Some of the topics we covered in this conversation…
- Stories of successfully parenting a Highly Sensitive Child
- What is differential susceptibility?
- How to pivot the focus from what’s wrong about HSP’s, to what’s right about us
- How to get back in touch with our intuition
- How Highly Sensitive animals are usually leaders (story about horses)
- Why it’s 100% crucial for parents of HSC (Highly Sensitive Children) to educate themselves
- Suggestions on what do if Highly Sensitive kids are being bullied
- About the study that found newly born infant boys were more emotionally reactive than newly born infant girls.
- The importance of fathers to go inward to find how they created their definition of masculinity
- Suggestions for the Highly Sensitive Person in a relationship with a Non-HSP
- Why he feels HSP’s are vital to the survival of the planet
Here is the in-depth conversation…
Hello everyone. Ashley Stamatinos here. I have a very, very special treat for you today. I am here with Dr Ted Zeff. So excited. Welcome Dr Zeff!
Thank you so much for having me, Ashley.
This is such a treat. I’m so excited that you said yes when I reached out to you and for those of you who are tuning in right now, you might not know about Dr Ted Zeff, but you probably do because he, you know, he’s gotten around and he’s been a very prominent leader within this field for a very long time, so let me share a little bit more about Dr Zeff with you. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1981 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and has completed post-graduate studies in nutrition, Ayurveda and meditation. Dr. Zeff has taught classes in stress reduction and healing insomnia for Hill Physicians Medical Group and also has a private practice counseling sensitive people and parents of sensitive children, which fills up my heart. I just want to listen to everything he has to say on that topic. He’s the author of seven books. Is that right? Or are there more than seven?
One book is about, um, help be boys who aren’t sensitive to become more sensitive to say we have five in that. Plus the dissertation became a book so, six. Some may say that I have other books and spirituality have written
amazing, amazing. So I’m going to list a few for you just so that you have a sense of maybe you’ve read them already. The highly sensitive person’s survival guide, the highly sensitive person’s companion, amazing books, the strong sensitive boy, which I just, it fills my heart. I love that there is a book on this topic and raise an emotionally healthy boy. These are just to name a few like, like he just said he’s had even more published than this and today we are going to be talking specifically about his book called The Power of Sensitivity. So excited to share some of my questions with him and have him share with you some of the amazing things that he’s illustrated in that book Dr. Ted. That’s has given numerous interviews about highly sensitive people including on national public radio and TV. Such as good morning bay area and he’s lectured internationally about highly sensitive people in countries such as Denmark and Holland and he’s been featured as a guest speaker at the highly sensitive person’s annual gathering in the United States. Ted Zeff books have been translated into French, Dutch, Japanese, Danish and Polish. And again, welcome, welcome, welcome. I’m so grateful you’re.
exciting is by the HSP survival guide was just translated into Russian and Spanish, but I’m really excited about the Russian HSP. Elaine Aron, who is the one who coined the term. She’s world famous. Um, for some reason the Russians didn’t even get her books, your books in like about 11, 12 languages, Chinese and different ones. But the Russian when I was really excited about and a Russian speaking person just did an interview with me subtitled in Russian. So if any country needs some sensitivity, I think, I’m really excited that the Russian speaking audience will have that. And I’m also excited. I just wrote a speech. I was going to go in person, but I couldn’t make it where there’s a big conference in Valencia, Spain. Yeah. On next month at the end of May, and, uh, instead of going to person I did, they did a video of me talking about, um, everything he needs to know about highly sensitive children. So I just did that last week. But anyway, I’m really excited about Spanish because it’s a huge audience and especially excited about Russian because it’s the first time there’s information now in the Russian speaking audience that’s wonder, it’s kind of grace that this happened, you know.
I wonder if they will be really surprised by how many more people are actually highly sensitive within their culture than they realize because it’s not a nurtured aspect of their culture.
Absolutely. And like many cultures that, we could talk about it more when we get into the, until your questions. But I could just say now that so much as culturally based. So when I did my research for the book, the strong sense boy, I interviewed 30 men from five different countries. The men who were raised in Thailand, India and mostly in Denmark also had a totally different experience growing up with, with the trade of high sensitivity. Um, then those in Canada and the United States, which were more tough macho countries where sensitivity isn’t hot regarded so highly.
so in countries there was a study by the way where it showed as a long time ago, but it’s study that showed the children are the most sensitive in China with the most popular, the children who have the most sensitive in Canada with the least popular. So it’s very important to know that it’s so culturally based with the societal’s mores are in terms of their viewpoint on how they treat someone who has a finally to nervous system. And by the way, I’m a little over two weeks now. We had a conference with Elaine Aron, Dr Aron and the leaders from Europe and throughout the United States are about 12 of us there. And I, I told everybody that the term highly sensitive. I mean we have, we have it. This is no changing it. And I turned to Elaine and said, I really apologize, but for most men, that term does not work.
