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Being a Highly Sensitive Person. Friday March 10, 2017

Since my earliest memories, I've felt out of kilter from most people around me and I've never really understood why until 18th January, when I read Mary Wednesday's blog and saw the comments underneath about highly sensitive people and information about the psychologist Elaine Aron.

I bought her book the same day and it has been an absolute revelation, life-changing even as I've understood that I react to life through the prism of being born a highly sensitive person or HSP.

What that means in effect is that an HSP's nervous system is different and very sensitive to change. It can get over-aroused very easily and needs more time than the average person to recover from general day-to-day stresses.

HSPs often feel overloaded with information, can take a lot of time to make decisions as they pause to check rather than charging in, and are subtly aware of others mood and behaviour, which can be exhausting.

70% are introvert, but 30% are extravert. We are more prone to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety and more likely to be people pleasers, which makes it hard to say no when really we should. Again and again through the book, I was nodding yep that's me, yep that's me.

I already knew I was creative, sensitive and a deep thinker, but I'd often thought of these as negative aspects because they got in the way of 'living', yet Aron says these are traits to be proud of and that HSPs have a very important role to play in the world today as thinkers and advisors.

We make good friends, are highly conscientious and often quite popular. The important thing is to be sensitive to our own body though and not overdo things. As a past mistress at ignoring such advice, it helps explain why I keep puffing like a train to full speed, taking on too much, and then crashing into buffers.

Aron suggests you reframe experiences in your life knowing you're an HSP. I've started to do that and my goodness it's cathartic. This is not just some crackpot theory; it's been well studied and apparently HSPs number between 15-20% of the population.

Thank you Eva and all those of you who brought that knowledge to our attention. I'm wondering whether others of you out there have had a similar reaction.

A view from the far side
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Jane Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 2:21am

Yes, yes, yes - this is me. I forgot to order the book by Elaine Aron, will do it now! I've always been led to believe that being 'too sensitive' is a fault of mine! Thanks for this AVFTFS

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:14am

Being sensitive is a gift not a fault, it just needs careful handling.

Debs Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 6:34am

Hi View!! I remember the day I discovered the HSP label too, how life changing!! The other amazing book I found was by Heidi Sawyer: 'Highly Intuitive People' - every word resonated! I highly highly recommend it. I totally celebrate my sensitivity now, it is who I am and is the source of my power in life. I believe we are the future of this planet - we have the empathy and compassion to change things for the better (as long as there's a safe space to retreat to when it all gets too much :-))) xxx

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:17am

Hi Debs, thanks for the recommendation. I partially agree with the we are the future, but I think it's working in partnership with others that we'll get there, as not having this highly sensitive trait is also a gift in a different way. If that makes any sense. If that's okay that I'm slightly disagreeing with you (which is apparently a very HSP thing to do, to feel bad about disagreeing) :-).

LP Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 6:55am

Hi V,
Yes, me 3! I do remember that blog ringing true.
I'm interested in thinking about how children who are HSP can be identified and also helped to gain more self esteem.
I have been told that as a young child I would cry alot. It has often been a response to being overwhelmed in my adult life, though thankfully less so recently.
Even when we realise our strength and the positive values of being an HSP, people who aren't may judge us harshly and label us negatively. We have to be confident and strong in who we are to recognise and not take it on board.
We have strength in numbers here and I too am grateful to have this recognised, explained and highlighted as a strength.
Thanks for a great blog V! Good wishes to you and all. LPxx

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:18am

Aron has also written a book The Highly Sensitive Child.

Hopeful One Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 7:25am

Hi AVFTFS- thanks for highlighting the features that make an HSP. I would argue that such people are also likely to be compassionate as they are more easily able walk in someone else's shoes than others.

The Squadron found this one this morning.

Warning :This joke is not meant to be offensive to height challenged individuals or anybody else for that matter.

A house holder hears a knock at the door. He opens the door to find a 3 foot tall man standing there.
He asks " Who are you" .
The man says " I am the meter man"

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:20am

Great joke. I'm imagining that last line in my head as Phil Oakey from the Human League singing it - because it fits the line "Here comes the mirror man".

Sally Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:00am

Took the test and came out with a high score. Ultimately, for most of my life I have known that I'm very sensitive, .but this research is interesting and I hadn't heard of the book by Elain Aron. Thank you, AVFTFS. This was very interesting.

Eva Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:09am

Hiya avftfs, I am glad it resonated with you and has been helpful. This was a nice pick me up this morning, I have lost 2 pets in the last month so am having another wee mourning period to myself.

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:22am

Well thank you Eva. You have helped me big time. Hugs, View

Marmaladegirl Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:45am

Great blog AVFTFS! When I discovered about HSPs it completely changed the way I view myself and how my life has been so far - suddenly it all made sense! One of my daughters is a HSP too and suffers greatly with mental health issues as a result. I have not seen the books mentioned above but will try to get hold of them because your blog has reminded me to explore this issue further. Thank you! MG

The Gardener Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 8:49am

Good morning avftfs, as an addict to questionnaires I 'Googled' the condition and don't answer to any of the symptoms - does that mean I am unfeeling? Or stoical? Or - cynicism? This is true, as I grew up my father did all the emotion, my mother was always crying and I did a lot of the work - also lost myself in animals. LP, crying a lot - I vowed I'd never cry as my mother cried for England - she could not cope with my father, and was, possibly, manipulative - tears always stopped rows - would have been better to try and find a solution than collapse in tears. Now I do cry, but when driven to despair after a day of non-stop nagging and misery. Mr G says 'stop crying at once, won't cure anything'. When this first started I'd go for a walk round the block, but as he goes straight to call the neighbours, telling them I've left him, no longer a solution. It's a nice day and my house is being demolished above me - 4 young men at 8.15 a.m, but in a good cause, new en suite bathroom, luxury (and practical for Mr G and the nurses). Your 'pen name' - do you know the cartoonist who does 'From the Far Side'?

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm

We're talking about a neural thing not about personality, I mean e.g. not whether someone is more compassionate or not. I know Larssen yes. Love his cartoons, particularly the one of the cows standing on their hind-legs nattering in a field and one says "Quick, car" and in the next picture they're all munching grass.

Leah Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 10:52am

Thanks for your blog and I am pleased you found an answer with a label .
I have always been called too sensitive by partners and family but I wondered if maybe others are insensitive or not sensitive enough.
I already have one label and even though I have many of the hsp traits and score high on the self test I feel one label is more than enough. That's just me.I can see how it helped you and would help others.

A View from the Far Side Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 1:29pm

I don't see it as a label Leah, but I can see why people might. I see it as a trait I was born with, like having blue eyes. Something that is neither positive or negative in itself but just is, if that makes sense.

Holly Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 11:04am

I think I'm a highly sensitive person too! Didn't realise it was highly studied though- that's interesting and I want to look more into it now.

If you're interested, you may want to look into Myers-Briggs 16 Personalities test (I'm an INFJ apparently). I wouldn't say it's very studied, more criticised than anything, but it does give you a good starting point for self-discovery.

Lexi Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 12:58pm

Thank you! I did not know about this book/the author. I am going to get a copy today. Very interesting! lexi xo

Orangeblossom Fri, Mar 10th 2017 @ 6:25pm

Thanks for the blog. Have often been told that I was ultra-sensitive & should develop a thicker skin. I decided to try and direct my sensitivity away from myself towards others, thus making it a strength as well as a perceived weakness.

Nicco Sat, Mar 11th 2017 @ 8:39pm

Thank you for your blog. Yes, I have this book and was overjoyed when I found it. It has helped me to understand myself much better and to realise that I am not alone with this.

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