Blessing and a curse for those affected.
Sensitive, thin-skinned, sensitive – these delicate traits are often interpreted as weakness in our meritocracy driven society and felt as such by most sensitive people too. The up side of this, however – such as the ability to empathize with other people or situations, empathic listening, carefully dealing with others – are qualities that are also of great importance in our time.
The American psychotherapist and university professor Dr. Elaine N. Aron is considered a pioneer in the field of high sensitivity. She explored the phenomenon described by CG Jung years ago and began to work on it academically. In the nineties, she published an article in a prestigious scientific journal for the first time on this topic, where she also used the name Highly Sensitive Person (HSP – highly sensitive person).
With her book „The Highly Sensitive Person – How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You“ (German: „The Highly Sensitive Person; How Do You Know, understand and use your sensibility“) she brought the subject to a wider audience and found a large interest.
Dr. Aron noted that about 20% of humanity is predisposed to high sensitivity from birth. High sensitivity is described by a more detailed perception (stimulus openness) and intense feeling, combined with the need for a very thorough internal processing of what is perceived and what is felt.
The most important features of highly sensitive people are:
- more detailed andholisticperception through thefive sensesand a more complex processing of this information(large stimulusopenness).
- they often have an enhanced perception about their 6th and 7th sense (intuition, medium skills), feel strong energies, moods etc.
- they have a complex inner life and a deeper way to think.
- they are often very serious, conscientious and perfectionists.
- they have a strong sense of justice and desire for harmony.
- they feel more comfortable one on one, and in small groups than among many people.
With this trait, they react as a highly sensitive instrument especially strong to external stimuli:
- sensitivity to loud noises, strong odors, bright lights, abrasive materials, strong emotions (both their own and in the environment and in the media), etc., as well as to alcohol, coffee and various foods (or their ingredients).
- have a tendency to allergies.
- have sensitivity to pain and nervousness.
- nervousness to perform under pressure, time pressure and in testing situations.
- exhaustion when in lack of retreat and regeneration periods for processing the stimuli (until burnout).
- irritability and vehement delimitation when the overstimulation is too large and the „disk is full“.
HSP have sometimes learned to hide their feelings and to shut down overwhelming impressions. Even if only a few are true indicator (these, however, are more pronounced), a highly sensitive assessment is possible.
ATTENTION: Even a non-HSP can react as a highly sensitive in exceptional stressful situations. To distinguish, it helps to question how it used to be at an early age (eg. in childhood).
Due to their sensitivity and stimulus openness, HSP can however also enjoy particular sensations and energies:
- the sound of beautiful music,
- the sweet scent of a rose,
- the delicious taste of good food,
- the sight of a beautiful sunset,
- the feeling of soft wool and silk on the skin,
- exhilarating encounters with heart full people,
- the peace and power of a walk in forest,
- and much more.
Their empathy and sensitivity makes them creative artists and supportive therapists, that very quickly recognize the intention of their clients. They are ideal for working with people and often found in the liberal professions or as self-employed.
Perception talent – risk of overstimulation
Protection against overstimulation:
- Take time for internal processing.
- Observe an „Experience Diet“ if necessary.
- Shield from interfering environmental stimuli.
- Use its attention specifically.
- A stress-free as possible daily routine (time management)!
- Stress reduction: movement, adequate rest and sleep, meditation, security, nature, Asian movement techniques (yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, …)
- convert concernintogratitude forthe trust, show appreciation forthe waytheothers choose,admirationrather thanregret.
- replace pity with understanding.
- balance of give and take.
- self-responsibility instead of victimhood.
- wishes and needs expressed.
- separation from the expectations and wishes of others, say no (am I „cotton balls“ or forceful in life?).
- be truthful and clear rather than always being sweet and nice.
- authenticity (rolls costs force play!)
Impulses and ideas for positively and joyfully lived sensitivit
- use sensitivity specifically for me to perceive the own exposure limits, overstimulation threat in time.
- anchoring in the body, to be with me, gather me.
- being mindful-being in the here and now (with the past!).
- recognize and pay attention to the individual needs.
- deal with feelings properly.
- strong images: for example, trees and mountains (breathing meditation by Thich Hanh seam: Inhaling, I see myself as a mountain, breathing out, I feel unshakable … Mountain / unshakeable)
- power of thought – focus on what I want and not on what I fear.
