sakurablossom: a ginger girl sitting on a dirt road, staring at the horizon (6 blossoms)
[personal profile] sakurablossom posting in [community profile] sensitive
I sas recently sitting in my car at a traffic light and noticed a very nervous-looking young woman in the car next to mine. Her radio was blasting loud rap music as she shrieked into her cell phone while simultaneously smoking a cigarette. She then flicked her cigarette butt out the window and took a gulp from a huge cup of coffee. As the light changed she quickly put down the cup and floored the gas pedal while still shouting into her cell phone. The car in front of hers was evidently moving a little too slowly for her temperament, so she began frantically honking her horn.

As an HSP, just watching the stimulation at the traffic light made me so anxious that I could feel the muscles in my body becoming tense as my hand grasped the steering wheel tighter. As mentioned in chapter 1, we are living in a fast-paced, stimuli-saturated world that is particularly challenging for highly sensitive people. As you can see from the story, highly sensitive people have difficulty being around stimulation. In this chapter you will learn many techniques to remain calm in over-stimulating situations.

When I teach classes on stress-reduction, I ask the students what they think is the most common way people cope with stress. Some of the response offered are the following: drinking alcohol, taking medication, shopping, watching television, working, surfing the Internet, and sleeping. Rarely does anyone come up with the correct answer, which is denial. For a non-HSP, it's dangerous to deny the detrimental effects of stress and overstimulation, but for an HSP it can be catastrophic.

I remember waiting in line at a store to pick up some business cards. The clerk was working alone behind the counter while the phone was ringing off the hook as more customers joined the queue. An irate customer demanded that his cards should have been ready that day. The frazzled clerk's face turned red as his voice began trembling with frustration and anger. When I stepped up to the desk, I tried to make him feel calmer by telling him that it must be difficult working all alone in such a stressful environment. In an irritated voice, he curtly responded that the pressure didn't bother him. However, time urgent behavior can create emotional and physical problems in our frenetic, fast-paced society.

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Our Type A Society

Drs. Friedman and Rosenman wrote in their well-known book,Type A Behavior and Your Heart that the values of our society encourage Type A behavior (1974). According to Friedman and Rosenman, "Type A behavior has three main components: time urgency, excessive competitiveness, and hostility." Conversely, the Type B personality is characterized by the following traits: a relatively small sense of time urgency, noncompetitiveness, and lack of aggression.

Type A behavior is ubiquitous in America and industrialized countries today. In many studies over the last thirty years, it was found that the majority of participants were diagnosed at Type A while only a small minority exhibited Type B characteristics (Zeff 1981). According to Ethel Roskies, noted researcher of Type A intervention studies, the Type A characteritics of ambition, being goal-oriented, and time urgency are qualities that American society encourages.

While a highly sensitive person could be either Type A or Type B, the HSP is deeply affected by our Type A culture. The HSP can become easily overwhelmed and usually performs poorly when pressured by time, competition, and aggressive behavior. Since the HSP is easily affected by other people's moods, you may have a tendency to internalize the mores of our Type A culture.

Even the non-HSP can be negatively affected by time urgency pressure that is endemic in today's work place. According to Dr. Rosenman, if a Type A person succeeds in a task, it is in spite of the Type A behavior, not because of it. Interestingly, D.C. Glass reported in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology (1974) that the Type A subjects were less successful than the Type Bs in performing job-related tasks.

The Need to Disengage

As an HSP, you'll need to utilize specific behavior modification exercises to disengage from the Type A environment. Techniques such as mediation and deep breathing will help you disconnect from the fast-paced world we're living in. Unfortunately, most people don't want to modify their lifestyle, even if it's causing them tension and anxiety. However, one of the few groups of Type A people who have always been willing to attempt change were those who experienced a heart attack. When the dotors told those patients that if they didn't make immediate changes in their lifestyle they would die, the post-coronary heart patients participated in a Type A modfication program. Ah, now there's motivation to change! Likewise, HSPs should act as if their life depends on modifying Type A beliefs. If you don't implement lifestyle changes, you may be damaging both your physical and emotional health.

The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide - Ted Zeff, PH.D. (pg 21-23)

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Sensitive

May 2012

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Sensitivity

How to thrive when the world overwhelms you