What are some challenges of being a highly sensitive person?

highly sensitive people, emotional intensity, overexcitability, gifted and talented

As a highly sensitive person, we can feel more, react to others and the environment more easily and deeply, and sometimes get overwhelmed by so much intensity and stimulation. But it can also fuel creativity.

As Dolly Parton put it, “I hurt real easy and real deep, which is why I think I have to write songs, [and] why so many of them fit the feelings of so many people that can’t write. It’s because I feel everything to my core.”

We can and do use our sensitivity to be creative, but need to respect the emotional and health consequences of a ramped-up nervous system. And just give ourselves a break when we need to.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: blakespot
In her post too much stimulation (on her blog The Existential Coach), Linda DeLuca (Twitter @LindaDeLuca) writes, “Like many HSPs, I have a creative side and am always thinking of new ideas and projects.

“I had begun to create piles for each of these ideas/projects in my office. This, along with my collection of books, my many sticky notes, and a growing pile of geek toys, was just too much for my brain to handle.

“One day as I walked into my office I felt my pulse and breath quickened, my head felt like it was going to pop off like a pressure cooker. I had reached my limit of stimulation.”

Some characteristics

Items on the Self-Test on Elaine Aron’s site include:
I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.
Other people’s moods affect me.
I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
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.

What was your childhood like?

Empowerment coach Jenna Forrest notes, “Challenges begin in childhood, when as toddlers and pre-schoolers they pick up subtle signals, thoughts, moods and other sensory energy from home, in the neighborhood, from TV or school, or from their playmates — and they don’t know what to do with it.

“In a short time, the world’s problems become their own. Millions of highly sensitive people right at this moment are carrying a heavier burden than the rest of society just because they’re perceptive of the world’s discord, which is coming at them every day from a laundry list of sources.”

She is author of Help Is On Its Way: A Memoir About Growing Up Sensitive. Quotes are from Jenna Forrest on Empowering Sensitivity – the transcript of our podcast interview.

Also see a post on my Highly Sensitive site: Jenna Forrest on sensitivity – which includes a video, and signup box for her free e-newsletter .

Biochemistry and nutrition?

I just started reading the book The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First, by Mark Hyman MD (www.theultramindsolution.com) in which he writes about a 12-year-old boy on multiple medications for ADHD, asthma, allergies and other problems – (that were cleared up with Dr. Hyman’s holistic approach) and declares that low magnesium levels “lead to headaches; anxiety; insomnia, muscle spasms… and hypersensitivity to noises.”

That is an intriguing aspect of this trait – that maybe for some people it is affected by nutrition.

Jenna Avery  (Twitter @JennaAvery) affirms “Learning to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Soul presents challenges. If you’re sensitive, you have likely accumulated years of training in trying overcome the trait because you don’t ‘fit in’ with society.

“And yet being Highly Sensitive is a vital part of you. A first step toward thriving as a Sensitive Soul is to understand and accept your trait.”

She emphasizes, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are just different. As one of my clients says, being Highly Sensitive is both a gift and a responsibility… As you begin to manage your life in a way that truly works for you, you will trust the power and gift of your sensitivity, and be inspired to share your much-needed wisdom with the world.”

Jenna Avery  – from her article Are You Highly Sensitive?

Here are a few more quotes I’ve collected on the experience:

Amy Brenneman“I’m too sensitive to watch most of the reality shows. It’s so painful for me.” Actor Amy Brenneman

“I’ll cry at anything, even a tissue commercial.” Actor, musician Mandy Moore.

“There have been some traumatic experiences in my life that have resulted in my feeling that maybe I was going insane for a little while… How do you ever explain the feelings of anxiety and paralysing fear? I can’t answer those questions. It’s just a feeling of “Am I crazy? Am I too sensitive to be in this world?”

That quote by Winona Ryder really struck me as one of the main challenges: the sense of being “crazy” or “too sensitive” to function well enough to bring our talents to life.

But of course, that is not true. We just need to respect our sensitivity and proclivity for overhwhelm. Maybe cut down on watching too much political news while researching and writing online. Much as I like Rachel Maddow, news of corporate malfeasance is not exactly relaxing.

More quotes like the above are on the page Intensity – sensitivity.

Originally posted 2009-03-13 20:57:10.

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  1. […] What are some challenges of being a highly sensitive person? […]

  2. Douglas Eby says:

    New blog post: What are some challenges of being a highly sensitive person? http://tinyurl.com/bgslnf

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