Nov. 4, 2020

What it Means to be a Highly Sensitive Person with Andre Sólo

What it Means to be a Highly Sensitive Person with Andre Sólo

Our guest, Andre Sólo is a co-founder of the Highly Sensitive Refuge.

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Does it seem like you feel things more deeply than others do? Are you easily overwhelmed by crowds and noises? Do you ever need to be alone? If this sounds like you, then you might be a highly sensitive person

Being highly sensitive can mean a lot of different things. It means the child or person processes information and stimulation at a more intense rate than what most people might. Highly sensitive people may also be more observant or aware of subtle changes in their environment. They may become overwhelmed more easily. They may process events with much more depth. It’s all perfectly healthy.

This week we’re joined by Andre Sólo from the Highly Sensitive Refuge. He is an author, adventurer, and philosopher. Growing up, he convinced himself he was not sensitive at all — that wasn’t something a growing young man was “supposed” to be. As an adult, he realized he was suppressing an important part of himself, the part that not only made him an idealistic dreamer but a keen observer of human nature as well. Since then, he has become an advocate for HSPs, and has spent years working with artists, spiritual seekers, and other sensitive people. 

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how to live with or as a highly sensitive person...and the important role they play in society.



Jeremy:[00:00:00] This is the Fit mess with Zach and Jeremy.

A lot of people are probably experiencing some very big feelings right now. We are a day removed from an election. There has been this pandemic for the last 12 years. It seems Zach and I both identify largely as highly sensitive people. If that's not a term you're familiar with, you're going to get a great education in this episode because.

This is something that I have only in the past few years learned about. And I've been able to implement tools in my life to manage being a highly sensitive person. Most people are not highly sensitive people, but I think that pretty much, everyone right now is getting a glimpse of what it's like under the best of circumstances.

For people that are highly sensitive to, to move through life because everything is amplified all the time. And I think that everyone may be feeling that to some degree right now, with everything that we've been going through. I'm really looking forward to sharing this week. Our conversation with Andre solo, he is from the highly sensitive refuge.

Their website is highly sensitive. They do tremendous work, educating people that are highly sensitive, that wants to know more about high sensitivity and just helping all of us navigate what it means to be sort of in that community and managing all of these big feelings, being highly sensitive.

Wasn't something that I think was in most people's lexicon, 20, 30, 40 years ago. So putting that label on it would have been tough, but Zach, you, you can look back now and recognize. In yourself, uh, as a child, what it was to be highly sensitive, 

Zach:[00:01:43] I've always felt a little bit different. I always couldn't quite connect with everyone.

Um, in a way that I felt was good enough, I guess it was always very surface level. Um, if it, if it was anything at all, 

Jeremy:[00:01:59] even in early childhood. 

Zach:[00:02:01] Oh yeah, yeah. As far back as I can remember, I. Have felt physically, um, highly sensitive. I can remember. Being, I think four years old and just not having anything to wear that didn't itch.

Like all clothes just make me edge. And even to this day, like I can't stand anything touching my knees, which is why I wear shorts all the time. But my wife actually just got a, um, somebody gave her a blanket as a thank you gift. And it's like a wool blanket. Yeah. And she is lovey knit. She's like, this is so comfortable.

It's so warm. To me, it's itchy. It is so uncomfortable. I would, I would freeze to death before I put on. 

Jeremy:[00:02:51] So, 

Zach:[00:02:51] but that's, that's kind of the start, right? It's there's, you know, physical sensitivity, but then there's the emotional, mental sensitivity as, and when I was a kid, I just, I thought everyone felt as deeply as I did and thought about things as deeply as I did.

And. Once I realized that they didn't and I had to actually hide all of this stuff and actually just pretend that I was, you know, a normal person. 

Jeremy:[00:03:19] That's funny that that resonates with me because I had no idea that other people might feel like me. I felt like I'm so out of the ordinary there. So there's something so broken in me that I don't know how to talk to other people, particularly guys, like I've always struggled with.

Uh, particularly a group of guys, like, like a one-on-one I'm a little bit more at ease. I don't, I don't want to talk about how I'm killing it at work. I don't want to talk about sports. There was a guy I worked with at one point that I remember him telling me that he didn't really care about baseball, but he followed it religiously.

So he would have something to talk about with people. And that was one of the first times when I just went. Wow. Other people do sort of deal with this same anxious, sensitive, uh, identity. But if that's what I have to do to exist, I want no part of it. Like I'm not doing that. I'm not learning things for the sake of making friends.

Like I'm not, I'm not going to put on that hat or that mask to, to hide who I am, because that's what I've done most of my entire life, even now as an adult. Is is to hide like the little, this opportunity that I have to fall on my face in front of other people and embarrass myself the better I'm I'm I almost always default to hide so that you don't reveal that vulnerability, but I was the same way as a kid, like itchy tags on, on shirts would drive me crazy.

