I started a conversation with a remarkable creative person, Alex of Kindnessville, about what being a Highly Sensitive Person is, so I decided to blog about it in case it helps anyone understand the attributes of such people.
For 30 years, one woman has become the key researcher and authority in coining the term, Highly Sensitive Person – Elaine Aron. Her work is linked inside this 2012 Huffington Post article by a psychology professor who describes the qualities of HSP’s and what we can do to cope in the best summary I have seen.
‘Sponge on a bus’ phenomenon
Before I learned of any such label as HSP, I described my experience once as being a “sponge on a bus.” For years I used public transit in a major urban area. What I found happening during my hour or so on a bus was I would become aware I was feeling everything from anger to anxiety to sadness to grief, all from a sense of absorbing energies from the folks who shared my ride. By the time I emerged from the bus, I felt like a dripping emotional sponge sloshing down the steps. I have since learned that is what being an empath is all about, and I have adapted my life to actually avoid public situations and/or psychologically protect myself when in them.
Natural World vs. Human World
I have always had a deep sensitivity to the natural world. Dreamed of oceans and breathing underwater with whales and sharks. Worshiped desert plants and a hamster named Henry. Over the past few years of studying ecopsychology and becoming aware there are many others with extreme sensitivity to their psyche’s merging with the natural world, I have felt greater self-esteem and sense of purpose.
My hope is to eventually be engaged in work that shares this sensitivity with others to help reconnect them to their innate nature, with my project in progress, Healing Outdoors. With input from others, I hope to revision this webpage I created two years ago and create a concrete action plan soon.
Here are a list of qualities I experience as a highly sensitive person in relation to the natural world as opposed to groups of people (I do see the irony that humans ARE nature as my friend, Kiri, points out in her blog by the same name).
Outdoors in the natural world I tend to feel:
Among groups of people indoors and/or in close relationships I tend to feel:
Exceptions to these rather stifling feelings for me over years of searching for “my peeps” are groups involved in meditation, groups involved in crafting/knitting/writing, groups involved in making music together, groups involved in actions benefiting mother earth, especially working respectfully with the earth itself.
For me personally, balancing/creating sustainable relationships with others while being a functional healthy person has been a lifelong challenge. I also battle continually with self-esteem when I am with others. As I work on ways to center myself more and more and stand inside my own power even amid groups of people, I hope to be able to share whatever gifts my sensitivities carry.