by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.
This is a great book for those of us who sometimes feel we are out of step with the majority of people in the world. Truth is we are. And, that’s a wonderful thing!
Turns out there have actually been scientific studies of Highly Sensitive People (HSP). We account for 15% to 20% of the population.
Do you have a keen imagination or vivid dreams? Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water?
HSPs notice things others don’t. We take in more and so are more sensitive to our environment. We are more intuitive which simply means we pick up and work through information in a semiconscious or subconscious way. The result is we often “just know” without realizing how we know. We can be wrong. Our eyes and ears can be wrong sometimes, too. Mostly, we’re right. This is akin to the “sixth sense” people talk about. That’s the good news.
On the downside what is moderately arousing to most people is highly arousing for us. What is highly arousing for many can cause us to feel frazzled until we have to shut down for awhile. Time alone. Time to repair.
Being an HSP comes in many gradations from very sensitive to a little more sensitive than the norm.
Over stimulation comes in many forms. Loud sounds, hearing multiple conversations in a crowded room, parties, a TV that is never turned off, certain music-especially if its loud, many new things for our eyes to look at, shopping, and many more you can add to the list if you identify with this concept.
Some physical signs of over stimulation are blushing, trembling, heart pounding, hands shaking, foggy thinking, stomach churning, muscles tensing and hands or other parts of the body perspiring. Or, simply feeling overly tired in certain situations. We may not realize these are from our sheer effort of processing extra stimulation.
We can seem “deep” or “not happy” at times to non HSPs. We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about deep subjects like the meaning of life and death – not simple black and white matters at all. Since non-HSPs really don’t enjoy thinking about all these deep subjects they assume we are unhappy. Mostly, we are happy being very conscious, very human even if some of the things we contemplate are not a cause for rejoicing.
As children we may have not been good “sleepers” and we may have had allergies. We may have been labeled as “shy, introverted, inhibited or sensitive.” And we may carry that label to this day, assuming it means we are flawed in some way. Not so. We have our roles to play.
We tend to be the advisors, writers, historians, philosophers, artists, creators, researchers, theologians, therapists and teachers. What we bring to the table is a tendency to think outside the box. In order to fully bring our gifts to the world, we must feel good about ourselves. We have to ignore all the messages from the warriors that we are not as good as they are. The warriors have their bold style which is of value. Ours is of equal value.
So, we’re different. And, it’s important we learn to live differently. We need to balance being “out in the world” with “being in too much.” We can develop strategies for being out in the world – take breaks or walks in nature, smile, drink lots of water, close our eyes to shut out stimulation and many others mentioned in the book.
We need different kinds of rest. Sleep. Play and fun – for us that might be reading a really good book or other quiet activity. Playing or listening to music. Meditation, contemplation or prayer – all have the ability to provide deep, transcendent rest.
If you identify with being an HSP, this book may of help to you. It has helped me honor who I am; has given me lots of information about self care, relationships, my unique gifts and so much more. You can also check out the author’s site here.