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Cubism and sensitivity. Sunday September 14, 2014

Yes, I know, I'm all about the "highly sensitive souls" but please, indulge me here for a few posts about very sensitive people. I need to purge these from my own sensitive soul and then, I promise, I'll not harp on about the personality trait, HSP, again.

Despite having known for quite some years that I'm very sensitive and despite the fact that I keep a blog site with the words "sensitive souls" in the title, I've only just these past few months read properly Elaine Aron's book entitled, Highly Sensitive People.

It has validated a lot that I've always 'felt' (for starters, it's no wonder my posts are often all about the feelings), but it has enlightened me on a whole lot more besides.

For now though: What exactly is it to be a highly sensitive person? Here's what it is to me:

I recently read an incredible article explaining why the camera could never, nor will ever, be a match for the wondrous design of the eye. In brief, Danny Gregory expresses with clarity that, "a camera sees only from a one-point, locked perspective that creates a single image of a specific vantage point...," as opposed to the human eyes which "constantly move about...Our impression of what we're looking at is actually lots of different perspectives all blending into one undulating picture".

In articulating all of this Danny explained what the Cubism movement was all about and it was this that gripped me. I've re-read it again and again:

"Amazingly our brains take all this information and instantaneously create a sense of what we 'see'. It's not a single picture but lots of different impressions that are all blended together. (That's what the Cubists were getting at, trying to record all those different angles and perspectives into a single painting to simulate the way that we see. They were trying to show the distinction between how humans see and what the camera was introducing. People think of Cubism as abstract art but it actually was an attempt to be even more accurate about literally how we see the world.)"

It hit me in the night why I found this cerebration so poignant. For me, it explains perfectly how it is to feel highly sensitive. In the same way that the Cubists were trying emulate how the eye sees in comparison with the camera, so too the very sensitive soul feels/sees everything as if in 3D; the length, width, height, depth.

I leave the house and I see, feel, hear, absorb everything. The cornices, design, era of every building I pass; the character of people by observing their gardens, wheelie bins or recycling boxes; I see pigeons swooping down invisible hills in the sky; aircraft flying overhead; I hear a police siren getting closer; I feel the moods of people that pass me by; the skinny cat from down the road - 'is it cared for?'; I smell freshly mowed grass; I could go on and on and on here.

I've always seen this as a positive trait: observant. For the first time in my life, however, I grasp why walking into a room full of people, people I may know well and love, can be totally overwhelming. It's a stimulus too much. It's overpowering and often something has to give: I'll turn on my heels and head back for the door, or, hide in the loo until I feel I can make another attempt at joining the throng.

It puts me in mind of watching a film in which someone is losing consciousness. As he or she is fading, things become exaggerated to him/her. The music seems distorted, the person talking to him/her become a kind of grotesque, wide-mouthed creature, talking too much and standing too close.

This personality trait makes no one any better, or indeed, any weaker than anybody else. And, as with any trait, there will be varying shades of it. Once again though, doesn't it go to show how learning about ourselves can be helpful, comforting (I'm not 'a mess', my senses are just more quickly aroused), and can assist us to become more successful in handling daily life?

Sensitive and successful? A post from me soonly.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 8:16am

I so identify with your description of the film and distortion. I have avoided so much through my entire life because of this. Nails down a blackboard for me.
Very interested to read the book. And your next post! Thank you Suzy. Love from the room above the garage.

Lex McKee Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:07am

This is exciting, Suzy. I am somewhat aware of a Russian journalist (whose name was shortened to simply 'S' by the researchers). 'S' had perfect recall - and not because of a photographic memory. He 'suffered' from synaesthesia - a rich blending of the senses. For him, numbers had colour and character.

This empowered him to turn abstract information into rich stories - leading to the point where he never needed to take notes. Whilst he could suffer from overwhelm, he harnessed this unusual form of blended sensitivity to serve his purpose.

I, on the other hand, have been stimulated by your words to think of 3D perspectives I might consciously employ: the awareness of the Divine Spirit, the Divine Psyche and the Divine Body. Poor use of the letter 'D' to fit my purpose, I know! However, I think it could work.

Yesterday, I went to a conference where many alarm bells went off at the 'spiritual' and 'psychological' levels. I might just seek to tune-in to those more often.

So, 'thank you'!

suzzi Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:08am

Hi suzz
I too have very sensitive feelings and see the world full on, it's hard as I feel I see and feel the pain and suffering of others so strongly and it's over powering at times I want to drop out of the world to hide.i have always from a child been this way. I also feel great joy but that too can be too much and i cry.
But we all have to live with what we have been blessed with and I would rather be this way than hard x nd unfeeling totally

Anonymous Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:11am

Well said, Suzy! So often, people can be so judgemental about another way of being, feeling, experiencing things, that it is a timely reminder that one size most certainly does NOT fit all! ( and I should know, being a six footer and female, ha! ) Your blog draws our attention neatly and with examples to how you experience everyday life... It is very helpful, thank you.

Julia Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:33am

What a great blog Suzy. I am just the same walking down the street, noticing everything, worrying about a child crying, observing and commenting silently on the look of a passer by, weeds which look ugly (poor much maligned weeds), ugly pavements, birds in the air, baby seagulls sitting on the sea wall (where is the mother?) and so on. I didn't understand why I find social situations such an ordeal until I read your blog and the words " a stimulus too much". What a revelation and so interesting about Cubism. Also for me I lose my sense of self and absorb everyone else's.

Jeanette Beardow Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:40am

We are known as Empaths, look it up. I'm the same but also a very spiritual female. X

suzzi Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:43am

I agree I am a shortie at 5'2" and get called alk sorts of names due to my small frame and hight but as you say one size is not a fit for all. Well put

Charlie Bransden Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 10:37am

Splendid blog. Absolutely. Wonderful when one can handle all the data input, it's when information overload occurs, we get weary, and the very same sensitivity turns on its owner.

Anonymous Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 11:12am

OMG, I have just looked up empaths, and found 'that's me'. Thank you for that.

Anonymous Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 6:39pm

Thank you Suzy for describing sensitivity positively when it usually is considered negatively. Comparing being sensitive to Cubism gives me another take on both subjects. It's a lot to think about.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 8:55pm

Lovely post, Suzy. It's made me think quite a bit more about sensitive people, as my sister is one and suffers, as I can see you do. Very useful post.

Quacko Sun, Sep 14th 2014 @ 9:57pm

Great post- I also am like this. I find that it is at times emotionally and physically exhausting. I am social and not introverted, so I feel at times I get cranky from people being unkind and insensitive to each other- even if it is not consciously.

Theresa NZ Tue, Sep 16th 2014 @ 10:35pm

LOVE this post, thank you. I am an empath.

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