You’re So Insensitive! (Sensitivity Part 2)

As promised, here’s my post for those of you who find yourselves on the lower end of the sensitivity spectrum that I will refer to as Low Sensitivity People (LSP).  Now, I have to make a disclaimer and tell you that I can’t find much information out there about LSP types in regard to a “physical” nervous system difference, so this will be based on personality temperament theory and my own interpretation.  I will also mention that you LSP types are more likely to come across this post because your more sensitive friend or family member would like you to see that you have your challenges also, since many of you often think you’re just fine as you are and that others are just being “too sensitive” (see the last post) :).  And, no doubt, you do have your strengths.  Let me start with these first – (hold on sensitive ones, I’ll get to the challenges soon).  

Now, remember that the nervous system includes your brain and every nerve in your body. For an LSP, external and internal stimulation is slower, with less intensity and duration. You are more insulated and resilient to the “noise” or “static” from your surroundings and less emotionally reactive.  You are, therefore, capable of accessing your thoughts without the interference of emotion and are more likely to base your decisions on facts, not feelings.  As a result, your intellect is sharp and because your nerves are not as stimulated, your physical body can handle a lot of strain.  Your friends or family may refer to you as their “rock”, as you can be a stabilizing and grounding influence.

Now for your challenges.  Think of Spok or Data from Star Trek.  While often quite intelligent and logical, they often find themselves struggling to understand emotions.  Now, you LSP types aren’t exactly robots.  You are quite human and do experience emotions, but you don’t prefer to since you find that emotions can feel “out of control”, which is….of course…not logical.  Why would you want to feel “out of control”?  So when you DO experience emotions, you don’t like it and may be capable of pushing them away.  If the emotions continue, you may become frustrated or angry in order to gain a sense of control.  So, anger management can become a real problem due to the “stuffing” of the “weaker” feelings of sadness or fear.  Relationships can be a struggle since you don’t easily sense the feelings of others, and this makes it difficult for you to connect, except on an intellectual level.  You may feel isolated and can become “anti-social” as a result.  Or, on the other extreme, you might need help with social skills as some of you can say or do things that might be inappropriate or awkward.

With lower sensitivity, you may lack the stimulation necessary to maintain focus in your surroundings and get caught up in your own analytical thinking.  Think of the “absent-minded professor”.  You may be accused of not being very “observant” and people may assume that you don’t care because you didn’t notice an “important” detail like your girlfriend’s new haircut or….gasp..your “one month” anniversary.  This can be a big one for couples, since LSP types don’t often track birthdays, holidays or anniversaries….why would they, these things are sentimental.  If you are an LSP and you DO track your spouse’s birthday then you have done so because it the logical thing to do if you want to stay out of trouble.  😉

Now lets talk about addiction.  In order to feel, many of you LSPs have turned to substances or behaviors that increase adrenaline because that provides the stimulation you’re lacking.  Everything from stimulant drugs to internet and sex addiction, you’re doing something to feel more connected to your body or possibly to feel more comfortable socially.  Most often, LSPs will come into therapy because they’ve been pushed by a spouse (or may come into couples counseling) or the legal system, due to antisocial behavior.  You may commit yourself to therapy for social anxiety or feeling lonely.  Diagnoses you may receive as an LSP include but are not limited to:

ADD/ADHD
Social Anxiety
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Addictive Disorders

To get a handle on the challenges of your lower sensitivity you must learn to connect and sensitize your nervous system.  Important skills to develop include:

1 – Understanding Emotions:  When you understand the logic of emotions, you are more likely to be open to them.  Anger is usually a defense mechanism to protect against “weaker/out of control” emotions like fear and sadness. Fear is a physical response to a threat, while sadness helps you to slow down and take time to reflect.  You can think of emotions as “energy in motion” that motivates action and are, therefore, felt in the body so you can respond appropriately to a situation when there’s no time to analyze it.  Practice noticing where you might be feeling an emotion in your body.  With fear, you may notice tightness in your chest and stomach.  Sadness is usually felt as heaviness all over, resulting in a lack of motivation.

2 – Interpersonal or “social” skills:  You can learn to read the emotions of others by noticing facial expressions and body language, which is approximately 70 percent of communication.  You can validate another person’s feelings, whether you understand emotions or not, by just acknowledging them.  You can say things like “I can see that you’re upset” or “I suppose I would feel the same way if I felt like you didn’t care”.  These are statements that communicate that this person and their feelings are important to you, whether you agree with the logic or not.

Share your weirdness with others.  You often think about different things and can be quite interested in science a or science fiction.  Logic might tell you it’s not okay to be different.  It is quite okay and those people who are important to you may find you to be unique and interesting. By sharing, you are also more likely to find others who are similar and you won’t feel so isolated.

3- Stimulation:  Rather than soothing, your nerves need some stimulation on a regular basis.  You can also appeal to the five senses through aromatherapy, massage, yoga, warm herbal tea, music, baths, art and nature.  Investing the time for this will help you feel more connected to the physical world.  This can also help you with getting “out of your head” with overanalyzing.

4 – Mindfulness:  LSPs also need to take a mental “step back” and just observe your own thinking and (and occasional feelings) without getting sucked into them.  Imagine they are just passing by or through you.  You’re not avoiding them or getting caught up in analyzing them.

6 – Support:  Asking for help can be difficult because it may make you feel less intelligent or vulnerable. This is missing an opportunity to connect with others.   It’s just as important for LSPs to have a non-judgmental support system, whether it’s a friend, family member, group, therapist, clergy, etc.

7 – Organization:  Clear out clutter as much as possible and use a planner of some sort to organize environmental details.  Getting your plans, ideas, and tasks on paper (or in your smartphone) helps you remember details that might be logical to remember…like an anniversary.

So there you have it!  Low Sensitivity People have different and similar challenges with focus, emotion and social interaction as High Sensitivity People.  Balance is key.

Take care,
Shannon

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One thought on “You’re So Insensitive! (Sensitivity Part 2)

  1. Pingback: You’re Too Sensitive! (Sensitivity Part 1) | Therapy With Shannon

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