So when I’m working with parents of boys and men of the trade of high sensitivity, I use the term having a “finally tuned nervous system, like, like an athlete is finely tune intuitive, can tune in to the subtleties so they could be a better athlete. Um, someone like I’m Sully who landed the plane in the Hudson River. They made a movie about it. He used his intuition too, to know how to land the plane, you know, how to land the plane. So I could finally, finally to nervous system would be like a pilot who’s very successful race car drivers. So I like using that instead of the more pejorative sounding term for men, especially because they can’t deal with the term highly sensitive. It pushes too many buttons. I even said when we’re discussing this at the conference, I said, we know if it was highly compassionate, highly kind, that wouldn’t even be as. It’s difficult as highly sensitive because it’s got such a negative connotation in many societies.
I would assume that even, you know, um, I think you said Denmark was one of the places where sensitivity is a little bit more accepted. Is that what you’re saying? Calling highly sensitive is a completely different experience there than it is here in the United States or in Canada. That makes perfect sense, but I can just see as a parent as me, which I’ve had to do, you know, talk to the, the, my son’s teachers about him being a highly sensitive child. If I was to use, he has a finely tuned nervous system, it would be responded to completely differently. That phrase elicits such a different response.
Yeah. Then you can also say where you highly insensitive. So it is, it’s a trigger term and then we have to use it now because it’s been around now since ’97 when Elaine came up with the term and um, but I prefer to use sensory processing sensitivity, which is the more medical term for it or finally to nervous system followed by, you know, the positive parts about being able to tune in deeply.
I love that. Yes. OK, good. That’s really helpful. I’m already getting tools. Everyone who’s listening, I’m getting tools that I can implement into my life right away. So this is amazing. Thank you. So Ted, would you please, let’s back up just a little bit and you know, like I said, some of the people listening might not really know about you yet and I’m excited to introduce you. So would you tell everyone just a little bit more about you and your journey to becoming a leader in the world of highly sensitive people?
A leader feels a little awkward.
that’s me saying it. I, I think I feel comfortable saying that about you.
Did you do see who I was like Whoa, who is this guy?
That happens to me too when people introduce me, like Whoa, that sounds, that sounds good. OK.
Doesn’t have anything to do with me. Right? So what happened was back in I think 2002, I read Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person and I took the questionnaire and I answered yes on everything, a questionnaire and I realized that what I’ve been dealing with my whole life is dealing with the trait of high sensitivity. And I just remember talking to my nieces saying, no, I should write a book on this because I just finished my dissertation, not distant, just finished. It was 20 years, 15 years before on the physiological and psychological effects of meditation and the physical isolation tank on Type A behavior. So I had a group of people who went into the sensory deprivation tank called the sensory tank and they just floated in peace, another group meditating in a control group and then I check their blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety level before and after.
So even my dissertation was geared toward ways to calm the nervous system down so it fit right in because that’s what I’ve been trying to do with my life and um, and manage my, my, my trade of high sensitivity. So I wrote the book and again, there was some kind of divine intervention that I, I met Elaine Aron and she wrote the introduction to the book and New Harbinger Publications. They’re very big publication for self-help books, psych psychologically oriented. The, when I called up the, the acquisitions editor to just as I was just thinking it would be good to have a follow up book to Elaine’s book. So at any rate, that was how it started. But what, uh, I’m going to say it probably more than once during the interview, but what happens is if you’re have the trade of high sensitivity and you’re growing up in the world where eighty percent of the people don’t have the tray, you are a small minority and frequently parents, peers, teachers say there’s something wrong with you.
You know, you don’t. I mean, the people I’ve interviewed over the last 15 years, almost so many people say, felt like I never fit in and always felt that was something different wrong with me. And so because you’re different and people might say you’re wrong for being different. What happens to the sensitive person as they grow up, they internalize that false belief that there’s something wrong with them for having the trait that’s a normal trait and then they’re free to speak up there, feel a lot of shame around their trait and the way to really overcome it. I’ll talk about it more the more you immerse yourself in the teachings, and I’ll talk about towards the end in different groups you can attend to deal, to learn more about the trade, to get sensitive people as your friends support group. The more you immerse yourself in it, the more you can erase that negative thought.
There’s something wrong with you and I will tell you the truth that when I mentioned to people back in 2003 I’m writing a book called the highly sensitive person’s survival guide. Some people that literally what a strange title for a book and I felt shame. I’m writing a book about highly sensitivity. I felt shame because I still had that feeling. There was something wrong with me after 15 years of giving lectures and writing books about it being, as you would say, a leader of the community. I could stand on a mountain top and yell. I am proud to be a highly sensitive man. And um, so it’s a transformation for myself and a lot of emotional issues I dealt with about not feeling good enough comparing myself to other people. They all fell away the more I started loving my sensitivity, loving who I am.
OK. Do you know so many people that I encounter are at the heart of it. You mean you thought to make that the title of your book for so many other components you just touched on, but they’re looking to survive. I mean so many highly sensitive people. You don’t even have foundational tools to begin to get out of that survival, just trying to get through the day. So I think that’s so powerful that you wrote that book to help people. And it’s also really cool for me to hear that there was shame even at that point because it tells the listeners that you got through that beyond that and you conquered it, and those of you who are really struggling with the shame, it’s possible. It’s possible to get through it, beyond it, to healed from it. And, do you want to say anything about that? This is great.
