Are you a sensitive soul?
About 20% of the population fall into the category that research psychologist and author, Elaine Aron, calls “High Sensitivity” or being a “Highly Sensitive Person.”
According to Aron, these sensitive souls align with the following 4 characteristics:
#1. Depth of Processing
natural tendency to reflect deeply on life
rich inner and spiritual life
high levels of creativity and intuition
indecision, getting overwhelmed trying to make the “right” decision
over-thinking, may lead to holding back in life
often feeling “too intense” or “too deep”
champion of SLOW
lots of body signals that give helpful information
does best focusing on one thing at a time
can quickly reach overwhelm with too much going on
chronic state of “fight or flight” response
difficult time w/change of any kind
#3. Emotional Intensity
prone to strong positive emotions that can often feel euphoric
depth of heavy emotions
internalizing emotions, tendency toward addiction
self-judgment about sensitivity being ‘weak’
#4. Sensory Sensitivity
strong gut feelings and intuition
naturally picking up the richness sensory details provide
knowing when something doesn’t feel right
deep lovers of music, dance, art, Nature, beauty in all its forms
sensitive to medication, alcohol, and caffeine
overwhelm by strong smells, sounds, etc,
when unaware of all the sensory processing going on can lead to “checking out”
You can see each characteristic brings benefits and challenges. There are many others I have not included. You can read more by checking out Elaine Aron’s work (where I gathered much of the above information for you).
It’s important to note that this is a 100% neutral trait. It is simply the way your organism, your body & nervous system, process information and stimuli.
High Sensitivity is a trait that both extraverts and introverts share, although more introverts than extroverts have this trait.
Even if you are among the 80% of “hardier” constitutions, I encourage you to keep reading as we explore today’s topic…
Because digestion concerns, food sensitivities, painful eating habits, and hunger signals, are areas that I find concern most women and are often related to feeling states that we’ve collectively been taught to judge or ignore. Simply living in a woman’s body means you may resonate!
Here’s how it can go down:
#1) Sensitive digestion It is not uncommon for HSPs to have a sensitive digestive tract. This means it is quite possible that one might need to experiment with eliminating harder to digest foods like gluten, dairy, and soy for a while to heal digestion.
#2) Indigestion due to chronic stress Because HSPs are continually processing a lot of information, they often unwittingly attempt to contain this via chronic breath holding. When eating in this oxygen-deficient state, metabolic power is compromised, which can lead to bloating, gas, or intestinal discomfort.
#3) Overwhelm trying to find nutritional rightness Because the sensitive soul is highly conscientious and often gets caught up trying to find the “right” way of doing things, they also might become fixated on finding the “right” way of eating. Many HSPs err on the side of perfectionism. Simply hearing conflicting nutritional information can lead to stress response and eating habits born out of frustration and confusion.
#4) Sensitive to drug-like effects of certain foods Because HSPs are quite permeable to externalities, even the subtle things like lighting and others’ emotions, their bodies are also attuned to the energetic and drug-like qualities in food. Yes, this means sugar and refined carbohydrates can act as a drug. Positively, it can also be easier to notice what foods make them feel really well.
#5) Sensitivity to hunger Being hungry can be so distracting it can be hard to focus on anything else! Honoring regular eating times and hunger signals is important. Otherwise blood sugar can crash, leaving a person feeling emotional, impatient, sleepy, or anxious. I often revert to my 5-year old self, who gets crabby and distracted, and needs to eat ASAP
#6) Sensitivity leads to using food to self-medicate HSPs are processing a lot of information 24/7, and without supportive self-care and grounding practices, this can lead to overwhelm. It is not uncommon to reach for foods or drinks that alter biochemistry in an effort to ground down or zone out.
*Note: Those that have sensitive wiring are in no way doomed. In fact, these people can thrive, connect with their own sense of vitality, and can become leaders and visionaries in areas they feel passionate about.
I want to hear from you? How are you wired? Do you consider yourself more sensitive or is there anyone close to you that is?
Like this post? You also might like: Your 4-Step Plan to Regulate Overeating (video)