As long as I can remember, I’ve always experienced the world differently than those around me. More emotional than most, the caretaker among friends, the deep thinker, the listening empathizer. I have always been that person that people find it easy to confide in, the nurturer. But at times for someone like me, that can be a bit overwhelming and I find myself exhausted after one conversation or one trip to the mall on a busy afternoon. Everything I do, I pour myself into fully and deeply.
I’m among 1 in 5 people in the world that have a highly sensitive nervous system. “High sensitivity is a personality trait that results in hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing and high emotional reactivity.” A highly sensitive person is more deeply affected by the environment. For some people, an ambulance siren is just noise but to a highly sensitive person, it can be deafening and highly distracting. HSP’s also tend to be more intuitive and inwardly focused, thus making it hard to make decisions or describe our feelings because we often feel everything at once. In being so intuned with feelings and emotions a highly sensitive individual will often react more emotionally than most in some situations.
Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person
Emotionally reactive, almost like an empath [the ability to actually feel the emotions of others] I am more sympathetic to the feelings of others. I am also more emotionally responsive when hurt or disappointed. This means that I often act out more than most people when I am hurt or wronged. I care not about what others think but I care deeply about how others feel about me.
Decision making is often a long process because I try to take into consideration all the things that could go wrong. It is highly important that I make the right decision otherwise I will beat myself up about it for days if things go wrong. It’s hard for me to let things go, even after the situation is over and out of my control. So when making decisions I take as long as possible to decide, to ensure I am making the right decision.
Prone to anxiety & depression, as it’s a challenging life living with so many emotions all the time. Things have to be just right, otherwise, I am uncomfortable. Within the last year, I have noticed that I have become more fearful of driving to new places or even going shopping on busy days. I am realizing more the issues I have which may sometimes result in depressed moods.
Horror Movies are terrifying! Often when I tell people that I do not watch horror movies they criticize me for being soft or sensitive. While I realize that these are only movies and most of the time they are stories of fiction, those dark images will stay in my mind for days or weeks. It’s been about 2 years since I watched the movie “Devil” and sometimes I still see that image when I step on an elevator.
Manners on High, I am probably one of the most polite and considerate people you’ll ever meet. Most of my friends will attest that I will cater to those around me making sure everyone is comfortable and has what they need and if not, I will pop up and get it for them.
Last year I read Dr. Elaine N Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person, How to thrive in a world that overwhelms you. and it changed my life. Not only did it explain why I experience the world in the way that I do but it also provided tools with how to live and succeed in a world that is constantly overwhelming. From Aron’s book, I learned the importance of Self-Care and creating boundaries. I started paying more attention to how I feel and now I make sure to give my body rest and recharge when I need it. Now that I know more about why I respond the way that I do in certain situations, I have learned to control my reactions and moods better. If you think you could be a highly sensitive person you can take the quiz here, composed by Dr. Elaine N Aron.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Comment below.