Thoughts & Memoirs

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Highly Sensitive People

     Dear readers,
     How we communicate with each other is based on several different factors. Our perception, our assumptions, our world views are among the many ways we communicate. One factor I believe is important is our emotional being. How we feel in our environment. We are all different, some of us are hard shelled, nothing bothers us, some are more soft shelled, some of us fall in-between being hard and soft with our sensitivities. Then there those among us who are highly sensitive. We feel things deeply. The idea of there actually being a normal personality that is highly sensitive came after searching the web for long hours wondering if I had a personality disorder or was mentally ill. I am soooooo sensitive. I found Elaine Aron and her work with HSP's (Highly Sensitive People) Her web site has helped me tremendously.

Elaine writes that:

If you find you are highly sensitive, or your child is, you need to begin by knowing the following:
  • Your trait is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population--too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around you.
  • It is innate. In fact, biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others'.
  • You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
  • You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
  • This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called "shy." But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
  • Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told "don't be so sensitive" so that they feel abnormal. ~Elaine Aron
We live in a culture that values a stiff upper lip, we have catch phrases that tell us to pull up our boot straps and get over it. Sensitivity is seen as a weakness when I believe it is a strength. Especially with communication. Being able to pick up on the slightest nuance of a persons demeanor and inner self can add greatly to understanding that person. For those of you who are highly sensitive, someone is listening and hears you. For those of you who don't understand or refuse to believe, read Elaine's site. This is new territory. Just as the world was once flat and people were persecuted for daring to speak other wise. New breakthroughs in human understanding are also hitting walls of disbelief.
     There is a story in Itzhak Bentov's Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness. I believe it applies well here:
     One nice day an elderly resident of the Bronx decides to visit the zoo. As he walks along, admiring all the unusual animals, he suddenly finds himself staring at a set of very tall legs. As he lifts his eyes, he finds the belly of the animal connecting those legs; he keeps looking up, and all he sees is neck, neck, and more neck, and then, somewhere up in the clouds, a head. "No", he says, "this is impossible. There is no such animal." And with that he turns away from the giraffe and walks calmly on, not casting a single glance back at it. Bentov p. 7
     The more we understand ourselves, the better we will be able to understand others. Communication is vital if we are to meet the coming Age of humankind. Understanding how we communicate and WHY we communicate and believe as we do is crucial. Find your Voice!
With deep thanks to Elaine Aron and all the HSP's out there.

More info on HSP:

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