High Processing Sensitivity (being sensitive to subtleties in the world around) has been an important trait in human evolutionary history. It is widely accepted that Highly Sensitive People have been pretty vital in navigating us safely through the various dangers we face as a human race.
We hear a lot about external overwhelm; the high processing sensitivity of HSPs to sensory inputs like sudden loud noises, smells, fluorescent lights, tastes, textures and the like. There is another source of HSP overwhelm; unseen but intrinsically linked to external stimulation. Sensitivity to our own inner chatterbox.
Fireworks and a Terrified Inner Chatterbox
When I was a child I was petrified of fireworks. I hated them. And like a pet dog I needed to be kept calm and kept indoors early in November (UK bonfire night). It was a time of extreme anxiety. I was on high alert, listening out for the smallest indicator that somewhere nearby a firework was about to be lit.
The HSP inner chatterbox is useful, especially from an evolutionary perspective. It helps keep us safe through sensing potential dangers and risks early on.
But it’s not always helpful. Especially when what our biology perceives as life-threatening risk is nothing of the sort.
Aron says of HSPs that “we feel so intensely. It is part of why we process everything very deeply—we are more motivated to think about things by our stronger feelings of curiosity, fear, joy, anger, or whatever. But this intensity can be overwhelming, especially when we have negative feelings.”
A Gift and a Curse
This inner voice can be both a gift and a curse for HSPs and introverts. We can be good to have around because we can sense subtle cues that may have negative consequences that others might not be able to see yet. But a propensity towards caution and constant analytical thought may also stop us from doing things we actually want to simply jump in and get involved with.
In this episode I explore how the inner chatterbox speaks to highly sensitive people and the impact it has on our day to day lives:
- Considering all the Options
- Being Slow to Say Yes
- Overthinking and Worrying
- Having Prophetic Vision
- Being Highly Imaginative
The inner chatterbox can be the friend and foe of the highly sensitive person. We must acknowledge the impact of our sensitivity (moments of caution), and ask ourselves whether or not this is helpful for this situation.
We can think about our use of free trait agreements, and practice encouraging ourselves to step beyond what might feel inevitable/‘natural’ in order to get to some destination we desire.
High processing sensitivity might tell you to run away or hide, but it doesn’t know the facts that you know. You are the only one in a position to make the judgement, whether or not there is any risk to life or limb (basic survival), or whether it’s just a bit of natural fear about something you really want to do.
Over to You:
Does your inner chatterbox talk you out of doing things you wish you could just jump in and do? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your response in the comments below.
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