1. We need another book about being highly sensitive other than Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person. We need a book like Susan Cain’s Quiet , a book that comforted and inspired the introverted and informed the extroverted. I want to read a book about high sensitivity that is part research, part journalism, part memoir, and part manifesto. Elaine Aron meets Diane Ackerman meets Malcolm Gladwell meets Caroline Knapp. I want to read that book very badly. Someone please write it. If someone is writing it, I support and salute you.
2. Until someone writes that book, I recommend Googling Elaine Aron and reading everything she has written. Not just because she knows more about being highly sensitive than anyone else but because she’s a great writer. Every time I finish reading something she’s written, I feel like less of a weirdo. It’s a nice feeling. And, she’s a great resource for new, deeper ways to look at every day things. Her article on HSPs and dreams was one of the most comprehensive and thought-provoking treatments on the topic of dreams and dream analysis I’ve ever read. Also, check out her article “Why HSPs’ tendency to worry about the real meaning of our life may make us healthier”:
…HSPs are more aware than others… Being aware of certain realities is painful, but being aware in general, well, most of us would not trade it for being less responsive to our world.
… John Stuart Mill said, “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.”
3. One of the things that I always wanted to write about why highly sensitive people need a lot of alone or quiet time, especially when overstimulated. Usually when this topic comes up someone will write or say “I need time alone to recharge my battery”, like being alone gave them energy. Usually you hear introverts saying it but I don’t think it applies to the HSP part of me. I need solitude and quiet time because I need to release energy, not gain it. I’m like a taut balloon, filled with air almost ready to burst from over stimulation almost all the time. Being alone and having quiet time allows me to release some of that stimulation, some of that air. I suspect non-HSP extroverts are like limp, flaccid balloons without stimulation and seek it out to find their tautness. And even they can have too much and need to be alone before they burst. It just happens to me sooner. I need very little stimulation or air to almost burst. A very competitive game of Scrabble could do it.
5. Is it just me or do other HSPs have difficult and fraught relationships? Not just romantic ones, ALL relationships. They’re painful. I don’t have one relationship I’m not uneasy about. And I worry about my lack of ease with people.
Part of it is that I overthink and overprocess everything and blow things out of proportion. And the other part is that I notice everything — every move someone makes, everything someone says and doesn’t say, the tone of their voice — and I analyze it. That’s probably part of the problem. I think too much. OK, I’ll stop thinking. Yeah, right! I even analyze and think I can pick up the tone in someone’s email. “They didn’t use a pronoun! What does that mean?”
Hey, I’m not the only one:
Maybe relationships aren’t supposed to be simple and easy. Maybe the problem is my belief that they should be. I don’t think this is a highly sensitive person issue. It’s a human being issue. I just think about it more. Damn brain!
5. I was trying to come up with a list of ways being highly sensitive doesn’t suck the other day. I only came up with two ways I feel my high sensitivity works for me:
- I can tolerate other people’s painful, messy, sometimes ugly feelings. I can listen to someone tell me how bad they feel about something without telling them they should be feeling something else or ‘be positive!” I notice I can do this usually when someone else isn’t doing it and tries to convince the person to change somehow. I find it repulsive. I hate being told how I feel is wrong or when someone else is told how they feel is wrong.
- Because I hate small talk and like to go deep, I actually find out interesting, endearing things about people.
You know how I do it? I ask.
I still wouldn’t change a thing no matter how much it sucks.