Jun 21

“Sensitive”: New Book About the HSP

Sensitivity is defined as the ability to perceive, process, and respond deeply to one’s environment. This ability happens at two levels: (1) perceiving information from the senses and (2) thinking about that information thoroughly or finding many connections between it and other other memories, knowledge, or ideas. (From Sensitive by Granneman and Sólo)

In this year’s Sensitive: The Hidden Power of the Highly Sensitive Person in a Loud, Fast, Too-Much World, Jenn Granneman and Andre Sólo have written about something they know well, sensitivity and introversion. Granneman has the previous The Secret Lives of Introverts (2017) and with Sólo cohosts the online community Sensitive Refuge at https://highlysensitiverefuge.com. Sólo‘s pertinent blog is located on Psychology Today. And those are just some of their credentials.

Like the authors, could you also be a highly sensitive person (HSP)? (See my previous post on this topic.) Take their test here.

From the publisher:

Everyone has a sensitive side, but nearly 1 in 3 people have the genes to be more sensitive than others—both physically and emotionally. These are the people who pause before speaking and think before acting; they tune into subtle details and make connections that others miss. They tend to be intelligent, big-hearted, and wonderfully creative; they are wired to go deep, yet society tells them to hide the very sensitivity that makes them this way. These are the world’s “highly sensitive people”…

The authors note that to be sensitive is too often likened to “a defect that must be fixed.” But in actuality, although it can be a liability at times, it’s also an asset. For example, sensitivity is linked “to increased empathy and creativity” and “finely tuned observational and processing skills” (Publishers Weekly). Another plus can be “advanced sensory intelligence (a close awareness of detail in one’s environment), though this can also result in overstimulation.”

Guidelines suggested for how to lessen overstimulation include developing an “early warning system,” taking breaks, using calming techniques, having a “sensitive sanctuary,” setting healthy boundaries, and making fun time.

Special attention is given in this book to “the pain of empathy.” As sensitive people may be prone to compassion fatigue, it is important to prioritize self-compassion for balance and to “focus on catching positive emotions” around us. Various unique challenges in dealing with relationships are also addressed.

Selected Quotes:

The Sensitive Way is the belief, deep down, that quality of life is more valuable than raw achievement, that human connection is more satisfying than dominating others, and that your life is more meaningful when you spend time reflecting on your experiences and leading with your heart.

Sensitive people, it appears, are not hothouse orchids who wither in anything but the most perfect conditions. Rather, they are akin to succulents: No drop of nourishment escapes them, and they continue to absorb it until they swell with lovely blossoms.

Physical and emotional sensitivity are so closely linked that if you take Tylenol to numb a headache, research shows you will score lower on an empathy test until the medication wears off.