The Highly Sensitive Person
Hey There, Wild Things! Since it's Back to School season (according to my FaceBook news feed), I thought I'd go old school and blog book report style.
If you've ever been told "You're just too sensitive" then I want you to run out and buy The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.
This book was a game changer for me. In fact, while Periscoping about this very topic I found the following note to myself:
I feel positive and encouraged by this. I feel fully explained by this book. Nothing is "wrong" with me. Everything is ok.
And that was on page 39 of the book. I didn't need to read the other 200 pages. And to be honest I basically skimmed the rest of it (is it ok to admit that in a book report?). My cousin, who also read the book, really dove into this book. She loved the science-y parts, did all the exercises, and even bought the accompanying workbook. I just felt comforted in knowing I wasn't crazy :)
There are two really important things about this book:
1. Figuring out if you're a Highly Sensitive Person
There's a quiz in the book and also on the HSPerson website. It's a series of True or False questions. If you answer Yes to more than 12 than you can self identify as HSP (that's Highly Sensitive Person). Here are a few that really resonated with me:
- Other people's moods affect me.
- I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
- I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
- When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I became so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
To be fair in my (book) reporting, here are a few that didn't resonate with me but may with you:
- Changes in life shake me up.
- I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
- I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
2. Understanding what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person
The way I explain it is that an HSP is able to absorb and process a lot of stimulation and because of that they notice nuances that other people would not. And it's all done on a subconscious level.
The example I gave on Periscope was the following: You may pick up on the fact that your best friend only smiled 7 times one day instead of their normal 17. You don't actually know these numbers, but you sense something is wrong. Maybe you ask your friend about it and maybe you start to think your friend is mad at you.
Another important thing to know is that being an HSP does not mean your shy and it doesn't mean your introverted. You can be outgoing and an extrovert and also an HSP. The book does a great job at walking through a whole bunch of examples and case studies. If you self identified as an HSP based on the quiz that I'm willing to be there's at least one example in the book that resonates with you.
So go read it already!
If you identify as an HSP then claim it in the comments below! We can take great comfort in the community of others. Share your stories and how this book has helped you.