Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Does the world overwhelm you?

A few weeks ago I found a book at Half Price books that turned out to be one of the most validating and helpful books I have ever read. It's called, The Highly Sensitive Person--How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.

See, I have noticed in my life that I tend to need quite a bit of time alone. Yeah, I know that is called introverted. But, lots of noise around me that goes on too long can make me very anxious. I've wondered, "what is wrong with me, that this bothers me so much?". "Why can I not watch much violence in movies like the rest of my family can?" (I really shouldn't care at all about that one.)

After I've been out shopping for a couple of hours, I've had enough. I need to go home and relax in my chair with a book and a cup of tea. After reading this book, I realize I am not alone! About 15 to 20 percent of the population is highly sensitive. I'll list some of the traits for you. (Learning this stuff about myself was a HUGE revelation!) If you find yourself feeling "different" than the people around you, you might be highly sensitive. Maybe some of these things apply to you. 

1. highly conscientious
2. able to concentrate deeply
3. often think about our own thinking
4. deeply affected by other people's moods and emotions
5. more affected by stimulants like caffeine unless we are used to them
6. more "right-brained"
7. more sensitive to smells, sights and sounds

These are just a few of our traits. We notice levels of stimulation that go unobserved by others. This goes for sights, sounds and even pain. This means that we might get "over-stimulated" easier, and need to take a break. 

You might have some of those traits and not others. I wanted to share this insight for all of you out there that might also have felt like "the odd man out" because you get over stimulated easier. You want to leave that party before your friends do. Or, you don't feel like going with the "gang" on the weekend. You'd just rather have a quiet night at home.  I want to tell you. IT'S OKAY TO WANT TO BE ALONE. You are not weird.

Our culture doesn't seem okay with this. It seems that the 'cooler' you are, the more stimulation you'll want from all forms of media, people, excitement, and activities. I want to tell you, that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Out of around 311,000,000 people in the US, there are about 46,650,000 of us who are highly sensitive. So, millions of us need that time alone with less stimulation in our immediate space. Or, at least we get tired of it quicker than others.

While reading this book a couple of weeks ago, my nineteen year old daughter and my husband wanted to go see Snow White and the Huntsman. It was a spur of the moment decision. I was hesitant because I had had a very busy day. I said, "I'll watch the trailer." So, I went to the computer and watched. After that, it was easy to make my decision. I hadn't had time to just be still and quiet that day. I knew it would make me grouchy to go sit through a highly stimulating movie. So, I told them, "Go. Have a father/daughter date night. You have my blessing!" (That is not something I would have felt comfortable doing a few years ago, because I don't like to feel left out of anything. But, times they are a'changin'!)

You know what I did? I made myself some iced tea. It's summer after all. I got my favorite read. I went out on my deck. For a few minutes, I just sat there in the growing twilight. The sunset was absolutely fabulous, and I drank it in. After about two minutes, a flock of geese flew right over my head!! I thought to myself, if I would have gone to the movie, I would have MISSED this! 

My time alone was wonderful. I felt rejuvenated by the time they got home. I was ready to hear about their awesome movie date.

Highly sensitive people, unite! 

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