Missed my last post? Read Part 3 of My Highly Sensitive Recovery where I discuss the effects of depression and anxiety on a highly sensitive nervous system.
I was just short of 50 years old when I discovered Elaine Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person.” My internal world changed overnight. To find out that amongst 15-20% of that population, I would no longer be considered “too sensitive” “over-reactive,” “neurotic,” “hyper,” or any of the other pejorative terms that followed me throughout my life. On the flip side, Dr. Aron also pointed out the beauties of this little known trait; we are highly perceptive, great listeners and highly compassionate, highly empathic, thus wonderful friends, excellent therapists and mothers. Highly creative, therefore profound artists, composers, writers, clergy, natural behaviorists, animal-whisperers, and highly attuned to spiritual phenomena (the latter half of that list is mostly from my own observations as a HS therapist and person).
Highly Perceptive: HSPs over-feel everything
The difficulty of this trait is that we Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) over feel everything. On the down side, just a loved one’s change in voice tone or side-ways glance, a colleague’s snide remark, an unreturned phone call or text, a fellow driver’s rude gesture, can send us in downward spiral contemplating what we must have done wrong.
On the upswing, we may perceive a night owl’s wings before he arrives into sight, feel when a friend or family needs you before they call, have implicit memory recall of events that leave people speechless as to their accuracy. Or know exactly what your child or pet needs before he even knows he needs it.
These perceptions that 80% of the rest of the population may rarely if ever experience are part of our everyday lives. We often feel hurt and slighted, and our acute sensitivity can lead us down mental labyrinths that many non-HSPs could not understand.
Being highly perceptive lends itself to stronger bonds
Relationships with HSPs can be gloriously bonding and at other times exhausting due to our over processing of every nuance of the other person’s every word or facial expression. Our mood can change like a weathervane reflecting the moods of those around us and our environment. We are like emotional lightning rods in our own world and for the emotions of others.
At times we’re way off on our assumptions of what others are doing/saying/thinking when we’re wound up or burned out and taking things too personally. However, we are also extraordinarily accurate with most of our perceptions though it may not be evident at first. A day or week or month later, either by our own admission or someone else’s, we often find our sensing was right all along.
Looking for more? Continue reading Part 5 of My Highly Sensitive Recovery where I discuss over-stimulation and the phenomenal inner strength of HSPs.