HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE
Highly Sensitive People! They’re everywhere! Have you been told you’re “too emotional” or “too needy?” Do you think more deeply about things and worry more than the average person? Do you prefer quiet environments? You’re not alone!
Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron Psychologist & Author
According to Elaine N. Aron, a psychologist and author, in her 1996 book, “The Highly Sensitive Person” Dr Aron discusses individuals with high measures of sensory processing sensitivity. Elaine N. Aron first developed and researched this term in early 1990’s. The results from her work was highly sensitive people were found to be quite common. With as many as one in five people found to possess traits consistent with those of highly sensitive people.
Highly sensitive people are 15% to 20% of the population
Many times Highly Sensitive People suffer from anxiety and depression which can turn into severe clinical depression if they don’t get professional help. They often try to please others and feel guilty when they are not able to meet their needs. Research also indicates that highly sensitive people account for 15% to 20% of the population, which makes it quite a large percentage of humanity. Yet we’ve often been led to believe that sensitivity is weakness.
Highly sensitive people & their career choices
Highly sensitive people also often choose careers that are definitely NOT typical. They are very sensitive to the environment and they prefer to work alone to avoid harsh criticism. That would include having to answer to a demanding boss! These careers might include musicians, interpreters (I was an interpreter), as well as people being “on call”, such as medical professionals. They all have one thing in common, they often feel misunderstood, alone, under appreciated and overworked.
Highly sensitive people & how they differ from the average person
1. Highly sensitive people are easily overwhelmed.
Highly sensitive people get easily overwhelmed by their environment whether this represents other people or loved ones, as well as bright lights, noise, strong smells, loud music or sirens. Often they are light sleepers and they have struggled with insomnia due to worrying about what had happened during the day for example. They also tend to be analyzing everything.
2. Highly sensitive people feel guilty all the time.
Highly sensitive people who work in non-traditional jobs many times cannot see family or friends often and they feel guilty about it. They feel more than most people and therefore it’s not easy for them just to let it go. They feel bad when they miss a family dinner, birthday party or a social event.
Highly sensitive people and planning schedules
Many times they are not able to make plans more than a week in advance and many even work on weekends. Now consider people who work a graveyard shift or interpreters. They typically might say there is no such thing as a weekend for them. When everyone celebrates, they need to work. They are also very conscientious, hard working, meticulous and detail-oriented.
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3. Highly sensitive people need privacy.
They are often introverted and need time to think and reflect. Others may misunderstand their behavior as being “snooty” or “antisocial.” Many highly sensitive people have learned from young age that they need to keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves as they have been told that they were “weird” or “cry babies.” As children they were often seen as shy. They also prefer to exercise solo. Highly sensitive people tend to avoid team sports as they feel that everyone is watching their every move.
4. Highly sensitive people feel unappreciated.
Musicians are on the top of the list here. Music and art is generally considered an “extra curriculum.” Many times they are not taken seriously as they don’t have a “real job.” Few people know how much work and dedication it takes to become a well known musician. Not everyone can be the next member of The Beatles! Think about bass players. The average music lover pays very little attention to bass and what it does for the music that they are listening to. Mostly, the lead singer and the guitarist are given the kudos. So they learn to stay in the background not getting the praise that they deserve.
5. Highly sensitive people are more emotionally reactive as they feel more deeply.
Generally speaking, highly sensitive people have more empathy when their friends or even strangers are going through challenges. They feel everything on a deeper level and they are usually very intuitive. They make good social workers, teachers and counselors. However, they need to learn how to take better care of themselves as they are prone to professional burn out. This was one of the first things that I had experienced as a new counselor trying to do more than I could handle. This led to frequent colds and illnesses because the immune system gets compromised.
6. Highly sensitive people are used to hearing that they are too sensitive or take things too personal.
This is especially true of the Western culture that is focused on self-actualization and individualization (remember Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”). In the US we believe the pharmaceutical industry can solve everything even a person’s temperament. If you study Eastern cultures, for example in Thailand and India, highly sensitive men are never teased, unlike in our North American culture. However in North American culture boys are taught from a young age that to show emotions is not “manly.”
7. Highly sensitive people are more prone to anxiety and depression (if they’ve had a lot of negative past experiences).
In my professional practice I’ve worked with hundreds of highly sensitive people. Many of them suffered some kind of trauma or abuse which may have scarred them for life. According to Dr Aron having a supportive environment can go a long way to protecting against this trauma & abuse. The other key too is working with a compassionate and trained professional. Parents of highly sensitive children especially need to realize that they have special needs that need to be considered such as explaining things in a non-judgmental way as opposed to using punishment.
8. Highly sensitive people avoid violent movies and TV shows.
Watching violence on TV or in the news can really upset them. Many highly sensitive people choose not to watch the news or violent movies as they feel everything deeply. It may disrupt their sleep as it can lead to violent nightmares.
9. Highly sensitive people are drawn to narcissists.
Since highly sensitive people have high levels of empathy, they often find themselves in relationships with narcissists, who either take advantage of them or prey on what they perceive to be a weaker group. Narcissists typically just care about themselves, their status and their image and they lack empathy. Just think about The Picture of Dorian Gray. Remember he fell in love with his own reflection.
10. Highly sensitive people take longer to make decisions.
They are more aware of details and nuances of the situation and weigh pros and cons and this is especially true if there is no right or wrong answer, such as in choosing a color to paint the room. This is because they are considering every possible outcome and they also don’t want to upset anybody. They tend to over analyze everything.
Highly sensitive people overview
Overall, highly sensitive people are still a minority even though with the influx of “new age” and renewed interest in spirituality,they are finding themselves in environments where they feel safe, such as in Reiki circles, meditation groups, or drumming circles where they feel that they can express themselves more freely.
Highly sensitive people uplifting helpful tips
1. Be careful when consuming stimulants.
Consuming too much caffeine can affect your digestion and make you jittery. Instead, try a cup of green tea.
2. You are not alone.
Many famous artists, musicians, teachers and philosophers were highly sensitive people. Use your intuition and ability to be creative to your advantage.
3. It’s okay to be an introvert.
In some cultures, like Asian cultures, being introvert is an advantage. Being introvert helps you to deeply understand not just yourself, but also others.
4. Empathy is an amazing quality
While having empathy can be painful at times, as you feel other people’s pain, it gives you insight and ability to be close to people. Professions such as social work, art, or teaching would be a great fit for you and it would give you an advantage.
5. Be selective when it comes to media
No need to overwhelm yourself with daily negative news. Instead, read inspiring books and make time for your friendships,and spend some time in nature which can be very soothing.
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