I would sit in class and when everyone was silently reading. The silence would make me feel like everyone's watching me and I would start just like climbing at my face. Cause I couldn't contain the energy. Like all that stuff I think played into what I've learned much later in life is this high sensitivity.

Zach:[00:05:05] It was always so interesting because I always thought that everyone else had that same ability to notice things that were going on. And. I got really guarded in what I would do or say, because I figured everyone was watching and everyone would notice everything that I did. 

Jeremy:[00:05:21] Yes. In 

Zach:[00:05:23] reality, virtually nobody noticed what I did or what I said, um, on the rare occasion that I got everyone's attention.

It was usually something stupid, but, you know, for the most part, nobody was watching, nobody was paying attention, but you know, over time with, with the bright prodding of my wife and, you know, some confidence boosters and just, you know, getting in there and having conversations with people, I have gotten better.

And gain more confidence at, at having some of those conversations. But man, it was super uncomfortable to get in there and just start doing it because I mean, I knew, I knew I had to grow and I had to do my job and I was working in a job that. Required me to interact with people every single day. And it was, you know, I work in it.

So while you're sitting there trying to fix somebody's computer, they try and have small talk with you. Right. So I was forced into it and I had to do it. And, uh, you know, I, I guess you could say I was kind of the, the stereotypical it guy where, you know, you'd ask them how they were and, you know, they'd respond to you with a beep or something like just.

Inability to talk to other people. Um, but you know, over time I just practiced and I gained more confidence and now I lead the conversations and it's, it's been a complete reversal, but I don't lead them in small talk. I lead them in, you know, deep conversation. And I ask questions about what they're passionate about and, uh, you know, go into that level of deep detail, which.

Frankly, it makes a lot of people uncomfortable 

Jeremy:[00:06:57] for me. It has not been in practice. It has not come easy, but there was a point it must have been six years ago or so. Um, when I was trying to navigate raising a daughter who at the time was three or four, and even before having kids, I, I, I always worried that I was going to pass down my depression to them.

My, all of my social anxieties, all of this mess that I live with. And I was starting to see some familiar patterns in her. And there was a, like a Kickstarter thing going on for this movie about highly sensitive people that was being made. And I was watching this sort of a teaser trailer to get you to, to throw money at it.

And it was all about these people dealing with high sensitivity and it was based on the book, the highly sensitive person. And it looked really interesting and it looked really familiar, but I was really connecting it more to my daughter. And it turned out there was a book called, um, the highly sensitive child or something.

It's something like that. Uh, same, same researcher that did it. And I dove into these books and I was reading through them and going like, Oh yeah, that's her. Okay. That's how to manage that. Okay. That's her, that's how to manage that about halfway through each book. I sort of forgot that I was reading for her sake because all of the lessons, I was just like, Oh my God, that's me.

Oh, when I was six. Oh shit. When I was 12, that ha like it, all of a sudden this switch flipped where I was like, I I'm not even doing this for her anymore. Like I've, I've just learned something about myself. I've learned what it means to be a highly sensitive person and was able to start employing tools and tactics to communicate with my daughter and to help her through some of the struggles that, that I would have otherwise been lost, even though I went through them, myself.

Um, but all of that, it was so revealing to learn that, that there is a large portion of the population that. Struggles with what we struggle with that goes through what my daughter is dealing with. And so it's been, it's, it's been a really interesting journey to learn more about what that means. And so I'm really excited about our guest this week, Andre solo.

He is with the highly sensitive refuge. These are, these are folks that have devoted their lives to spreading this message and educating people about what it means to be highly sensitive. And if you're not to 

help you. 

I have the tools to do recognize those around you that maybe do experience it. So we had a chance to talk to him just a few weeks ago, and we started out talking just about what it means to be a highly sensitive person.

Andre Solo:[00:09:28] Probably one in four to one in five, people are born with the genes to be more sensitive than other people. And by more sensitive, I mean, both emotionally more sensitive, they tend to be very empathetic, very caring and to feel emotions very vividly. Um, but I also mean physically more sensitive, so sensitive to your environment to sounds, to smells to textures.

Um, So all the little subtle sensations that other people might just filter out or not pay much attention to. And those two kinds of sensitivity are actually basically two sides of the same trait. They're, they're the same thing. Um, and they're so closely related that in one study, it was found that if you take Tylenol to none, your physical pain, You will actually score lower on an empathy test for the next few hours until the Tylenol wears off.

Jeremy:[00:10:20] That's crazy. 

Andre Solo:[00:10:21] Yeah. 

Jeremy:[00:10:22] I have not heard that. That's amazing. 

