highly sensitive

i like the word sensitive because it has a mostly specific connotation to do with being delicate and emotional, but it’s actually so much richer than that. the five senses, a sixth sense… it has to do with taking in information through the different vessels of your being. actively or passively, sometimes consciously but sometimes the sensations creeping up on you like something in your peripheral vision suddenly snapping into focus.

we’re taught about the five senses as children. i don’t even remember it being more than a passing literal almost object recognition lesson. “your eyes see, your nose smells…” but what about the subtleties? thinking about it now it seems like a jip, i think that just as children learn languages rapidly, maybe there’s a heightened lesson in sensory perception. maybe it could enhance the lives of people who don’t think so much about the senses, while comforting, validating and improving the lives of the highly sensitive. when i first read the book, the highly sensitive person, it made me shake a little bit, it felt like someone was standing behind me scanning brain and putting it on the page. there was an anecdote in the beginning of the book about a woman who walks into a room, looks at the flower arrangement, and gleans some of the mood of the person who arranged; or a person who walks into a familiar place and knows it “feels different” but if pressed they could probably tell you every little thing that’s different. laura’s like that. when i talked to her about this book, she said “highly sensitive? i thought i was touched by jesus.”

i don’t think that being sensitive is something special. it’s got incredibly positive things, but incredibly negative ones, just like everything else. it’s just a way of processing your surroundings.

read the book for more explanation if it speaks to you, but i have found comfort in the idea and the research that some people are more sensitive and unconsciously observant of what they’re taking in through all of their channels. bringing some of these stimuli into my conscious mind has helped me and calmed me.

i thought about this today because i was recently demoted at work. and yes, that’s just as awesome as it sounds! it’s actually not so bad. i’m finding myself refreshed and more relaxed now that i just talk to people on the phone than interact face to face. don’t get me wrong, i’m still taking my original gift from the front desk – the knowledge that i really am a social person and i do like people and enjoy helping them. but when i’m bombarded hour after hour with no support, gradually surrounded by angry and impatient faces, gestures, postures… it starts to weigh on me real heavy. so yes i can have quite a wicked internal monologue about people when i can feel them through all my senses closing in on me… the shape of an eye, slight furrow in the brow, voice pitch and tone raising with an anxiousness, shifting weight… i feel it so much more clearly for what it is when i go up there now: overstimulation in a negative way. i can’t help but be keenly aware of all the little stuff even if i’m not consciously processing it at the time. all i know is the sum of the parts makes me want to take off at a sprint in the other direction. with my temperament and the way i take in information, that was not the best place for me, at least not long term. so i can come to peace with this.

the funniest thing about this though is that i have barely any visual memory for details. if you ask me about the color of someone’s eyes or shirt after the fact, there’s no way i can tell you. are there other senses that are compensating? or do i just take things as a whole? i wanna read that book again.

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