Self-Care Is Not An Indulgence. It’s A Discipline.

Self-care was never about indulgence, pampering, or occasional moments of attending to our needs; it was always about the discipline of taking care of the issues that keep us going on a day-to-day basis. In that regard, yes, it is boring but quite necessary, especially for highly sensitive people as we seek to manage our daily energy budget.

How much overstimulation can you take? You know that answer and how long it will take you to recharge and it probably has nothing to do with spa treatments or anything other than simple peace and quiet. In that sense, do we have the discipline to step away from all the distractions today and find a peaceful moment, just for ourselves? That part does take discipline…

I’ve referred to self-care in the past as akin to a spiritual practice but that term may not have the intended effect as many people today are unable to differentiate spirituality with religion. A spiritual practice is aimed at your growth and development as a whole person in this moment. Similarly, the discipline of self-care should be engaged in with a serious attitude knowing that it has real significance and value to your well-functioning as a highly sensitive person.

Whether you practice self-care as a discipline at the level of spiritual practice or relate to it in some other way, please appreciate that your body needs rest, it needs hydration, and it needs appropriate fuel to function well. Your mind need stimulation as well with some level of socialization with others, preferably agreeable others whose company you enjoy. Your mind also requires that you learn to think in a disciplined way in order to manage the relationship between feelings, thoughts, and actions. Too often, anxiety finds its way in to our minds and clouds our thinking beyond a level where it is useful. Training the mind takes time and real effort and it will not happen in a spa center or luxuriating in comfort; it’s real work requiring resilience and discipline over time.

Never chastise yourself for what you’re not doing now, though, just work on incrementally taking better care of yourself on a daily basis. The boring stuff, in the end, is what adds up to overall well-being.

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

Link to article (click here)

To Accomplish Big Things: Think Big but Act Small

Highly sensitive people enjoy accomplishing the big tasks where we are able to find application for our deep-thinking abilities and conscientiousness. To get to those goals, it’s often a matter of structuring how we approach work to reflect several tenants outlined in this article: minimize distractions, do intense, consistent work, and establish important priorities.

Distractions are plentiful today as our smart phones beckon constantly with an endless freedom to distract, entertain, inform, and just waste time. Similarly, where we work can be crucial to getting any meaningful work done. For some of us who are sensitive sensation seekers, we need to, at times, work in an environment with others for the synergy; alone at other times. For highly sensitive people, the preference may be simply to find a quiet space and a block of time to think deeply and begin to concretize our thinking. Thinking doesn’t become real to us until we concretize it by setting it down on paper (or screen as the case may be).

Feeling distracted can also come in the form of hunger, sleepiness, or anxiety about some issue. All may intrude on our working space and distract us from focusing on what we really need to. Focusing intensely on a subject by simply shutting the outside world out will allow you to enter the state of flow where time is suspended, your skills and abilities are well-matched to the task (but not over or undermatched), you receive immediate feedback on your work, and you will be intensely focused and conscientious about remaining so for a period of time.

Part of focusing in on a task is to set priorities. That doesn’t mean multitasking and doing ten things at once (all poorly); rather, it means we consciously choose the most important tasks then begin to work on those in a very structured way. Consistency of applied effort will get you much further than spurts or bursts of frenzied work with the added benefit of time to reflect and consider the quality of your work. There is a necessary pause to reflect instinct built into HSPs that serves to check our work (or the work of others). This propensity makes us very good planners, teachers, thinkers, writers, leaders, and designers.

Why does all of this matter to you? Because in today’s world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do intense, focused work or to find others who we can communicate with about such work. Ironically, it comes back to those of us who spent much time in the libraries looking up books and reading them quietly while everyone else did whatever it is they do. The quiet people know the value of being free from distractions and engaging the mind’s capacities. We know how deep thinking works and how to bring it to bear on a complex set of issues. In our shallow, superficial world, we may be among the few left who know anymore how to use our rational and creative thinking capacities and use them for other than selfish egocentric or sociocentric purposes.

It is diminishing, of course, to generalize about highly sensitive people (all one billion plus of us) because we are all very different from each other and work in different ways. The common threads being a need for quiet, a need for focus and consistency, and a prioritizing of our how we invest our energies on meaningful projects.

Highly sensitive people are in ALL professions; there is no one best profession or career for a highly sensitive person! Do what works for you knowing that life is always a journey that requires you to experiment along the way with what may work in your case. That’s not the easy answer but I’m not interested in providing you with easy answers; I’m interested in helping you live your fullest and best life.

What works for you in accomplishing BIG things?

Please share!

