Divorce for the Highly Sensitive Person

Everyone has a degree of sensitivity. It is part of what makes us human. We ‘feel’ the world around us. Some of us feel it more than others. To some the world is stimulating and exciting. To the highly sensitive that same world feels prickly and loud. The highly sensitive person (HSP) is easily overwhelmed. Lights are brighter. Sounds are louder. Emotional hurts go deeper and last longer.

I’m positive that highly sensitive people are more impacted by divorce.  I know I came unglued many times, often feeling like I was hanging on by a thread. I definitely looked over that edge of “Why am I here?” and “Would anyone care if I wasn’t?” I was certain that the level of hurt I was experiencing far beyond “normal.” I surmise that  if I’d known then that I was a highly sensitive person it would have made the easier. At least I would have been more gentle with myself.

I found an HSP test online. (Click this link to go there.) The test has 22 questions. The developer of the test, Dr. Elaine Aaron, says if you answer yes to 10 of the questions you are probably highly sensitive. I answered yes to 21 of the 22.  Oh my. If you are an HSP I suggest you check out Dr. Elaine Aaron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person to learn techniques to help you manage the overwhelm. Divorce is overwhelming enough without feeling it about 50 times more strongly than others.

Benefits to Having a Highly Sensitive Person in Your Life

Research has shown that 15 – 20% of the population, divided equally between men and women, are born with hyper-active nervous systems. It is thought that the highly sensitive serve as an alarm system for a community. HSPs are sensitive to changes in energy and routine, are attuned to the tiniest details and subtle nuances, and are also affected by food, air and water stressors more than most people. I am usually the first to feel the effects of a toxic situation, referring to myself as the proverbial canary in the mine. I once attended a conference in a room near the hotel pool. The chlorine gases burnt my nose, eyes, throat, and lungs. Even when I mentioned it the other attendees didn’t notice. I know I saved everyone in that room from getting very sick. High sensitivity is genetic. It can be managed but not undone.

Managing High Sensitivity

One of the ways I’ve learned to manage the effects of my sensitivity is to manage my thinking. HSP’s are prone to negative thinking. Because we are so acutely aware of possibly overwhelming future realities we (apparently) try to prepare ourselves by thinking of worst case scenarios before they happen so we won’t be surprised. HSPs don’t like change, especially changes that lead to over-stimulation. I encourage you to question your thoughts and spend time in meditation or other presence-ing techniques to break the negative thought patterns.

If you are a highly sensitive person I would love to hear how going through divorce or other trials has been for you. Please leave your comments below. I always respond. When you take your HSP test, I’d love to hear about it.