Release of Empowering the Sensitive Male Soul, a new book on hs men from Dr. Tracy Cooper

I am pleased to announce that my new book, Empowering the Sensitive Male Soul, is now available in paperback and eBook formats through Amazon, Smashwords, and their affiliates!

Cover image

This book partly relates my personal story as a HSS/HS man, while exploring topics not previously covered in other books on HS men. Topics such as anger, perceptions, and a broader revisioning of creativity as creating one’s life to become a fuller realization of who and what one might be, find places in this new book on HS men.

Other important topical areas in the book includes:

– an update on Sensory Processing Sensitivity (the underlying personality trait that all HSPs have)
• a survey chapter on the history of masculinity and how we can think of masculinity in different terms
• an examination of childhood for HS boys
• a huge chapter on career and HS men (as you would expect from me)
• self-care for the HS man
• the ever-challenging area of relationships
• plus, a chapter on parenting as HS dads.

Empowering the Sensitive Male Soul is a book about HS men and HSS/HS men written by a HSS/HS man in a way that is confident, compelling, and ultimately encouraging to all HS men.

This book is a complementary companion to my previous two books:

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career
Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

Available through Amazon and Smashwords and many fine retailers.

Misophonia – when certain sounds drive you crazy

I’ve written about Misophonia before and in my upcoming book, Empowering the Sensitive male Soul, and I am always keen to see what writers say about it because they are often a little off. Here, the author describes Misophonia as a “condition” but we cannot fairly describe it as such simply because it does not exist as a recognized condition. We can fairly describe it as a phenomenon that about 15% of the total population experiences.

We can also say that Misophonia can be anything from a mild to severe issue for those who experience it and that there are good treatment strategies available to help retrain our brains and our behaviors when we encounter trigger sounds. By the way, I am a moderate category Misophonic so this is of great importance to me and I know to others, especially those who are in the severe category.

The best treatment strategy seems to revolve around a combination of three key aspects:

1) Cognitive behavioral therapy to reframe how we think about the producers of trigger sounds (that they are not intending to create these trigger sounds).

2) Progressive muscle relaxation to instantly react to a trigger sound by intentionally relaxing the muscles in our bodies that tend to clench up when we hear trigger sounds, combined with removing from the space if necessary and self-soothing strategies (breathing deeply or otherwise calming the body).

3) Gradual exposure therapy to lessen our sensitivity to trigger sounds, specifically, those that apply to us individually. There is a trigger tamer app that can be used to gradually expose us to our particular trigger sounds. Note that it is crucial that you do not expose yourself to full volume trigger sounds! For obvious reasons, start out at a lower volume and increase over time.

HSPs, if you can imagine, are not only already highly sensitive to stimuli that others miss, but a likely similar 15% of us also must contend with Misophonia! Our sensitivity to subtleties, one of the four core aspects of sensory processing sensitivity, combined with our tendency for overstimulation, can require a real addressing of Misophonia if we are to function well in the world.

It is important, if you decide to seek help with Misophonia, to locate a specialist because it really does take great expertise and long experience to help a Misophonic. I suggest browsing the Misophonia Institute’s website for much more information and for help with locating skilled professionals.

The good news is Misophonia can be mitigated to a large extent but it does take work and long-term effort. I have experience as a moderate category Misophonic and my spouse is a severe category Misophonic. We have developed our own strategies that work for us with regard to how we will react if one of us hears a trigger sound unexpectedly and they are always unexpected! Much like learning to allow high sensitivity to be one aspect of our lives, we also allow for the presence of Misophonia. The more you know and the more self-aware you are, the better you may more effectively live your life without feeling too limited by Misophonia.

Is this the end of the office as we know it?

One of the positive implications from the coronavirus pandemic may be that we HSPs are afforded what we’ve been in need of for many years: space. Now that it is abundantly clear that organizing office spaces in such a way as to put many employees side by side or otherwise in close and constant contact is a bad idea, it may be that companies and organization will remodel their previous open office plans to include, at the least, dividers and, at most, more private spaces.

This is theoretically good news for HSPs who prefer greater personal space and less noise so they can focus and concentrate on their work. It may be that many companies also have now seen the viability of having many employees simply working from home and choose to allow it in the future, as a simple matter of doing business. It may be, as well, as the article suggests, that companies allow fewer total numbers of employees in an office space and stagger days when teams meet in person.

Some HSPs, and HSS/HSPs, may see this and feel that they need to have at least some time in their office environments, especially these two groups. Zoom and other video conferencing are useful and now necessary tools but there is no replacement for physically being in the company of others, at least for some amount of time. We are prosocial beings and need to be in proximity with others to some extent. Research shows that it is the high performers who prefer to work from home as the autonomy provides them with the ability to schedule work when they are at their best each day and when they have time and space to think and work through complex issues. For the high performing HSP or HSS/HSP, this major shift in how we work may be a strong positive factor in an otherwise horrific time in our history.