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

Link to article (click here)

9 women executives on what they hope to teach their daughters

Highly sensitive moms, what do you hope your daughters learn from the way you are managing your career? The examples in the article offer some profound bits of philosophical reflection but HSPs are different in that we value all of these things but to a deeper level. For example, “trust your instincts,” “work is your own thing,” and “perfection is boring” are all keyed into our deeply intuitive nature, our deep conscientiousness (the only factor positively associated with work performance by the way), and our reflective capacity to learn from risks we may have taken.

This article focuses on successful executives but, of course, there are many levels of success that go beyond money and prestige. That seems to be a uniting factor in these stories: do something that feels authentic, meaningful, and self-actualizing.

What do you hope to communicate to your daughters, moms?

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

 

Link to article (click here)

Dr. Tracy Cooper Interview on Sensory Processing Sensitivity

Here is a very recent audio interview I did for Tina Gilbertson. Tina is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado specializing in therapy for parents with estranged adult children, and training for organizations.

The interview covered the basics of Sensory Processing Sensitivity, but also many crucial aspects concerning life as an HSP. Enjoy!

Please share widely!

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

What’s the Quality of Your Feedback?

Do you provide feedback to others based on what they’re doing right or what they’re doing wrong? Research shows that we learn along the lines we are already strong in. This article does a great job of discussing how we can provide better feedback that actually encourages others to grow in their strengths rather than focusing on remediating weak areas.

Sensitive people process positive and negative stimulation more deeply than in those without the trait. Feedback for HSPs should always be strengths-oriented and focus on what we do well, while seeking to provide us with growth opportunities where we may branch out on those strengths. Deficiency-oriented feedback, for HSPs, would set off a cascade of overthinking, overfeeling, and, ultimately, prove more detrimental than beneficial.

Highly sensitive people are already likely the most conscientious workers in the workplace and we know from research that conscientiousness is the only trait proven to relate positively to workplace success. If you want to provide useful feedback to an HSP, the best way would be to focus on points of excellence as they occur.

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

Further reading on feedback at this terrific article!

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for HSPs?

Do highly sensitive people benefit from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction practices? Yes, we do! In a Dutch study from 2010, 47 HSPs were recruited to participate in an 8 loving-kindnessweek MBSR program to determine if there would be an effect apart from those without the trait and to investigate whether any longer lasting effects continued at least 4 weeks after the initial test period. The results? Highly sensitive people did benefit more from MBSR techniques than did those without the trait and it seemed to endure after the 8 week period. This seems to follow our propensity for benefiting more from any source of positive stimulation than others due to our deeper processing of all experiences.

It is well-known that HSPs may fare much worse than others in negatively stimulating environments, or better in positively stimulating ones. We know that HSPs who experienced abusive, neglectful, or traumatic childhoods experience more anxiety, depression, and emotional disorders of all types throughout life, unless they are able to sincerely address healing. We also know that HSPs from supportive, nurturing, and loving environments do much better on all measures than the previously mentioned group. When one comes from a loving, supportive background there is confidence in taking risks, in exploring the world, and in developing one’s talents and abilities because there is less anxiety about failure or self-doubt.

Similarly with MBSR techniques, when HSPs actually are able to focus on self-care the results can be quite positive and especially rewarding for the sensitive person. Who doesn’t like to feel good about taking of themselves?

The study points out that it isn’t clear which aspect of the program the participants underwent that contributed to the effects but it is likely that it was simply the overall positive nature of the program that had the largest effect. What can we learn from this?

Highly sensitive people need to practice self-care as an essential part of our daily lives. Self-care needs to be viewed as being similar to a spiritual practice with time set aside for this vital recharging and balancing time. True, in our hectic, rushed, and overscheduled world there is little time for sleep, let alone meaningful self-care but the results of such practices are of clear benefit to HSPs.

Mindfulness has become a buzz word that is becoming viewed as a passing fad but if practicing mindfulness based stress reduction techniques reduces your stress, anxiety, depression, and allows you to function better let them call it a fad or whatever they like. We will just go on practicing what we know works long after the naysayers have moved on to the next topic they wish to deride.

There is even a free online 8-week course in MBSR that you can begin practicing right now, at your own pace. If you’d like to learn more check out their website (totally free):

https://palousemindfulness.com/

Please share! ALL HSPs need to hear about this! All billion and a half or more

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

drtracycooper.com

 

HS Men’s Workshop in 2020!