Andre Solo:[00:10:24] Yeah. It's a very interesting connection. And the reason for that is actually it's surprisingly simple. I mean the sensitive mind processes, all information very deeply, very thoroughly. And to the brain, whether the information coming in is emotional information.

Like you notice the slight skull on someone's face, or whether it's sensory information. Like you notice how scratchy your mittens are either way. It's just more information to process. And so if your brain processes everything more deeply, you're going to be more tuned into both kinds of inputs.

Jeremy:[00:10:56] Something that has always fascinated me about this since I first started researching it is the idea that roughly 20, 25% of the population. Deals with this. And then there seems to be an equal amount on the other spectrum that is sort of like the reckless go for it, jump off the cliff, you know, live your life to the fullest sort of thing.

And then everyone else sort of falls in the middle. And from what I've read that sort of occurs throughout. Uh, all or most species like us. 

Andre Solo:[00:11:25] Yeah. That's, that's roughly true. Um, I think, I think one important thing to note is that there, there are both ends, there's highly sensitive people, and there are some people who are just not very sensitive, sort of the opposite extreme, like you said, That second group, the less sensitive people are actually a very small group.

It's, um, it's, it's much less common than being highly sensitive. Yeah. And most people of course, are in the middle group where they're just, they're a certain, you know, a certain average level of sensitivity and they'll process things deeply, but not super deeply. Um, Highly sensitive people it's often said are 15 to 20% of the population.

That's based on some early kind of pioneering research by dr. Lane, Erin and, and others. Um, there are a lot of more recent studies that pretty clearly put it in the mid 20th, 25% range or even 30%. Um, and some that are a little higher than that, but, uh, those, those tend to be outlined. So probably about one in four people are highly sensitive and, um, most of the rest of people, the majority of, of everybody else are in the middle range.

And then there's those kind of rare people who are just not sensitive at all, but they might be rare, but. We've all met one of them,

Zach:[00:12:36] maybe several, 

Andre Solo:[00:12:38] maybe. So maybe a few, too many. Exactly. 

Zach:[00:12:40] In describing a highly sensitive person. I was just sitting here shaking my head going. Yup. Yup. That that's me. I, I process all of my thoughts. Very, very deeply. Um, I can't stand the feeling of my own heartbeat. Like it just. My doc, I complained to my doctor all the time and she's like, well, it's, it's a good thing that it's beating, 

Andre Solo:[00:13:02] but I can't.

Zach:[00:13:05] So, you know, it is different, difficult. Um, it's challenging to live like this. What are the strengths that a highly sensitive person has? What can they bring to the table? And then on the flip side, what are our weaknesses? You know, what is it that we need to actually watch out for, and maybe even avoid if at all possible.

Andre Solo:[00:13:24] Um, that's a great question. And I should start off by just saying very clearly high sensitivity is a completely normal, healthy personality trait. Uh, how sensitive somebody is. It's just a key part of our temperament of our personality as an individual. Um, and so just like any other personality trait, whether that's how open you are, how conscientious you are, how introverted or extroverted you are, um, how sensitive you are.

There's a whole spectrum that we just talked about and there there's. It's normal. And so I think that the way our society talks about being sensitive, unfortunately tends to really stigmatize it. You really want to be the kid who's told, Oh, you're too sensitive. You know, you're just so sensitive all the time.

And you really don't want to be the adult. Who's told that you're being too sensitive about something. We, we value toughness as a civilization and being able to stick things out. But the truth is that sensitivity is one of our most important human traits. And it's not just good for individuals. It is when your mind is wired to think everything through very deeply on the whole, a deep mind, this is very thorough and makes connections that other people miss that's going to be a huge advantage.

And one of the reasons that this is found in so many species, there's at least a hundred different animal species that the same trait occurs and is because it actually helps a species survive. And in the case of humanity, we know exactly how that's worked, because the difference between when we were living as sort of cave people, um, you know, versus today when we have airplanes and modern medicine and all these, these things that we rely on that have made life more comfortable and safer, it's largely because of our ability to cooperate.

And it's also our ability to be creative thinkers. Before new ways of seeing or new solutions to an old problem. And those are fueled by our sensitivity, if you will, by our ability to notice little things that others are missing and then to connect the dots and to see a pattern where others don't quite notice it.

And then to actually use that empathy and talk to other people and get them on our side and say, Hey, this is a good idea. Let's try it. Let's all work together on it. And that's, that's what puts us ahead as a, as a species. So I really think of sensitivity. I mean, being sensitive is something that we need to encourage people to cultivate more and highly sensitive people are the varsity athletes of being sensitive, but everybody has a sensitive side and I like to encourage even people who might think they're in the middle of that range, who are just not super sensitive.

