I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

About This Blog

As noted in my first post, I realized that I could be blogging myself.  I’ve been using the Internet for about twenty years (did my first website about nineteen years ago), then got involved in the one the organization I work for set up.

Now I’ve been asked to work with Web 2.0 tools myself.  At the same time I was working on that project I happened across a couple of books by Elaine Aron called The Highly Sensitive Child and The Highly Sensitive Person, in which Dr. Aron describes people born with a sensitive temperament, which she calls “sensitivity.” She distinguishes this trait from introversion or shyness, which she says are learned behaviors.  (In fact, she claims that 30 percent of Highly Sensitive Persons—or HSPs as Dr. Aron calls them—are extroverts.)

Having two children who I think could be highly sensitive, and thinking that my natural temperament might also be sensitive, I quickly read through the books.  Dr. Aron’s description of needing to perform a balancing act between being out too much in the world (and becoming overstimulated) and being in too much (avoiding the world) really struck me.  She describes how many HSPs try to be out in the world way too much because of our culture’s tendency to push everyone to be out there, even those who can become stressed by too much stimulation.

HSPs appear to pick up more details about their surroundings, often are highly intuitive, and tend to think about things more cautiously and deeply than many people.   Or at least that’s when they’re not overaroused or overstimulated by the world around them.  If that happens they can become overwhelmed and frazzled and actually become less understanding of people around them.

Aron says that if both you and your child are highly sensitive, you need to do to make things less stimulating for your HSC:

Learn to assert yourself  with your child. Sometimes your needs have to come first, so that you can take care of your child and your child learns that others have needs, too….

When you are having trouble taking care of yourself, remember the lesson of the airplane oxygen mask. Put yours on first, because an unconscious parent is a useless one….  Self-care … turns out to be good “family care”….

Dr. Aron identifies another reason why HSPs often push themselves harder than is good for them; that is because of “their intuition, which gives some of them a steady stream of creative ideas.  They want to express them all.”  I can’t necessarily vouch for all of my ideas necessarily being creative, but I love sharing information and ideas so her comment really resonated with me.   (In fact, I have been known to on occasion do “brain dumps” on unsuspecting friends and colleagues.)

Dr. Aron went on to write, “Guess what?  You cannot [express all your ideas].  You will have to pick and choose.” I thought to myself, “She’s right about not being able to express all of my ideas, but I’d be able to express a lot more if I started a blog” (rather than overwhelming friends and colleagues whom I’m afraid I sometimes deluge with e-mails).

So what does that have to do with why I’m blogging?

The nice thing about blogging is that it allows me to be out in the world to some extent without worrying about becoming too overstimulated.  Of course, my blogging is also ironic in that while looking at some Web 2.0 tools I have become more ambivalent — and even somewhat uneasy — about the Internet because of its possible impact on the social and psychological well-being of people, especially kids.

I grew up on the Great Plains, in a small town with fewer people in it than most people have living on their block, and liked the solitude offered by that setting.  And my grandparents lived on a farm in a sparsely populated area.  Later, my parents moved to another midwestern state where I spent most of my school years.  Working for the father of a friend on their farm walking beans and baling hay gives you a lot of opportunities for solitude.  I’ve belatedly come to realize that I miss the space offered by living in the country.  It’s hard to find that kind of solitude around Washington, D.C., and I’m finally discovering just how much I need that.

When we did go into town my favorite places tended to be libraries.  (Once, when we visited relatives in Denver, the rest of my family got in line to go to the Mint there.  Not only were there too many people, but I hate waiting in lines, so I went to the Denver Public Library instead.)

1 Comment »

  1. […] I noted in a previous post, all of us are being exposed to chemicals in the environment.  The Highly Sensitive Person’s discussion of cortisol got me thinking about the effects of stress on the body and whether or not the stress created by […]

    Pingback by Your brain (and body) and overstimulation « I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd — February 28, 2010 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

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