Co-working spaces are the other variable that will likely shift to greater sanitation and reconfiguration of work spaces to provide more space between people and fewer total people overall in a space. If you find yourself working at home, you may be tempted to use co-working spaces, which are commercial spaces where you can pay a fee to work in a space that is wired and set up to bring people together, often from many different industries and companies, as they work. Co-working spaces are becoming increasingly popular and necessary as workers need the variety of being somewhere besides their own home all of the time.

There are a number of salient issues that will have to take shape even if home workers becomes the new reality. We shouldn’t assume that companies will not seek to find ways to squeeze more out of you being at home; indeed, they do and will assume that ALL of your time is company time and will gradually whittle away at your private life if you allow them to. Boundaries become an important factor here again as HSP often lack adequate boundaries and may allow themselves to be taken advantage of or exploited as a home worker.

My advice is to work out your hours when you are available to work and respond to emails and think of that as your dividing line between what you’re being paid to do and your private life. Time becomes your new boundary and it will be up to you to not allow encroachment on it or you may find yourself a slave in your own home answering emails at all hours and working more than you ever did while in an office. This may be especially true as we know people are generally more productive while working from home, probably due to less distractions, noise, and interruptions from others. That being said, working from home will carry it’s own burden of establishing and enforcing your “work” boundary with your loved ones, who may not truly appreciate that your work at home is “real work.”

Over time your family and friends will adjust to the new normal of you being at home and working certain hours and life will go on but be vigilant about maintaining a structured approach to your work that also keeps you focused on what you need to do. Not everyone is cut out for complete autonomy and setting up and maintaining their own structure. It takes a disciplined person with a disciplined mind to be able to utilize autonomy in a productive and sustainable way.

Time will tell how companies and organizations choose to respond to the way their physical environments need to shift to accommodate the health and well being of their work forces. Now is also the time for HSPs to speak up and communicate how they work best to their employers and take advantage of opportunities to work from home! This is a shift that is deeply in your favor!

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person
(both books now in audiobook as well as e-book and paperback forms)

More on Letting Go…

The philosophy of the Stoics and the Taoists brings me great comfort in these times and reinforces for me what I already loosely practice. I was in the hospital for a week in 2019 and had lots of time to reflect on how when everything is taken away: our clothes, our external lives, our freedom to go as we please, even our name becomes a bracelet one wears and sees on a dry erase board with a condition, a doctor, and a plan, we are left with the core of who we are, our raw humanity and what we can make of it.

Stoicism in such times teaches us to let go of clinging to things and to be in the present moment. Indeed, Stoicism teaches us to love each moment and everything that happens in each moment (amori fati, or “love of fate” in the Latin), since each moment is all we truly ever have.

Many HSPs feel the sense of grief, tension, and anxiety in the world in these trying times of the pandemic. HSPs may or may not have lives where chasing external rewards is their focus but these times show us quite dramatically the prudence of planning ahead, being content with our rich inner worlds, and valuing those we hold dear. If this pandemic has any silver lining at all it’s that it has allowed many people a time to reflect on their lives and take stock of how their lifestyle and choices either reflect an alignment between one’s modest ambitions, desires, and wants versus the external world of conspicuous consumption, depletion, and a treadmill existence that is out of sync with fundamental happiness.

In this trying time, it seems altogether appropriate that we truly live in this moment, while appreciating that we need very little to be happy or content. When people’s lives have been culled back to a large degree, we are left to re-examine who we are at our cores, and forced to confront either our true depth or our true superficiality.

The Taoists and Stoics have much to teach us in this moment if we listen and let go of societal expectations. The more we are willing to let go, the more content we may become, with less anxiety, worry, or fear to trouble our minds. I was reminded very graphically of my relative impermanence last year and allowed an opportunity to deeply consider my core essence as a human being on this planet at this time. I discovered that trying times stripped away much of the external milieu we all embody, but revealed inner resources in abundance. I chose to view my time in isolation and no control as a time to re-frame my appreciation for all that I loved and would regain.

In the first day after release, I recall quite well my first walk on my familiar walking trail and how the sheer freedom to simply move, breathe, and take in the birds whistling, the sound of the river, and the feel of my body moving felt as if it were my first day on Earth. In any time of withdrawal, we can choose to use it as a chance to bemoan our circumstances, or to engage with our inner worlds of present moment, clarity about who we are at our depths, and to follow the Stoic’s advice in letting go…

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person

The Power of Letting Go: Lessons from the Tao

“There are also those who swim against the stream. These are the biggest energy wasters in life.” Many highly sensitive people swim against the stream as they feel resistance from their societies to who they are. The smarter strategy is to let go and stop swimming against the stream and trust that your natural traits will lead you somewhere.