The time has finally come for a highly sensitive men’s workshop to be held at 1440hand-plant-300x225Multiversity in the spring of 2020!¬† Teachers will be Dr. Ted Zeff, Dr. Tracy Cooper, John Hughes, and Scott Clausen.¬† You know Ted Zeff from his decades of work with highly sensitive men and HS children.¬† Dr. Zeff’s work has a global reach and he has given lectures and presentations throughout the world.¬† John Hughes appeared in Sensitive-The Untold Story describing his experiences c66681ee217daa00504417b76fe1bdf3as an entrepreneur and highly successful businessman.¬† Scott Clausen is a senior executive with Amazon and has keen insights into corporate life and the HS man.¬† Myself?¬† Well, you know me from my books: Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career and Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person, as well as from my appearance in Sensitive-The Untold Story.

You have also seen my many blog posts over the years as I have sought to address a range of topic of interest to the sensitive person and the sensitive sensation seeker.  Some of you may have also been consulting clients of mine from my work with HSPs and careers, where I worked with people from around the world to increase their awareness of the trait, develop self-care practices, learn to navigate the world of business, work, and the entrepreneurial  realm.

Now, I turn my attention to a topic near and dear to me: the highly sensitive male.¬† We have been considering how and where to do a HS men’s workshop for several years and we feel that 1440 Multiversity is the right place for us to hold our workshop weekends (plus they are very enthused to have us)!¬† We are planning for a spring 2020 weekend workshop for our first meeting of sensitive male souls with more to follow in future years (possibly in other locations as well).

What we would really like to do is invite you into this experience with us and tell us what you are most interested in hearing about.  We know you want your time to be well-spent and it is important to us that we provide you with a stellar experience at 1440.

Throughout 2019, we will be soliciting ideas from you and building them into our workshop framework.¬† It’s almost inevitable that we will have so many topics to cover that we will need to expand beyond a workshop format to developing resources that you can look to for accurate information, informed insights, and practical, no non-sense advice.¬† More to follow in that regard…

Our goal (and mission) is to empower sensitive male souls through education, collaboration, and community.

Join us!

FB: empoweringsensitivemalesouls

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

How To Beat Procrastination

Do you procrastinate? Is your mind filled with fascinating and more interesting things to do than the work that is in front of you? Many highly sensitive people have quite active and deep minds that can become lost in reflection, absorption, or shut down by overstimulation. Drifting off into reflection may be interesting but it does not get the job done. Similarly with the enjoyment of taking in preferable stimulation; the internet has made it too easy to browse from thing to thing rather mindlessly and take time away from goals we need to achieve for ourselves.

The following article offers a few tips on how to beat procrastination that HSPs can benefit from. We have a profound ability to focus quite intently on a task when we actually engage with it but, like anyone else, we may also fall prey to distractions (there are so many today with technology) and our own inherent nature to think short-term instead of long-term gain.

It’s entirely true that it is difficult to tackle large projects that may take months to complete (let alone years-long projects). For example, most of you know I have written two books with the intention of writing a third and fourth. What you do not know is how difficult it can be to focus to the degree one needs to in order to write anything sensible (far tougher than it looks). In times past, setting up a structure has worked well and I’ve been able to power through the writing and editing. After the first two books were published, however, perhaps the immediacy felt different; as if there were not such a rush. It can be great to not feel as if we are rushed but it can also breed complacency and, you got it, procrastination as so many other (seemingly more interesting) things compete for my attention. The answer?

The tips in the article mention ways to change our perception of the short-term cost so we instead focus on the benefit in accomplishing the task. I have tried breaking up much larger tasks into much smaller pieces, and that does help, but the best result likely comes from combining several of these tips together to change our perception of how much we need to invest now to enjoy a much larger reward later. Depending on whether the nature of the task is speculative (we are doing it in anticipation of a potential reward versus a definite reward) we may find it harder to make that short-term investment. The point to keep in mind if you are actively creating work based on potential future rewards is creativity should breed many good ideas that are speculative to some degree, but sometimes having already explored a topic may come in handy down the road when what we have learned as a result of said work becomes immediately relevant. So speculative knowledge that prefigures future needs may be the name of the game for some who think ahead, or in divergent ways.

I have to add in one more tip to beat procrastination: enlist the synergy that often exists when we are inspired by others! We cannot discount the value in working on a project with other people because we may be often literally propelled by the energy and belief of others. Even the deep introvert who prefers to scribble alone in a writing nook needs someone to eventually read what she has written or created. Similarly, sometimes it may help to break procrastination by leaving our familiar surroundings and finding inspiration in the outside world. Perhaps a library has a great space that’s quiet yet offers great views and a relaxed, academic atmosphere or a coffee shop is just right for you to set up your laptop and type out a page or two as you note others seem to be doing the same. Or you might frequent a co-working space where other home-based workers come to leave their homes. Often, our home environments fail to provide us with a distinct feeling that real work can be done there.

