Over the years, I have struggled in my relationship with my daughter Holly. She can get upset easily, angry quickly, get very emotional about how ‘misunderstood’ she is and be super affected by smell, taste and anything itchy on her skin. It was pretty much from when she was a toddler. Too be honest, it was exhausting. I put it down to her being hormonal, unable to manage her emotions since she’s still young and a little self-consumed. Until a friend of mine spoke to me about ‘high sensitivity’. I quickly read all I could about it and the penny dropped.
Do you feel like you think about things more than others? Do you feel like you empathise deeply with people around you? Do others tell you that you take things so personally way too much? Do you find it hard to make fast decisions? Does it feel like an attack when people give you feedback?
If these resonate with you, you may be what 1 in 5 humans relate to as ‘highly sensitive’.
This personality trait was first researched in the early 90’s by Prof. Elaine Aron. The scientific term is ‘sensory-processing sensitivity’ (SPS). People who are highly sensitive are born that way; it is not something they learned. As children people might describe them as shy and super sensitive. As adults, perhaps introverts. In saying that, 30% of highly sensitive people are extraverts.
The point is that from this new information and after reading; How to Parent the Highly Sensitive Child, how I related, spoke to and parented Holly changed thereafter. I understood her and how she processes information and life differently from me.
The short version is. She feels more deeply and processes emotions in a more heightened way. So I needed to understand this and know this is real and very loud for her. Parenting, or working with, someone who is a HSP (highly sensitive person) requires understanding. The HSP also needs to know that they process information differently to others. Neither is right or wrong. It just is.
If you have someone like me, who is not a HSP, working with someone who is, then it can cause tension. They will think differently and at its worst significantly misunderstand each other. Tough conversations can be heated, emotional, hurtful and frustrating. Relationships and decision making can suffer. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. It just is.
Do yourself a favour and take the test to see if you are a HSP. Then understand how this affects those around you and try to educate them how to best work with you. It’s a super gift as you can often pick things up earlier, recognise others discomfort, be able to read between the lines as well as think deeply about problem solving and situations.
Communication is not just about the information and content. It’s human to human stuff and it requires understanding.