It’s not a question of possibility, it’s a definite! The more you immerse yourself into the trade sensitivity. I have, by the way, on my website, the highly sensitive person healing program where I have, besides a very calming meditation, centering meditation, I have a. toward the last section of the tape is affirmations where you. I’ll just re say it and then you repeat all the wonderful characteristics of being a sensitive person. So we’re taking what people taught you is negative. Oh, you’re too sensitive. Oh, you’re what I hear today on the podcast. Oh, you’re overly sensitive. You know you’re not. You’re just sensitive enough. And the more you focus on all the great aspects of it, the more you can love yourself and a lot of issues you thought about not feeling good enough, feeling wrong, feeling shame, you’re going to totally disappear.
I completely agree. It’s rewiring your mindset, reframing the structure of what’s going on in your head. You can change anything. I love it. And I’m so glad that you brought that up. And you know, speaking of rewiring your mindset, the true, um, mission behind what I’m doing and bringing you here to help people understand is how all of you who are listening are not wrong for your sensitivity. But there’s truly something so beautiful so, right. Such a, a strength about what you’re experiencing as sensitivity. And I know you and I talked offline a little bit about how, you know, highly sensitive people. It’s a term that is really rapidly growing, which is really lovely. And at the same time there’s also some false information out there or people who are focusing on what’s wrong with highly sensitive people. And so I would love if you could talk about this just a little bit
In the beginning, it was myself, Elaine Aron, Jaclyn Strickland who has been doing these HSP gatherings in Europe and the United States, my gosh since I think 2000, I mean many years, about 18 years. And there was one other book she hasn’t it involved so much now. It was called making work, worked with a highly sensitive person, very jiggered, but she’s sort of dropped out then I don’t know. So there’s just a few of us and it was one person who was just using the trade to make money off. It wasn’t highly sensitive in giving these lectures. I don’t even want to say where because it might identify the person in Elaine, Dr Elaine Aron, Jacqueline’s Strickland myself got together. So how are we going to deal with this person disseminating negative wrong information because. So I talked to the person in one of the other people and I don’t know if it changed anything, but the bottom line now is that it’s become so popular if you.
If you go on YouTube and put highly sensitive person, every other person who sends to I think, which is 20 percent of the population is doing a video on it, they, they’re getting the facts wrong. I saw one video about highly sensitive boys and I could not believe this person. She literally, you literally took what I said in my book word for word as if it was hers. And so I sent her an email saying it’d be nice if you at least said you got that quote for me, you know, so anybody could do anything. So I just want to warn anyone who has the trait of high sensitivity be very, very careful who, whose advice to listen to. And um, there a lot of the YouTube videos are incorrect about the information. A lot of them, they’re just repeating what they heard. Dr Aron and myself or someone else who’s a leader in the field.
Say I would stick with Dr Aron, myself and some of the other people. There’s some people that we had seven or eight leaders from different countries in Europe who came to the conference and some about four or five people in the United States that came. So I know the people who are, who are accurate or disseminating the information correctly, so you have to be very careful about, um, what you’re watching, you know, some people have not only incorrectly or they’ll say, oh, this person in history was highly sensitive. You don’t know, or this celebrity is highly sensitive. OK, Alanis Morissette is highly sensitive because she was in the movie sensitive, which by the way, I recommend every person watch not only for themselves, but watch it with any family, friends. It’s the easiest way for people who aren’t familiar with the trade to learn about it because it’s, it’s well done by a noted Hollywood director and the movie, interviewed all over the world, the top leaders in the research of high sensitivity.
And it’s just a really easy way and it’s very well done. So it’s not like a boring documentary. They have all these different interviews and you’re going back and forth and even my grand daughter watched and loved it so because there’s a lot of kids in the movies doing different things. Anyway, so wonderful movie and that’s another way to start tuning into loving your trait of High sensitivity, but I got off the subject a little bit, so go red hat. A lot of smaller set, a famous singer who is in the movie and what it was like to be famous and highly sensitive, but people will sometimes I’ve seen YouTube interviews or people writing things, about HSP’s saying this person’s a HSP, this person isn’t. They don’t know, you know, necessarily. I don’t. I mean I can usually intuit who is an HSP, a lot of people, they’ll say it and it’s not necessarily true.
Honestly, does it really matter? I mean I are looking so outside of themselves instead of, you know, nurturing and growing their own sensitivity.
I think it’s good if you’re looking for role models. In my book The Strong Sensitive Boy, I have some wonderful role models. I don’t know if they were all HSP’s, but they were role models of people who were being kind and loving, sensitive, including athletes could look up to someone who’s not, um, a cheater and a, you know, bad mouth, you know, other players. And, and, you know, winning is the only thing. So I put that in my book because we need role models, especially of men who are sensitive and compassionate.
Yeah, that makes sense. That absolutely makes sense. Especially because they probably aren’t always the ones with the most shining star. So it’s helpful to kind of have an idea of who they are. So awesome. When of the things I really wanted to do while I had you here on this interview is to dig into the book that you’ve written and again is the power of sensitivity is success stories of highly sensitive people thriving in a non-sensitive world. And this book is so cool. Everyone who’s, who’s listening right now, it contains 44 stories from highly sensitive people in 10 different countries and it’s all about how people have succeeded after being told that they weren’t good enough. And I’m sure a lot of you can really have a heartfelt relation to that statement that I just said because a lot of us have been told we’re not good enough.
