Exploring Being A Highly Sensitive Person, Part 1

Earlier this month, I finished reading the 25th anniversary edition of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph. D., which was published in 2020. I mentioned here on the blog that I would share more of my thoughts on the book later. I also had one regular reader who said she wanted to hear more of what I thought about the book. So, I thought I’d start today to do that in the first of I’m not sure how many parts.

First, I’d direct you to Dr. Aron’s website: https://hsperson.com/ and encourage you take the test there to see if you are an HSP. Even if you’re not, it might be helpful if you know a family member, friend, or coworker who is an HSP. Since Aron’s material is copyrighted on her website, I’m going to use Wikipedia for a definition of HSP and SPS (Sensory processing sensitivity):

Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a temperamental or personality trait involving “an increased sensitivity of the central nervous system and a deeper cognitive processing of physical, social and emotional stimuli”. The trait is characterized by “a tendency to ‘pause to check’ in novel situations, greater sensitivity to subtle stimuli, and the engagement of deeper cognitive processing strategies for employing coping actions, all of which is driven by heightened emotional reactivity, both positive and negative”.

A human with a particularly high measure of SPS is considered to have “hypersensitivity”, or be a highly sensitive person (HSP). The terms SPS and HSP were coined in the mid-1990s by psychologists Elaine Aron and her husband Arthur Aron, who developed the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) questionnaire by which SPS is measured. Other researchers have applied various other terms to denote this responsiveness to stimuli that is seen in humans and other species.

According to the Arons and colleagues, people with high SPS make up about 15–20% of the population. Although some researchers consistently related high SPS to negative outcomes, other researchers have associated it with increased responsiveness to both positive and negative influences. Aron and colleagues state that the high-SPS personality trait is not a disorder.

Several years ago, maybe even a decade ago, my wife and I had a neighbor who thought we might both be HSPs. At the time, I didn’t know what it meant. Only late last year, I checked the book out on ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia, but then decided it was more involved than just a borrow so I bought the book and then finally started the book a couple of months ago.

[Author’s Note: I’m cutting short this post and leaving this up as part 1, because while looking up our former neighbor and friend online – he had blog posts about his own experience with being an HSP – I came across an article that he had been shot and killed in January of this year. I will have to continue this later in the week with Part 2 as I am in shock right now.]

April 2023: In the rearview

Here’s where I’m starting my morning.

So today with this being the last day in April, I thought I’d look back at the month for me (and my wife, in a couple of instances):

Above is where we’re starting the last day of the month: in Tuscany with Flavour Trip. Click the link above to see more and be sure to check out the description where they give not only the playlist, but also what they are doing during the set.

It’s a good place to end the month as toward the end of the month (this past week), Kim and I were commemorating the two-year anniversary of the passing of her mother and best friend in the same week. We remembered them with fun TV and chill music, like that embedded above. The month began also with a milestone for Kim, albeit a happier one as she celebrated her 53rd birthday with my 54th coming up in June. Midway through the month, we went to Coachella (virtually) in California for two weekends. The highlights of Coachella for us were Rosalia, Bad Bunny, and the trio of deejays Four Tet, Skrillex and Fred Again…last Sunday. To be honest, most of the artists and bands we didn’t “get,” especially some of the names (kids, these days).

Since this blog started sort of as a book blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what I’ve been reading. I’ve been (continuing to) slowly make my way through The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When The World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph. D. I don’t relate to everything she rites about and think sometimes she leans too much on trauma, but overall, I’m finding it helpful in understanding myelf as an HSP. A friend recommended the book several years ago and only now am I finally getting to it after buying a copy. I decided to get a copy after realizing how dense the subject matter is. It’s not a quick read, at least, not for me.

I “need to” read some fiction, but nothing has been “grabbing me.” Mostly, we’ve been watching this and that on various streaming platforms, from Ted Lasso, Schmigadoon, and Shrinking on Apple TV to new discoveries for us like Bored to Death and old favorites like Robot Chicken on HBO Max (soon to be Max – eyeroll).

I probably could write more but since I’ve been chilling to the music and have been paused in draft for about half an hour, I guess I’ll end here.

How was your April? Any highlights in reading, TV/movies, or music? Feel free to share in the comments. (I’m also restarting to use my Substack. To see it – I’ll be updating the design soon – and subscribe, click here.)

Where I am right now

So, I just thought I’d give you a post, starting where I am right now and go from there:

It took my wife Kim and I about 20 minutes to find this, after surfing through various café jazz channels on YouTube. The coffee shops and houses in the visuals weren’t what I wanted, so my wife suggested a Studio Ghibli theme. We both find the movies strange and not particularly our cup of tea, but we like the animation and it is a nice place to start our Sunday morning.

For Kim, it is perfect after a 12-hour workday/night before a day off; for me, fitting as I ended my work week yesterday and because of a new part-time work schedule (by our choice), only working one day this coming week.

That said, what am I going to do with my time this week? Besides helping Kim here around the house and running errands here and there, I plan on catching up on some Tara Brach meditations and talks via Spotify, a little bit of reading, and a little bit of journaling. Amongst all that, we’ll take time to watch some fun things, including the Rifftrax version of Dune tonight:

As for what I’m reading, I have lots of choices from frivolous fiction to thoughtful nonfiction in print, ebook, and audio. I won’t recite them all here, but will let you know next week what I dipped and delved into.

How about you? Where is your head at today and where will it be this coming week?

My Favorite Reads of 2022

To start this year, I shared my favorite moments in photos from last year. Two weekends ago, I shared the 20 songs I had on repeat last year. Last weekend, I shared our favorite TV shows and movies that my wife Kim and I watched last year.

This weekend, I’m sharing my favorite reads of last year. I read a total of 24 books:

I split evenly between fiction and nonfiction, 12 each, but my four favorites from the year were all nonfiction:

  • Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman, which I heard about first from fellow blogger Melissa Firman, and then on various podcasts so I had to read it.
  • Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld, a collection of his favorite material through the years that made my way slowly through for several months.
  • Riverman: An American Odyssey by Ben McGrath, the true story of a man who, over the course of more than twenty years, canoed solo thousands of miles of American rivers–and then disappeared near the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
  • Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono, to which I listened on audiobook, which for me as a U2 fan was the only way to experience it.

Next weekend, I’m thinking about adding the books, TV shows, movies and music I’m looking forward to reading, watching, and listening to this year. We’ll see.

So, what were your favorite books read in 2022? Feel free to link to blog posts.