- be „Courageous“.
- sensitivity in doses (in which areas, with whom it’s ok, where not?)
- self love – to seek love on the outside is a waste of energy!
- to be so loving with myself, gentle and considerate as I would be with another human being.
Information on hypersensitivity – HSP, HSS & Scanner
HSP(s): highly sensitive person(s)
What is hypersensitivity?
Hypersensitivity is an innate endowment in the form of an enhanced receptiveness to stimuli, which may be perceived as blessing or curse. Many people are not aware that they belong to a group of between15 and 20 percent of the population, which are hypersensitive. They just feel different than others, but in mostcases do not know why.They just feel to be different to others, but do not know why in most cases. In general, one may distinguish between hypersensitivity and hypersensibility, but these two forms are commonly subsumed under the umbrella term ‘hypersensitivity’.
Hypersensitivity vs. hypersensibility
Hypersensitivity is defined as enhanced receptiveness to outward stimuli. By the term outward stimuli we mean, for example, scents, sounds or something visible.
Hypersensibility, by contrast, is defined as enhanced receptiveness to inward stimuli, such as prescience, moods or the feelings of other people.
Characteristics of HSPs may include:
- the listening, feeling, tasting or seeing in exceptionally many nuances
- the sensing of other persons’ moods
- high ethical aspiration
- takes them extraordinarily long to recover due to their high perception of stimuli
- possess a special sense of nature – feel an intense relation to their environment
- rich, complex emotional life
- are often greatly affected by works of art or music
HSS: High Sensation Seeker
A HSS comprises a special form of the HSP. The high sensation seeker is always looking for a thrill, a special charm such as strong feelings or interesting, new impressions.
In contrast to the HSP, who tends to seek and needs tranquillity, the high sensation seeker mostly has two strongly opposing personalities. On the one hand, he needs the thrill and consistently seeks action and on the other hand, he faces phases of complete isolation. For high-sensation-seeking personalities, it is very difficult to achieve a balance between mental overstrain and insufficient mental challenge.
Characteristics of HSSs may include:
- aversion to boredom and inclination to feel inner unrest
- steady search for diversion and the new
- through social stimulation (parties, social potation,..)
- through an unconventional way of life (travels, music,..)
- through physically risky activities (extreme sports,..)
- acting out their wants and needs in phases – for example, travelling around and searching for the new and exciting for an entire week without rest; in the following week they are missing, seclude themselves and feel annoyed by everything and everybody.
Some HSPs are scanner personalities. They can hardly be bracketed with a particular group, they do not fit within one single category, appear shy and reserved and extroverted at the same time. Their characters are multifaceted, studied, talented, very creative and encourage them to jump constantly between themes. Most of the time, they perceive and feel to do hundred things at the same time. They begin much, but finish only a fraction.
On the surface, they appear chaotic, not least because of their various different interests. For people who do not know them well, they are often demanding and impalpable.
A scanner can first and foremost sense the feelings of other people, even if they do not know their true feelings themselves. Many scanners hide their abilities and live extremely accommodated lives as outsiders cannot easily understand what a scanner is bothered by. They never want to attract attention and sometimes have a bad conscience towards their family and friends, for whom they do not have enough time due to their many areas of interest.
Characteristics of scanners may include:
- multiplicity: a great many different interests and talents, inventiveness and ingenuity
- alternating hobbies
- lack of time due to their many interests
- many things are begun, but are not finished
- they appear chaotic and confused to outsiders
- inner unrest – scanners must always learn something new, as just doing nothing and waiting is torture for them
Obviously, some people may possibly show characteristics of both, HSSs and scanners. Nobody will find that each and every above-listed characteristic applies to him/her, but we should also not reduce our definitions to a single word. No person is either only HSP or not, or HSS or scanner. All people are unique in their own special way.
To be so loving, gentle and considerate with myself as I would be with another human being.
You are not sick –
You are talented!
The contribution of particularly sensitive people is very valuable and important to us all. Nevertheless, HSP are increasingly marginalized in human coexistence, because they themselves are unaware of the existence of this talent. They doubt their mental health and suffer as sensitive people in a less sensitive environment. They cannot cope with their special ability and often fall into addictions and dependencies due to the lack of understanding. How can the affected learn to ever live happily? Here you will find suggestions and inspiration in the spirit of » » helping people help themselves.