I like to encourage them to think about the times when they are sensitive and. How they may sometimes feel pressured to hide how sensitive they are. And instead to start to think about, if I embrace that, what would that unlock for me, 

Jeremy:[00:16:12] from what I've read about you, you are not a highly sensitive person and, and somehow still ended up in this field.

So a couple of things you mentioned, you know, our society, our civilization does not value this the way that I would like them to. 

So, first 

of all, how did you get into this as someone who's not highly sensitive person? And what advice do you have for that, for that middle group? Uh, to, to make us be able to cooperate 

Andre Solo:[00:16:36] better.

You know, I'm going to, I'm going to give a guilty confession here. I think I need to update my bio.

I used to actually joke around that I'm a highly insensitive person

and it was really through years of learning about a sensitivity. I started to realize that I was carrying some real baggage. Um, about what it means to be sensitive and looking back on my childhood and growing up, I've been sensitive since day one, so much so that I could barely fit in at school. And that was a social enough person.

I liked having friends, but once I was out on the playground and in kindergarten, I would literally just run away from everyone and go hide. Because it was just too loud. It was too much stimulation.

The sooner I could hide the better. Yeah. Well, through my whole life, you know, it was, it was really, uh, I I've been the creative dreamy type, uh, who doesn't see things quite the way as other people, but I always resisted that label as being sensitive. And I think part of that is because men especially are, are.

It's treated as something you shouldn't be right. Um, women face their own stigmas around being quote unquote, too sensitive or too emotional. Um, but for men it's just sort of the, the propaganda is you're not supposed to be emotionally sensitive at all. Um, and so it's really been kind of a process of coming to accepted about myself, that I am actually a very sensitive person.

And you know, when I, when I run down the list of, of, um, Signs of a highly sensitive person. I don't check every single box and most highly sensitive people won't check every single box I checked most of them. Um, so I, to answer your question though, um, what can the people in the middle range do I think that that process of examining your sensitive side, whatever that means to you?

Because I I've seen so many, I've talked to so many people where once they start to think about what it really means to be sensitive, they realize they're actually more sensitive than they think. And our society encourages us to hide that if you are feeling overwhelmed at work, you're supposed to just kind of grit your teeth and get through it.

You're not supposed to talk about that at least of all, to your coworkers, your boss. Um, you're not supposed to cry, even if you're feeling emotions, it's not polite to talk too much about your feelings. Um, and generally speaking, our society and courage, courage is us to move at a very fast pace with a very strong focus on one thing.

Which just sit down and do a lot of lengthy, thoughtful, possibly slow, deep thinking before making decisions. We value the idea of quick decision makers when often those quick decisions are poor decisions and the thoughtful person actually has a better idea. So when you start to think through, well, what are in which I am sensitive and what are the ways I hide it?

I think you're going to start to see some of the strengths you might actually have that you didn't realize you were kind of holding back on. You 

Zach:[00:19:31] made the comment earlier that, you know, Highly sensitive in the middle or the extreme other end. It's all normal as a highly sensitive person. There's a lot about it that I do struggle with.

Like I take things very personally. I get, you know, yeah. My feelings get hurt very easily. Um, there's a lot of negative aspects to it that I've had to work on accepting. Right. Um, realizing that something that, that I noticed. The majority of other people didn't notice. So while it is normal to be highly sensitive, there's definitely some pain and suffering that goes along with it.

So can you talk a little bit about how you, how, how somebody who is highly sensitive can kind of deal with that and, and some methods to, um, make their life a little bit easier with. With all the other people who don't feel as sensitively as they do. 

Andre Solo:[00:20:21] Absolutely. Yeah. That's that's excellent. No, I think, I think the almost universal experience of being a highly sensitive person is that the world wasn't made for you, like our current society was not made for you and the way you think.

And so there's a lot of pain points that people go through. I think some of the most common ones for many highly sensitive people. Uh, include, uh, maybe falling accidentally into some people pleasing tendencies, not wanting to put your foot down or say no to someone because you don't want to disappoint them.

Uh, certainly, you know, the experience of absorbing emotions from others and picking up emotions, but sort of feeling at the mercy of, of feeling them deeply yourself. Um, and then of course, overstimulation is a really big one which can come in all kinds of different forms. But when you process all of your physical environment, very deeply.

You know, it's not a lot of fun to be in a loud trendy restaurant for too long. Not that any of us get to do that right now with dependence. Um, you know, but a lot of our day-to-day life is built around lots of stimulation and not, not having a lot of more quiet time. So there are a lot of pain points that go with being highly sensitive.

I think one of the most important things you can do is to look at what, what psychologists would call self soothing activity. And techniques for, uh, emotional management or emotional regulation. The reality is that you are going to have stronger emotions about things, uh, or find your quote, unquote overthinking things and other people that bother thinking through so much and it's going to happen a lot.

