Sensitive people experience more pain than most. Because of this you have learned to brace yourself. From the time you were a baby, you have experienced pain caused by what should have been normal stimuli in the environment. Everything from the light of the sun to hugs and kisses from well-meaning relatives may have caused some discomfort.
As adults the pain continues. Graphic images on TV, the stench of exhaust fumes, fluorescent lighting, office temperatures that are too hot or too cold, or sitting for too long in traffic can all cause enough discomfort to make you tense against the pain to come, real or anticipated. The remainder of your ability to grow with this program depends on starting from a place where you know you are safe and protected.
Denying Your Sensitivity?
There may be a history of denying your sensitivity, particularly for men. You may have developed stories to explain yourself to others that avoid the very real physical differences you experience. Have you heard yourself say that you just don’t care for massages? Do you make excuses to miss events like a trip to Las Vegas or some other place that bombards your senses? It’s almost as if anything is better than the truth.
Well, it’s time to stop. And with the end of the excuses comes the end of the idea that you just need to toughen up. You’ve tried that and you’re living the result. You can appear “normal” and try to push the pain from your consciousness. However the pain doesn’t stay pushed. It manifests in some way every time.
There is no need to pretend that you aren’t sensitive or to apologize for it. Claim your sensitivity. This is a bold move. It is time to accept and cherish your way of sensing the world.
For those closest to you there is a need to educate them on your sensual sensitivity. There is plenty of literature for them to read. They can Google “highly sensitive people” or “sensory processing sensitivity.” This is very real and not as uncommon as one might believe. [The Highly Sensitive Person -- Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.]
Recognizing the Onset of Sensory Overwhelm
To recognize the onset of overwhelm, step into the position of the witness as soon as you recognize overwhelm. Watching yourself go into sensory overwhelm only a few times will provide a solid foundation so that you can begin to recognize the signs and the situations.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
When you better understand the situations and environments that produce overwhelm for you, begin to plan. If a long exposure to crowds is going to burn as surely as a long exposure to the sun, you can design your interactions by limiting time you spend in crowds or by creating intermissions where you can be alone. If a schedule that demands you rush every morning ensures that you start every day overwhelmed, you can change your schedule.
Change to Make in Order to Protect Yourself
Make a list of the changes you can make to protect yourself. Here are some suggestions that may help you to get started. This will be an ongoing process. As you eliminate the top one or two, you may find that another source of discomfort comes to your attention as a cause of pain. Keep going until your days aren’t filled with pain anymore.
- Say no to invitations that will place you in an environment that is too loud or too busy.
- Plan recuperation time following busy events. This can be a planned “spa day” after a busy holiday or just a nap after a trying morning at the DMV.
- Create a routine to end your day that relaxes your body and mind before bed such as a warm bath or reading an inspirational book with a cup of chamomile tea.
- Add an exercise routine to your day to relax the nervous system.
- Get rid of clothes that aren’t comfortable. Life’s too short!
- Lighting counts! Replace bright lights with lower-wattage bulbs. Lamps are much easier on the eyes than overhead lighting. Definitely cover any exposed light bulbs and avoid fluorescent lights.
- Replace your bedding with the best you can afford. I found that bamboo sheets are smoother than silk, breathe as well as cotton, and are more durable.
- Spend fifteen minutes when you get home from work with a heating pad on any tense muscles.
- Use sound-blocking headphones when in loud places like an airplane or subway.
- Take mini muscle relaxation breaks during the day. In your mind go from the tips of your toes to the top of your head tensing and then relaxing each muscle group.
- Finally, it is well worth having a slightly uncomfortable conversation to teach your mate how to touch you. It may be the first time they understand why you are the way you are. This is a completely loving act that can only help to ensure the future success of the relationship.
Doing Things Differently in Order to be Whole and Healthy
Moving from planning into the changes your system requires to be whole and healthy is a big step for some. If you are accustomed to adjusting, to taking care of others, or to sucking it up, the steps you’ve planned may feel selfish.
This is where you have to leave your usual ways behind and give something new a try. If you can’t do something differently than you have been doing, you’re stuck.
The idea is to move from changes occurring without your input or control to changes occurring because you designed them and brought them into being. This is where the rubber meets the road. Drive.
©2012 by Martha Burge. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
The ADD Myth: How to Cultivate the Unique Gifts of Intense Personalities
by Martha Burge.
Click here for more info or to order this book on Amazon
About the Author
Martha Burge is an ADHD coach, mother to two sons diagnosed with ADHD, and a very intense person. She holds a BA in Psychology, an MA in Organizational Development, and coaches adults with ADHD, gifted adults and parents of intense and gifted children. She speaks to groups (including the Celebrate Your Life conference in Chicago in June, 2012). She is active in the Mensa community and is a trusted coach to Mensa members. Visit her website at http://www.intensitycoaching.com/