"The Highly Sensitive Person" Book Summary
If you suspect that you might be highly sensitive and you’ve felt like you just never fit in, then this book might have as big of an impact on you that it did on me.
For me, I’ve always felt like something was wrong with me and that maybe I’m just too sensitive, too weak, and too different to be here.
If you prefer to watch a video version on this book summary instead of reading, here’s the Youtube version of this same summary:
Let’s start with some Pros of the book. Now this is a fair warning that I have about 7 pros listed compared to only 2 cons. To be honest, I found this book to be so validating that it was difficult to find any negatives to talk about. With that said, some positives that you can expect from this book is that it:
1. Will help both the HSP and non-HSPs understand the sensitivity trait and debunk many stereotypes and misconceptions that most people have about the trait.
2. It also provides a number ofcoping strategies and tools for how to relate to and be part of a society that is predominantly non-sensitive.
3. You can also expect it to be very informativeabout the strengths of someone who is highly sensitivityinstead of focusing on the flaws.
4. This book is the product of 5 years of research, with in-depth interviews, the author’s clinical experience, courses and individual consultations, as well asinsights from psychological research.
5. If you are an HSP reading this, you can benefits from the self-knowledge, the steps to reframe, heal, and help you with feeling OK when you need to be out in the world.
6. One of the most important positive aspect of this book is that The author has a lot of credibility and authority on the subject. Since she has experience asa research psychologist, a university professor, psychotherapist, and most impactfully, a fellow HSP.
7. Last, but not least, there are self-tests to help you see where you fall on the sensitivity spectrum.
A couple cons that I felt were worth mentioning but isn’t enough to take any value away from the book is that it was
1. Published in 1996, much of the information that were written at that time were only theories and results of the start of the research on this trait. Aside from the author’s note from 2016, the rest of the book will not provide tangible data and research.
Although, much of the recent research has proven the author’s theories from back then to be true. Don’t expect to be updated regularly throughout the book with current statistics and studies on the topic of discussion.
2. The only other negative that I found was more of a personal preference. The book provides multiple stories and histories of people’s personal experiences from her work throughout the years. These people aren’t in the public eye so we wouldn’t recognize them. There are a few but not many mentions of famous people such as celebrities or politicians that we are already familiar with to relate to.
It would have been nice to be given more examples of people we might have been previously familiar with but I would assume the legalities of including that type of information would be very difficult. So like I claimed, it’s more of a personal preference than a negative about the book.
Who will benefit most?
In the next section, I’m going to point out 6 specific circumstances or experiences that you may have in your life that would qualify you as someone who could highly benefit from reading this book.
1. If you’ve been consistently labeled as “too sensitive”
2. You tend to need a significant amount of ‘alone time’ to recharge especially after social or over-stimulating circumstances
3. You can feel other people’s emotions and have a hard time not letting it affect you
4. Your highly intuitive intelligence hurts you more than it helps you when you know too much, too soon about someone you’ve just met
5. You think your sensitivity is a “bad thing” and see it as a weakness
6. If you believe you are an HSP and also had a troubled childhood
Highly sensitive people make up about 15-20% of the population. If you live in a society that values narcissism over empathy, that could reek havoc for the sensitive souls out there.
Dr. Elaine N. Aron goes into great detail about how recent studies are slowly proving that this trait is genetic and necessary for the survival of our species as a whole. With greater awareness of why we are the way we are; we can finally start to accept ourselves as we are and learn how to leverage our traits and empower them into becoming our greatest strengths.
6 Most Valued Takeaways
Now, I’d like to talk about 6 of my most valued takeaways. Even if you don’t read the book yourself, just listen to the this part so you can relieve yourself of some of the pain and suffering that you might be enduring.
1. You are not flawed.
Since previously mentioned that recent scientific research is pointing toward sensitivity as being genetic; accepting this new truth can open up any insecurities you might have about your trait.
More importantly, you can start to shift your perception and start looking at your sensitivity in a more positive light. Every one has their good points and their bad points. The bad points can only hurt you if you let them by believing that it can hold you back from achieving your goals and dreams.
2. Self-awareness and practical health and lifestyle tips.
As Aristotle wisely stated:
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”.
Sometimes, we resist getting to know the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed or in denial about. This is also known as the “shadow” self.
To counteract this defense mechanism, you can start by seeing yourself in a different light. Starting with the previous point of shifting your perception about your sensitivity.
Once you are able to accept yourself just as you are with little to no resistance, you will then be ready to fully embrace and learn about yourself on a much deeper level. Through self-awareness, you will be able to execute the health and lifestyle tips that this book provides for you.
3. Re-frameyour childhood and re-parentyourself.
Regardless ifyou had a good or unstable childhood, once we become adults, it is our responsibility to finish the process of“growing up”.
Humans are flawed, and that’s a known fact. Even the most well-meaning parents will still make mistakes. So it isup to us to do our part to heal ourselves. Remember, that adopting this mentality does not excuse abusive or neglectful parenting, likewise..it also does notgive us the right to blame them for who we choose to become.
We can start healing by giving to ourselves what our parents might not have given to us as children. Whether that was attention, love, validation, or all of the above. There are very valuable tips on how to do this in thebook.
4. How to handle your social life.
One of the most difficult areas for HSPs is our social relationships. Growing up, I moved pretty much every year and sometimes up to 2 to 3 times each year, consecutively. In addition, I was not allowed to socialize outside of family and school because I was taught that “people were dangerous”.
Being an HSP myself, combined with this environment, socializing became one of my biggest crutch in life. Quality over quantity seems to be the running motto for me and many other HSPs. With the way out society is in the western culture, you might catch some push back with this mentality because they value extroversion and insensitivity and sees introversion and sensitivity as a weakness.
Equipping yourself with the knowledge of what our limits are and accepting or differences will empower us with the ability to socialize with less discomfort.
5. Thriving in the workplace is also just as important.
Everybody wants to do what they love but not everybody wants to pay you to do what you love. A good portion of the population would probably admit that they do not enjoy having to settle for a 9-5 type job. Unfortunately, HSPs are even more sensitive to this struggle than others.
Furthermore, the more sensitive people types will have a harder time doing something for the sheer sake of money, especially when what they do does not align with their values or beliefs.
Understanding how other HSPs thrive in the workplace can be a great start to figuring out what you can do for yourself. There are many HSPs in a variety of vocations such as art, healthcare, teaching, and even business.
Knowing the common pitfalls in these professions as an HSP can help you prepare for them and equip you with the right tools for those moments when it shows up for you.
6. Healing trauma.
If you are an HSP and you are thriving in life and do not struggle much from the traits and takeways from this book discussion; it is most likely that you wereblessed enough to have had a stable and supportive childhood.
In contrast, the struggling HSP is probably the unhealed adult who came from a much more troubled and unstable upbringing.
In either case, you might have some trauma or deep wounds that is in desperate need of healing. And healing can bea very different process for someone who is highly sensitive.
Medications and Drugs
Especially when it comes to our reactions to medications, therapy, and most common treatments in the medical field today. Knowing and understanding how our body responds to common treatments is key to our own healing.
Toward the end of this book, Dr. Elaine Aron, goes into a brief description of the different types of treatments and what you should know about them as an HSP. If you have unhealed wounds or trauma, please seek help. There is no shame in reaching out for a hand to lift you up when you cannot do it yourself.
Let me know if you’ve read the book yourself and if it has helped you cope with your sensitivity traits. Don’t forget to share this article with anyone that you think it might help!
Also, I wanted to give you a link to Dr. Elain Aron’s website for your own references if you’d like to find more information and resources on how to manage your highly sensitive nature: hsperson.com