And it's great when you're able to find people to surround yourself with who value that about you and who are going to give you a little of extra space and, you know, treat you with with a certain amount of compassion and caring. Um, but ultimately it's good. If you develop the ability to start to do some of these things on your own.

Now, a big part of this is just controlling your environment. I mean, when it comes down to it being a highly sensitive person really just means you're more sensitive to your environment. Everything, whether that's people. Physical sensations, anything. So the more you can control. All right. That can mean things like having that private space at home.

And even if you have three or four kids, it's going to be important too. Make sure that they understand the rules, that if mommy or daddy are in their quiet place and they've got the sign on the door that says whatever, um, that the kids know that they are allowed to knock. And if mommy or daddy doesn't answer, that means, you know, I'm busy.

I can't be interrupted right now and not to scream through the door, but to give you that space, um, do the things you need to do to create. A chance to have less stimulation in your life right now, some of us, or many of us, those who are able to are working from home, which is a whole new experience, especially if you have kids, but you know, even when you return to a regular workplace or if you're an essential worker who is working in a regular workplace, you can't always control your environment as much, but it's important to them develop routines, whether that's saying, okay, It might be saying no to a lunch break with your coworkers, because you're going to take 15 minutes to go on a quiet walk.

And that's not about necessarily being an introvert or an extrovert. That's about if you've spent four hours in a row being overstimulated, you need some quiet time just to let your nervous system calm down a little bit. So those things about controlling your environment, or I think the easiest kind of like the low hanging fruit, but also to start to practice techniques that are about when I'm feeling overwhelmed emotionally.

Sitting down and being able to process through that on my own, where if the person who may be set in motion, the person who was kind of a jerk to me in this case or whatever, even if they're not going to apologize, or they're not going to make it rag. Even if my friend isn't around a topic through with me to start developing the techniques, to process through emotions on your own.

To not try to banish them. You're not going to just make them go away, but also not to feel like you're at their mercy, that the key to emotional regulation. And self-soothing often comes down to the idea that you can accept your emotions while not deciding that they are necessarily. Right. Right. 

Jeremy:[00:24:24] You mentioned the essential workers, the people that are still having to somewhat pretend like society is functioning as normal.

I imagine this has got to be I've I've been in my basement for seven months, you know, I've, haven't left my yard much and in a lot of ways, it's great, but it is amazing how once I go beyond my yard, the world is a lot scarier than that because I'm not used to. And I'm processing every thing that I'm, that is different out of place, a threat, whatever.

So can you talk a little bit about what people like us are experiencing as. The world gets scarier and scarier because of this pandemic and everything that's going on. My anxiety has been through, I'm more of like a depressed person, but I have been extra anxious just with the way things are going on.

And I attribute that a lot to processing what's going on and I have to constantly second guess. No, am I overreacting to this? Am I going, am I playing it too safe? Am I too worried? So, and, and I overthink it all to death. So talk a little bit about what people are experiencing and sort of how to manage that in this extreme circumstance.

Andre Solo:[00:25:35] I think everyone, no matter how sensitive or less sensitive they might be is experiencing a whole new level of stress, uh, over the last, you know, six, seven months since this pandemic started. I think for highly sensitive people, in some ways, this is especially stressful because if you're already kind of absorbing everything a little more deeply than everybody else, and now it's more stressful for everybody.

You're not only taking your own stress, you know, a step farther, but you're also picking up on that from everybody else around you. And you're, you're. Social safety network. You know, the people you count on to be in your life and help you, you know, you might not be able to see any of them. And, uh, you know, talking on the phone or doing a zoom call can be nice, but it's not always a great substitute for in-person contact and, and, and deep conversation.

So in those ways it's harder. What the situation is for each highly sensitive person, individually is going to be very different. I know some highly sensitive people where they are at their wits end. They're feeling more over ironically, staying home when everything is shut down there, they're feeling more overstimulated with more sensory overload than they ever had out in the workaday world, because they're at home managing their job in a new environment with less structure while their kids are screaming while they're trying to help their kids do at-home learning.

It's a real mess. There are some highly sensitive people who have been lucky enough to experience the opposite, where this has been a chance to step back and have a little bit of quiet time in their life. I can't say unfortunately that I'm in that fortunate camp, but, um, you know, they're out there, but the truth is while this is more stressful for everyone.

And while it's going to be putting every highly sensitive persons, uh, maybe stress management or anxiety management tools to the test, I actually think this is. The moment, most of the world, most of the less sensitive people out there go through most of their life figuring like, Oh no, the world's fine.

Like we don't need to be more sensitive things. They're not too fast-paced it's not too loud. It's not too overwhelming. Things are fine. And they often don't realize how close we are to the, all of us, to the edge of burnout, highly sensitive people do. Right now, we have a moment where everyone recognizes how close to the edge we are.