Building on the idea of ritual for separating one activity or block of time from another, it may be very helpful to leave the house on certain days or for a certain number of hours per day and spend that time in a co-working space. We have such a space near where I live in Springfield, Missouri where a small fee allows one to spend the day among other independent workers in a pleasant office setup. The feeling of communion, of shared purpose can be undeniably valuable to lifting the spirits and providing inspiration. There is also the potential for collaboration if you strike up a conversation in the adjacent coffee shop or simply by chit-chatting with your neighbor (providing the neighbor is not head-down focused).

However you choose to apply these tips, beating procrastination will help you accomplish your goals while perhaps retraining your brain to find the willingness to invest in short-term efforts for long-term benefits.

Please feel free to share!

drtracycooper.com

Thrill: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

Recommended article:

https://hbr.org/2016/07/how-to-beat-procrastination?fbclid=IwAR2-uKgcbU1fUn2zDVYv7XKclaq3mpDfsuzfyka2ZHtK2f05FDlk15X1HZk

Hands On for HSPs

Too often we highly sensitive people spend more time inside our own minds than in our bodies. What do I mean by this? Dwelling inside our own minds in reflection, contemplation, or as a protective mechanism (shielding us from overstimulation or negative stimulation) are in the realm of the intangible. We have nothing to show for our mental gymnastics if we do not convert that into a physical reality. Making things with our hands is the key and we have moved far away from what is such a natural human capacity in our modern, technological world.

One of the prime factors mentioned by so many HSPs that I have spoken with over the years has been a need for meaningfulness; to know that their efforts had a real impact in the lives of others. I was just conferring with a consulting client yesterday when the observation was made as to the essentially meaningless nature of her work in retail. Yes, having things available for people to buy (especially necessary things) is useful and productive overall but is not especially meaningful in the sense of deriving meaningfulness from having made something out of nothing. This same client actually has a side gig where she creates short films using a painstaking process of claymation, which entails hand-sculpting the figures and sets only to take one single photo before moving each figure a tiny fraction and taking another photo (think frames on a film reel). Claymation takes a huge amount of time, effort, and focus to produce even a few minutes of film. The result, though is a “real” manifestation of her work (and the resultant satisfaction that goes with it).

Anothecenteredfeelsgood7r example is wheel-thrown pottery, which I am intimately familiar with as I taught myself to “throw” at a local community college studio and, later, bought my own studio setup. Throwing pottery on a wheel is the ultimate example of mind and body working together in perfect sync to produce not only an object that is useful (a bowl or a cup) but also beautiful. In one of my former lives (and I have not thrown in many years) I was quite good at throwing pots that came from somewcentering6here deep inside my own mind as well as embodied practical uses (a mug shape for instance). Clay is the most wonderfully malleable material one could work with to create real objects of utility and art. Moreover, working to develop an adequate cross-over from the abstract part of the brain that just thinks about how to do a movement to including the parts that actually control movement yields tremendous benefits in self-confidence and self-esteem. Like many other processes and techniques, the more you practice the better you get (or as my kids well know, the “p” word).

If it’s been awhile sifluting17nce you’ve made anything with your two hands I highly encourage you to consider digging in and making something! Talent only counts a small fraction; it’s hard work and practice that brings technique and refinement. Let yourself play, explore, and take a few risks. In our modern world of endless electronic jibber-jabber we have forgotten what it means to be human, to be creative, and to use the wonderfully complex and capable devices at the end of our arms (our hands) in conjunction with our minds.

Over the five decades of my life I have learned to do many things with my hands (and mind). I’ve dug in the soil to grow plants, learned every phase of building a home as I constructOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAed my own log home, and delved deep into the fine arts as a painter, a potter, and a sketcher. There is no end to what you can build with your hands or what you can create. Some things you can build are entirely useful and necessary (a home or a garden) while others are beautiful and feed our souls (paintings, pottery, decorating a home or yard).

When it comes to things I appreciate the most it always distills down to the handmade. I do appreciate machine-made objects for their symmetry and precision but the handmade quality of a thing where one can see the effort and time put into its creation is beyond compare. I invite you to begin noticing the beauty in the handmade because everything that is produced by hand requires creative and critical thinking working in symbiosis to make a reality out of the abstract. Developing a working relationship and appreciation of the necessity of creative and critical thinking combined with a physical embodiment of what we are capable of making, or doing, with our hands puts us more in touch with who we are OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand what we are built for as humans.

Want to be fully engaged? Go build something…

Please share!

drtracycooper.com

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

 

How Hands-On Learning Fires Up Your Brain, with Leland Melvin

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