dinsdag 30 november 2010

E is for Empathy

Today I share with you a wonderful blog post by Ann from the blog on her website: http://recoveryourbalance.com/

I’m on yet another learning journey at the moment, and it’s one that might interest you if you often find yourself off balance. Via the wonderful Kat Tansey, author of Choosing to Be – Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master, I came across the work of Dr Elaine Aron on what she calls ‘Sensory Processing Sensitivity’.  It was a revelation, and it explains a lot.  Kat Tansey’s interview with Elaine Aron is here.

Recognise this?

Test your reaction to these scenarios. Whom do you most closely identify with?
  • A woman is standing in line waiting to pay for purchases. The woman behind her is standing very close, and with each move, unconsciously prods, nudges and pokes her with assorted baggage and elbows.  Eventually the first woman turns round and politely asks the woman behind to please stop prodding her. The second woman puts on an air of mock astonishment and responds, “What? Are you REAL?”
  • It’s Remembrance Sunday in a shop in an English shopping mall. At 11.00, the piped music stops, the staff ring a tiny bell, and everyone stands still for two minutes. Well, almost everyone. Despite the almost tangible, heavy silence, the sudden lack of jolly Christmas music and the fact that people are standing exactly where they were when the bell rang, one man crashes around in some crockery, and calls to his wife, “Hey, Susan, here they are – come and look at these.” “I’m busy looking over here”, she shouts back.
They both happened.  I was present at the second, and overheard woman 2 stridently telling the story of the ‘unreal’ person in front of her in that line to anyone who would listen.  Why did they strike such a chord with me?

High sensitivity is real

They’re two sides of the same coin – high sensitivity to sensory stimuli, and a complete lack of it.  Aron, a clinical psychologist, has researched High Sensitivity for almost 20 years. She has found that around 20% of the population, male and female, are what she calls Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs).  Many don’t realise it, and it’s not a trait that Western society values.  The strength of this trait is that people who possess it are aware of tiny nuances and subtle shifts in what’s happening around them, are highly perceptive of others’ changes of mood, may be highly intuitive and often visionary. The downside is that the same stimulus that most people take in their stride can be overwhelming for an HSP. They’re often told they are over-sensitive and end up feeling there’s something wrong with them.  Well, there isn’t.

Please don’t SHOUT at me!

I took Aron’s self-test and came out with a high score and a big lightbulb moment. Being highly sensitive to sensory stimuli can be both helpful and painfully arousing.  Take the BBC World Service, for example.  I love it.  I download podcasts regularly.  But if I’m awake at night and want to listen to something, I no longer choose the World Service.  Why?  Because for the past year or so, every podcast and every programme is prefaced with a rumbling musical intro culminating in a loud, intrusive three-note musical yell in a minor key:  DA DA DAAAAH!  It might not bother 80% of the population, but it makes me wince,  and probably the other 20% with me.
HSPs take time to process stimuli, and will need to take space to do it.  Overstimulation can lead to the constant presence of stress hormones such as cortisol in the body. Balancing the dual challenges of dealing with the discomfort of over-stimulation and staying out in the World where we need to be is a lifelong task that gets easier if it’s done consciously. It doesn’t mean we’re unintelligent or antisocial.  It doesn’t mean we’re ‘over-sensitive’.  We are simply more sensitive to sensory stimuli than about 80% of the population, and if we don’t understand this we might wonder what’s wrong with us. And you can imagine what happens when the office bully homes in on an HSP.

Are you an HSP?

I’m currently wondering whether the people who bounce back least well from the bad things that happen at work might also include a higher than usual proportion of HSPs?  It would explain a lot.  If you empathised with the woman who didn’t want to be constantly prodded, or wondered how the couple in the shop could have failed so completely to notice what was going on around them, why not take Aron’s self-test and see what you come up with?

…or not?

And if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, maybe you’ll still find Aron’s work worth exploring. After all, up to 20% of people around you may possess the trait.  Perhaps the colleague you think of as over-sensitive is nothing of the kind.

donderdag 25 november 2010

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?

Today I would love to share a wonderful blog post by Sandra Lee

Love yourself!
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” -Aristotle

Do you find yourself highly sensitive to the physical circumstances and/or the people around you?

A few days ago, a small bird smacked into the glass panel of the sliding door in my bedroom.  This happened at another residence about eight months ago.  The first time, I was probably more traumatized than the bird.  The suffering of others has affected me so strongly all my life; it seemed to penetrate far into my being.  In both cases, the bird look stunned and paralyzed, not moving a micro-millimeter, but clearly still alive.

The first time, my husband assured me that the best approach would be to leave the bird alone and let it reorient itself.  It was an hour of pure torment for me.  The bird did indeed recalibrate itself in about an hour’s time and flew off into the wild blue yonder.  Happily, the second bird did the same.  Animals intuitively know how best to cope with trauma.  This is explained exceptionally well in the book, Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma, The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences, which elucidates how these same principles apply to the human experience of trauma.


Suffering and overcaring

The second time around, I was naturally concerned about the bird’s suffering, but, interestingly, I didn’t let it get under my skin in the same way.  This is due, in part, simply to knowing from experience that the bird would likely recover and fly off as before.  At the same time, I feel this is also due to a gradual process of inner change that is taking place as I more firmly secure myself through Amygdala Retraining and other means of self exploration and personal development.  Let me be clear that this doesn’t mean becoming indifferent, uncaring, or cold-hearted.   I still feel emphatic to the suffering of others, but I understand more fully than ever before how allowing it to jar me so strongly is neither necessary or useful.
Indeed, overcaring may actually be harmful.
“Is your care producing or reducing stress?”  This is a key question in the Heartmath approach, which also says:  “Excessive care, or overcare related to an issue or situation can create stress and negative emotions, so it is important for your care to be balanced.”
If you are stuck in the habit of perpetual giving, this might be a crucial question to ask:  “Is your care producing or reducing stress?”

Suffering is an inevitable part of life for all of us.  When you know and accept the reality that suffering will occur, it’s not such a shock when it actually does.  With this understanding, you can have more acceptance and clarity when suffering arises. I’ve been fortunate to meet many great spiritual masters in my lifetime.  All of them have been deeply compassionate.  Indeed, their love and compassion have no limit:  the whole purpose of their existence is to relieve the suffering of this world.  But they are not bowled over by suffering.  They don’t go into a state of personal angst if a bird flies into a pane of glass.  They are compassionate warriors—courageous, confident, determined, yet also relaxed, open, and spacious.


