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Psychology and Learning: Reflections on a 20-Year Anniversary


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Late last week, I was invited to partake in a "Virtual Gathering" of people who had been past participants at retreats for HSPs ("Highly Sensitive Persons") in the course of the 20 years these particular events have been taking place.

As many of you probably know, I am an HSP.


Once the initial bafflement — which happened in 1997 — at the idea that being "highly sensitive" was even a thing had passed, I set out to learn what I could about this new (to me) reality that sensitivity could be more than a learned response; that it could actually be something hard-wired into certain humans, at the genetic level.


As part of my learning about high sensitivity, I also became very active within the small but growing "community" of individuals whom we might call the trailblazers of establishing — or maybe it was legitimizing —something as esoteric as a new genetic trait in humans.

As part of this journey of discovery, I joined online groups, forums, attended lectures... and — in 2002 — found myself on a plane from Austin, Texas to San Francisco to attend a four day retreat for HSPs. It was, in its own way, a life changing experience.

In subsequent years, I went to 6-7 more such retreats as I kept learning and getting deeper in my involvement with a growing global community trying to establish their identities in a world that historically had treated "sensitivity" as an affliction.

Among my countless "writing projects," I even started up a free-standing blog — called "HSP Notes" — which went on to develop quite a following, and today remains one of the web's oldest venues dedicated to this "trait" some of us are blessed/cursed with.

And so, last Friday, June 26th, I found myself on a Zoom call "Online Gathering" for those of us who at some point attended one of the almost 40 retreats held over the past 20 years.


In some ways, it was slightly nostalgic and brought back some memories. Alas, not that many of the people I remember were participants — after all, the last retreat I went to was in 2008... but in a slightly sad way, I also recognized that I had moved on and wasn't in "that place" anymore.

In retrospect, I now realize that this is simply the nature of many journeys of learning we undertake. It's basically like going to school. We learn, and learn, and learn.. but at some point, we come to the realization that we can't just keep studying who we are and what we're about, we have to step forth and BE who we are.


I look around the world, and I see surprisingly many people who "hide" behind learning... whether they are the "eternal students" of academia, or the apprentices always "working towards" becoming artists... or even those of us prone to almost compulsive psychological and emotional self-study before we feel "ready" to simply LIVE our lives.

Of course, I hasten to add that some are called to teach, and that is wonderful!

However, many also fall into the trap of remaining perpetual "bystanders;" living as eternal observers of their own lives while not ever daring to become active participants.

Truthfully, whereas I can't fault anyone for falling for the temptation of remaining in an eternal holding pattern, I do feel a sense of LOSS, when I think about it. But that's just me; I'm fundamentally lazy... so if I'm going to put effort into learning something, I'm also going to do something with that.

Either way, I was glad I took the time to join this brief 20th Anniversary meeting, if for no other reason that it offered me the opportunity to contemplate what was important and what is important... and what I have learned about myself during the intervening 20 years.

And that's a good thing!

Thanks for reading!

How about YOU? Do you tend to "learn and move on," or are you more of an "eternal student?" Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!

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Created at 20200702 23:32 PDT



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