Knowing yourself is the beginning of true knowledge.
This definitely applies to me. I’m always looking to ‘expand my horizons’, usually travel wise, but also on a daily basis. For me this results in a huge planning, I love being able to look forward to all kinds of fun and interesting things throughout the year and at the end of each year I can happily look back ( = read my agenda or diary, if I had one).
Let’s be honest, who is the most important person in your life?
I hope you answer without hesitation that this is YOU! And what do you do with the people you love the most: you spend time with them. So spend time with yourself, too! Travelling solo for example.
Let your thoughts run wild, try to notice what you are feeling, why you are feeling it and how your body reacts to it. If you want to call this ‘mindfulness’, you can, what’s is a name, anyway. 🙂
To have hypersensitive skills or not to have hypersensitive skills: there is no choice
You are what you are, at least that’s what ‘they’ say. If you are hypersensitive, there is no option but to find out what that means, how this affects you and how you can use it to your advantage. If you don’t come to terms with yourself, you will feel miserable. You have to respect who you are and if that means changing your way of life, so be it. Image it’s carnival. I love it! The chance to be someone or something different for one or more days, while having fun with other people who are also dressed up, wearing masks, acting funny. Now put yourself in an office or other environment where you have to act different, dress different, be different than who you really are. Day in, day out. That is no longer fun, it’s horror. And it alienates you from yourself. So once you have found your own ‘manual’, live by it. This does never mean you can’t change, everyone changes, all the time. But what does being hypersensitive really mean?
Hypersensitivity: curse or gift?
It’s not a disorder, it’s how you are born. It’s not a ‘set of undesirable reactions produced by the normal immune system’. It’s your body that is more sensitive to sound, scent, touch, … pretty more all impulses are picked up quicker and are absorbed more deeply. There is a heightened sense of awareness and intuition, that’s why they detect the elephant in the room much faster than people without HSP. HSP’s nervous systems are different, more sensitive to subtleties in their environment. Because they process and reflect upon incoming information so deeply, they are more likely to become overstimulated and overwhelmed, so they need to learn to recognize the symptoms of ‘too much’. It’s described brilliantly in Dr. Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.
Once the Eureka-feeling sets in and the doors of Sesame open, you can go ahead with developing the wonderful skills that go hand in hand with hypersensitivity. Before that, it can be hard. You have asked yourself so many times: why do you not fit in like you would like to? Why do you hear things others don’t? Loud noises (I’m not talking about loud music, as for me, I absolutely love dance music, deep house and sometimes also techno) drive you crazy and mess up your concentration while others don’t seem to care and can just do business as usual. Why do you smell things before others do (‘OMG, is that garlic! I’m so hungry!’)? Why do you notice the small details others disregard as being meaningless? And when I said ‘the others’, there is no negative meaning behind, everyone is different and you need to respect that, even though it’s very hard sometimes. Practice makes better (never perfect, leave that perfectionist shit behind). And also, ‘other’s’: science thinks about one in five people are hypersensitive, that is a huge number.
So many questions. So many doubts.
Luckily, as with all good things (such as cheese, ham, beer, …), time is the key. As you learn new things and have new experiences, the door to self-knowledge opens up a little more. And then you go from doubts to a more relaxed attitude towards yourself. It often starts with reading something about hypersensitivity, and you know: ‘Damn, this is me!’ You basically answered ‘yes’ to 14 out of 15 questions, seems pretty clear.
As for the gifted part: Highly Sensitive People have a great imagination and are very creative. Being naturally curious, they love to go out into the world and explore (travel!). It’s not because large crowds make them feel uncomfortable that they’ll hide from them, they are just very aware of these feelings and they know they need to keep an eye on what their body is telling them. Too much is too much. They get cranky when they’re hungry or tired. When they get overwhelmed, their personal HSP manual says: you need (alone) time to recharge your batteries.
From my own travel experience: I know I put too much stuff in my planning. That’s because my time at a certain destination is limited and I want to enjoy every minute of it to the fullest. However, I have learned that I need to plan in ‘relax time’ as well. This advice to myself may consist of, for example, having a drink in Lisbon, overlooking the city. I can read something while I’m there, but I can also just sit and listen to the yellow trams and people passing by, enjoy the smell of freshly grilled sardines, or contemplate what I have seen so far. Travel is not about rushing from city to city to National park to city, … Sometimes the best moments are when you sit down and just look at where you are. That’s why I often prefer to work out my own itinerary and go on optional tours instead of booking a group trip. I enjoy group trips, you see many great things and you don’t have to organise it all by yourself (saves you so much time!), but it’s such a shame to be at an amazing location and you have to go after 5 minutes because you need to keep up with the schedule or people want to go back to the hotel so they can go swimming (seriously, the hotel pool can NOT be the reason why you joined a trip to Cuba or Thailand!?)
Hypersensitives at work are very hard workers, great organizers and problem solvers, since they are extremely conscientious and meticulous. HSP are blessed with being exceptionally intuitive, caring and compassionate. And often have incredible aesthetic awareness and appreciation for nature, music and the arts. Here is something interesting I found: We have also learned that although many Highly Sensitive People are introverts, reserved, quiet or shy, there is a percentage that are high sensation seekers, or extroverts. And, although they seek adventure they also get overloaded and become over stimulated with the same results as the rest of the HSP. That’s me! 🙂 But please, cut the ‘open-office’ crap, it kills everyone’s productivity. Really, if you want someone to perform creative or intellectually intense work, you have to give that person privacy.
The door will never be completely open, because where is the fun in knowing everything, about the world, about yourself. Keep learning, it keeps your mind young! 🙂
Enjoy getting to know yourself!
Want to read the first part of this blog post, click here.