Reclaiming The Serious

Photo by Ansie Potgieter on Unsplash

Do you tend to be more serious than other people? Does it ever make you feel like you are out on a limb all by yourself?

I know that I am much more serious than most other people around me and that I tend to feel alone with it.

Are HSPs More Serious Than Other People?

In some ways, it seems to me that HSPs are more serious than non-HSPs.

Our sensitivity causes us to notice nuances and disconnection. We notice when pain is created in us and the people around us. We notice the little failures of attention that can add up to big-time failures and alienation.

Our nervous systems cause us to be aware whether we want to be or not. Our awareness can make us uncomfortable and others as well. Awareness is not always welcome.

HSP Awareness And The Culture Of Positivity

HSP awareness and our need to honor our authentic perception can make social relationships difficult. It is particularly difficult in a cultural structure of positivity – the thinking style of progress and forward movement.

Positivity only accepts the “yes” answer. It only wants to hear how something can be done. It doesn’t tolerate slowness and obstacles. Positivity is narrowly focused on a specific result.

HSPs who notice flaws in an objective or how it is being pursued are unwelcome in “positive” environments.

There is nothing wrong with thinking positively. The problem with positivity is that it is often divorced from reality. As a cultural model, positivity totally disregards the “collateral damage” caused by its philosophy: human health issues, environmental degradation, social issues, and costs.

HSPs do not ignore the consequences of positivity. We cannot. We can feel it; there is no escape.

The Origins Of The Positivity Idea

Positivism is a philosophy that applies math and science to all spheres of life. It has been an important way of thinking used to help us meet our material needs. The amazing accomplishments in creating new textiles and inventions such as prosthetics are a result of the positivity drive. However, it is mostly a left-brained view of the world and life which is why it often feels “off” to highly sensitive people whose energetic sensibilities see other perspectives.

Positivism has had far reaching consequences because it uses science and mathematics as the primary sources of information. Therefore, any information that comes from another source lacks standing in a culture of positivism. All the “soft” sources of knowledge like intuition, deep processing, energy awareness, holistic thinking have been devalued in our current positivity culture.

The Fatal Flaw Of Positivism

Everything has limits. All sources of information included.

Scientific reductionism means that everything can be known by reducing something to its component parts. Science assumes that it can know everything by dissecting it and studying it. Unfortunately, this belief is a partial truth. Science can certainly provide us with a lot of information. However, it misses something critically important. The world and people are not just static objects. People, the world, and life are dynamic and organic. They are ever changing and evolving. How do you reduce the dynamic nature of life to a flow chart or a measurement?

All sources of information have limits. It is a little like the old story of blindfolded people touching an elephant and each identified what they were feeling as something different.

How The Serious Came To Be Abdicated

Positivism defines what matters in very narrow terms. It is a materialistic philosophy. However even material is not static. Everything grows and declines, is born and dies, changes and transforms. Science does not understand the energetic nature of all life.

HSPs are very attuned to the energetic universe. Energy is information, it is reality, it is our source and our work.

Science has devalued the energetic systems of life:

  • if you grieve a serious loss more than two weeks, you now have a medicatable condition
  • if you are hurt by someone hostile actions or words, you have a problem, but it does not recognize energetic harm as a valid concern
  • sleep is something you do when you are dead. It does not really understand cycles of activity and rest.
  • nature is no longer our home, it is a source of raw materials for creating products. Nature exists to be conquered. (How’s that working?)

Reclaiming The Serious

Something interesting is happening in the world right now.

All of the serious issues that have been denied for so long are finding their voice again:

  • nature and the environment
  • spirituality
  • marginalized people
  • natural healing
  • local economies
  • animal rights
  • human rights

There is increasing joy as people start to reclaim what’s important over what is economic and expedient. We have been sacrificing our well being for convenience. Convenience is not a serious life concern. It is nice but hardly important as a value.

Important and serious values are showing their face. People are taking up the serious in their lives and life is starting to have meaning and value again.

How refreshing!

maria hill

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program using cultural and personal development frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers The Magic Of Joy program for quantum healing and the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is a Certified Theta Healer and certified in Spiral Dynamics. She is an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Peter Messerschmidt on March 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I believe a lot of the value of seriousness was lost in the early 20th century when our core cultural values (at least in the US) seemed to subtly shift from one of valuing people based on “character” to valuing people based on “personality.”

    At the turn of the 19th century, persons were valued for being “solid upstanding citizens” and having “strong moral character.” At the turn of the 20th century, people are valued for “being cool” and “being personable.”

    Author Susan Cain addresses this somewhat in one of her TED talks, as well as in her book “Quiet.”

    • Maria on March 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      I agree, Peter, about the shift in values. Personality seems to be a top priority.

      In the US, we seem to have a confluence of demands and expectations that is making seriousness a “negative” value:

      • hyper individualism and extreme libertarianism which turns people into hustlers to survive. I read somewhere the observation by a visitor to the US that the energy of the US is the energy of hustling, and I thought it was an astute point
      • the lack of a serious safety net and support for basic needs which makes people feel more alone than they are and feel they have to do it all themselves. We do not provide enough support for he emergence of an individual’s best self
      • using externals as a measure of worth. Many people strive for wealth so they can ensure they will be taken care of because your wealth is often the basis for being cared about.

      I personally think our extremes of expectation and low support for the individual are creating the situation we are in. High expectations and the demand for low costs puts a huge burden on people, and as a result, people will choose to give in to an exploitive system to survive.

      Being cool and personable are values of our economic system, since those values sell products. I wonder how many people would worry about coolness and their personality if they didn’t think they needed to to survive. I wonder how much crankier we would all be if we didn’t have to be relentlessly positive.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I know it can be discouraging sometimes. I find our system depressing. That is why I welcome the Slow Food and Slow Money movements as a way to break out of this system. I think more and more people are starting to take their lives back, so hopefully we will see change in our lifetimes.

      All the best,

    • Lisa McLoughlin on March 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

      yes, I really resonate with this blogpost.

      What I also notice is how we seem to think in ‘Black & White’ or extremes…When I used to be a physiotherapist, I noticed problems were dealt with in the medical model or illness, disease and what is ‘wrong’ with people. I was refreshed to follow positive psychology, wellness and what is ‘right’ with us….but NOT at the expense of the ‘serious’. I recognise a need for balance and acceptance that we are on a continuum from positive to negative (quite naturally), and that’s okay! I am in support of the grey!!!

    • Maria on March 17, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Hi Lisa,

      Nice to hear from you – thank you for your thoughts.

      I totally agree with you thoughts about the “what’s wrong with you” model in medicine and other fields. It sometime seems to me that we are chasing our tails looking for problems and just making life worse as a result.

      Positive psychology is a big improvement, but can be too pollyanish. I like your orientation to the grey – the nuances – which are a natural home for the highly sensitive.

      I hoop all is well in the UK.

      All the best,

    • Steve on February 19, 2016 at 9:58 am

      The book that pops into my head is Bowling alone.

    • maria hill Maria Hill on February 19, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Thanks, Steve for the book recommendation. I will look it up.