I recall a comment from a therapy session during which the counselor and I discussed being highly sensitive: “it’s like being a grape with the skin peeled off.” I instantly related to this and filed the analogy away. I’ve used it often and wish I knew the origin.
I’ve always been a sensitive person; I have cried over TV commercials and I can’t bear to read animal cruelty stories. I discovered Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person about a decade ago and it was revelatory. It has formed part of my understanding of my personality and it helped me make space for things that as a Highly Sensitive Introvert, I really need, such as time to reflect on questions and decisions; periods of quiet and calm in my day.
Dr. Aron identified four characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person:
- Depth of processing
- Emotional responsiveness and empathy
- Sensitive to subtleties
Similar to the approach to introversion elucidated in Quiet by Susan Cain, Dr. Aron asserts that sensitivity is to be lauded as an asset in work, life, and relationships (if you want to go down an interesting rabbit-hole, read this blog that gets into some controversy between the seminal original work of Dr. Aron and the presentation of introversion in Susan Cain’s book). The video below presents a simple overview, but I can’t stress the importance of reading the book yourself enough.
Do you wonder if you might be highly sensitive? You can take the HSP quiz to get an idea. Full disclosure: my score is quite high at 23/27. Feel free to share yours, if you are comfortable doing so.
Peace & progress,