Interview with Tracy M. Cooper

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What is a highly sensitive person?
A highly sensitive person is someone who processes all experience more deeply in the brain. This is fueled by emotion and aided by an often exquisite sensitivity to stimulation and subtleties. HSPs are deeply empathetic and can feel the energy of others very strongly making empathy one of the most challenging factors in being an HSP. Highly sensitive people experience emotions more deeply than others making emotional regulation a prime issue because if we don’t find a way to maintain a balance between the stimulation we take in we can very often feel overstimulated, irritated, angry, or feeling like we need to escape to a quiet place. Self-care for a highly sensitive person is essential. By self-care I mean more than just diet and exercise. I also mean getting adequate rest, cultivating and maintaining some sort of contemplative practice, and socializing with quality people in amounts that feel appropriate for you.

Being an HSP is also about being creative, intelligent, curious and complexity oriented. Many HSPs are gifted and some have another personality trait called sensation seeking which means they experience an equal drive to seek out sensations counterbalanced by a cautionary instinct. As creative individuals many HSPs have to work hard to stay ahead of boredom and anxiety. We have a deep need for autonomy, meaningful work, and a strong drive to fulfill our potential. Matching those needs to career is quite a difficult task for many of us. That’s why I wrote this book.
What does it mean to thrive?
For many HSPs life is very difficult as we balance work, family life and other commitments. Many HSPs, like many people, struggle to survive and in doing so never have time to truly know themselves. The problem with this is if we never truly know our own temperament we can’t expect to be able to develop ourselves to our full potential. We lose, our children lose, and our communities lose. To Thrive implies that we have found ways to master survival, both in a material sense and in a personal sense. Thriving implies that we move beyond survival and begin to make use of our creative capacities as we work at creating lives that utilize our talents, interests and that are molded to suit our unique needs. The workplace is increasingly catering to those needs.
Do HSPs need to be in any one career field?
No, in fact, the research that I have conducted, and that is included in the book, seems to indicate that HSPs are in every profession, in every career, but that they seem to prefer healthcare fields, followed by education, creative fields, business, and STEM fields. Highly sensitive people are all different. We all come from different countries with differing cultures, social classes, and educational backgrounds. Our expectations are going to be very different depending on those and many other factors. There is a tendency to want to lump all HSPs together into a category of fragile, weak, or constantly overstimulated individuals and that is incredibly far from the truth. HSPs are passionate, caring, deep thinking and feeling individuals who exist at all levels of society and have always existed. In fact, some of history’s greatest leaders, thinkers, and innovators have likely been HSPs.

Highly sensitive people run the gamut from mild to wild! We may be quiet individuals who observe more than we speak or we may be passionate about a cause and strongly state our case. We may prefer to have just a few close friends or to have many friends, whatever the case we all have a need for quiet time to recharge and a deep need to maintain a sense of emotional, physical and spiritual balance. If we can keep ourselves in balance, and if we can organize our lives in ways that allow us to really express who we are and what we are capable of, then we can really begin to thrive!
What are you working on next?
I will be writing a new book on the high sensation seeking highly sensitive person. The HSS/HSP is a subgroup in the HSP population of about 30%. I identify as a HSS/HSP myself and want to better understand it as much as you. As a transdisciplinary researcher my orientation is to pursue topics with personal meaning that place me at the center of the research while generating knowledge designed to address real-world issues.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Work. I love researching, writing, and creating books that can help others develop greater self-awareness regarding their talents, propensities, and potentialities. I am interested in questions like "how do people flourish," "what prevents people from fulfilling their potential?" and "why do people behave the way they do?" My curiosity and need to explore while creating work that helps others is a prime motivator for me.
Published 2015-07-16.
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Books by This Author

Thrill! The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 68,570. Language: English. Published: September 10, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Psychology » Personality, Nonfiction » Psychology » Developmental / lifespan development
Are you a thrill seeker who loves roller coasters, yet prefers safe thrills? Do you love new and novel experiences, yet are careful to think it through? Are you deeply empathic, highly creative, and experience a rich, deep inner life? If so you may be a high sensation seeking highly sensitive person. Dr. Tracy Cooper presents new research illuminating the 30% of HSPs who are HSS/HSPs.
Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 51,850. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Careers / job hunting, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Careers
Are you a highly sensitive person who has always felt frustrated in finding the "right" career? In this groundbreaking book Dr. Tracy Cooper presents important new research findings that can empower you to better understand how HSPs experience the modern workplace, discover emerging new opportunities, and connect with powerful narratives from HSPs! A must read for all HSPs!