Elaine Aron's book The Highly Sensitive Person defined a population of people having "increased sensitivity to stimulation" and who "are more aware of subtleties and process information in a deeper, more reflective way.” According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the 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. Being a highly sensitive person is like having your internal dial turned up just a little more than other people’s dials. You notice subtle details that others don’t notice, and certain situations impact you more than they impact others. Sadly, because many people don’t understand what high sensitivity is, you may have been told to “toughen up,” “stop being so sensitive,” or “stop being so dramatic.” You may have always felt different from other people, but you didn’t have a name for what you were.
Sensitivity is anything but a flaw. Your sensitivity is your greatest strength — it makes you a perceptive, thoughtful, compassionate, creative person — but I know it can also be your greatest challenge. We feel so intensely. It is part of why we process everything very deeply—we are more motivated to think about things by our stronger feelings of curiosity, fear, joy, anger, or whatever. But this intensity can be overwhelming at times. Therapy can be a helpful way to learn more effective ways to regulate emotions so you don’t have to always feel at the mercy of your strong feelings.
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