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Healing: A Bridge To The Future
by Rick Silver
Surviving Infidelity
by Marg Silverton
Are You Really Too Sensitive?
by Mary Strueber
It Takes Dozens to Tango
by Ruth Berlin
Anxiety Making You Anxious?
by Terry Catucci
Healing Trauma With HMR by Mary Lou Zetter
Life's Rules For the Road
by Abby Rosen
Formula For Communication by Abby Rosen

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Are You Really Too Sensitive?
By Mary Strueber, LCPC
InnerSource Psychotherapist

flowerAs a girl, my parents encouraged me to get the most out of life. I was urged to date and go to parties, mixers, camp, dance classes, and, of course, shop - all things my sisters and friends enjoyed. But as much as I tried to be like them, I couldn’t. Even going to the movies seemed a chore.

Instead of enjoying myself, I felt oddly tired, confused, and stressed. I felt overwhelmed no matter how hard I tried to enjoy myself. Why was it so easy for others to engage the world and so difficult for me? Why did I lack energy or a sense of belonging when with groups of people? Why was selecting a gift so confusing? Why did other peoples’ moods impact me so strongly ?

What was wrong with me?

My self-doubts were unwittingly supported by peers who called me a party pooper, a stick in the mud, or too sensitive. Well-meaning adults labeled me shy, anxious, depressed, or lacking in confidence.

Sound familiar? If so, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person, a term coined by Dr. Elaine Aron in The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. Dr. Aron says that high sensitivity is a normal trait for about one-in-five of us. And it's not a sign of a mental flaw or disorder. Rather, it means your nervous system is simply hard-wired to notice more subtle environmental influences. Notice more subtleties and it logically follows that you are more easily aroused by influences others miss.

We all have “arousal comfort zones,” and too much arousal, like under arousal, can lead to feelings of depression, confusion, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Malls, parties, college dorms, or large family gatherings all spell over arousal for the HSP. Sadly, most HSPs never identify their sensitivity.

Recognizing that you are a HSP is the first step toward dealing with it. That step is available by taking the HSP self-test on the InnerSource website.

Discovering I was HSP was liberating. Suddenly my experience of life fell into place. I learned that HSPs, as a group, are more sensitive to pain, caffeine, medications, temperature, light, and hunger. We are more reflective, learn more slowly but thoroughly, and tend to be unusually conscientious.

Optimizing life as a HSP is a tremendous step forward. But it takes effort and courage. However, once you identify your sensory needs, temperament and learning style, self-criticism can give way to self-acceptance and self-knowledge. This enables you to better advocate for yourself and more deeply understand your career, social, relationship, and environmental needs.

Remember, to be a HSP is not to be flawed. HSPs may appear inhibited, but only because they are so aware of all the possibilities in a situation that they pause before acting so as to reflect on all that could happen. That’s a positive trait! But in a culture that values confident, bold extroverts, it is easy to be stigmatized as a HSP.

Many HSPs are unusually creative and productive workers, attentive and thoughtful partners, and intellectually gifted individuals. Their sensitivity and depth of processing make them naturally adept at being advisors, therapists, artists, educators, spiritual teachers – leaders all. Discovering I am a highly sensitive person made it possible for me to create a life that is meaningful and enjoyable. The same can be true for you.


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