And so this is what I really love about this book and I love that Ted is paving the way of what’s possible and even how it says it’s probable that we can, we can change this and it’s a very hopeful message. So that’s what I really love. So specifically, the first question I have for you about this book is in Chapter Seven, there was the title of Chapter Seven for all of you is called highly sensitive children, which of course I went to first, you know, for my questions because I love this topic and there is a story included within this chapter about a mother and a child and they’re both highly sensitive and they were in a car accident and the child was deeply traumatized by the events and there were differing opinions about how to help the child overcome the fear of getting back into the car. And so I just really wanted to talk a little bit about this. So could you please talk a little bit about the highly sensitive moms approach versus the non highly sensitive person Dad’s approach to this situation?
Yeah. I worked with this person to a while to wonderful person and she was kind of in a, in a rough situation because their husband was not into the trade sensitivity, which I get a lot where the dad doesn’t want to know about it and the mom does. Um, but anyway, and this was a more typical case where the father says, oh, just put her in the car. It’s fine. You know, she’ll get over it. The sensitive mom used her intuition to know that if she, her it would make it worse. So what you did, which luckily I think she found it in a story, a good doctor who said just introduced it slowly so that they would do is the mom and daughter would go to the car and have her just sit in and when it wasn’t moving and the toy she liked and play some games in the car.
So she started reintroducing, being the car, being safe and not associating with the car accident. And the trauma, um, although it wasn’t a terrible accident, it was still scary for this little sensitive girl. So basically after doing this for a period of, I think it was a few weeks, I’m the girl felt safe enough to go in the car and drive with the mom and it was fine. So this is a perfect example of the difference between someone who’s highly sensitive in someone who’s not. Not that. It’s one thing I want to say right up front is that you could be a non, HSP. I’m always thinking my dad, who a siren would go by, I would jump in the air and I say, wow, wasn’t that loud? He goes, I didn’t hear anything, but yet he was the most compassionate person, most passionate people I’ve ever met.
So you can not necessarily have. And I know many HSP just ps, I have several good friends who can go nonstop day and night and nothing lights and noise and crowds don’t bother them. And they’re very, very compassionate and loving all the time. So it’s important to realize that, you know, the HSP’s don’t have a, a, a hold on it. And in my book, the story of the, um, HSP survival guide, I say don’t become an insensitive, sensitive person demanding everybody change according to your whims. That’s important because it’s so since two people sometimes become victims and some months they become manipulators because while I have this trait in, everyone has to do what I want everyone to be quiet in the house. Everyone has to turn the lights off, you know? No, we’re not going out anywhere. So it’s always compromise in a family situation. So, um, but I was going to say also is that the mom is sort of what is traditionally called the shaman or the priestly advisor and old days the HSP, not all of them, but most of them have this intuitive ability where they can tune in deeply to the way.
And so what you need to do is in HSP has that, most of them have that we have that special sense. The quieter you are, the more you can hear that little voice guiding. You just sit quietly, meditate. Oh, we were in this accident, and my daughter’s upset. What should I do? Just sit there quietly. The answer will come. Don’t force her. Even if you’re being told by someone for no, and so what’s the gentle, loving, easy way to do it? And you’ll get that answer if you sit quietly in a, in, in so many situations where you’re not sure what to do, you’ll hear that little voice and it develops. I didn’t have it that much many years ago. Now it’s amazing. Like whenever I’m going to do something, I hear this voice really cleared, don’t do that or yes, go for it. So we, we just have to develop it and we have an extra ability.
That’s why we have these amazing dreams and the spiritual life where we could tune into just a whole vast world of divine spirituality and, and you know, a lot of HSP’s or have psychic ability. So I don’t say it to, you know, you don’t have to always be tuning into it, but in certain situations you have an ability to intuit what is the best way to handle it. Like the mom did not listening to the dad saying I just put her in the car now, would increase the PTSD if she had any from that little accident when you forced someone to do it. So it’s like a flower has to open up its own time. If you force the flower to open, it’ll be destroyed. Parents who have sensitive children can’t force them.
You can’t. And sometimes they learned the hard way by trying and watching how hard it is on the child and the reaction. And one of the things I’m curious about from what you’re sharing is our children with, um, the highly sensitive trait, I think more prone to being responsive with, with PTSD. Do they go into trauma faster or more readily than children who do not have the trait?
OK. So I’ll say first of all, the child who’s raised with very understanding, loving parents, siblings, peers and teachers usually as adult become not just not just as well adjusted, but even more well adjusted than the non HSP as an adult. However, that same child, if they’re raised in a family where people are humiliating them for their trait, where there peers have bullied them, then humiliated them for it. They’re going to react deeper and have more of a tendency toward having ptsd or some negative aspects, but one thing I want to bring up, which I talked about in that speech for the University of Valencia s Spain conference, is there’s a thing called differential susceptibility and what that means is in the in a lot of research, they found that sensitive people respond deeper and and on a deeper level to positive stimuli than non-HSP’s. So there was a study of 11 year old girls who are depressed and the intervention for the sensitive girls was much more successful because don’t forget, they absorb everything so they’re absorbing and more open to the positive intervention.
