Staying centered and feeling safe when the world overwhelms you - being an Ultra-Sensitive Person [USP] means you pick up on most of the subtleties around you, no matter what they are.
This is because you are "deeply tuned in" on many levels. When the stimuli from these many levels begin to feel too much, a state of overwhelm can take place. You start to operate from a "survival" mode. For example, to cope with the situation you may retreat to be alone in a quiet and darkened room. This is a place where you can regroup and calm down an over-activated nervous system.
Ultra-Sensitive People are not better nor more conscious than anyone else. They do experience things more intensely and are aware of more of the subtleties in the environment than non-USP's. Some people are Ultra-Sensitive in only a few areas of their lives, like flying in an airplane, or being in a small, cramped space.
These types of sensitivities may be called phobias. Others are Ultra-Sensitive in most or all areas of their lives. This is, I believe, based on your birth (karmic as well as physical), developmental growth, and life experiences.
If you answer yes to many of the above... then you are very likely an Ultra-Sensitive.
Being Ultra-Sensitive is actually a gift, although it does not always feel that way. You have probably been criticized and shamed for the way you have lived or not lived your life. You may have been called too sensitive, emotional, thin-skinned, a complainer, or one who is never satisfied. The story of The Princess and the Pea mirrors an Ultra-Sensitive's character (most often related to women).
For men, especially, the title may be "crybaby." These shame-laden labels can tarnish one's life. Yet the biggest tragedy comes when you hide or suppress your awareness of the information that this gift reveals to you.
So let's spend some time inside such a rich and bountiful person.
There is a heightened sensitivity to the environment - sometimes all the way to the other side of the globe for some. It is challenging to be in the outside world where your input sensors can be easily over stimulated.
You know what other people are feeling; your interpretations of such messages are not always accurate, but you know when something is up. Others' moods affect you. You love deeply and fully. You are conscientious.
When you reach the overwhelm stage you usually retreat into a dark room or any place away from the situation that has pushed you over the line. You can be sensitive to light, noise, and foods. As an example, in a shopping mall on a crowded, busy shopping day, you feel a massive input of stimuli, where as others may only be mildly distracted.
When you get overwhelmed, you respond as if your survival is at stake. In fact, panic/anxiety attacks are a common response to the overwhelm situation. Then it is "run for cover", or for some of us it may even be "go, go, go, do, do, do" even more in order to try to kill the sensations. Addictions are born from an inability to tolerate these overwhelmed feelings.
Some of us are born this way - we come in with a different neurological perspective. Some of us are traumatized in the early stages of development and become sensitive in that way, such as through sexual abuse, or later in life, such as fighting in a war (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome).
Others get these sensitivities from a skip in their central nervous system, such as a physical abnormality (Mitral Valve Prolapse) or from chemical and food allergies. In whatever area(s) of your life you are Ultra Sensitive, you are vulnerable to overwhelm unless you learn to put a dimmer switch on your central nervous system and sensory awareness. (I will speak about possible remedies later on.)
It is best to find a work environment where you can have your own space to operate. You will not be the most social one at the company water cooler and will tend to shy away from much contact in large groups. You are extremely good at what you do the more you are left alone. But this also can bring in the feeling of loneliness. Do you make contact - jump into the game - and risk having to cut out early or have a panic attack? You might have difficulty making good decisions if you are preoccupied with surviving an input overload.
Because you tend to be very good at what you do, people will come to you for assistance in which case you will receive the acknowledgment you want but at the possible high cost of having too much contact. Any job where your co-workers can have free access to you will be challenging. You may not feel free to escape if the need arises.
When things get to be too much and you need to withdraw, can you give yourself permission to do what you need? Of course, your responsibility is to develop skills that will help you tolerate the sensations of overwhelm. It is also helpful to learn how much and what types of information you can take in before overwhelm occurs. In that way you will be able to take a break and reduce the possibility of over stimulation.
Your social and intimate relationships provide you with great opportunities to enjoy the richness of you sensitivities. They also provide you with situations where you can become even more easily over-stimulated.
Your ability to tune in to what others are feeling and what they need can be a great asset in any relationship. But this gift must be used wisely. The down side is that you can give yourself away or be intrusive in another's space. Making clear communications as to what is going on inside us with the people that we are in relationship is most helpful.
When you go into overwhelm, others may see you as narcissistic. But what is actually happening is that you have gone into survival mode, by it's very nature that means you can only pay attention to yourself.
At these times it may be necessary to remove yourself from external stimuli as much as possible. If you present your need for solitude as a way of taking care of yourself and learning about your overwhelm, it becomes an act of self-nurturing rather than self-centeredness.
Once you are out of overwhelm, you can return to your regular mode of making contact and interacting. See Self-Empowerment - the wow factor for more on setting boundaries.
Even when you are clear as to where the other person is and you know what your stand is, you can usually still feel the other person almost like he/she is yourself anyway. You therefore have a unique opportunity to learn about how to stay with yourself as well as to be deeply connected with another.
