You’ve heard the 16th century proverb, “you can’t see the forest, for the trees?”  It’s about getting stuck on the details, so as not to see the whole or overall view.

Some call people with detail-tunnel-vision, variously, “detail-oriented,” or “well-organized.” Veering toward the negative, and if their details bug us, we may label them with a mental disorder, “obsessive-compulsive.”

“Highly Sensitive People,” twenty-to-thirty-percent of the population, are said to be more highly aware of the details than the other seventy-to-eighty percent of humans on the planet.  Perceptive and insightful; people with this nature are often described in childhood as wise beyond their years.

Have you ever been criticized for being “too sensitive?”  Maybe you cry at the drop of the hat.  Maybe you’re easily hurt, in the feelings department.  If you absorb other people’s emotions, either expressed or not, you’re more than a sponge.  Perhaps you tend to notice things that other people pay no attention to.

If you can affirm any of these traits, perhaps you are a highly sensitive person, or HSP.  It’s not wrong, by the way.  It’s not even a disorder.  It’s a variation of normal.

But there are pitfalls in having this type of personality.  Feeling deeply can be overwhelming.  There is a great deal of stimuli out there that highly sensitive people are forced by their temperament, to process.  Such folks can be overwhelmed by “too much,” even of a good thing.

HSP’s internalize the unexpressed expectations of other people.  Failure, even small mistakes can feel crippling, triggering self-doubt and emotional self-flagellation.  Sensitive folk find it difficult to see failure as one route to success, be it by an alternative map and a different guide book.

Words matter to these humans.  Some jobs require strict attention to detail, in the use of words.  For example, the emergency dispatcher has to distinguish between 4th Avenue and 4th Street; it could mean the difference between life and death.

It’s kind of important to notice the details sometimes.  For instance, if someone had noticed the prospective flight school students who had no interest in learning how to land the plane, but directional navigation, in-flight, was their priority, history may have been altered.  On a personal level and of much less import than the flight school employee’s job, my job, requires that I pay attention to at least a dozen details in order to complete just one overall task.

The nurse who makes a mistake between ordering point-five milligrams instead of five milligrams of a powerful medicine, could have benefited from a detail-oriented personality.  We’d better not accuse any nurse of having a touch of OCD.

Criticism and negativity are like swords cutting straight to the soul of HSP’s and no number of garlic cloves or crosses can assuage such sticks and stones.  Tread lightly when discussing politics, and other “hot” topics with a highly sensitive person.  They’re easily overloaded by controversial details and too many options.

Actor, Michael Keaton’s character in Mr. Mom, could have burned the house down if an electrician had heeded his inattentive advice, “two-twenty, two-twenty-one, whatever it takes.” Or, when apartment hunting early in our marriage, we ran across the landlord who said, when we asked why there was no door on the freezer inside the refrigerator, “we find it works better that way;” were we born yesterday?

Are you paying attention?  Are you noticing some of the important details?

Highly sensitive people are extremely alert to sound, social cues such as body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and smells.  Deeply moved by beauty, HSP’s are more than likely artistic or creative, but if not, they certainly appreciate all expressions of art.  Detailed, vivid, and telling dreams are usual for highly sensitive people, and they mean something to the dreamer.

Speaking of details, the mysteries of human nature stir HSP’s to ask why, and can initiate long conversations with like-minded others, about life.  On the other hand, small talk about trivial things or chit-chat about nothing can prove exhausting to an HSP.

Conscientious to a fault HSP’S always give one-hundred percent.  These people will never be described as lazy but the opposite may be true.  “Overdoing it,” comes to mind.  Overthinking isn’t unheard of.

Most likely animal lovers and champions of children, highly sensitive people cannot tolerate cruelty.  HSP’s will never be caught watching docudramas of cruelty to animals, movies with a theme focusing on rape or human trafficking, or television shows with corrupt cops.

Highly sensitive people, not unlike introverts, require downtime to recharge their overly taxed nervous systems.   Time pressure sends HSP’s right to the sofa, the hiking trail, the altar, or wherever their personal recharging station is found.

See ya later, after I’ve hit the recharger for a bit.

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