I've just everyone. Falling apart from stress. And we're not that far away from when life was quote unquote normal. Right. Um, and we're seeing just a complete lack of sensitivity, really hurting our pandemic response. And that's especially true in the United States. I don't think anyone anywhere on the political spectrum is super happy about, you know, the government's response to this pandemic and how it's been handled.

And we might disagree about what the solutions might be, but I don't think anyone feels like, Oh, we had to look really well. We were really caring and we took care of people when that, when those moments in human history come, that tends to be when we look to our most sensitive people, but people who actually do have a vision of a better world who actually believe we can treat each other better and who don't just believe that, but they're actually wired to go around being more empathic, being more caring, being more collaborative and.

Really taking the guy deal seriously and seeing how we can move forward. Um, so that can be in very small ways. It can be in your family. It can be in your neighborhood. It can be in your online community. It can be in very big ways. But I do believe that when humanity finally, when we're in those moments where we're kind of pushed to the brain, that's when we look at our sensitive people and we say, do you have any solutions?

So we have a special role to play. 

Zach:[00:29:12] So, um, you know, you mentioned children and we, you talked about finding a quiet space for yourself, but everything I was reading, the highly sensitive people, it's, it's a genetic thing or can be a genetic thing. Right. So, yeah. Clearly I pass this onto my daughter, um, who cried for 20 minutes when the cow died in Jurassic park, 

Andre Solo:[00:29:32] like 

Zach:[00:29:33] just, you know, feels things, you know, whatever movie we're watching, it goes from tears to laughter to, um, 

Andre Solo:[00:29:41] the very traumatic end for the cow.

Zach:[00:29:43] It was. But I was like, you know, the dinosaur was well fed. He didn't appreciate that. 

Andre Solo:[00:29:48] Cause that's silver lining. Yeah. 

Zach:[00:29:49] Yes. But you know, as a, as a. As a parent, um, highly sensitive or not, how can we recognize in our children, whether or not they they're exhibiting these highly sensitive traits and what can we do with the children who, who may not be able to understand or process those emotions?

You know, how can we help them along their journey? 

Andre Solo:[00:30:09] No, I think this is one of the most important questions because most. Most of the highly sensitive people. I, I speak to don't feel like they were well-supported growing up often, not because of any abuse, but often just because parents and teachers and other adults didn't understand their sensitivity.

So the fact that you're even asking that question is already the right first step. If you're looking at your child and saying, you know, this, this person seems very sensitive, um, that's a good first step. And to actually start looking for ways to help support them in that rather than dismissing it. Some of the ways that I think make the biggest difference for a child.

And I think above and beyond any of the others would just be using gentle discipline, highly sensitive children are far more sensitive to their environment than other children. And we know from the research that I can go one of two ways, if they have an unhealthy environment, one that leaves them feeling traumatized.

Any child who feels traumatized by their environment is going to end up having some bad outcomes in life, um, that they can recover from, but it's going to hurt their chances. Grade-wise future wise, everything else. Um, a highly sensitive child will have worse outcomes. They, they take that trauma much more deep, much deeper.

Um, on the other hand, if they have a healthy, supportive environment, now that helps any kid shine. But it it's like rocket fuel for having sensitive children. It will shoot them head and shoulders beyond their peers and into a much like a very well-balanced very, you know, positive future, all else being equal.

So you get this like split effect. So at an early point, you just need to recognize that the number one responsibility you have with this child is to give them a healthy, loving, supportive environment. And that if they, if they don't get that, they're not going to bounce back as much as other people do.

Um, and a big part of that is just using gentle, gentle discipline, highly sensitive children want to make you happy. They really sincerely do. And they don't like hurting people. That's already like baked into their, their, the way they're wired. Um, so gentle words, a soft tone of voice yelling will overstimulate them on top of the emotions.

It provokes. Many, highly sensitive children will feel ashamed or guilty, even if somebody else is getting yelled at. But the teacher is, if the teacher is angry at somebody in class, the sensitive child will be sitting there with their head, like feeling bad about it, even though they know they didn't do it.

Um, so they really absorbed these things deeply. So a little drop of discipline goes away. It does need to be firm, uh, just like with any other child, but it can be clear and simple and soft. So gentle discipline helps. Secondly, I would just work on talking through their feelings with them. They're going to be overstimulated a lot.

Uh, their first sleep over is going to be different for them than it might be from any other kids. Um, my, my partner, Jen, who, uh, runs highly sensitive refuge with me, uh, she couldn't handle, uh, camp. The first time she went as a kid, she came home. You know, by seven or 8:00 PM, the first night of summer camp.

Um, and it was s like a four hour drive for her mom to go get her. So it was a really big deal, but she was not going to be able to stay there. So they're going to go to an environment that's meant to be fun for kids, whether that's a big pizza party with friends, whether it's a sleepover, whether it's a sports thing.

