High Sensitivity: Defenseless in a World of Pins

September 23, 2016

High sensitivity is considered a gift, a special and very intense way of seeing and understanding our surroundings on the emotional level. However, for many people, it is like living within a balloon surrounded by a world of pins.

Being highly sensitive (HSP) implies above all paying greater attention to details and the subtleties of one’s surroundings. We scrutinize every word, every gesture, every tone of voice to deduce information that many other people do not pay attention to or perceive.

There are people who travel to the highest summit of a mountain to see the stars; high sensitivity, on the other hand, puts the sky’s light into our hearts to see every minute detail of the lights and shadows of people.

Being more receptive to the emotions or contradictions of those around us often breaks down our defenses. So we end up living in a world that we do not always understand and that often throws us into a depression.

Woman with Pink Hair

High sensitivity: a brain highly receptive to the subtleties of one’s surroundings

Elaine Aron is the highest authority on the study of high sensitivity, having coined the term in 1991. Far from being a subcategory of the introverted personality, highly sensitive people (HSP) is it’s own group with very distinctive features.

So then…What is this personality? Since it wasn’t coined until the 90s, many HSP didn’t realize until recently why “they felt different.”

If you are lucky enough to feel different from others, do not change: it is a gift that makes you unique and will allow you to see the world with greater fulfillment, with great clarity.

We also know that sometimes the term “different” is stigmatized. Even worse, it always goes hand in hand with a certain dose of suffering. A highly sensitive person is tired of hearing things like, “You take things too much to heart,” “everything affects you,” “I can’t say anything to you.”

According to a study carried out in 2010 and published in the magazine “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” the reason this personality is more sensitive to all types of stimuli, both physical and emotional, has an explanation at the neurological level.

Dandelion Blowing Away

Neurological basis for high sensitivity

Elaine Aron, along with her colleagues and psychiatrists like doctor Arthur B. Lintgen, carried out an experiment in which two groups of subjects were exposed to a series of visual stimuli, both colored lights and simple drawings.

They discovered the following:

  • Highly sensitive people related each stimulus to an emotion. Their neuro-psychological mechanisms associate visual, auditory, or tactile stimuli with a certain emotional sensation.
  • The areas of the brain associated with consciousness, emotions, feelings of empathy, and the well-known “mirror neurons” are more active than in people who do not show signs of high sensitivity.
  • The pain threshold of highly sensitive people is very low, such that an intense light or the brush of clothing can cause them pain.
  • High sensitivity is also related to an exceptional ability to take in details and variations in objects, surroundings, or people. This is explained by a greater stimulation of the areas of the brain involved in the association of visual information and attention.

A world of pins: high sensitivity and depression

Woman Covering Face with Feathers

One of the most common questions is whether highly sensitive people (HSP) are more prone to suffer depression. The answer is simple: no more than most people. However, they will suffer more often from daily sadness, letdowns, the sensation of feeling different. Notwithstanding, all of this does not determine the appearance of a depressive state.

Highly sensitive people will be more prone to suffer depression in these cases:

  • Not knowing that they are highly sensitive and attributing these characteristics to “being weak,” more vulnerable than everyone else, and therefore tending towards isolation.
  • People with high sensitivity have to take care of their self-esteem, understand what they are like, and control this “overstimulation” in their daily lives.
  • Frequenting environments filled with pressure, disagreements, lights and sounds, or in which many people are crowded together can cause their cortisol levels to rise and as a result turn into a very destructive state of stress and anxiety. It is necessary to control all of these stimuli and enjoy our moments of solitude.

Far from seeing your surroundings as a scene full of pins and enemies that causes harm, rise up and become your own best friend. Enjoy music, art, this world full of subtle marvels that can enrich you if you allow them to.

Couple on Beach, Giant Red Flowers

A HSP must be aware of their sensitivity, building strength from their gift and understanding that theirs is a life that is born of the heart, an exceptional virtue that sets them apart from everyone else.