what can seem like a problem is really an opportunity  for growth, you know, whatever way that, looks like. And, but I really like what you’re talking about there, Thomas, about, collective grief, and finding healthy ways to share in that.

I think that’s, I think that’s a really powerful, very, very powerful tool we can use. Because while, while the emotions, you know, grief can be, all kinds of things, it’s not just grief, right? There’s tons of things, anger and shame that you’re not getting over it faster or whatever, or, you know, all of these different things that come with grief and, you know, it’s very nuanced, with the emotions.

But like I say, for me, I’ve found being willing to go through it and sometimes go through it, you know, over and over, but just do it in small pieces. For me at first it was small pieces and, not so deep, you know, so that I could prepare myself.

Because, our emotions do, our emotions do go deep, that’s one of our, that’s one of the most beautiful things, you know, one of the most beautiful gifts of having this Trait means that we do feel these feelings.

But not knowing how to feel them in a way where we’re, you know, we’re going to be okay with it. Because of course, when you’re starting off at the beginning of it, it’s not comfortable. It’s, it’s not comfortable to feel those feelings. And you know, you go on social media or you go on the TV or you do whatever, and everybody is all about, be happy, happy, happy.

You know, and it’s like, well, we’re not supposed to feel happy all the time. Right? Otherwise, why would we have been given this wide, diverse range of emotions to experience? If we were only supposed to feel a couple of them?

You know, that would be a waste, you know, that, that doesn’t allow for any type of transformation or moving through that, the energy of those emotions, because to me, it is, it feels like the energy of those emotions is what can be daunting at first, you know? 

Thomas: And we need permission to do that. And… 

Rayne: give ourselves… 

Thomas: and likewise, it’s not just about all happy, happy, happy. I mean, and in some ways, you know, social media can be a very depressing place too, you know, this is wrong and that is wrong and oh my God, and this is happening and, the news and Twitter and all that.

So, it’s worth remembering that we are capable and we should explore the entire breadth of our emotions and not just stay in one corner, not just stay in the, the happy, happy corner or in the everything’s bad corner. 

Robyn: Yeah, but, you know, I would like to take a moment to think of some positive emotions that might be constructive here. And that might be more likely to be experienced by Highly Sensitive people.

There’s actually some preliminary research that’s come out. There are some researchers out there testing people’s level of connection to nature, well self-reported right? How connected, how connected people say they feel to nature? Right.

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

Robyn: Hmm.

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.

Thomas: Yeah. 

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. 

Robyn: Yeah.

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. 

Robyn: Yeah.

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.

Robyn: Yes!

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 And a friendly reminder to visit the website at

Our thanks to the HSP World Mastery Program and to all of you who support our show by subscribing and listening to our podcast, reading the blog posts on our website at and chatting with us on our social media channels.

Your support is contributing to the upliftment of HSPs around the world. We’re very grateful.

Music credit: Intro and Outro music from the YouTube Music Library. Song is Clover 3.


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