About 15-20% of the population has a character trait that has been called many names by researchers but is commonly known as sensory processing sensitivity or high sensitivity. I am a therapist in private practice, I see many highly sensitive clients and I am a highly sensitive person myself. Those of us who are wired that way see many things clearly but tend not to shout our knowledge from the rooftops. We tend to have our hands full taking care of the tendency for our nervous systems to become overwhelmed by stimulation. Neither do we enjoy a great deal of attention so it is difficult for many of us to act as advocates and invite overstimulation. Nevertheless, we tend to see situations of injustice – and the nature of them – very clearly. It is not an overstatement to say that every single highly sensitive client I have, imagined Trumpś refusal to leave office, in vivid detail, literally the day Trump was elected. We knew it was coming. This uprising of the bullies.
It is thought that highly sensitive people evolved to be able to detect subtle differences for the protection of the species. We are not made of magic, although the soothsayers of yore may have borne similar genetics. We know things because our nervous systems are wired for us to take in an extraordinary amount of information from the environment and process it intuitively, rather than analytically. Over the past four years, we have talked among ourselves with astonishment that others can not see what we do. To us it was all so obvious. But alas, 80% of the population does not function the way we do. The majority of humans can tune out many red flags.
High sensitivity exists on a spectrum, like all ways of being human. Some are so sensitive that with too little support they simply could not withstand the cruelties of this world. Sadly, too many take themselves out of it. Others are genetically less sensitive, but have been made more sensitive by experiencing and surviving trauma. Many survivors of abuse, racism and trauma – even those who are less sensitive – could see what Trump was bringing. They, having lived the cycle of abuse, have read ahead in the proverbial book and know the ending.
Abusers like Trump have a playbook. And it is not so unpredictable as them making the shocking choice again and again to keep using that playbook. It is more like a reflex. A lifestyle. When a human being has made a habit of lying, frightening people, dehumanizing humans and insisting on their own wants over the needs of others, they rarely just divert course. This is not rocket science. This is the knowledge in the bones of sensitive people, written here for you in plain speak. A leopard never loses itś spots, as my mother – my sensitive matriarch forebear – used to tell me.
Trump is what early abuse and neglect can do to those who are on the far other end of the spectrum. The highly insensitive. Research shows that sociopaths have very little activity in the emotion centers of the brain, while empaths (another word for the highly sensitive) have extraordinary amounts. Do not tremble at the word sociopath, as if it such a rare occurrence as you think. The sensitive people would have you know, they are walking among us. They are perhaps up to 7% of the population. They do not care about what you want. What you need. What they want is the only thing that matters.
The sociopaths find friends in those who have been harmed by abusers and who – in that situation – sided with the aggressor. I will be generous and assume that there are perhaps a few supporters of Trump who retain some ability to empathize with those being harmed by his rhetoric and actions. Who are not full blown sociopaths. But you see, in a survival situation there are two choices: find an ally who is safe or side with the aggressor. This latter choice – as was undoubtedly the experience of so many of the insurrectionists in their youth – leaves a mark on the brain that is like those leopardś spots. Let me be clear with my message – no one should waste time trying to change it. They will side with the aggressor henceforth, as a habit.
Here is the message from the sensitives to anyone who cares: If you care, find others who care. Ask people – straight up, regardless of their political affiliation – if they care. When you find them, care together about all those who need it, boldly, loudly, persistently. Take care of where we live committedly. Protect anyone being harmed with bold, decisive action to stop the violence, the hurting. That muscular response is love in action. Love is the only thing that can stop hate. We must open our hearts. We must love hard.
The minute a bully took power we knew. Siding with the aggressor was going to happen on a grand scale. We are not surprised. A bully uprising was inevitable.
The question though upon which rests nothing less than the safety of our home and planet, upon which rests the safety of our citizens to live just lives, upon which rests the future of our children is this.
Will we open our hearts?
And will we, all of us who care,
Will we have the guts to love hard enough?
Go to www.openyourheartlovehard.com for more about love as a bold choice.