Are you a highly sensitive person?

I’ve been super sensitive as far back as I can recall.  According to Elaine Aron, 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive, possessing an uncommonly sensitive nervous system.  She says that being a highly sensitive person means:
“…you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.”
Aron defines this not as a flaw but as an asset that you can learn to use.  She says, “If we try to live by the same operating instructions that others use, we develop all kinds of chronic illnesses, as so many of you have learned the hard way. Yet if we overprotect ourselves, our assets go unexpressed, and that can also lead to stress and illness.”
1 in 5 people are highly sensitive – an eye opening statistic!


Sensitized Nervous System

The evidence is mounting that a sensitized nervous system is involved in a wide range of disorders.  Wikipedia explains:
“A third type is central sensitization, where nociceptive neurons in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord become sensitized by peripheral tissue damage or inflammation. This type of sensitization has been suggested as a possible causal mechanism for chronic pain conditions.”
“Sensitization has been implied as a causal or maintaining mechanism in a wide range of apparently unrelated pathologies including substance abuse and dependence, allergies, asthma, and some medically unexplained syndromes such as fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity. Sensitization has also been suggested in relation to psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic anxiety and mood disorders.”
In another view of sensitization, Ashok Gupta and Annie Hopper believe that a small structure in the brain thought to be responsible for triggering the adrenalin response, the amygdala, becomes sensitized in cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chronic Pain Syndromes, and related disorders.  They respectively offer their own innovative brain retraining programs to assist people in recovering from these disorders based on the science of neuroplasticity.


Reducing overstimulation and retraining the brain

The first step foreword is recognizing that you are indeed a highly sensitive person.  If this is the case, it’s important to take on board that trying to live a highly stimulated, stress filled lifestyle may very well have negative ramifications for you.  From there, you can explore options for reducing over-stimulation. Elaine Aron’s books are one resource for this purpose.

It’s far better to do this early on so you can lead a sane, healthy, and happy life instead of developing chronic illness down the road.  However, if you do develop certain chronic illnesses, Dynamic Neural Retraining and Amygdala Retraining are wonderful programs to help you feel better. There are no magic pills.  You must faithfully apply the techniques offered in these programs on a regular basis to effectively retrain the brain and improve.  You need to change your fundamental way of being.  Loving yourself enough to make the commitment is part of the equation.  This is a huge step, but there’s tremendous support for accomplishing this. Be heartened!  Breakthroughs are happening in the realm of these previously unexplained illnesses.

Are you a highly sensitive person?  What steps do you take to reduce stimulation in your life?

You might also like this related articles:  Retraining the brain for CFS, FMS, MCS, PTSD, & GWS

dinsdag 26 oktober 2010

Jim Hallowes on HSP

Being Sensitive -- in an Insensitive World by Thomas Eldridge

Today I would like to share an article by Thomas Eldridge.  I love this article, especially as it was written by a man.  I have no further information on Thomas Eldridge, so if you do, then please get in touch with me as I would love to read more of his work.

All your life you thought something was wrong with you. You were uncomfortable around noise. No one understood your need to be alone. You seem to know things without being told. The good news is that you are not dysfunctional. You are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). You are not the only one; you share this trait with a small minority of the population who are referred to as shy or timid.

Overwhelming Stimuli
HSPs respond strongly to external stimuli, and become exhausted from taking in and processing these stimuli. They are born with a nervous system that may see, hear, smell or feel more than others. As adults, they may also think, reflect or notice more than others. The processing is largely unconscious or body-conscious. HSPs grow up feeling flawed, especially when loud music, crowds of people, or simply a busy day stresses them. At such times, they need quiet time alone to recover.

Problems can begin in childhood if their sensitivities are not recognized. They can experience deep trauma, even in the womb if they were not wanted. Highly sensitive babies are more peaceful when alone. Certain people terrify them; toy mobiles upset them, rocking irritates them, and changes in weather make them restless. They may be colicky, and their digestive systems may not tolerate food that is too hot or too cold. If the needs of the baby are ignored the child becomes insecure.
Sensitive babies are also very creative and aware. They may walk early or smile a lot. As infants and toddlers they may experience sensory overload from the newness of things. When old enough, they spend time alone to regain their balance and energy.

What Works and What Doesn't
This hyper-awareness to their environment makes HSPs cautious. Any kind of change can be difficult. They are not known for their rash actions. They foresee the consequences of words and actions. HSPs can feel happy in their hearts on a joyous occasion but are unable to express it. They are seen as inhibited or unsociable. They do not like social situations and prefer having deep intimate conversations with someone one on one.
Rather than forcing themselves to fit in and be more outgoing, HSPs need to learn to appreciate their sensitivity in less stimulating ways. Developing boundaries for safety and comfort becomes important. If they are sensitive to bright fluorescent lights, chemical odors or certain kinds of people, HSPs need to use their creativity to find ways to avoid such stimuli.
HSPs often try to hide themselves. They rarely appreciate that many other people also have these same traits. Sharing quiet meals and talking about spiritual matters can become intimacy heaven. Accepting that they really do enjoy long walks in nature, rather than tennis matches, alleviates stress.

Their tendency towards withdrawal presents unique difficulties in relationships. HSPs turn inwards for protection against what they are experiencing. Relationships of mutual respect provide a safe, consistent haven of acceptance. HSPs must be wary of being people-pleasers. A lack of self-esteem can turn into a habit of satisfying the needs of the other person. They can end up feeling overwhelmed and alone in a relationship they cannot let go of.
A sensitive person's ability to pick up subtle cues and ambivalence in the unconscious processes of the other can affect communication in relationships. Even though they can tune into what is going on, they either can't say it, or they blurt out a negative judgment. At these times, they are acting out their own past experiences of being humiliated for their sensitivities. The way out of this dilemma is to become more conscious of their habitual reactions and to take more time out to be alone. They need partners to accept this strategy. They may require an entire night's sleep to be clear enough to express how they feel about an issue.

HSPs appreciate intimacy. They actually prefer talking about their feelings and spirituality but often believe no one else is interested. An open and sharing relationship - preferably with another HSP - can be of great benefit in providing awareness of what does and doesn't work. This applies to both the spiritual-social areas and the physical body.
Entertainment and excitement is not what holds a sensitive relationship together. HSPs are more interested in deepening their self-awareness and never become bored of listening to their partner's dreams. A sensitive partner will notice subtle changes in the other's mood or behavior.

