Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology, Spirituality.
This is the quintessential book about the trait of high sensitivity in people’s personalities. Beautifully written, engaging and informative, it has become a classic of psychology since it was first published in 1996.
In case you are unaware of how this personality trait looks, here is a list of attributes to know if you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), if you answer yes to most of these, you may be highly sensitive:
- Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
- Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
- Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
Also here’s a test to see if you are highly sensitive
For some of you, reading this book may be like holding a mirror up to yourself and really seeing yourself for the first time. This was most definitely the case for me.
Suddenly my urges (as a both a child and adult) to hibernate and ruminate over difficult situations was neatly explained. Suddenly, the over-stimulation I felt with too much energy from lots of people in a room, or too much loud noise and light made sense. Suddenly my inexplicable aversion to some (loud, obnoxious or arrogant) people made sense. My tendency to create aesthetic beauty all around me wherever I lived made sense as well.
My innate and spooky way of being able to understand someone’s mood from their posture, or the emotional temperature of a room, or my ability differentiate between narcissistic psychopaths and nice people, either online or in person made complete sense – these are all of the benefits and strengths of high sensitivity.
Likewise there’s a list of vulnerabilities associated with the trait of high sensitivity – self-blame and self-destructive tendencies and when combined with childhood trauma: anxiety and depressive tendencies.
It takes all kinds
Sometimes we need to just enjoy the world out there as it is and be glad for those who help us – the extroverted- who can make total strangers feel connected.
However, sometimes we need an inner anchor. That is – those who are introverted and give their full attention to the deepest nuances of private experience.
HSPs are great are intuiting the future and they generally have a deep appreciation of sacred spaces and places both natural and man-made: cathedrals, mosques, forests, oceans, deserts etc.
They have the capacity for foreseeing the future and historically were seers or shamans who were able to contact the ancestral spirits and see what was cooking.
Today many HSPs are artists, writers, musicians and poets instead of seers or shamans.
The Warriors and the Scholars
Aron divides up society into two classes of people. These span the stretches of human civilisation. You could think of them more as the energy or zeitgeist of particular civilisations. What class one falls into is not dependent upon one’s social or financial station in life.
For Aron there is a dual nature to civilisations. On one side is the Warrior Class. The gung-ho devil-may-care explorers who aggressively go forth and conquer new realms with little care for consequences. The ‘act first – think later’ approach.
The other kind of class is the Scholar/ Shaman class. These people gather their energy from within and then pour their insights and discoveries outwards into the world. They have an appreciation of aesthetics, ethics, philosophy, the humanities, science, history, nature and of the roots of civic life. They are the ethical and philosophical compass of societies that temper the over-zealous approach of the Warrior Class.
The contrast between the Warrior and the Scholar couldn’t be more stark…
According to Aron, there’s room for both kinds of people in this world, but the HSPs or the Scholar/Shaman Class are the ones who drive societies forward – not the conquerors. Nowadays these kind of people may be scientists, doctors, counselors, artists, writers, philosophers, spiritual leaders, nurses, carers, or mothers. They are often undervalued for their unique contributions to the world, because they are humble types of people who tend to undervalue themselves. Also – society mistakenly teaches us that to be highly sensitive is a weakness, or a feminine trait that is only acceptable in women – when in fact the opposite is true.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did. It’s superb I rate it 5 stars and if you are anything like me, it will help you to understand yourself better.