They became less depressed than non-HSP 11 year old girls. So likewise, what I feel in Dr. Elaine Aron had said it also is that even telling a sensitive child, oh you have the trait of having to finely tuned nervous system, or the trade of high sensitivity, that alone could help them feel better and love themselves more and have less low self esteem. Just knowing that they have a trait, there’s nothing wrong with him. So it’s very important to differential susceptibility because it means that interventions like in therapy were much, much better for people with the trait than non-religious piece because they’re so open to positive intervention. Positive feedback.
That helps so much to illustrate that really popping into my head from what you just said is clean air and said to this children, you have the trait, uh, you know, of a sensitive nervous system or uh, what, what was the phrase you used again?
Finely tuned nervous system
Yeah, that’s better. Finally, what I thought was really interesting about that is how you basically just shared a story about how a title or, or understanding, you know, something that they’re dealing with helps them feel better. Sometimes I’m a little confused about titles and labels and whether they help or not and I think that from what I’m gathering from what you just said, it gives them information about like they feel at home or they feel a sense of belonging or I’m not, you know, often this tangent by myself, no one understands. It’s like, oh, I do fit within this. Can you talk to talk about that for a second? Because sometimes I think that that’s an interesting topic.
What will be very important where you get, you get a lot of misinformation is that some people can. We say having the trade of high sensitivity is like a diagnosis disorder and you have to be so careful. I gave a talk once at a program where people are going for their masters in psychology, the head of the department after I taught for about 20 minutes explaining what the trait was, she said, well at this trade is true, that must mean there’s something wrong with these people. The psychology department, so there’s a lot of ignorance out there is that it’s a totally normal trait and again, culturally based in countries like Thailand, where I think of this man I interviewed said being kind and sensitive to other people is highest good you could do so. He was always elected president of his class because he was always looking out for the Common welfare fair of everybody and that made it popular.
So there’s nothing wrong with this tray. It’s not a diagnosis order. And I can give you an example since the people are frequently, not frequently, but can be misdiagnosed, I would say frequently for the ADHD Symptom, opposite disorder, I’m hyperactive. I’m so, for example, someone with ADHD and an HSP could look similar because in a classroom they’re not getting their work done, but it’s different. The easiest piece not getting their work done. The child in the classroom, because of all the noise, they can’t focus. The bright overhead, a fluorescent lights. Uh, the fact is so much pressure. You’ve got to get an A, you got to do well. And there are many, many HSC’s, Highly Sensitive Children are perfectionist. So all of that would make him seem like maybe they have ADHD, maybe they can’t focus because they’re too hyperactive and take that same sensitive of child out of the classroom, put him or her at home in a quiet environment.
They have no problems. Doing fine. While a child with ADHD would still be kind of bouncing off the walls and, and, and having a hard time focus even in a client environment. The same with depression since two people cry more, and especially women and the one area of the whole test for I cry easily. Um, there was a total difference. Even highly sensitive men wouldn’t admit that they cry crazily. So, but sensitive the women’s specially therapy, if they start crying, all the sudden somebody say, Gee, she must be depressed. I think we going to label as a depressed patient. Don’t you can have a diagnosed disorder, be on the autism spectrum, have um, you know, a clinical depression and have the trade of high sensitivity. But they’re not, they’re mutually exclusive because most people have the made of high sensitivity to not have a diagnosed disorder.
So it’s like having a trait like any trade, although I’m a, um, type a behavior, you know, like to get going and do things all the time. Um, you know, oh, I, I could tune in deeper to two different areas because my nervous system. So it’s a normal trait. It’s not illegal. It’s not a diagnosis order. There is nothing wrong with the 20 percent equally divided between men and women in every country, actually not only among human beings but among animals. And so for example, in wild horses, they saw the leader of the wild horses, good sense danger, and that was the sensitive horse who would lead the horses to freedom away from danger. So even in the animal kingdom you’ll see the highly sensitive animal is usually a leader because they can sense danger. And I always make this joke a little corny, but it’s what lime does went diseases, lyme disease for ticks. So I always say, how come HSP’s never get Lyme disease because they’re gonna feel the tick on their skin before could bite him.
I love that.
Likewise in HSP goes into a new auditorium, they’re going to know where all the exits are, where the exit doors are before anyone else, so they’re good people to be around when you, when you’re. Because they pick up all the subtleties and the environment and safety.
It’s so true! I function in subtleties. I function in the gray. There is not a black and white area in my life any longer. I mean when you lean into this trait, for me at least, and perhaps a lot of you listening too, you live in the gray, and you notice all the subtleties, and there’s. There’s gotta be room for movement if you’re functioning and the black and white all the time. Wouldn’t you say that life is pretty uncomfortable in that place if you’re trying to be that?
So you know this, this is interesting that you, that you brought us to this place because it within the same chapter that you were talking about, the highly sensitive child, there’s another section called how we helped our hp son become more confident and truly. You know what I really wanted to ask you about you, you’ve covered and you probably could go even a little bit further with it, but the main message that I took from so many of the stories that you offered is that really knowledge is power and knowledge is power in reference specifically to supporting highly sensitive people, whether you’re in HSP or you have an HSP child or sibling or spouse or something.
People who educated themselves are. I have, at least from my experience from your book, they are finding more success when they, when they have that information in that reference point to better understand what’s going on. Can you elaborate a little bit about that?