Food and Diet
HSPs are very sensitive to food and physical environments. Food needs to be looked at from a different viewpoint than what is promoted by national food guides. Not all foods are going to be equally tolerated by their body. Stimulating substances such as alcohol, coffee, sugar and junk food can be highly toxic to an HSP. Diets need to be tailor-made and regularly modified. There are no right diets that sensitive people can follow permanently. Their level of sensitivity is anything but static and rigid. It requires a change in attitude to accept the fascinating refinement process continually being experienced by their body/mind/spirit. Generally, simple, frequent meals work best.

Once HSPs stop trying to become strong and tough extroverts, they often develop a keen interest in and gratitude for their consciousness, which benevolently takes them into unexplored realms. These complex inner realms, largely avoided by others, become their individuated paths to wholeness and happiness.


woensdag 18 augustus 2010

Book Review: The Sensitive Self - Michael Eigen

We are all sensitive beings, both physically and emotionally. What do we do with our sensitivity? How much of our sensitivity can we take? How do we become partners with our sensitivity in ways that make life worthwhile? In The Sensitive Self, renowned psychologist Michael Eigen explores the varied nuances of sensitivity as it threads its way through all facets of our lives.

Individual case studies, often achingly honest, are woven together by Eigen's deeply felt meditations, bringing us into the heart of psychotherapy. We see how our sensitivity to self and others plays a crucial role in sustaining our sense of aliveness. Ultimately, Eigen argues, sensitivity is the basis for a humane ethics. Powerful and illuminating, The Sensitive Self follows up on the themes of Eigen's previous books, Rage and Ecstasy, with which Eigen has established himself as one of today's most creative thinkers in psychology.

MICHAEL EIGEN is a psychologist and psychoanalyst. The author of numerous books, he is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University and a Senior Member of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. 

vrijdag 6 augustus 2010

Without a High Sensitivity Personality What Would Life Be Like?

“Without sensitivity what would life be like?” author Michael Eigen asks in an article.

“Sensitivity nurtures us, gives life color, expressiveness, charm – provides a basis for terror. Sensitivity, feeling and thinking feed each other, are part of each other.

“Thinking and feeling are ways sensitivity unfolds or grows… without the sensory sea we take for granted, feeling and thought would dry up and die.”

It’s a nice reminder that our sensitivity is something we can celebrate, rather than avoid or condemn.

> quotes from article: Sensitivity – by Michael Eigen, PhD, author of book The Sensitive Self

zaterdag 17 juli 2010

The Highly Sensitive Child

A highly sensitive child is often bright, articulate, creative, and insightful, easily able to tune into other people and their feelings. She may display a deep sense of empathy and compassion for other people. Perhaps she is a budding artist, a future novelist. And yet, she is also clingy and whiny, sometimes bossy and demanding. Sometimes she's all of these at the same time! She throws long tantrums over seemingly minor issues - shoes that feel "funny," familiar cereal that suddenly tastes "different." She shrieks furiously when you leave her with a babysitter, even one she knows well, grabbing desperately at your legs as you leave. Her teachers complain that she is "scattered" and seems to pay attention to too many things at once. It's no wonder that parents of such youngsters feel frustrated, helpless, angry - under the thumb of a mercurial, moody "prince" or "princess," as some describe their children to me.
To help you understand this child, let me walk you through how she may look and behave at different stages of development. You may recognize many features of your child. Of course, every child is unique, and you may see only a few similarities. If you are feeling discouraged, rest assured that I will soon discuss ways to approach your child's challenges.

The Sensitive Baby and Toddler
A sensitive infant is often colicky, finicky, irritable, demanding. She may cry almost constantly for the first year of her life (or so it may seem to an exhausted parent) and want to be held continually. The normal activities of infancy - sleeping, eating, diaper changing - can become early battlegrounds between parents and baby. One seven-month-old girl I saw screamed in fury if her mother put her down for the briefest instant. She fell asleep only when her mother or father rocked her for an hour or longer. Several times each night she woke up crying and needed to be rocked back to sleep. She hated having her clothes changed and would even squeal indignantly when her parents removed a dirty diaper. Breastfed, she furiously resisted taking a bottle, and she angrily pushed away spoonfuls of rice cereal and bananas when they were first offered. She cried when the vacuum cleaner made noise or if her older siblings were loud. When she learned to crawl, she simply used her newfound skill to scurry over to her mother and cling to her leg, rather than venturing out to explore the world. She fussed when her mother tried to interest her in toys and threw temper tantrums when her parents tried to put her in her playpen. "I feel like the prisoner of a tyrant in my own home," the baby's weary mother told me.
These sensitive infants find the emotional skills that we expect them to master in their first year more difficult to learn than do other babies. Ordinarily, babies begin learning to calm and regulate themselves in their first few months and, at the same time, remain interested and engaged in their environment. They also learn to relate to people in a warm, trusting manner - by gurgling and cooing as they study their parents' faces, for example. Especially gratifying to most babies is the ability to let their parents know what they want through vocalizations and gestures (reaching up to be picked up, pointing at a desired toy, and so on). But such goals can be elusive for a baby who is overly sensitive. New people, sights, sounds, smells, and the results of her own exploration and initiatives (touching daddy's rough beard, for example) easily overwhelm her and make her cry.
As a toddler, the very sensitive child often continues to be demanding and clingy. Once she has mastered a few words, she may resort to whining. "Mama, mama, mama," she may say over and over again as her exasperated mother tries to untangle her arms from around her legs so she can work. She throws monstrous tantrums if her parents try to leave her at daycare or with a babysitter. Now, her parents' sleep may be disrupted by her shrieks as she wakes up at night feeling scared. New situations upset her, and she may avoid playing with other children, shaking her head stubbornly and bursting into tears if a parent tries to lead her over to a group of other toddlers who are happily rolling toy trucks and banging toy drums. She may act aggressively, but more out of fear than defiance: she may bite or hit other children who come too close, for example, or pinch a child who tries to take away a toy. She may not like to be held or carried in a certain way.
Rather than become more assertive and organized as she grows, by taking her father's hand, for example, and leading him over to the cracker box, she may whine and passively expect daddy to guess what's on her mind and get it for her.
As she approaches the ages of two and three, when children ordinarily start to engage in lots of pretend play with each other and begin to expand relationships beyond their parents and siblings, the overly sensitive child may be cautious, fearful, and clingy. She may not be comfortable in expanding her fantasy life, even though a full fantasy life is very important at this stage of development. She may feel cautious about exploring certain themes in her pretend play, such as coping with aggression. Her dolls or action figures may always kiss and hug, but never fight or tussle with each other, for example. Or the dolls or action figures may fight, but then the story line may disappear: she may simply bang her dolls and toys together in what looks less like pretend play and more like a direct discharge of energy.
As she learns more words, she may start talking about her fears, telling you about the witches under her bed or the monsters in her closet. Fear and shyness inhibit her from making friends, and she is very frightened of children who are more assertive than she is. When parents leave for work or an evening out, she may shriek hysterically, "Mommy, no go!" or "Daddy, come back!" even though she is familiar with her daycare center and acquainted with her babysitter.

