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.