From today, I’m going to start sharing a whole load of resources for the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) on my Living Whole Facebook page, as well as creating a resource section on this website. This is a true area of expertise for me since I am one and owning this has felt like such a massive shift in my sense of wellbeing, not to mention my ability to thrive without having to change myself into someone else!
This Big Breakthrough came on the back of reading Elaine Aron‘s milestone book, The Highly Sensitive Person (which I very highly recommend). Reading this and finding myself perfectly described in its pages felt like coming home after a lifelong trek feeling “all alone and very different to everyone else”, as life as a HSP can seem to be. Just 20% of the population can be classified as HSPs, out of which an even smaller proportion take this to an extremely intense and rarefied kind of sensitivity (one which can feel incredibly isolating…) that plays out as high sensitivity in the body and to environmental triggers. Yes, I just described myself again; and I believe such intensely physical High Sensitivity, combined with the way that I have always felt just so different to most people and the way they choose to live their lives, are traits that are inherently connected to my long-running chronic health issues….and perhaps so for many other HSPs too. Whilst an increasing number of people are now talking and writing about life as an HSP or INFJ (see below), I have yet to find very much written on the topic of how these traits can lead to health issues and “not thriving” physically and I would like to rectify this.
I have therefore, also, started to investigate how the extreme end of High Sensitivity correlates with the “INFJ” personality type on the Myers-Briggs personality scale. Again, I am one of these and feel I know how the particular foibles of this personality trait play out in a world where they make up only about 1.5% of the population so, in other words, very-much the minority when it comes to lifestyle preferences and feeling understood. Yes, feeling all alone…as well as Highly Sensitive…can be quite the cross to bear and I feel almost certain that there is a relationship between this and chronic illness, profound loneliness and a sense of not thriving, even when those of us with these traits have wonderfully unique talents to offer. I plan to make these topics a focus of exploration and will also add useful resources to an HSP link above as I accumulate them, including meetup groups, counselling, articles, online communities and any other opportunities to find and encourage each other, since a sense of community is one the pivotal things that so many HSPs feel they lack.
By finally owning this as an area of specialism, one where I can ‘give back’ by sharing information and insight as I gather it myself, I seem to have found a positive way of being who I am whilst ditching the whole idea of being broken or flawed that so many HSPs carry around with them for many years at a time. Dusting-off the instruction manual of myself in order to be the best version of myself “just the way I am” (and ceasing all attempts to be like all those other people…who are not like me at all) is proving to be the biggest breakthrough of my year so far – a true epiphany moment and one of the reasons I have been relatively quiet as far as blogging is concerned (there has been a lot to process). It is allowing me to rediscover and own all my finer traits in order to appreciate and use them as super powers and gifts, instead of turning them into failings or reasons to abstain from life. Another point worthy of mentioning is that, as more and more people are becoming so obviously over-stimulated and overwhelmed by modern living, the whole world could do with our unique expertise; which makes it high-time we came out of our shell.
If you want to join me on this journey of self-discovery, hop over to Living Your Whole Life page (and click “follow”) where I will be sharing as many HSP related resources as I can over the next few weeks, including my own blog posts on various aspects of this topic as I start to reappraise what being an HSP means. Also, keep checking back to the new Highly Sensitive Resources menu header above, where a growing resource package for HSPs is being put together.
Are you an HSP? First stop – purchase Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person and run the personality test inside (her website The Highly Sensitive Person will give you an overview). As above, I have also found it so useful to refine this by taking my Myers-Briggs personality type into consideration. There are many websites offering tests: my personal favourite is offered by 16Personailities.