The Sensitive Preschool Child
As she learns to string her emotional ideas together into emotional thinking, which we ordinarily begin to see at about the age of four or so, the highly sensitive preschooler may have elaborate explanations for some fearful or scary feelings.
"I know the robbers are going to come get me as soon as you put out the light, and I won't stay in my bed," she may argue. "Leaving the light on will only let the robbers see where I am!"
The sensitive child's fears appear to be growing because she is able to use logic to build bigger sand castles in the sky. With enhanced logic, she may seem even more tyrannical, insisting that she will be safe only if you do everything she wants.
As your sensitive preschooler begins to approach the school-age years and becomes even more articulate, her bossy, demanding behavior takes new forms (the sensitive child is, after all, usually very verbal). "You didn't buy the right cereal!" she may yell indignantly as she glares at her bowl of Cheerios from the newly opened box on the breakfast table.
"Honey, it's Cheerios, the same as always," the parent replies.
"But the box is a different color! And they taste different. I want the old Cheerios like you always get!"
And so it goes. "My new dress feels yucky!" she may say. Or, "These socks pinch my feet!" "This sandwich hurts my mouth!"
New experiences may cause her all kinds of concerns, and she may be quite articulate about her fears. "If I go to nursery school," your four-year-old may argue, "that boy Kim will hit me and he will take away my teddy bear until you come get me!" She may worry that "bad things" will happen to her parents and may threaten and whine if she is taken to a babysitter's house. "If you go to work and leave me at Mrs. Farwell's house, I will be sad forever!"
As you can see, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers each convey their sensitivities in their own special way. Seemingly in no time at all, the clinging, fussy baby turns into the passive, avoidant, fearful toddler who, as she acquires the "gift of gab," develops ideas, stories, and plots that elaborate this same sensitive core.
At this point, some readers are undoubtedly saying, "I've had enough. What can I do about it?" But let's continue our journey through the school years. It will give you a fuller picture of our sensitive child - a picture that will enable us to discuss strategies to help her overcome her special challenges.

The Sensitive School-Age Child
At the ages of five and six, children ordinarily move through the "world is my oyster" phase, experiencing a sense of grandeur about themselves and a bold expressiveness. A highly sensitive child may immerse herself in the rich fantasy life of this phase, but then constantly scare herself. As a result, she can seem moody, self-centered, and demanding, throwing lots of tantrums. She may imagine herself as powerful as daddy, for example, but later convince herself that a thief is going to come into her room and hurt her. So she demands that you stay with her for the night. Or, after pretending to be Ariel saving the underwater world from the mean witch, she may refuse to go to bed, saying that she is scared of the dark. She may even begin to develop new fears - of escalators or high places, for example.
At this stage, a sensitive child may try to avoid fantasy and feelings of power altogether. She may be too fearful to elaborate or even create fantasies and be passive, scared, and shy. She may be obedient in many ways, clearing her dishes off the table and putting away her toys, but she may then put up a fuss at going to a new playground or making new friends.
In school, the sensitive child may be a quick and eager learner, absorbing with her keen attentiveness everything the teachers say, do, or expect. Or, on the other hand, the sensitive child may be overloaded at school because of the number of people, the variety of sounds, and the complexity of beginning to learn so many new things.
As this child turns seven and eight, if she is secure enough to take her family for granted, she moves more fully into the rough-and-tumble world of peer relationships. But she may become overwhelmed by the complex "politics of the playground." Unable to negotiate these, she may feel defeated. "Katherine hates me! She won't pick me for the kickball team!" Or, "My teacher doesn't like me. I put my hand up and she looks at me funny and the answer goes right out of my head, and then she thinks I'm just a big dummy."
Some sensitive children may choose to avoid playground politics altogether. They may stay on the periphery, watching the recess-time basketball games and jump-rope competitions from the sidelines of the playground. Such a child doesn't participate in the jockeying for friends that other seven- and eight-year-olds engage in. She becomes very distressed when a child she particularly likes won't play with her or makes fun of her, and she sometimes feels so hurt that she decides it is better to be done with the whole thing. She may talk to her parents about her loneliness, or she may hold it in. For many parents, watching their child in such a situation can be very painful!
Sensitive children are unusually vulnerable to feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. They may feel very angry at people who make fun of them. Mild teasing that other children take more or less in stride ("Jeffrey wears goofy shoes!" or "Ashley's hair is funny") is intensely painful to some sensitive children. "No one likes me," one eight-year-old told me sadly. "Everyone hates me. I'm a bad person."
As they get closer to the age of ten, children become more able to balance the peer group pressures with an emerging sense of themselves. But the overly sensitive child may have had such a hard time negotiating the politics of the playground that she is still focused on her peer group, struggling with the hurts or embarrassments, or finding a better way to sit on the sidelines and not jump in.
In order to be able to develop her own internal values, a child needs first to master the issues of the peer group. As the child moves ahead intellectually, dealing with the more abstract issues of what she is like and what other people are like, we may see the struggles she is undergoing very vividly. The sensitive child may wrestle with a desire to be more independent and yet be so wrapped up in the day-to-day squabbles of the peer group that she has little opportunity to explore the world inside her.
One moment she may say, "I shouldn't care what someone thinks of me. I know I'm a good person - lots of people like me." And the next minute she is saying, "Mommy, will you talk to Vanessa's mother and make her play with me?" or "I know what I'll do. I'll ignore her and she'll have to come talk to me!"
Even when the sensitive child is making progress in negotiating the many stages of development, parents may find it especially baffling that their child varies so much in day-to-day mood and outlook. That is because sensitive children, like all challenging children, have a wider range of behavior than more easygoing children. One moment they can appear mature, respectful, empathetic, compassionate. Then, later that day or the next day, they are crawling under tables, whining, clinging, throwing tantrums, and bossing everyone around. Parents often feel that they are on a roller coaster with their child, in an unpredictable "ride" of shifting moods and behavior.
Parents might find some reassurance in the realization that while they can't predict how their child will act from one moment to the next, they can predict that there will be a large variation in the child's mood. They might remember the old story about the king who told his wise men that he would cut their heads off unless they found him something that would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy. After struggling for months, their lives hanging in the balance, the wise men presented the king with a ring with a message. "This, too, will change," it said.
This insight will be reassuring when a sensitive child is in one of her more infantile moods, but not reassuring when she is being mature and helpful! But the awareness and expectation that her mature mood will also change can help parents avoid being too shocked or disappointed when, once again, they see that their child hasn't "gotten over it," or they realize they haven't mastered "the problem."
Over time, this range of behavior can gradually shift to higher and higher levels. Her "best" behavior, over time, can become better and her "worst" behavior can become not quite so difficult. But keep in mind that this is usually a slow and gradual change.

