What influence does highsensitivity (HSP) have on my everyday life?

For me it means to be totally dependent on all outer stimuli. It is the feeling to be born “without a skin” that protects me from everything that is going on “outside”. Noises, Smells, conversations and bright colors seem to penetrate me constantly. Even when they are finally “gone” they echo in my memory like a song you can’t get out of your head. Sometimes I have the feeling that I have “left” my body only to absorb everything that is around me.  WHAT I WANT TO LEARN is to „return“ into  my body instead of constantly scanning people around me. I then have the impression that I know how the other one is feeling but I lose track of how I am feeling myself. It is as if I were a reporter and would be recording everything in order to repeat it on the daily news. But what do I do with all these noises and information that nobody needs? They drain my mind and my body. I get tired and irritated. Finally I have “to step back” and return into my flat where walls and dimmed light protect me from the liveliness of the world outside.

This “retreat” seems to be necessary and at the same time it gives me the feeling not to be able to partake in everything life has to offer. Also my body seems to try to “keep me inside my flat”, when it comes to meeting my friends after a long workday. When I give in to this voice of my body I feel lonely afterwards-imagining what fun I missed by not getting out of my bed and driving to my friends’ house.

But now I was told, that it is possible to “shift” my focus and stay “inside of my body” instead of “floating around”. It begins with trying to feel my feet whilst talking to another person. Or-feeling the wheel of my car while driving it numbly to school. When I am in a meeting I try to feel the surface of my chair-estimating how many percent of my attention is actually wandering “around”. If I am talking in front of a group I can touch my thymus gland on my chest. By all these actions I can try to relocate my attention to myself. It is like a meditation: The more often I do it the easier it gets to “stay focused inside” while the world is still going on noisily. I hope that by this training I protect myself against “dissolving” into the world.

Hereby I need an anchor that keeps me in my own space. Most of us “gained” that anchored when their parents held them as little babies and toddlers. In many indigenous cultures mothers carry their babies on their back. The child thereby experiences that –despite of everything that is going on around-it is safe leaning against its mother. Its anchor is the contact to its mother’s skin and the echo of its mother’s regular pulse. There is a hormone called Oxytocin that is produced in mother and child to strengthen their bonding. The better this bonding “succeeds” the safer feels the child when it becomes an adult. It is essential for the relationship with himself and with others. If the child experiences trauma-its perception will-as it is the case with HSP-be turned constantly “outwards”. It is constantly alert in order to protect itself against further damage. Here it is difficult to say what came first: The trauma or the HSP. Both have a loss of the “felt bodily sense” in common.

But the body is essential to find „inner peace“ and relaxation. In our digital society we have stopped listening to our bodies. As a consequence we “live” only in our mind: We plan the future, try to run as many errands as possible and thereby we don’t notice how our body is dealing with all of this. This may-after many years-result in a Burnout/depression. Scientists found out that people who have practised MBSR (Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction doing meditation/yoga/exercise and eating healthy food) over a period of time have a better immune systeme, their blood pressure goes down and the results of their blood analysis are better than before. Even in their work and every-day-life they can “achieve” more because they are more focused. This is the results of the constant “breaks” these people have allowed themselves to take. Only 20 daily minutes of meditation/exercise or simply “slowing” down can make a difference.

Now you may ask: What does that have to do with HSP?

Well, you can’t really „eliminate“ HSP by taking medicine. It is not an illness but seen as „gift“ you inherited just like a trait of character. For me sometimes this „gift“ feels like a curse, that keeps me from living life fully. It seems to me as if the times when I can feel a deep joy by perceiving everything so thoroughly are followed by a sudden “crash” of overstimulation. I get irritated feeling a deep aversion against everybody and everything noisy. Then I seek “refuge” in my flat, sleeping profoundly and waiting until the echoes oft he day cease to float my brain and body. As there is no drug to prevent me from perceiving everything so painfully thoroughly I can only try to train my mind: Talking to someone I can-from time to time- avert my eyes and look somewhere else instead of “scanning” his face & feelings. This training of consciousness (How strongly can I feel myself? How many percent of my attention is turned to my surroundings?) together with meditation and exercise could strengthen my “shield” against the world. This is to get into contact with my body again and to be an “anchor” to myself and my life. This anchor can also be the perception of my (constant) breathing. If I feel more “at home” in my body, it will be possible to be “out in the world” more frequently and for longer periods of time. These are all the thoughts I wanted to share with you, dear reader.


Written by Renate Weber