It’s often the case that the more we seek to control, the less we end up controlling. If we refer to the Tao, the Chinese philosophy of letting go, we should not seek to be anything other than what we already are and trust that we, as a part of nature, are also part of the system of things that ebb and flow. Taoism advocates for “letting” go in ways that we HSPs can benefit from in very specific ways. For one, our natural tendency to process information and input deeply is a form of seeking to control. The reflective capacity can be paralyzing in some HSPs as they become too consumed by the what-ifs and never make it past the anxieties and fears to actually engage with meaningful experiences in life. The result can often be that some HSPs almost intentionally become less than they are capable of by not cultivating a philosophy of letting go.

To counter the natural deep-thinking that nature has gifted us with we need to practice not thinking as deeply and not fearing every possible what-if. This does not mean we do things that are imprudent or fail to ensure our safety or the safety of others, but we loosen up a bit on the over-analyzing and allow ourselves to have more experiences in life.

Taoism also teaches us to allow a natural space in relationships, rather than seek to control and resist. Often, what a partner needs is space, not control or solutions. The simplest thing in the world is to simply give someone space, as it entails no effort on our parts, nor does it cost us a thing, yet we feel compelled to solve every problem, absorb all the energies of a partner, and deplete our own psychic energies as a result. Instead, the Tao advises us to allow a space where emotions can cool, perspective can be gained, and where natural order is restored. It’s not always pleasant for sure! We want to help others but often we may end up confusing things further for the person when he should be left to resolve it on his own (perhaps he needs to practice letting go as well).

As we all endure this anxiety-laden time in our history, it is important to remember that we are all part of a natural order of things that are in greater harmony when we allow a space for things to unfold, trusting that in time all will be in balance again.

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person


How Epidemics of the Past Changed the Way Americans Lived

The peak of this pandemic is likely weeks to months away for many of us in more rural states with less congested cities but already we see how ideas that seemed to be “unAmerican” like dispersing money to all adults to keep the economy afloat, extending health testing to all free of charge, and considering the utility of such “socialist” topics as universal health care, paid sick leave, and equal access to healthcare now seem to show their true merits.


Just as in previous pandemics/epidemics the culture will change. We are still largely controlled by numerous special interests and self-serving politicians, which may always be the case, but culture shifts are inevitable and we each need to re-evaluate our positions on the role of technology, particularly medical technology that can benefit everyone. In the case of a pandemic, science eventually provides us with ways to mitigate a virus but cannot do for us what we have to do for ourselves: decide what kind of culture we will be. Are we okay with healthcare rationed as a privilege and not an expectation that everyone should benefit from scientific discoveries? Or does this pandemic show us that it’s better to keep everyone as healthy as possible and the way we do that is to not have people show up at emergency rooms already acutely ill because they were afraid of being ruined financially?

Proactive measures are always better than reactive measures and far less costly. Even the military understands this and takes care to feed its people relatively nutritious food, provide access to healthcare, and ensure people have what they need to do their jobs. Why should Americans be expected to go to work sick, full of anxiety about how they will pay their bills, or lethargic from lack of sleep and be expected to outperform other countries who have already solved many of these problems? It seems ridiculous that we make choices that are counterproductive to better health for all or that we fail to follow through with pandemic preparedness planning. True, this doesn’t happen often and that makes people complacent and oblivious to what it means to be ill with a novel virus but our culture needs to shift in ways that move beyond tribalism and non-cooperation between disagreeing segments of society.

If we HSPs should be able to do one thing well, it’s the ability to hold many viewpoints in suspension without subscribing to any one. Openness is a key aspect of our trait and the purpose of openness is to induct divergent inflows of ideas, possibilities, and options. Our ability to communicate the value of our greater openness is a challenge factor and only a minority of our total HSP population (over a billion people worldwide) seem to be able to truly grasp how to communicate well enough to influence the culture. In that regard, perhaps it is up to each one of us to decide for ourselves what we support, considering our greater openness, and what we will work to change in our culture.

Culture is an arbitrary set of norms, values, and beliefs that has no basis in right or wrong. Right or wrong is solely based on people choosing to subscribe to the notion that one thing or another is, in fact, right or wrong. But we are all active participants in culture every day and the choices we are free to make either maintain the status quo or change it. Sometimes the change is very gradual and we don’t notice it all at once; at other times, change is rapid and on us with urgency, as now when we see how people are suffering due to the economic deck being stacked against them no matter how hard they work, in many cases.

As this pandemic eventually peaks and wanes, as they all do, we have to think ahead to 100 years from now when people are looking back at how the coronvirus pandemic of 2020 shifted the culture in the US and around the world.

How should culture change for you? What differences do you see down the road? What changes are now evident in your belief system, if any? What are your HSP-inspired insights?

Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career

Thrill: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person