I used to think that when I was called 'too sensitive' it was an insult. I was thrilled by challenges and a hint of danger. Perhaps, subconsciously I was attracted to doing things that required sensitivity but were also seen as 'tough' - acting, humanitarian aid, social work etc....
A month back, my GP said to me 'you're too sensitive to be a social worker' and I did take that negatively....like being highly sensitive was a character flaw.
The day my GP said this to me I went upstairs to my neighbours place to check on everything for her (she was away in the UK for a while). I glanced at her bookshelf and a title leapt out at me.....'The Highly Sensitive Person in Love'
Hmmmm....I thought .....I better check that out....it wasn't so much the 'in love' bit that interested me but the 'Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)' bit....what's all that about???....
The author, a HSP herself, has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a thriving psychotherapy practice. She explains that being an HSP is a distinct personality trait that is innate - your brain is wired differently as is your central nervous system. In other words you're born that way. It's a survival mechanism for the species ensuring that a percentage of the population will respond differently to the others.
I found reading her literature liberating. It's not a weakness, it is apparent in 15-20% of the population and in other species. It is a trait that is to ensure survival - we respond differently to our more uninhibited non HSPs. It is revered in some cultures....however not so much in ours....we are often told to 'stop being so sensitive'. Perhaps that's where I picked up my negativity about it.
I wonder how many people who struggle with CFIDS and FM are also HSPs? Those whose brains are wired differently and central nervous systems are prone to being easily overwhelmed by over stimulation - sensory overload.
For a self test and more info check this out....http://www.hsperson.com/
We are a sensitive lot....in tune to the subtleties of our environment.....I knew living in London had had such a profound impact on me on every level of my being and I did think it was a weakness at not being able to cope. Now I see that the environment was not right for me - it was too chaotic, violent and harsh. We must be careful of where we spend our time and energy. I just can't do cities....and I'm happy with that!
Another innate trait she acknowledges is the High Sensation Seeker (HSS) ....and you would think that they would be mutually exclusive....but they're not apparently...I scored fairly highly on that one too.....but not as high as the HSP.
So basically I live with the innate inner conflict of being easily overwhelmed AND easily bored - craving adventure.....this helped me understand why I loved the thrill of being in the front line overseas but my body could not handle it......so now I have the challenge of discovering how to thrill seek in a way that does not overwhelm me......sounds like an adventure to me!