Yeah, I actually want to tell that story because that parents absolutely amazing little boy was overwhelmed in PE class in third grade or something third to fourth grade and he couldn’t get the rules quickly so because he felt shamed, he just sat down and we didn’t join in. The mom was amazing what she decided to do besides meet with the teachers, go to the PE class and she started playing with the other children. That made him feel safe, so he joined in and it turned out to be he was a really good athlete and a fast runner and once he understood the rules he played and he was fine. If that parent had humiliated him or didn’t even know about, there’s something wrong. That little boy would have sat on the bench the rest of his school years… not playing, feeling badly about himself, so it is absolutely a hundred percent crucial that every parent of a sensitive child learns as much as possible.
I actually have the seminar I did a few months ago in Australia, and the United States. You could buy the recording of it is everything you need to know about raising a sensitive boy. My speech on raising and sensitive children, boys and girls, there’ll be a YouTube video up hopefully within about a month after that was just last week they did the filming, so almost an hour video. If you have a child who is sensitive, you absolutely have to put in the extra amount of energy. Yeah, maybe been a little easier. If your child didn’t have the trait and they were more aggressive on their own, but if your child has the trait, you’ve got to put in the energy now and I just, for some reason, I just thought of this one case where the boy was getting bullied in this private school and the father went to the school and the father said, well, that school was good enough for me.
It should be good enough for him. And the mom was sort of going along with the dad and I said, well, it’s your choice. You could have your son stay at the school that you went to when you’re growing up and get bullied and be miserable and have a terrible life where he’s going to be feeling like a victim and miserable need years of therapy in that might not even help. Or You could change to a private school homeschooling, uh, make another, a change in his, in his academic life. Learn how to deal with bullying for your son and he can grow up to be happy. It’s your choice. Do you want your son miserable? Then go ahead and do what you want or you want it to be happy and, and, and have a joyful life.
Ashley: 00:41:20 And for those listening, you know, I’m also, I’m a parent of a highly sensitive child, and yes, it’s for sure you know, more work…and I encourage you to look at… There’s, there’s different ways you can look at it. For me, the mindset shifts that I’ve made is that it’s kind of fun to be looking at all these moving puzzle pieces and you know, what can I do to be of service to my child to help them thrive in this situation. You know, I have seen a lot of other parents who, who say, you know, this is how it is. They’ve got to just figure it out, toughen up. And I’m like, OK, well, you know, when I put that little bit of extra effort and I see my child go from really struggling to really thriving and you know, that lights me up as a parent and then you see your child light up and you see their potential shine through and it’s such a beautiful experience. So I mean, oh my gosh, I encourage you to take that little extra step to just look at how you can put a little bit more into it and be like creative, like the parents that you’ve just described in these stories.
Although I do get dad’s going well, sounds like we’re just coddling him right now. No, but, but what I want to say is very important. Yes. When you’re, when you’re disciplining a highly sensitive child with the child, the child will reacting deep fear and withdraw. They do much better if you talk in a very gentle, soft tone, but you still have to delineate clear limits.
And you can teach your children the vocabulary if they’re feeling too over stimulated and they can’t take another event and they need downtime, let them, let them tell you that. But it’s not a question of toughening up and it’s not a question of um, coddling them. But it is important that even a sense of child needs limits. But it’s the way you give the limits to the child is what works, what doesn’t work.
That’s it. That’s something that’s important in every kind of relationship in your life, you know, the way that you deliver it. And also, you know, just to even further illustrate what you just said in the movie sensitive, there’s another story about parents where the mom is highly sensitive and the child has as well and the father is so triggered by what he perceives as the mom, you know, coddling the child and it, you know, is this in this specific story, it’s an example of the father was actually a highly sensitive person, but his high sensitivity wasn’t nurtured. It was suppressed and he didn’t even realize he was. And that’s part of why he was so reactive, you know, later on in those situations. And so that’s an interesting point.
One study showed that, newly born infants were more emotionally reactive than newly born infant girls, but by the time or boy reached the age of four or five, he’s learned to repress every emotion except anger. Because anger is the only emotion that is acceptable for males to express. If a little four year old boy starts crying, they go, what are you? A little baby, little girl, Sissy boys don’t cry. You’re afraid. What are you afraid for? Real, real men, darn afraid. So they get that message. And here’s the caveat is that the dad of a sensitive boy has the only way they can really become a good parent, a good dad, because that’s the role model is for them to go inward either by reading literature. I’m this amazing books I had talked about in my book, the strong system boy about, uh, being put into a, a little man box and you can only act a certain way, but it’s crucial that every dad go inward in investigative either with friends or men’s group, whatever, how they got the definition of masculinity and what it means to be a man.
And Ninety nine percent of the time it goes back to their childhood where if they’re playing on a little league team or something or other boys, if they should, any emotions, they were taunting and humiliated by either the peers, the coach father. And they, they, um, integrated that into their belief system. That’s what it means to be a man. And that’s not what it means to be a man. You’re fully functioning human being. If you can express this, all your emotions. So I absolutely poor all dads have sensitive children to explore their own belief system. What made me get this viewpoint that this is what a man is supposed to be like and how can we change that? Because to be a like a culturally, a stair cultural stereotype, you’re only a half a person, you know you’re not a fully functioning human being. And there was at the Va hospital, there was a wonderful sign that said it takes the strength of a warrior to ask for help. So if you’re in pain, ask for help now. And that was the way that to get veterans to ask for help with PTSD or emotional crisis, it takes more strength to ask for help than to repress anything. I could do it all myself. And that’s why most men die before women have heart attacks and they don’t see doctors because men are taught. Boys are taught from an early age. You should be independent. Take care of yourself. Don’t depend on anyone. So it’s a full self analysis, self-examination about your entire belief system, especially for men.
