Too Much Stimulation

I just finished reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. and would recommend the book to coaches and other helping professions. Although this is one of those books where I did not read every single word (see how not to read) I did benefit from what I’ve read and know my clients will as well.  First you may want to take the SELF-TEST on Dr. Aron’s site (caution: no self-test is completely accurate). Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So are you an HSP? Even if your results do not indicate that you are a highly sensitive person, you most likely have one in your life…and you will both benefit from understanding a little more about the trait. It will help you understand each other’s needs. I did not score high on the test myself, but many of the statements were very true for me and that interested me enough to buy the book. I  found many of the techniques and recommendations very useful. In the world we experience currently, there is so much information, so many choices, and so much change that even those who are not HSPs by trait my experience overstimulation from the world around them.

The author spends a great deal of the book going back to an HSPs infancy and childhood. Although I understand the importance of this and how one needs to recognize where beliefs were established, there was just too much of the past for me. I was much more interested in what action a person can take now to be more balanced and happy. In that, the author provided some content on reframing those past beliefs and ‘reparenting’ oneself which focuses on the present and future.

While reading the book I experienced a bit of HSP behavior myself. Like many HSPs, I have a creative side and am always thinking of new ideas and projects. I had begun to create piles for each of these ideas/projects in my office. This, along with my collection of books, my many sticky notes, and a growing about of geek toys, was just too much for my brain to handle. One day as I walked into my office I felt my pulse and breath quickened, my head felt like it was going to pop off like a pressure cooker. I had reached my limit of stimulation. It was time for action. I went into what I call my ‘Bewitched‘ mode. You remember the TV show, right?  I don’t recall the episode, but I recall Samantha having to use her powers to clean the house quickly. She put herself on fast forward and zipped past the camera in a bit of a blur. That is what happens when I can’t take the clutter any more. It is exhausting, but less so than trying to work in a cluttered room when my mind keeps wondering from one idea-pile to another.

I learned in Dr. Aron’s book that there is just too much stimulation in my office when it is like that. After putting away my piles and books and almost everything but my laptop and my current project, I was able to focus in a calm and centered way. I was even more creative and productive than before! Woohoo! This is, of course, just one example. I’ve since been using my new awareness to avoid overstimulation in the first place. I have always known that I needed quite time on a daily basis…now I know why.

Most importantly, the author explains that we all need to be aware of our need to be balanced when it comes to the amount of stimulation in our environment and lives. Too much and we are overwhelmed, too little and we are bored. We are all individuals and that is nothing new to the existentialist.

Thanks for visiting!

Here are a couple of HSP resources:

Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. (author) – The Highly Sensitive Person

Jenna Avery (HSP life coach) – Highly Sensitive Souls