How It Feels to Be a Sensitive Child
Think about all the ways that our senses can give us pleasure and open us up to the world. We are soothed by soft strokes on the cheek, cheered by a friendly arm around the shoulder, uplifted by the exhilarating sound of a marching band. We enjoy the clean scent of freshly washed clothes, and we smile at the bright face of a clown.
These sensations, however, are entirely different for the highly sensitive child. A friendly touch might feel harsh to her. Certain sounds may seem to come out of a bullhorn. Certain smells seem oppressive. Even bright colors can overwhelm.
Imagine how you would feel if, for example, you attended a rock concert after staying up the previous night consuming cup after cup of strong coffee. The sound would probably grind right through you, while the flashing lights and crowded bodies would be bewildering, overwhelming. Many overly sensitive children feel this way every day, as if they have little barrier between themselves and the rest of the world. They feel as if things are happening to them, rather than feeling that they have much control over their life.
These physical sensitivities take many forms. The sensitive child may dislike being tickled or cuddled. Walking through a crowded school hallway or playground is daunting because it means brushing up against so many bodies. Deep voices or loud machines can set a sensitive child's teeth on edge. Even a mother's voice can be irritating.
Some children are sensitive to movement in space. They may dislike sensations that children ordinarily love - the fast rush down a slide, pumping higher and higher on a swing, whirling around a merry-go-round.
Some children are oversensitive to certain sights, although this particular sensitivity isn't as common as sensitivity to touch or sound. These children almost see too much: they are so aware of what they see that they become frightened or overwhelmed. They sometimes react to just part of a visual image, rather than the entire image. For example, they may be frightened by a clown's face or a cartoon figure because they focus on just part of it-the big red lips or nose, for example, or the bright orange hair. They are unable to view those features as part of something that others see as comforting and funny.
Because sensitive children are so tuned into sensations, they tend to experience the world in little pieces. They see the details, but miss the big picture. Such a child may, for example, look at a picture and describe the details first. "I see a tree with pink flowers, and another tree that doesn't have any flowers," she may say, "and a red-and-white tablecloth on the ground. And four people are sitting around the tablecloth." In such a manner, the child pieces together what the picture is about: four people having a picnic in the woods.
In school, these children may do well in subjects that involve grasping details, such as vocabulary, spelling, and language skills. But subjects that are more abstract, such as scientific concepts or math, may cause them difficulties. Sometimes they may feel so confused and overwhelmed in class that they appear to be learning disabled, although they may be quite capable of grasping the material.
The highly sensitive child tends to be very perceptive, sensing every nuance and subtlety of her world. "Molly looked at me funny today," eight-year-old Fanny may inform her parent about a friend who threw her a quick glance during social studies. This child is also very sensitive to the feelings of others; she can "read" other people through their expressions, their body language, the voice tone. However, because she is so perceptive, she can sometimes be too affected by the moods and feelings of others. Adults who have such traits often say they wish they had "thicker skin."
A tendency to get lost in the details further intensified by a challenge they have in dealing with spatial concepts may mean that certain children get lost easily. Not being able to figure out distances easily, they feel less secure than other children, and panic easily when their parents leave them. An ability to picture spatial concepts is also an important component of any "big picture" thinking - seeing how the pieces fit together in a particular situation (or life in general).
In addition to spatial difficulties, the overly sensitive child can also experience motor-planning challenges - that is, the skills that are required to carry out a series of action sequences, such as putting on socks or remembering a nighttime routine of brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and kissing mom and dad goodnight. This challenge can be very perplexing to parents, because their son or daughter otherwise seems so bright. The problem may be so severe that a teacher may raise questions about attention problems, or even the possibility of medication.
So if your child has a "gift of gab" and can stay on the subject while talking, but gets lost when she has to do anything that involves a sequence of movements, the difficulty may be a very circumscribed part of a motor-planning problem. Your child is well organized when operating in an area of strength, but may appear disorganized when dealing with an area of vulnerability.
Some sensitive children are overstimulated not only by outside sensations, but also by internal forces as well - that is, their own emotions. They experience their feelings very intensely. Such a child may throw herself on the floor sobbing when she is sad, jump up and down and scream when she is happy, and shriek and pound the walls when she is angry. Never is there a middle ground: no pleasure is merely mild, no irritation is slight, and sadness is felt as despair. She may also complain of sore muscles, stomachaches, and other pains. Because of her sensitivity to internal experiences, puberty may be especially troubling because of all the new sensations and stirrings of her body.
The foregoing profile is a broad cluster of ways that sensitivity commonly manifests itself in a child. Not every boy or girl who appears cautious and fearful has these sensitivities. And not every child with these physical sensitivities comes across as cautious and fearful.
Article with thanks to Family Education

dinsdag 13 juli 2010

Help Is On Its Way: A Memoir About Growing Up Sensitive


Jenna Forrest: People with high sensitivity are very intelligent, intuitive, perceptive, and creative. They're very diligent about caring for others and wanting things to be at peace. Where the difficulty lies is that the world isn't always at peace.

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.

Confused by her ability to feel other people's feelings, highly sensitive Jenna comforts herself by rescuing dead animals and escaping from elementary school. When her parents divorce, her mentally ill grandmother moves in and her sensitive uncle commits suicide. After the funeral, Jenna begins to read the messages coming in through her senses more clearly, as comforting guidance and premonitions about love, life, people and the planet. This is a decade-long journey of a girl whose nervous system is intricately developed, leading to sensory highs and emotional lows. Every secret thought and fear of this sensitive child (ages 6-17) is revealed here. Since 15-20% of kids and adults have the trait of high sensitivity, this perspective needs to be heard. The story addresses a sensitive child/teen's anxiety, sadness, courage, and urgent desire to do good things for the world. Edited by Emmy Award winner Molly McKitterick. Endorsed by Psychologist Elaine Aron and Author, Coach Eva Gregory.

