I’ve recently been reading about something which has helped me to accept the way I am just that little bit more. It made me cry a bit, and realise yet again, ‘oh it’s ok to be me’. Even though I think I am pretty accepting of myself, along something comes and it helps be to go that little bit deeper.
So what is it? Well, it’s the research by a woman called Elaine Aron who has focused on being Sensory-Processing Sensitive or a Highly Sensitive Person. It describes an innate trait in a minority of people (around 15% of the population) who take in more information than most in ‘ordinary’ situations and reflect on this information at a deep level, are emotionally intense, aware of subtleties (such as lighting, changes, colour, tastes, smells, others’ emotions) and can sometimes often feel overwhelmed.
In practicality this often means that highly sensitive people are aware of dynamics and subtleties in communications. It also means that it can be easy to become overwhelmed in situations where it feels like there is much to comprehend. Although I’m not so keen on labels, what the descriptor ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ has helped many people to do is reflect on society’s perception of being ‘too sensitive’, including me.
A particular useful part of this for me was the connection between reflecting deeply on things, which is something I kind of like about myself; and finding certain bits of life overwhelming, such as parties, new places or groups of people. In parties I can find it really difficult not to be aware of everything that’s going on around me, and I hate not being able to give the person I’m with my full attention. That’s because being sensitive is a innate trait, and I can’t pick and choose which elements I have – I reflect deeply because I take in lots of information, it has its disadvantages and advantages; but it is part of me.
Do you think this might describe you? There a test you can take to see if it might apply to you here. Let me know your thoughts on it.
This is the first in a series of blogs about being sensory processing sensitivity.