I’m so glad that you are out there sharing this message with people because this feels so important. I am so excited to get this video and get this audio out to everyone because I want people to hear this. I think that this is pivotal, life-changing. I mean if you don’t already know it and if you do, hopefully you’re hearing it a different way in a way that I’m thinking even further the second time. You know, so thank you. This is awesome. And I really loved that we sort of talked a little bit about relationships a moment ago because one of the things, another thing that I really wanted to talk to you about, because I have found that people are most responsive to this topic within my business and they seem to ask the most questions about this topic is a highly sensitive person in a relationship with a non highly sensitive person. So within your book you have chapters nine and fourteen where you address specifically non-HSP’s with HSP’s and I was so delighted to see that and that seems to be a very frequent topic, like I said, so I would love to know if you can give highly sensitive people some suggestions on things that they can say to their non-HSP partners to help them better understand how we function and how to handle us when we’re upset.
The first thing is, have a family night, get the popcorn out, and watch the movie Sensitive done the whole family in that way they’ll get against. Was that called the Monique Review method too? Get it out there without reading a full book. Most people unfortunately don’t have time to read it. Don’t want to read, especially if they’re being told by an HP, read this book now, if they are open after watching the movie, highly sensitive person in love is a great one, by Elaine Aron. The whole key is, yeah, there are certain people who refuse. Refuse to acknowledge the tray. There’s wonderful research on Elaine Erin’s website, and they did FMRI studies that showed different parts of the brain. The amygdala lights up for HSP’s and non-HSP’s so there’s tons of scientific evidence out there and they’re going to get some of it from the movie. Some of it you can get on the lanes website.
It’s real. It exists. There’s scientific proof to show it. And so, you know, if you find someone who refuses to look at the scientific data and then, it’s hopeless then, oh, I don’t want to watch the movie, I don’t want to do it. But for anyone who’s open to it, I met the person learn as much as possible about the trait. Um, that’s number one. Number two is the key to an HSP/Non-HSP relationship, whether it’s partners, marriage partners, parent, child… a work situation, is compromise. So for example, there’s a party and the HSP doesn’t really want to go, but the compromise, they’ll, it’ll take two cars, they’ll go to the party at eight, the leave by 9:15 and drive home. And then the HSP partner who likes to stay out later, they can stay out later. The Non-HSP might want to go rock climbing.
The HSP would rather just read a book in the park so you can go together to the park. The HSP can go bungee jumping or canoeing or whatever. Canoeing is pretty mild or rock climbing. If they want to sit there drawing a picture or reading or going for a walk in nature, they can do that. So you always compromise, you know, make one person right one wrong. You don’t, you know. So for example, like if you want to go out to a restaurant, well first of all you choose a restaurant that generally is quiet and you go earlier. So you don’t go like on a weekday night at, um, I mean a weekend, Friday or Saturday night at seven, you’ve go, like on a weekday night, around 5:30, they have an early bird special. You save some money. It’s quieter in the restaurant anyway with movies. You don’t want to go to a movie theater or when a blockbuster number one movie comes out on a Saturday night, but you want to wait two, three, four weeks ago to that afternoon matinee. So you’re always compromising and working on not saying, no, I’m never going out. I’m not going to a restaurant, I’m not going to a movie, I’m not going to party, but you compromise and you do it, but you do it in a way that works for you, that will work for the non-HSP person in your life.
I wonder if anybody else is listening skills like he just looked into your marriage, because I’m married to non-HSP, just here we go to matinees and we’d go to dinner at like 5:00 PM, one that you’re saying this
By the way, we haven’t really discussed, is that 30 percent of all ages piece or high sensation seekers. So that’s already within the minority of people. And um, I had someone in my life who is a HSP high sensation seeker and she would always want to do things and that’s kind of dangerous because they, they’re always looking for sensation seeking events, want to try this and go there. But then they have to monitor themselves because they can get burnt out. Just like an HSP who is ordinary.
Well, that reminds me of the kids that I know who have autism, who are high sensation seeking or the opposite because of their sensory processing. I mean, it’s a different, different area. It’s just where my brain went, but that’s, that’s so interesting about HSP’s and how there’s high sensation seeking within us, as a minority.
That’s very interesting. I’m glad you shared that. So, um, I would also really like to ask you, because we’re finishing up already, I, of course I could keep asking you so many questions, but I would really love to know what does your dream for a better future for highly sensitive people look like?
As I mentioned earlier, in 2003, nobody heard of the trait. Now, more and more people are learning about it hopefully, uh, in graduate school, they’ll teach people how to work with patients because Elaine’s book called psychotherapy in the highly sensitive person because she believes the majority of clients in therapy have the trait of high sensitivity. We’re ideal clients were very responsible. We follow through where intuitive. We’d like to discuss the emotions. And unfortunately, many of us had some difficulties growing up and so, but we’re open to working it out.