Once an anxious person who hid her highly-tuned senses, Jenna now studies, practices and teaches time-honored personal empowerment principles as an author and mentor. Since writing Help Is On Its Way - A True Story, Jenna enjoys talking to audiences about the secrets of people living with sensitivity and discussing strategies designed to overcome odds, reverse restrictive beliefs, and realize big dreams.

donderdag 8 juli 2010

Giftedness characteristics

Characteristics often experienced by gifted individuals:
Are you a good problem solver?   Can you concentrate for long periods of time?
Are you perfectionistic?
Do you persevere with your interests?  Are you an avid reader?  
Do you have a vivid imagination?
Do you enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles?   Often connect seemingly unrelated ideas?
Do you enjoy paradoxes?
Do you set high standards for yourself?  
Do you have a good long-term memory?   
Are you deeply compassionate?
Do you have persistent curiosity?   
Do you have an excellent sense of humor? 
Are you a keen observer?
Do you have a love of mathematics?   
Do you need periods of contemplation?  
Do you search for meaning in your life?
Are you aware of things that others are not?   
Are you fascinated by words?  
Are you highly sensitive?   
Do you have strong moral convictions?
Do you often feel out-of-sync with others?    
Are you perceptive or insightful? 
Do you often question rules or authority?
Do you have organized collections?   
Do you thrive on challenge?   
Do you have extraordinary abilities and deficits?
Do you learn new things rapidly?    
Feel overwhelmed by many interests/abilities?    
Do you have a great deal of energy?
Often take a stand against injustice?   
Do you feel driven by your creativity?   
Love ideas and ardent discussion?
Were you advanced developmentally in childhood?   
Have unusual ideas or perceptions?   
Are you a complex person?
"If 75% of these characteristics fit you, you are probably a gifted adult.
"Giftedness was not commonly identified in children until recently, so many adults are unaware that they were gifted as children. But even those who were identified tend to believe their giftedness disappeared before adulthood."

vrijdag 2 juli 2010

Work that Works for Sensitive Souls: Six Steps to Transforming Your Career

By Jenna Avery, CLC, Life Coach for Sensitive Souls

Have people always called you “too sensitive?”
Do you try to hide it, pretend it doesn’t exist, or work around it as much as possible?
Many Highly Sensitive Souls believe that our sensitivity makes us weak, weird, or different.
Actually, being sensitive makes us highly aware, caring, and perceptive.

For more information, see my article “Are You Highly Sensitive?

In the workplace, the gift of sensitivity may feel like a handicap. As Sensitive Souls, we care passionately about our work and it tremendously impacts our well-being.
I am a fervent champion of work for Sensitive Souls where we can fully contribute and feel deeply satisfied by our efforts. So how is this possible?

Create Work that Works

Work for Sensitive Souls must feed our minds, hearts, and souls. We must make a contribution that resonates to our core.
To do otherwise is to invite despair, confusion, and sorrow. The traditional structure of working culture isn’t always supportive of our needs.

So we must create work that works ourselves, whether by creating our own positions or businesses, working in less mainstream positions and companies, or adapting our current jobs to better suit us.

In order to create work that works, I believe that Sensitive Souls can benefit from the following explorations.

1. Tune Into Yourself

A critically important aspect is to know yourself. This may seem obvious, but many Sensitive Souls get lost in the expectations of others and become disconnected from ourselves. When we discover our own passions, values, personality, gifts, and dreams, we steer clearly toward work that supports our true nature.

How do we tune into these magical inner clues? I’m a huge advocate for self-discovery. For example, working with a life coach is a powerful means of accessing the truth of who you are, what you want, and where you want to go.

A coach supports you to claim your dreams and discover your talents in a safe space. Additionally, meditation, listening to your intuition, journaling, and personality discovery work are great self-facilitation approaches.

2. Factor In Your Soul

As Sensitive Souls, we require work that is meaningful, intellectually stimulating, and creative. It must be a true calling. One way to think about this is to remember the “meaning factor.”
That is, the intangible satisfaction we get from doing work that is important to us.

As you contemplate career options, be sure to consider whether the work will be satisfying intellectually and creatively, while also meeting other requirements like income and location.
Look for what you are naturally drawn to and excited about as critical clues to what will ultimately be most rewarding. Your passions will guide you to your deepest truth.

3. Create an Ideal Career Checklist

When looking for a job or making a career change, remember to “think outside the box.” Draw on your innate ingenuity. A helpful technique is to develop an Ideal Career checklist.
Consider the environment, people, type of work, pay, hours, emotional climate, and intellectual challenge, alongside soul requirements such as your gifts, sensitivity, passions, dreams, and meaning factor.

In other words, know what you must have, need, and want. When you know what works for you and what doesn’t, potential jobs are easier to evaluate. You might even consider adapting your current job to meet your ideal!

4. Do Take Your Sensitivity to Work

Your sensitivity is an important part of who you are. It’s one of the unique gifts you bring to work. Your empathy, emotions, creativity, and thoughtfulness are part of your valuable skill set that makes for authentic work relationships, dynamic invention, and compassionate service.

One way to use your sensitivity is to share your insights, intuition, and gut responses in meetings and with co-workers.
You can also use your sensitivity interpersonally.
Take a deep breath, tune in, and ask: “How can I best be of support here?” Let your sensitivity guide you.

5. Support Your Sensitivity and Practice Self-Care

Career transformation challenges Sensitive Souls because standard formulas don’t work well for us, like 40-plus-hour workweeks, commutes, fluorescent lights, and cubicles.
We require physically and emotionally supportive environments along with plenty of independence and privacy.

In addition, each sensitive person has specific challenges – such as people, noise, or light. It’s important to know which of these are significant for you and to learn how to address them.
For example, you might bring in an incandescent lighting source or create a cubicle of plants to define your space. You might also learn protective energy techniques for interpersonal challenges.

And remember: Take great care of yourself both inside and outside work! It’s important to recognize that self-care is a REQUIREMENT for a Sensitive Soul.
It is fundamental to making a meaningful contribution to the world. This means making sure to get plenty of sleep, eat well, take time for yourself, and engage in soul nourishing activities like art, gardening, cooking, or being in nature.

