It’s important what we name things, how we label them. Whenever we use a prefix such as “over,” for example, it’s to imply that something is too much. Relative to so-called “high sensitivity,” we’re saying simply that we are too much of whatever it is. In this case, emotion, sensitivity, intensity, fear, anxiety, depression . . . basically, too much of everything.
SPS Sensory Processing Sensitivity (What makes an HSP an HSP?)
Although Sensory Processing Sensitivity, or SPS, as coined in the mid-1990s by psychologists Elaine Aron and her husband Arthur Aron, who developed the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) questionnaire by which SPS is measured, does not in and of itself imply that if you meet certain standards you’re “too much,” it does directly speak to the idea of sensory overload. The idea that because high-sensitives habitually live in a state of overwhelm, we are equally “too much” and “less than” in comparison with others. Sadly, HSPs like myself have spent a lifetime trying to believe that we’re not too much and refuting that we are too much when really all we want to be is appreciated for who we are and what we bring to the table. By others, but more importantly, by our own definition and standards.
Labeling us doesn’t help…or does it?
Now that the label of HSP is fairly au courante, the conversation has been expanded. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong. But once again, though I myself readily admit to using the term as an identifier, most people who hear it are afraid of using it. The word sensitivity alone is enough to make them run in the other direction. As if sensitivity is something you could catch, something to be ashamed of, something unlikeable, unmanageable, and above all, undesirable. Admitting to high sensitivity is like wearing a sign around your neck that says, “Hello. My name is Heidi and I cannot cope with much of anything in the world. Please like me anyway. (But, if you don’t like me, maybe you could put up with me?)”
Switching the paradigm of how we talk about and perceive “sensitivity”
Once again, it’s time to flip it. Flip the language, the paradigm, the perspective. How about instead of “over” everything, we’re “under” all of it. We underscore the necessity of community; we understand—and want to understand—other people’s lens for experiencing life. Essentially, we are under it all in the most literal sense of the word. We are humanity’s foundation. We are the limbs people cling to in times of dire need. We are the baseline for love on a grand scale. We are holding up the world, and have done so for such a long time and to such a degree, that we are often, and our efforts are often, invisible and, without which, there would be no humanity. We support compassionate yet strong and direct leadership. We promote self-confidence and self-esteem because we have been through the wringer ourselves.
HSPs are humanity’s foundation
Recognizing that we are the foundation as opposed to the fault line, the brilliant as opposed to the bewildered, means that we have become aware that it is now the time to leave “too much” behind and step forward into “too amazing to believe.”
HSPs are the saviors of humanity—past, present, and future
It’s time to stop apologizing for who we are when who we are: uniquely adept, dexterous, thoughtful, insightful, and yes, sensitive, individuals that bring balance to the world. As we talked about in yesterday’s posting, we, HSPs, sensitives, peacemakers, caregivers, artists, we are not the bane of society, but the saviors of humankind.
As long as we are clear that this is true, we will never feel that we are too much to handle ever again.