I just read a passage from The Courage to Be Disliked about value judgements. ‘The Philosopher’ says that feelings of inferiority arise when we compare ourselves to others. For example,”I’m too short”, “I’m not clever”, “I’m ugly”. This resonates strongly with the content of this week’s interview with Cameron Airen.
Speak to pretty much anyone, and they will point to fixed traits that make them feel inferior to others. These can quickly become the pull of our attention.
Three Responses to Inferiority
An excuse (I can never do what I dream of because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person), a futile obsession (I am going to eliminate or at least hide my sensitivity), or a twisted focus (I’m going to prove that it’s better to be highly sensitive).
These three responses to inferiority are unhealthy, because they continue to build the story around the inferiority feelings. We often fall into this because they’re all such natural responses. But if we’re going to learn to live and thrive within the truth of who we are at our core, then we need to accept those things.
Reject inferiority feelings (this makes me worse than others). Dismiss the pull towards superiority (this makes me better than others). Embrace the middle ground of acceptance (this is how I function). Ask what this makes possible.
We often focus on the opposite question: what does this make impossible? You probably ask this question about all sorts of things without even thinking.
I am joined on the podcast by Cameron Airen, who is a feminist mindset coach, gender consultant, writer and podcaster. She helps people frame their high sensitivity as a superpower. This is the key to unlocking their consciousness to create the kind of change they want to see in their lives and the world. She focusses on the stories we have been told and have come to believe about who we are supposed to be.
Cameron helps people see the specific messages that have influenced them as an individual, so that they can find their own true voice beneath and actively choose how to show up in the world.
In the interview we discuss:
Competition and the Highly Sensitive Person
Cameron was a fitness coach and long distance running coach. She knows what it takes to succeed in the field of endurance sport. We talk about how HSPs often carry an intrinsic drive to push themselves and succeed at chosen pursuits. And how this can be destroyed by society’s obsession with interpersonal competition and win-at-all-costs mentality.
There are subtle messages everywhere we look, which point us towards particular gender frames. We filter all manner of things, which are completely unrelated, through a lens of gender: the toys we play with as children, the clothes we wear, the appropriateness of our ambitions, or the relationship we have with our emotions. Things to which there is no correlation other than the social constructs we have built up.
We talk about how these constructs are damaging our health, both as a society, and for individuals within our communities.
Cameron definitely fits the Gentle Rebel mould (in that she doesn’t fit a mould!) We talk about how she grew in confidence to stay true to her natural sensitivity, while at the same time standing up for what she believes in.
The surprising truth is that this was about becoming more of her highly sensitive self, not less. She believes that when we give ourselves permission to allow the sensitivity to flourish, we become more resilient and resistant to the prevailing messages that we need to rail against.