6. Get Support

Many of us have been hurt by our prior work experiences. We bring our tender souls with us wherever we go, and transforming our careers can bring up painful emotions.
This is a normal part of healing and transforming a career. Sometimes it can be an obstacle to simply know what we want. Be sure to ask for support from friends, coaches, therapists, or career counselors.

Above all, remember: You are here for a reason.
In the words of Woodrow Wilson, “You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.”

donderdag 10 juni 2010


"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.

To him...
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create
...so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning,
his very breath is cut off from him.
He must create, must pour out creation.
By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."

-Pearl Buck-

woensdag 9 juni 2010

Top Ten Myths About Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs)

Published August 28, 2007 by:

1. "HSPs don't like 'other people.'" This myth is particularly unhelpful to the minority of HSPs who also inherit traits associated with what's usually considered an extroverted personality. Recent research has also identified the physical trait that produces genuine, benign introversion, which shows up on brain scans as a "long brain stem" (LBS) and produces a deeper, slower thought process than average. (For more about LBS introverts, visit www.theintrovertadvantage.com). Some HSPs also inherit LBS traits; some do not. HSP and LBS traits seem to balance each other well.
However, even those who have both HSP and LBS traits can also be task-oriented leaders or charismatic attention seekers. These traits produce introverted tendencies that may help hold extroverted tendencies in check. In any case, even those of us who are genuine introverts usually have deep, lasting friendships and can have rewarding marriages. What HSPs inherit is the ability to analyze our social lives and explain exactly whose company we like and dislike, and why.

2. "HSPs shouldn't marry each other, shouldn't marry at all, shouldn't have children, are probably homosexual," etc. There is some truth in this myth when HSPs try to deny or "overcome" their sensitivity and marry people who may be good catches but are temperamentally incompatible. When HSPs marry each other, in the absence of additional genes that really are dysfunctional, we probably have the most satisfactory family lives on Earth. What the HSP trait produces, in terms of relationships, is a capacity for deep long-term commitment and intense physical pleasure. And, in the absence of disease conditions, HSPs' high levels of sex hormones allow some HSPs to fall madly in love at 50 and have vibrant sex lives at 75.

3. "HSPs are likely to be or become schizophrenic or schizoid." Some psychotic disorders seem to mimic HSP sensitivity, and it's possible for HSPs to develop all kinds of other hereditary or environmental diseases, but there's no real correlation between HSP perceptivity and psychotic hypersensitivity. HSPs are generally perceptive of a wide variety of pleasant and neutral stimuli, through all unimpaired sensory channels. Acquired hypersensitivity produces more awareness of painful, chaotic stimuli, often through just one badly damaged set of nerves. HSPs hear conversations in the next room; hypersensitive people hear buzzing, ringing noises, or hear "voices" repeatedly whispering nonsense or disturbing ideas.

4. "HSPs are 'on the autistic spectrum.'" I'll agree that well-known high-functioning autistics like Temple Grandin and Donna Williams are HSPs, but I'm not convinced that any causal relationship is involved in this correlation. People who overcome severe disabilities or seem to heal themselves from severe diseases do tend to be HSPs. Helen Keller was almost certainly HSP too, but although the HSP trait allowed her to overcome the loss of her sight and hearing, it had nothing to do with the infection that produced her blindness and deafness. What we do know about autistics is that high-functioning autistics tend to have the kind of painful, chaotic hypersensitivity that other people acquire later in life as a result of nerve or brain damage.

5. "HSPs need therapy to become more 'normal.'" It's very easy for non-HSPs to confuse the healthy perceptivity that makes HSPs reject many things as "too loud, too bright, too fast, too tight" with acquired hypersensitivity, or sensory defensiveness, produced by brain damage. Sensory defensiveness, in which ordinary stimuli are perceived as unbearably intense, is "on the autistic spectrum." It is often produced by fevers, concussions, and/or medication, and it can and should be treated with the relatively cheap and simple therapies Sharon Heller discusses in her book. However, HSP perceptivity is normal for those who've inherited it. HSPs become less sensitive with age, but this erosion of perception is not a gain--it merely slows down some aspects of the aging process. (When middle-aged people complain about not being able to read the copyright data line on the eye chart or hear "inaudible" dog whistles any more, while their friends are buying eyeglasses and hearing aids, you know we're HSPs.)
Since you're reading this online, you may benefit from this warning. I was an early adopter of computer technology. (I think I was the third girl student to acquire a guest pass to the computer lab at my school.) My HSP long-distance vision, which I had enjoyed, "normalized" to 20-20 about two years after I bought a computer of my own. The black-on-pale-gray screen at which you're looking may damage your eyes less than my orange-on-black screen did mine, or it may not. All computer addicts, HSP or otherwise, need to force ourselves to take frequent hand and eye breaks.

6. "HSPs are attuned to the psychic realm." I don't want to get into any religious debates about what the psychic realm is. I merely want to emphasize that HSP perceptivity is a matter of consciously perceiving things that exist in objective fact, even if the majority of humankind need binoculars, telescopes, etc., to verify them. HSPs "perceive" auras, ghosts, angels, etc., only if they believe such things exist. Many HSPs don't. Some HSPs make a hobby of debunking the "psychic" claims and perceptions of fellow HSPs.

Here's one example with which I'm familiar. In many times and places, some HSPs were said to have "healing hands," and some of them probably believed it. HSPs who take Judith Walker Delany's NeuroMuscular Therapy courses learn exactly how "healing hands" are able to perceive and relieve stiffness in specific muscles, which can occasionally restore sight, hearing, etc., to people who thought they were permanently disabled. The ability to find the knots is a hereditary gift. Anyone born with the ability can learn to use it, and will probably perform one or two "miracles" before retiring from the massage business. The faith and love some faith healers experience is real, as is the faith of people whose "miraculous" healings are spontaneous (check out Senator Orrin B. Hatch's story in Larry King's Powerful Prayers). Still, people whose "miracles" don't last need to know that this is more likely to be their body telling them that they've slept in the wrong position again than it is to be God telling them that something is wrong with their faith.

7. "HSPs are 'smarter' than most people." What researchers like Daniel Goleman and Dawna Markova have been saying for years is that, if people want to be (or become) intelligent, they are. The question is how an individual is intelligent. HSP perceptivity does virtually guarantee high I.Q. scores for most of us, apart from late-blooming HSP boys who may be too farsighted to learn to read before age ten, dyslexic HSPs who may read too slowly to test well even as adults, and other "Mislabelled Children". (Parents concerned about these issues should click on www.moorefoundation.com or http://mislabeledchild.com. When I tried to Google "Dawna Markova" for you, I only got a link to a "SmartWired" page that didn't make it through my security filter, plus several sources through which individual books like "How Your Child Is Smart" can be purchased.) Because most HSPs are in fact "gifted," we need to be particularly aware that there are other ways of being "gifted" that may be complementary with our own.