Uh, and it's going to be fun for a little bit maybe, but it's going to be way more stimulating for them and they're going to crash hard. So it's okay to just like talk to them about overstimulation and like, you know, sometimes we do a lot or when we see our friends, we get exhausted. Um, or it's okay to tell dad that, you know, I I'm getting overstimulated right now.

And if it's possible, we'll we'll leave. And if it's not possible, we'll figure out a solution. Um, but helping them understand those ideas and terms possible at the youngest age, you can, where it's okay to talk about your feelings. I will listen without judging you. And it's important to talk about when you're feeling overstimulated that helps them align.

Jeremy:[00:34:13] All right. That's Andre solo from the highly sensitive refuge. Their website is highly sensitive, If you want to learn more about them, the links to all of their Facebook pages and groups and things, you will find there and willing to them on our website. Of course, the just, I just relate to all of this so much.

It's just been such a, a big part of my. Uh, personal growth over the last few years is identifying these characteristics in myself. And so if, if any of this sounds familiar to you, uh, hopefully this will put you on a path to learning more about how, um, just, just being aware of it can really change your approach to your life.

Zach:[00:34:50] Yeah. And, and what he said is super important where, you know, highly sensitive people are normal people. It's. There's nothing wrong with you. It's totally normal. Um, you just, you feel things a little bit 

Jeremy:[00:35:04] differently than other people. Well, and it is it's, it's like a superpower. And like you said, early in the interview with that, that, you know, we help guide evolution forward.

As people, we, we catch things that other people might miss. We feel things that other people might not be aware of feeling. It's, it's just such an important thing. And so I hope, uh, I hope that this has been helpful for you there for you. Or for you, um, figuring out how to relate to those around you, around you, who you might think, you know, Oh, that person is so sensitive.

Why, why do they react that way to everything I say or whatever, it's just, it's made a big difference in my life. Um, and I, and I know, you know, I worry about just as we were wrapping up the conversation there, you know, as some form of normal returns to our society and we start doing things like having sleepovers and.

And going back to school full-time and being in an office like the overwhelm for everyone is going to be ridiculous. But especially for people that feel things a little more experienced things, a little more deeply, man, it is just going to be crushing. So this is really the time to start kind of building up.

How you plan to manage those experiences for yourself and for your kids, because it's, it's going to be a harsh reality to, to return to when, and if that ever happens. 

Zach:[00:36:19] And for kids too, it's so important because I, I have a highly sensitive kid as well. And. Just being able to recognize that in your kid and approach things differently, um, will make a world of difference for that kid later on in life.

So, you know, whatever you can do to help them out and help them process those emotions. It's so critical. Cool. 

Jeremy:[00:36:42] And how you, you don't want to have your kid be like us in your forties. Um, having awkward conversations, trying to learn how to interact with other people, like one of our first sort of deep conversations.

Exactly what we were talking about this before we started recording the show. I remember sitting, uh, you know, on this little porch in the town of Leavenworth here in Washington, having a beer, but you know, that's about as far as the memory goes for me or other otherwise it's man. I bet that was awkward because every interaction I have with other adults is awkward.

But you have a better memory of it than I do. 

Zach:[00:37:19] I seem to, I don't remember things, uh, details about things very vividly, you know, and having all of these con conversations with you and with Andre, it kind of brought me back to, you know, that moment in my life. And I was. I was still working on the confidence of being able to have deep conversations with people because I, I didn't want to have small talk.

And up to that point, our relationship was always, we were together when our wives were together and our wives know how to do small talk. So there was never any concern we would pitch into the conversation whenever, but this was like one of the first times you and I were alone. And I, I, I specifically remember like feeling it out and asking a couple of deep questions and, you know, you were, you were hesitant, you know, that there was a, there was a guard up and you didn't want to answer the questions, but eventually you cracked and I got you to talk, but it was interesting because I wasn't confident in my ability to have deep conversations.

And I think you were also in the same. The same camp on the other side. 

Jeremy:[00:38:25] Well, and it's just funny because again, I don't specifically remember what I was going through in that moment, but the thousands of those interactions I've had in my life where, you know, I'm going to be alone. With some other dude that, you know, maybe I don't know very well yet.

And just my anxiety goes on overdrive. Like, I don't know what I'm going to talk about. You know, if, if he goes, Oh, how about the Mariners game? Like, I don't know. I didn't watch it. I, you know, I kind kinda catch a few minutes of it here and there don't really care that they saw. So that's the end of my Mariners conversation.