When I think of 2003, I remember when I was interviewed on NBC, that’s good morning Bay Area. back in 2006, people were like Whoa, it’s on television. So when talking about it now it’s like there’s a YouTube video, someone from Europe, she got like a million hits, Huffington post interviewed Elaine Aron and myself about coping skills. Got 1.2 Million likes. So it’s just growing and growing. And the more people who know about it, the easier it will be. And what I do is I anoint every highly sensitive person as almost a light bear for teaching other people about the trait. So we have a very important responsibility because even though people might say you’re too sensitive, the my opinion is the future of this planet surviving is having more people with high sensitivity who are kind to animals, kind to the environment. You’re not going to be terrorists blowing themselves up. So we are the future of the survival of the planet were the ones who start the
No smoking a rules were the ones who are out there walking for um, I mean non-HSP’s also, but so many HSP’s or for the environment and living a healthy lifestyle and diet. So everybody knew everyone’s who’s an HSP recognize in themselves the more they learn about it and share it with their friends, family, colleagues, everyone, their neighbors, then it’s just going to, um, increase, uh, exponentially in right now. Elaine’s books her the first one, so probably over 2,000,000 mine sold over a hundred thousand and it just keeps getting more and more. As you see the YouTube videos, every, all these HSP’s been already books about it. It’s so, but everyone knows the trait. Share the true information, know about it, and we can live in a better world. You’re going to learn to love yourself and not feel like a victim like you’re wrong. And I see roses everywhere.
It’s going in a good direction. It’s amazing. And I love that idea of, of where we’re going and, and it’s totally possible and probable that the momentum that we have right now. So thank you for that. So could you please add a word of encouragement to the viewers who are struggling right now and desire something more? Yeah.
Well, I’m not sure about what they’re struggling with and what they desire, but like I said earlier, the video is the more they throw themselves into learning about the trait and then the more they’re going to love themselves in all those negatives patterns, whatever they’re struggling with has to do with feeling like a victim. They’re wrong. And it’s changing the whole energy. So there’s Facebook pages if you put in highly sensitive people, but you gotta be careful. Some pages that have negative people on it who are acting like victims. There’s the gathering that Jacqueline Strickland has, um, once or twice a year in different places. East Coast, Midwest, a west coast. I’m trying go to one of those, meet other HSP’s. There’s asp meetup groups in about, I think 60 or 70 cities in the world.
So if you go to elaine, Erin’s website under, um, uh, I’m not sure if it’s references are, but I know she has on website or you just go yourself meetup group and put in highly sensitive people in your city and there’s some really big in Chicago where you are. There’s a huge one in downtown Chicago. And when I gave my workshop in Wheaton, um, a lot of the people who went to the downtown Chicago, it’s just meetup group came and it’s a great support. So get involved with other. HP is read everything you can. If you’re interested in ordering my tape on the affirmations where you’re hearing over and over again, all the great traits of being a sensitive person, it’ll totally, the more you’re involved in it, you read the research, read my books and Elaine’s books, you’ll, you’ll, you’re going to, it’ll, it’ll, it’ll, it’ll get to a point of transformation that everything you thought was a struggle is going to become a joy. Now in your life is you can use your wonderful trait to bring because we feel love deeper than other people happiness more. Or we could appreciate nature more. So you’ll start changing from what doesn’t work to see what does work
exactly. My last question for you before we finish up is, could you please share with the listeners how they can learn more about you and your work?
My website is Drtedzeff.com If you go to Facebook and put in Dr Ted Zeff, you’ll get my Facebook page where I list like workshops, like I’m having a workshop in a few weeks on coping strategies for highly sensitive people is going to be a worldwide, a Webinar on zoom and, and, and all sorts of new research information. So if you want to follow me, a Dr Ted Zeff on Facebook or you go to my website, Drtedzeff.com And feel free to contact me. There’s a contact on my um, on my web page. You can ask me any questions. I have all these books. I do individual consultations all over the world via Skype or phone within the United States with a parents of sensitive children as well as a adults who have high sensitivity. So there’s a lot out there and I just encourage you to embrace everything that’s out there. Uh, Elaine Aron’s website is a hsperson.com and there’s just a wealth of information on that site also.
it will be below this video, there’ll be on my blog. They’ll be anywhere that you can receive this interview. You’ll have all the links that doctor Zeff, just offer all of you so that you can stay in touch with them, take them up on these offers, you know, um, get involved in the conversation and continue to learn about all of the newest things that are coming out from Ted and from everybody else that you just listed because there’s a lot of wonderful resources that you’ve mentioned within this interview. So, um, thank you again, Ted, and I hope all of you will continue to take the next steps of Ted and, and continue to stay in touch with him. Please be sure to subscribe to the series and get involved in the conversation by leaving a comment and of course we both would love to hear your comments below. So thank you for joining us and thank you so much Ted, for joining me today.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure. Your enthusiasm and my enthusiasm, it’s a dynamic duo because I’m passionate about the subject and your passion and so it’s a win-win.
Yes, this is amazing. I’m so, so grateful. Yes. I hope that you are all are inspired about the world that is, you know, really gaining a lot of awareness about highly sensitive people. So good things to come everyone. He sees roses everywhere. I’ll see you on the next video.
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(Author & Speaker about The Highly Sensitive Person)
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