I didn’t choose the words enhanced perception; they popped into my head when I sat down at the computer to create this blog. I think I know what this is about – The Highly Sensitive Person. It’s the title of an enlightening and empowering book I read many years ago; the author is Elaine N. Aron, PhD. It helped me understand and accept my limitations as well as appreciate my gifts, and that is part of gaining what I call The Inside Advantage.
Being highly sensitive doesn’t really refer to what we would typically, and instantly think of—perhaps getting your feelings hurt easily. What is does refer to is having a highly sensitive nervous system, in which the brain processes incoming information in a different way from most people. This occurs in about 15-20% of the population; I am one and for that I am grateful.
It means we are aware of many subtleties in our surroundings—ones that others rarely pick up, and it also means that we demonstrate great creativity, insight, passion, and caring. We are conscientious, cautious, intuitive, and usually have a strong sixth sense. Many of us are interested in a spiritual path, where meditation and peace are sought, allowing us to detach for a while from our physical surroundings.
It also means we are easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed when in a stimulating environment too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until we are exhausted, physically and mentally. Our hearts beat faster due to the sheer effort of processing extra stimulation. What is moderately arousing for most people, is highly arousing for HSNs. It’s an over-arousal of the nervous system and is quick-to-shut down.
It’s in our DNA and somehow relates back to two classes of ancestral times when there were the warriors (who acted more hastily and aggressively) and the advisors (ones who observe, stop and think); societies need both.
So there are advantages and disadvantages, and it’s a package deal.
The fact is that there are real differences in people’s tolerance for stimulation from the environment. People without this largely inherited trait have a hard time understanding those who do, and typically see us as timid, shy, weak, or what Dr. Aron describes as “…the greatest sin of all, unsociable.” It’s not that many of us don’t enjoy the company of others, it’s just sometimes being “out there” for too long a time is extremely draining.
I used to describe myself as shy, but now I understand that all the while I was just trying to escape the bombardment of too much going on around me. I am quite and soft-spoken, but that certainly does not mean I am not bold, adventurous, or afraid of being around others. Having been a professional speaker, sharing ideas with audiences from Alaska to Europe, even the CIA at Langley headquarters is proof of that.
We HSPs simply need more quiet and alone time than others in order to function at our best. Recently I spent a full day shopping with a friend; afterwards she was ready to go out and party and all I wanted to do was go to sleep (which I did soon after I returned home!) I would rather fly than drive, or even be driven, because in the air there is little to distract me; I find peace in looking out the window at clouds, sunrises and sunset, mountains and terrain. On the interstate there seems to danger everywhere almost at every moment; when a long drive is needed, it’s stressful and very tiring. Since what you see accounts for about 80% of stimuli, maybe next time I’m the passenger I will wear an eye mask!
Long ago I made a promise to myself—more like a promise to the little girl inside me (I call her Tia)—to treat her with loving kindness, and I do! I forgive her for perceived mistakes, make sure she experiences joy and gets enough rest every day. It’s a commitment I will always honor because she is worth it!
If you think you might be a HSP, and possess what I call enhanced perception, there is a self-test in the book to confirm or deny the fact, and if you are, this book will be very helpful for you. If you are not, and know someone who is, it will help you understand them better and appreciate them more.
Thank you for joining me this week. As always, I invite you to visit my website CWlauro.com for more info where you may possibly find something you need.
Until next time…
Blessings, Love & Light,
Cathy (aka TIA)