The line between you and another is thin, and it is easy to cross over and believe that you have lost yourself. Sometimes it is true you do lose yourself and at other times that is not. You are totally with yourself but still acutely aware of the other as well. It is also true that this is a slightly different perspective on boundaries that many psychological therapies don't acknowledge.
Here is a typical example of what may be a normal event for most people but is a intense experience for an Ultra-Sensitive.
You live somewhere north of Seattle and you and a friend plan a journey into town. You put out your sensors and check road conditions long before you leave your home; checking out these conditions and what "potential" stuff might happen to get in the way of the journey. Of course none of the energetic patterns you tune into may happen or all of them may happen - you don't know yet, but your long distance sensors are at work anyway.
On the ride into town you keep monitoring the road ahead. You may feel anxious because of some subtle energy you feel that may poise a danger. You start to feel a little up tight and lose your center. You may even lose faith in your driver, or your own driving skills.
You arrive at your destination and walk into a group of people at a social gathering. Right away you know who is having a bad day, who is safe to stand next to, and who is not. You take a place in the room where you can stay in tune with what is going on.
This all can seem like a form of paranoia if you don't remember that you are fairly accurate in what you are picking up, that others may not be aware of this stuff at all. Also the concerns you have about what you are experiencing may never materialize because it is so embedded in others' unconscious that these energies may be a long time in actually getting expressed.
The tension can get in the way of having a smooth and easy way of connecting. If you feel some anger some where and you get scared that it may get expressed on you then that will be distracting to your being in intimate contact - it will put distance between you and the other.
Now this anger may be something that never needs to be expressed and gets resolved in some other way - in others words it is a part of someone's internal mixture that does not have to be focused on, but with your sensitivities it all seems very real and any history you have may get activated.
There are several basic approaches I suggest. First, find yourself a Naturopath or MD one that has an awareness of this kind of situation or at least will listen openly to you.
There are some very important physical aspects of ultra-sensitivity to have checked. You may be having physical symptoms anyway so this will help you get to the bottom of them. If you adhere to the allopathic system see if you can find a doctor that leans toward holistic medicine.
Homeopathy and Acupuncture are also great ways to get support with what is going as well. It really depends on what system will best support you at each stage of your healing. Your adrenals, digestive and elimination systems will all likely need attention after years of dealing with the stress that a state of overwhelm can create.
Paying attention to your past and current emotional states is also crucial, not only from the point of healing old wounds but to learn the skills that allow you to embrace your gift. Ultra-sensitivity is not something to get rid of but to learn how to use more wisely. Make sure your therapist has this foundation. A counselor, with psychosomatic (body therapy) experience can be very helpful.
Remember there is a slightly different perspective to keep in mind when working with this gift as I mentioned previously when discussing the issue of boundaries.
The reason for the importance of the body therapy (I am not meaning hands on body work at this time.) as an included part to your healing is to learn how to tolerate the sensations, feelings, and emotions that get activated when overwhelm creeps up. Talk therapy is important but without the body component you will not be able to learn how to stay centered in the middle of overwhelm experience.
Added into this outside support mix is the way you treat yourself. If you don't already see your heightened sensitivities as a gift it is harder to be gentle with yourself as you explore the challenges of this kind of life. You were given this capability for a reason, NOT to cause you harm, even though at times you feel hurt and uncomfortable. Remember we are all in this together - it is OK to feel a lot even when you don't know what to do with all of it.
Roger Easterbrooks M.B.A. is an Ultra-Sensitive. He is trained in intuitive and traditional methods of healing. Some of the methods he uses are movement education, breath and emotional release work, and expanded conversation. He is the creator of the Heart of Intimacy Relationship Intensive.
[ Ultra-Sensitive: People Staying Centered and Feeling Safe When the World Overwhelms You - © by Roger Easterbrook. Thank you for making this information available. ]
Hsperson.com Elaine Aron’s web site contains information about books on HSPs, the newsletter Comfort Zone and updates about annual gatherings.
drtedzeff.com Ted Zeff Ph.D.’s website creating inner peace for the highly sensitive man.
Lifeworkshelp.com Jacquelyn Strickland’s website includes information about living as an HSP and the annual HSP gathering.
HighlySensitivepeople.com Jim & Amy Hallowes’ website, an HSP and non-HSP couple on how to deal with challenges for HSPs and their partners.
sensitiveperson.com Thomas Eldridge’s web site includes HSP businesses and professional directory , a book & links page and a message board.
hspwork.com Barrie Jaeger’s website offers HSPs strategies to find work that is emotionally, financially, and creatively rewarding.
TheHighlySensitivePerson.com Cliff Harwin’s web site offers a book on his experiences as an HSP, publishes a free monthly newsletter, and coordinates the HSP Friendship Circle.
judithorloff.com author of "Emotional Freedom." about releasing negative emotions to transform your life.
highlysensitivesouls.proboards.com This web site offers HSP discussions on various topics related to sensitivity.