Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Make Room for the Sensitives

I recently finished a book about a group to which512px-Utara_Coal_Mine_2 up to half of the population belongs:  Introverts.  Introverts have many qualities.  I’m going to discuss one which was a mystery to me for most of my life.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

In psychological terms it is known as Sensitive.  Like other Sensitives, I am frightened by loud sudden noises, sickened by offensive odors, and overwhelmed by emotion.   I tried to overcome my fear of loud noises by attending fireworks displays during my high school, college, and post-college years.  Did it work?  No.  Many noises disturb and distract me, from the wail of a child to the backfire of a car to the scream of a siren.  In college I studied in the highest level stacks where ancient dissertations were kept—the only place where I could find complete quiet.

It’s not only noise that disturbs me.  Offensive odors, real or imagined, make me feel sick, sometimes to the point of vomiting.  The odor of decay, the smell of smoke, the effluvium of excrement, all cause me distress. 

Finally, the emotions of others overwhelm me to the point where I cannot react.  Pray for the sick?  I can barely stand to be around them.  Stand up to an argument?  Be near people experiencing pain, anger, distress of any type?  I need to leave before I dissolve into a huddled heap.  Watch a movie like The Passion of the Christ or Schindler’s List?  Never.  The reality is that I appear non-reactive when confronted with personal pain because if I allowed myself to react it would render me non-functional and the reaction would be out of proportion to the pain.

All of these things have caused me to feel like an outsider in a society that loves loud music and in a church that teaches us to pray for the sick. 

So what’s the upside?  I’m still trying to figure that out. 

Being sensitive makes us more aware.  Like the canary in the mine, you had better heed our warnings; we may save your life. 

Are there any other Sensitives out there?  What are some of the benefits? 




Coal Mine photo By Ray go (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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