For years, I constantly heard that I was too “thin-skinned” or “high maintenance.” When I looked around at others, they didn’t seem to take things so personally or to be bothered by loud noises and bright lights.
What was wrong with me?
About ten years ago I discovered the answer: I’m a “highly sensitive person” and I’m NOT alone. Indeed, about 20% of the population shares this trait.
Dr. Eileen Aron’s 25 years of research indicates that highly sensitive people:
- are quite sensitive to external stimuli,
- prefer quiet, less chaotic surroundings,
- worry excessively,
- are easily overwhelmed,
- reflect on things more than others, and
- feel things very deeply,
You’ll be happy to hear that these characteristics are quite respected in many societies where the sensitive ones become advisors and sages. But, in our Western culture, being highly sensitive isn’t always understood or valued. That’s why some of us so often feel on the outside looking in.
The healthiest path for us sensitive folks is to value who we are and take good care of ourselves.
So, if you think you might be a highly sensitive person or have a loved one that is, take the quiz on Aron’s website and check out her blog, “Comfort Zone.”
If you can relate, here are a few suggestions for self-care.
- Reduce your exposure to loud, dramatic input: news programs, social media, argumentative friends/family, etc.
- Schedule downtime to rest, meditate, read, and renew after a busy day or after lots of social activity.
- Sleep enough, eat well and limit caffeine intake.
- Treat yourself to the enjoyment of beauty: take a walk, savor a sunset, etc.
- Hang out with loving people who like you exactly the way you are.
- Avoid bright lights and loud background noise (if they bother you).
- Remind yourself that your sensitivity makes you creative, empathetic, and loving.
If you too are highly sensitive, please share a few of your insights here. Thanks!
Gigi Langer, Ph.D. is a seasoned author and popular speaker who has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. She’s a person in recovery who hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years. Gigi holds an MA in Psychology and Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University.
Check out my new book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection. Pre-orders are now open.