Like I always would just be like, well, I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to have these conversations. And I would be relieved when someone like you would ask something deeper, but. When I, I just know that I feel more at home when I can talk about my pain when I can talk about my struggle, but I also then worry, am I that guy that's just constantly whining about his problems to other people, but you know, if that is how it's taken, then, then maybe we're not a fit.

Maybe we're not a match, but like I would much rather be honest about the difficult things that I'm struggling with or, or. Whatever feelings I'm feeling than to have to like manufacture some opinion about something. I don't care, but I can't tell you how many political conversations people try to drag me into.

And I care, like I have strong feelings about stuff. I just, I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to, I don't want to get into it with people about politics. Um, because everyone's going to have some factor, some little tidbit or something I'm just not interested in going. I would rather talk to you about what your experience is as a dad, as a mom, as, you know, whatever, whatever your position is.

Um, then to gin up some, some fake outrage about something. 

Zach:[00:40:13] Right, but I have to give you a lot of credit though, because your, where you were, you know, several years ago when we started hanging out compared to now, I mean, think about it. You now get on a microphone and talk to. People in a podcast and your share your feelings and share those deep conversations with, with the public.

So congratulations on 

Jeremy:[00:40:37] that, 

Zach:[00:40:38] that level of growth that you've done. 

Jeremy:[00:40:39] Well, what's funny about that though, that you bring that up and, and I know that in that particular conversation you referenced, we were talking about a podcast I was doing at that time. Which at that time, I would drink a bunch of beer and make a bunch of dumb jokes into a microphone for an hour a week.

And that was the podcast and not taking anything away from it. I still, when I go back and listen, now, I still think it's hilarious, but I didn't know how to have a conversation without first being a little bit drunk. Like I didn't, I didn't know how to engage with other people without like chemically letting that wall down a little bit.

Um, so there was definitely a rough transition when that went away and all of a sudden it was like, I'm experiencing life on life's terms. Like I'm experiencing it as it's really happening, not in the way that I've clouded it to make myself more comfortable. Um, so it's, you know, it's definitely a learning curve for anyone that, that goes down this path.


Zach:[00:41:36] I'm glad that you let your guard down and let me ask you some deep questions because this show wouldn't be around if he didn't. 

Jeremy:[00:41:41] Yeah. Imagine if, if we didn't go get those, what I think were like $9 beers. 

Zach:[00:41:47] Um, I seem to remember them being more than that, 

Jeremy:[00:41:51] but. But worth every penny. 

Zach:[00:41:55] So one of the things about being highly sensitive is when you do talk about your emotions, when you do let this stuff out like you and I've been doing for the last 20 minutes or so on the show for me, I get really tired.

So I think we should call this episode over and I'm going to go have an athletic. 

Jeremy:[00:42:14] That's a fantastic idea. You know what? I'm so excited at the top of my stairs right now is, uh, Big old box full of athletic brewery beers. So glad they're here life. Life's just a little sweeter with, with an athletic beer, 

Zach:[00:42:27] but no alcohol 

Jeremy:[00:42:28] and exactly.

No. And imagine how much more awkward that early conversation we w uh, that we had, how much more awkward that would have been. If it was non-alcoholic beer that we were drinking for me at the time, 

Zach:[00:42:39] it might've been a, just like a bunch of grunts 

Jeremy:[00:42:42] that's about it. Uh, but now I can, I can still enjoy a great tasting beer.

Uh, thank you to the athletic brewing company for making some of the best non-alcoholic beer on the market, but also for being a sponsor of this show. Uh, thank you to those of you that are hearing us for the first time. If you have not already, please do sign up for our newsletter at our website, the

That way you'll never miss an episode and you'll stay up to date on all of the things that we have to share with you. And you'll be entered to win prizes, uh, on a very regular basis. We're often given away, um, books of the various authors. We talked to, uh, gift cards, different things like that. So please sign up for the, but that's it for now.

We will be back next Wednesday with a brand new episode. Make sure you subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And follow us through all of the various social media channels. You can find links to those at our website. Again, the We'll see you back there in about a week. 

Zach:[00:43:32] See everyone. 

Jeremy:[00:43:34] We know this podcast is amazing 

and does not seem to lack anything, but we do need a legal disclaimer, 

Jeremy and Zach are not doctors.

They do not play them on the internet. And even if they did play them on the internet, 

Zach:[00:43:45] they would be really bad at 

Jeremy:[00:43:46] it. Please consult your physician prior to implementing any changes that you heard on this podcast. The listener assumes that Jeremy and Zach do not know what they are talking about and that you will do your own research on the 

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Andre SóloProfile Photo

Andre Sólo

Author | Co-Founder at Highly Sensitive Refuge | COO at Introvert, Dear

Author and web publisher with a history of developing large, influential websites and a mission of helping people understand themselves and thrive. Currently focused on the psychology of what makes us sensitive, and why that's a good thing for humanity.