THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE
Pauline Matthews Dip Couns. MBACP
Some years ago I was drawn
to a book in a bookshop...in fact I thought the book had leapt off the
shelf into my hands. It was called The Highly Sensitive Person (How
to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You) by Elaine N Aron.
Elaine Aron is a research psychologist, university professor, psychotherapist and published novelist who lives in the USA.
This book changed my life. As a therapist I had been finding that my moods were influenced by my clients, patients and friends. I would become unhappy, distressed, sad or angry for no apparent reason. After reading the book I realised that I was picking up on moods and atmospheres without realising it. I needed some space to ground myself.
I have always found large parties and gatherings difficult and 'small talk' almost impossible. I was the one to be found in the kitchen clearing up. Now I delight in small groups with plenty of deep discussions. I decline invitations to the big events...I can be myself instead of pretending to be someone else.
She says "having a sensitive nervous system is normal, a basically neutral trait. You probably inherited it. It occurs in about 15-20% of the population". She goes on to say "It means you are aware of subtlties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted in a nervous-system sort of way. Thus, being sensitive has both advantages and disadvantages."