My friend Kaitlyn in Vancouver sends me stunning photos from time to time and lets me share them with you.* I look at this photo and feel myself expanding inside. It’s a rich, complex reaction: in Focusing, we call it a “whole felt sense.” It carries memories of the ocean and the mountains, the feel of traveling somewhere I’ve never been before, the unique flavor of my friendship with Kaitlyn, and more.
Like all highly sensitive people (HSPs), I’m much more susceptible to my environment than the non-sensitive majority. This photo takes me into its expansive environment, and I respond to that world. I’m similarly affected by the emotional tone of a social gathering, the stillness of the woods, or the visceral intensity of a war movie (I’ll never forget going to see the The Deer Hunter by myself as a 16 year old: I walked out in an altered state which lingered for three days.)
Environmental susceptibility is a double-edged sword. Research shows that HSPs who endured abuse or neglect in their family of origin suffer more adverse effects than similar non-HSPs. They are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as an adult and more likely to struggle with insecure attachments. [Read more…]