It has been called hyper-arousal, sensitivity, anxiety, social anxiety, and a wealth of other names to create understanding of a particular character trait of people. According to Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You, a highly sensitive person “has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”

highly sensitive persons

What defines the highly sensitive person? Aron outlines a few basic points. You get overwhelmed when you…

  • Are near simple things as “bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens
  • Have a list of things to do in a short amount of time
  • Avoid violence on TV, movies, and in life
  • Need to take time away for yourself to withdraw from hectic situations in order to find a moment of relief
  • Create a schedule for yourself which avoids overwhelming situations
  • Feel complex on the inside
  • Are called sensitive or shy

According to Aron, “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.” Problematically, today’s culture emphasizes boldness and an aggressive personality in extraversion as opposed to having a spectrum of extraverts and introverts. As a result, people who are outgoing but still highly sensitive are stigmatized and cast into a mislabeled corner.

Coping with being highly sensitive can be challenging. Not feeling like one fits in or can handle the world can cause anxiety, depression, or even lead to substance abuse. In order to change the way they feel, relate to the world in a different way, and escape the trees of feeling constantly overwhelmed, substances become a welcomed remedy.

Sensitivity is not a character defect or a deficiency. Instead it is a peculiar gift which heightens the way you relate to the world. If you feel like you have a hard time coping with life, you are not alone. Aurora Recovery Center can offer you treatment programs to help you learn the tools you need to be in sync with life and be yourself. For more information, call 844-515-STOP.


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