8. "HSPs are timid or 'withdrawn.'" HSPs do and should "withdraw" quickly from harmful stimuli; this is why, although our overall life expectancy may not be much longer than those of other people, our active life expectancy probably is. Because HSP children lack the experience and vocabulary to communicate their perceptions clearly, it's also possible that little HSPs recognize harmful stimuli, such as food their bodies aren't built to digest, more accurately than adults may realize. Then there are stimuli that healthy HSPs don't perceive as harmful but do perceive as tiresome, stressful, messy, tasteless, tacky, boring, ugly, rude, and generally no fun (e.g. school, television, shopping malls). Healthy HSPs withdraw from those things too, although most of us withdraw our attention in wholesome ways, like tuning out from school in order to pursue hobbies, or ignoring "desirable connections" whom we don't like in order to spend more time in less predictable relationships with those we love.

9. "HSPs tend to become addicts or alcoholics." There is no question that all chemical stimuli, even those in ordinary food substances, have more pronounced effects on HSPs than on non-HSPs.  Not all HSP's have allergies. but because HSPs are naturally oversupplied with histamine, HSP allergy reactions are hard to miss. Probably not all HSPs are alcohol-sensitive or even sugar-sensitive, but when we are, the results are equally dramatic. HSPs can get relaxed, chatty, and uninhibited without alcohol--and can take blissful mental "trips" without LSD. A few lucky HSPs who were around in the 1960s even avoided those dangerous experiments with drugs, because nothing our friends seemed to experience on drugs seemed much more interesting than what we experienced while meditating. History records that HSP artists have often experimented with drugs and other unhealthy behavior, like deliberate food poisoning or sleep deprivation, in search of "unique" images to paint or write about. As in the cases of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, or Janis Joplin, these experiments tended to destroy rather than enhance the artists' productivity. Knowing this is often enough to keep HSPs away from drugs and alcohol for life.

Because young HSPs are at so much risk of being labelled "depressed" or "withdrawn," and inappropriately medicated for conditions they don't even have, I almost wish I had found a link between the HSP trait and the "Prozac Dementia" reaction to serotonin boosters such as Prozac, Luvox, Serafem, or even Ritalin. One anecdote in Joseph Glenmullen's Prozac Backlash, about the dramatic reaction in one of Dr. Glenmullen's brightest students, is suggestive but not really proof of a link. However, it bears reiteration that the type of depression most obviously associated with HSPs is endorphin-deficiency rather than serotonin-deficiency depression. To learn more about which type of depression you or a friend may have, look for a copy of Kathleen DesMaisons' Potatoes Not Prozac, or visit Dr. DesMaisons at www.radiantrecovery.com. Endorphin deficiency is best treated by diet and exercise, NOT serotonin boosters.

10. "HSPs tend to be liberal, humanistic, and/or on the left wing." Elaine Aron's correspondence does seem to support this view, but as a relative, employee, and personal friend of several conservative and even hawkish HSPs, I'm in a position to suggest that the slant and marketing of Dr. Aron's book may have selected for the type more congenial with her. I can testify firsthand that the Army knows the value of even physically inadequate female HSPs. Many HSPs who are physically strong, male, and conservative find a military career congenial, or at least useful as a way to finance education or launch a business.

dinsdag 1 juni 2010

Being Sensitive


 Article By Noreen Barron
Highly sensitive people can be considered “weak” “soft” “pathetic” and “cry babies”.

Have you ever been called too sensitive, too nervous, too highly strung, too many feelings, too deep, too analytical, too, too, too…?!

While being sensitive has its advantages, it’s also difficult being “too” sensitive. Sometimes we feel like we feel too much and we’d like to be able to switch our self off sometimes!
I switch off when I become aware and silent. In Italian, the word for sensitive is “sensible”, which means ‘to be aware of’.

Being aware of others, our self, nature, music, beauty, art, being kind to our self and others, treating others as we would like to be treated is being sensitive.
It does not mean fixing everyone, being responsible for everything and everyone, absorbing others’ energies, feeling depleted, feeling bad, feeling overwhelmed, feeling too much of everything and anything!

I think everyone has the capacity to be sensitive, it is a sign of emotional health to be aware of you, others and what is around you. 

Being considered sensitive is not the prerogative of a few “chosen ones”. My belief is that being highly sensitive, as it is generally understood, is actually an overloaded and overwhelmed nervous system.

Common signs of being considered highly sensitive are hypervigilance, anxiety, nervousness, digestive problems, restlessness, sleeplessness, anger/rage etcetera.
These signs are strong indicators, not of being sensitive, but of undischarged traumatic imprints on the nervous system.
Energy that the nervous system generates to deal with threat to the organisms survival, and, for whatever reason, is not able to release and discharge, is called the freeze response. It is this frozen energy or imprint that causes these symptoms and that give rise to people being called highly sensitive.
Many highly sensitive people suffer from chronic conditions like IBS, CFS, depression, anxiety, autoimmune conditions and so on because of these repressed or unconscious imprints on the nervous system.

Trauma expert, Dr Robert Scaer calls these, “dis-eases of the freeze response”.
A dis-ease means a lack of ease. One of the most defining characteristics of being termed highly sensitive is a lack of ease. There is a nervous energy that always seems to be humming away in the background, and which can, very easily, be triggered into a ‘bigger’ response.
There are no reserves or what is termed resilience in the nervous system. It’s all just too much and the person often feels overwhelmed by what others can usually take in their stride.

Highly sensitive people can be considered “weak” “soft” “pathetic” and “cry babies”.

They are often shamed and criticized for their “over the top” responses, so they swallow and stuff many, if not all, of their needs, experiences, feelings, thoughts to keep “it all in” and contained, so as not to feel so overwhelmed or criticized by others.

So, an already overloaded nervous system becomes more overwhelmed and eventually this excess undischarged energy may manifest, and usually does, as there is nowhere else for the energy to go, in dis-ease.

EFT helps this frozen energy soften and move so it can be discharged from the overwhelmed nervous system.

Author: Noreen Barron M.A. EFT-Cert1 (Certified EFT Practitioner, Ireland)