Being a Highly Sensitive Person

In my quest to read as much as possible this summer, I've been downloading book previews several times per week onto my kindle.  I love the preview feature, so I can make better decisions about purchasing books, and so I can try texts out without committing to the whole thing.  The preview feature also gives me the chance to have a pretty large "to read" list right on my device.

One book that I read this summer (and plan to re-read soon) is The Highly Sensitive Person.  What does highly sensitive mean, you wonder?  A highly sensitive person has a very responsive nervous system, notices subtleties in their surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed by a highly stimulating environment.  Let's break this down a bit.

According to the book's author, Dr. Elaine N. Aron, there are several misconceptions about highly sensitive people.  From her website, here's an excerpt.
Dr. Aron explains that in the past HSPs have been called “shy,” “timid,” “inhibited,” or “introverted,” but these labels completely miss the nature of the trait. Thirty percent of HSPs are actually extraverts. HSPs only appear inhibited because they are so aware of all the possibilities in a situation. They pause before acting, reflecting on their past experiences. If these were mostly bad experiences, then yes, they will be truly shy. But in a culture that prefers confident, “bold” extraverts, it is harmful as well as mistaken to stigmatize all HSPs as shy when many are not. In The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron reframes these stereotyping words and their common application to the HSP in a more positive light and helps HSPs use and view these aspects of their personality as strengths rather than weaknesses. 
This is not to say that all HSPs are introverts, or that they cannot be extraverts.  More than anything else, it seems that what constitutes a person as being a HSP is an incredibly analytical mind and a strong perception for the feelings and the effects of stimuli on self and others.

What this basically means is that as a HSP, I'm constantly noticing things that are happening around me, and how those things happening around me affect the other folks in the room.  It means that I tend to feel emotions at a higher level, and that I can emotionally read others pretty well.

In my previous job, this was a recipe for disaster, as I was also extremely driven to be an all-star at my job.  It meant I was constantly being bombarded with the noises from other rooms, jolted by people yelling, and feeling extremely uncomfortable about it.  It also means that I noticed the emotions of my students and how they were reacting to their peers and surroundings.  It meant that I knew what needed to be changed (in my humble opinion), but lacking the ability to do so, was distraught.  Feeling and noticing these things was literally constant, for the entire day, as I shared a room and was basically in charge of my homeroom as well.  I needed time alone to recharge after being the main facilitator, and I was unable to get that in any convenient form.  It was also challenging to understand the emotions of others, and notice the limited regard that other people had for those feelings.

I kind of enjoy talking about introversion/extraversion and emotional perceptions of people.

If you're interested in learning more about HSPs, check out the preview of the book (you can download a free Kindle app from Amazon to read previews and any books you purchase).

Love and light,

Alyssa