Are you a highly sensitive person?

Are you a highly sensitive person? Or perhaps your partner, family member or colleague is? Highly Sensitive People (HSP) are more attuned to stimuli from their environment (via the 5 senses) as well as the internal stimuli of their own thoughts and emotions. In 2000 I read my first book on this topic ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ by Elaine N. Aron. She described traits and situations common for HSP’s and oftenly I recognized them as my own. After having read the book I let go of the content and focussed on other priorities such as study and work.

Since I started coaching in 2004 I seem to attract this type of people and I was able to guide them in achieving their goals. As for most developments it took some time before I realized that this topic was the core of my work. Eight years to be exact! On the 17th of September 2011 I organized the first workshop on ‘Emotion management for HSP’ in Dutch. In the near future I would like to organize these workshops in English as well. So are you highly sensitive? Read the following to check if you might be…And please send this on to people who find this an interesting topic. Thanks!

Are you easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input? Do other people’s moods affect you? Are you very sensitive to pain? Do you sometimes get so frazzled that you have to go off somewhere by yourself? Are you moved by art, music? Are you conscientious? Do you startle easily? When you are with a large group of people, do you tend to go off into your own thoughts, or need to go somewhere quiet instead? Do others’ feelings affect you deeply?

Do you need more sleep than others? Do you sometimes react differently to medication or the amount, than others? Do you find the labels in your clothes too rough on your skin? Do you get rattled when people try to get you to do too many things at once? Do you have a rich, complex inner life? Have people called you ‘too fussy about heat/cold/food/noise/pain’ or ‘too sensitive for your own good’?

If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you may be one of 15%-20% of the NORMAL population who have a more finely tuned nervous system and who experiences the world a little differently to others. However, you may have grown up with this being reflected negatively to you by those who do not understand.

You can read more on this topic on the website of Elaine Aron


Drawing a line and taking care of myself


Emotional bomb
What happens if an emotional bomb bursts? How deep will the breaks in the wall be? How much dust will cover the ground? Which colour will it have? Emotional bombs burst and often don’t even leave a trace. However, the explosion makes people run for cover.

A cloudy colour of dust is still extending to the last corners of my mind. Some days before, I was shocked to hear from an old friend that my former boyfriend who planned with me to settle for good actually never really had this intention – to settle… Means he didn’t mind to cheat on me for almost three years. After hearing this, that all drama from him was just set up as a kind of performance to make me blame myself, my mind became numb and even cloudier. Only few people will be able to break through. Is Chungmei among them? I wish but still I have doubts. But well, let’s try session number 3…

My coach brought up an interesting reason for my recent difficulties: She said I like guys with problems… I didn’t need to think long to admit that she is right. Until now, I managed to attract all kind of complicated guys. I tried to imagine myself as a collecting pond for all the hopeless cases on this world. Guys spitting on me giving me a costly ride on an emotional roller coaster. Don’t take this!, I have to listen from my coach. Spit on those guys, get rid of those Indian guys, and learn to draw a line, dear!! A stream of confidence flooded my numbness when I heard all this… Dear, you are a beautiful woman with writing skills! Wow, rarely anyone had ever said this to me before… the stream of positive thoughts increased… just since recently foreign guys call me hot chick… German guys never expressed this, and with them, you don’t really feel as a woman…

Should I really follow Chungmei’s suggestion of perhaps writing for an international magazine about my broad intercultural observations? And use the frequent explosion of my emotions to sharpen my focus and build an own base? I will think about it. But first, something very simple I have to practice: Drawing a line and taking care of myself.

To realize this part of my homework, I soon got a chance. Cause there was Adi. Problematic Indian Adi. He claimed to be my friend since one month. I came to him whenever he said he needed me because he felt bad. I had a soft corner for him and felt that someone needed me. It was a good feeling. Once, I was ill. Adi came to share – actually my cold! What a nice gesture. Except that we had been nothing but friends and he really didn’t need to take the pain of making himself to get a resistant cough. But finally, he succeeded and got ill, too.

That very night after the coaching session, he told how horrible he would feel. And implied several times indirectly that non of his few Berlin friends would have time to take care of him. That’s why he expected now me to join him. But it was already late evening, and I really didn’t feel like joining him. I knew him and I didn’t want to have another sleepless night, still being ill myself. The words of Chungmei freshly anchored in my mind, I rejected his phone call at 1.18 am and dared to say “No, Adi, I need to do something for myself now.” Well, immediately afterwards, he broke the friendship, called me an egoist and a racist. Just because I didn’t want to come “to share his cold”. I was shocked by his sudden emotional overreaction. But it was better that way. Now I didn’t only feel free, I had found more time for myself and the feeling that I got some of the messages Chungmei had in mind for me…!