„You’re too sensitive for your own good”
“You need to toughen up”
“You take things to heart too much”
“Stop over-thinking things!”
Have you heard this before? I have. I thought something was wrong with me until I learned about high sensitivity. It changed my life and how I see myself.
So if you these phrases sound vaguely familiar to you you might also be a highly sensitive person (HSP).
Great! But what does this have to do with being a creative person? Well, bare with me :)
First of all, high sensitivity is a trait that is normal. It is found in 15 to 20% of the population. It is not a disorder, but since we HSPs are a minority it isn't really well understood and our world is built in a way that we can make us feel as if something was wrong with us. In reality, it's most likely that we are just overwhelmed.
High sensitivity is innate. In fact, biologists have found it in over 100 species (and probably there are many more) from fruit flies, birds, and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates. This trait reflects a certain type of survival strategy, being observant before acting. The brains of highly sensitive persons (HSPs) actually work a little differently than others’.
We are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because our brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. We are also more easily overwhelmed. If we notice everything, we are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
The German psychologists Eduard Schweingruber who wrote about the sensitive person as early as 1935 characterised the sensitive person as having:
An increased response to stimuli, and because of this a greater chance of excessive irritability, also as having complex emotional processes. And having more difficulty with releasing/processing their emotions. He also describes how all the stimuli also influences the body of the sensitive individual.
There are four main indicators/categories in which the characteristics of being Highly Sensitive is grouped:
Depth of processing
What does that mean?
So now lets come to the point why I'm talking about this here:
Studies have shown that the number of Highly Sensitive People is significantly higher in the creative community. When you think about, the typical traits a Highly Sensitive Person brings to the table really serve the creative process. We notice more details around us, we have a higher awareness of the world around us, a lot of us understand much better how someone else is feeling, we feel deeper. While sometimes this can be a disadvantage, when it comes to creating art this is a huge advantage!
If this rings a bell, if you feel this could give you some more understanding, you might want to try HSP expert Elaine Aron's self test.
📕Here is a list of recommended reading:
Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person*
Georg Parlow, Zart Besaitet*
Being sensitive is not being weak. It actually takes courage to live life in full awareness.
It is time for us to start honouring our sensitivity, embracing our inspiration, our passion, our creativity.
Lots of love,
“Being highly sensitive means being able to enjoy life in high definition, the natural world, light, music and art, friendship, comfort and solitude can all bring acute happiness. In the absence of stress, being highly sensitive can be beautiful.”– Kate Coady
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Romana Carén is an actress, film and theater maker (writer & director), and singing instructor sharing her experience with juggling all her creative interests, the struggle to feel that you have to decide to be good at one of them, to constantly feel the drive to learn more, learn something new and how this inner artist can be set free to express itself in a healthy and fruitful way.
THE VERSATILE ARTIST