Next Time You’re Wondering How Being Highly Sensitive is a Good thing, Read This…

Spring blossomIt’s a Wonderful Time of Year!
I am looking out at my garden with the feeling that Spring is most definitely in the air. The flowers are appearing everywhere, there are buds on the trees, tiny lambs and goats are jumping around in the fields, the sun is out, there is a definite warmth around that was not there just a few weeks ago, and I am starting to feel uplifted and can’t help wanting to smile at the wonder of nature!

It’s at times like these that I relish my sensitivity, because I truly do appreciate the sights, sounds, smells of spring: every little flower bud, and buzzing bee, the change in the smell of the air and of newly cut grass, the birdsong and the busyness of nesting birds, the bleating of baby goats in the fields, the gentle breeze, the lighter mornings and evenings….  And I wonder whether everyone feels these subtleties as I do?

I’m not sure everyone does, and this is the positive side of the Highly Sensitive trait.

Being Highly Sensitive is a Positive Advantage!

JoyGreat leaps in our understanding of genetics and temperament were made only relatively recently when Pluess and Belsky (2013) identified the concept of Differential Susceptibility to provide a framework for research into the vulnerability of sensitive ‘types’ to the environment.  The assumption at the outset was that research would show that highly sensitive people would fare worse than others, be more at risk, in bad environments, but that with good environments they would do just as well as others.  The results surpassed expectations.  Time after time research shows that, whilst it is true that highly sensitive people do tend to be more adversely affected by bad environments, so they do have a vulnerability, when placed in good environments they don’t just do as well as, they do better than non-highly sensitive people in the same environments.   This is what has been called Vantage Sensitivity.

This has many implications.  On a serious level it seems that Highly Sensitive people are more responsive to interventions and support than non-highly sensitive people.  For example HSCs seem to benefit from positive and attentive parenting and secure attachments in a way that is not evidenced in non-highly senstive children, and adult HSPs are more responsive to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for anxiety than non-HSPs.

Research also shows that positive life events have a stronger effect on HSPs in terms of reported life-satisfaction than for non-HSPs.  So our natural disposition to see and appreciate the small things, of the beauty in nature, art and music, and of our family and friends, mean that given positive experience, we are more likely to feel the benefits.

girl-204327_640The Joy of Being Highly Sensitive

Moreover, research also indicates that Highly Sensitive people react most strongly to positive experiences.  This means that our most intense emotions are not negative ones, but those of joy and happiness!  We are perhaps more likely to shed a tear at the overwhelming beauty of a newly budding flower or an extreme act of kindness, than we are by the overwhelm of a bucket full of negatives!   This is something to relish if you are lucky enough to feel it, and something that we should nurture in our Highly Sensitive Children: they may just need some extra help managing the intensity of the emotions they feel, even the  good ones (I know how excited and joyful my HSC can get!).

Our understanding of what it means to be a Highly Sensitive is growing all the time, and becoming more and more grounded in empirical research.  Watch this space for updates as they come. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more click here for details of our next Introductory Workshop on 29th April.

We’re taking a break and will be back in a couple of weeks – so I wish you a HAPPY EASTER, and I’ll leave you with my favourite Wimpy Goat!


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