Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Highly Sensitive Person

Are you coping with your level of sensitivity?

Probably highly sensitive to start with, the process of spiritual emergence and emergency tends to leave us even more so. At times it is an exquisite sensitivity, a wonderful gift, at others it can be overwhelming. The key is learning to look after ourselves; to reap the benefits of being able to pick up on every detail, every subtlety, whilst knowing how to reduce the onslaught of stimulation when we need to.
            Not only are we sensitive emotionally and energetically, but each of our physical senses is also finely tuned, so that bright lights and noise can be too much for us. It is this increased sensitivity which makes us less able to tolerate certain environments, noise levels and so forth. I find the energy of places such as supermarkets and pubs very difficult, which means that I avoid them as much as possible. I opt to do my supermarket shopping on line, delivered to the house. Busy, noisy caf├ęs, tea shops and restaurants are also challenging for me on many different levels. Given the choice, I will always sit outside. If I do have to be in crowded, public places, then a walk in nature afterwards clears my energy again.
 To flourish as highly sensitive people we need to choose supportive environments and activities. To some extent you may find yourself naturally drawn to what is supportive, but you may also need to make conscious decisions to avoid certain things.
I’ve recently been reading ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ by Elaine N Aron. The impact it’s had on me has taken me by surprise… given that the book confirms what I already knew about myself. But as well as confirming it has been hugely affirming. Knowing there are lots of people out there with the same level of sensitivity somehow gives me permission to do what I need to do to look after myself, whilst cherishing this amazing gift we have. She says: ‘When I have to be with a group of people for a whole day or weekend, I often explain that I need plenty of time alone.’ No wonder I enjoy silent retreats or, even better, solitary ones!
The trick is to find the right balance for you individually between being out in the world and retreating to a place where creativity can flow. If coping with your increased sensitivity after spiritual emergency is an issue, you might find helpful the section in my book on the ‘Third Key Phase of Moving Successfully Through Spiritual Emergency: Going back out into the world’. And please do share your coping strategies here by leaving a comment – we can all learn from each other!

P.S. My article ‘Mental Health: the Psyche’s Journey to Wholeness’ in Positive Health Online is available now at http://www.positivehealth.com/

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