In her article Growing Up Gifted Is Not Easy, psychologist and author Elaine Aron recalls searching for the term “sensitivity” in the social science literature, and finding that Linda Silverman [Director of the Gifted Development Center] was “convinced that all gifted children are highly sensitive.”
Dr. Aron says she doesn’t agree, noting that 15 to 20 % of us (and other animals) are highly sensitive, a much larger group than gifted people. Still, high sensitivity is a significant part of the life and psyche of high ability people – and creative people in general.
Read more in article: How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety When You’re Highly Sensitive.
Here is a news story about one of those animals who may be sensitive: Cinders the pig:
“You can’t get much happier than a pig in muck, or so we are told. But when this little piggy arrived in the farmyard she showed a marked reluctance to get her trotters dirty.
“While her six brothers and sisters messed around in the mire, she stayed on the edge shaking. It is thought she might have mysophobia – a fear of dirt.
“Owners Debbie and Andrew Keeble were at a loss, until they remembered the four miniature wellies used as pen and pencil holders in their office. They slipped them on the piglet’s feet – and into the mud she happily ploughed.
“Now she runs over to Mr Keeble so he can put them on for her in the morning.”
From Pig in Boots: The world’s only porker who is afraid of mud, By Beth Hale, Daily Mail (UK) 10th June 2008; photo by Ross Parry Agency.
We may experience various kinds and levels of fear and anxiety throughout life, and may be more vulnerable as highly sensitive and creative people.
Many people experience anxiety disorders and phobias.
“An American study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that between 8.7% and 18.1% of Americans suffer from phobias. Broken down by age and gender, the study found that phobias were the most common mental illness among women in all age groups and the second most common illness among men older than 25.” [Wikipedia]
“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18.1% of U.S. population).” [Anxiety Disorders Association of America adaa.org]
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Andy Mort is founder of the Sheep Dressed Like Wolves site, which includes the Member’s Haven: “completely dedicated to helping introverted and/or highly sensitive people understand your temperaments, manage your energy, and gain the confidence, encouragement, and inspiration you need to turn your inner dreams into external realities.”
“Kaitlyn Mirison helps creative introverts who struggle with insecurity to share their creative aspirations out in the world. I interviewed her for the Haven…and she has very generously put together a pack exclusive for us, to help us gain the inner tools we need to live a life in step with our creative spirit.”
Excerpt from The 4 Essential Pillars on the Creative Path by Kaitlyn Mirison:
“When you face the inherent challenges within the creative process self doubts and anxiety can really hook in and stop you in your tracks. These challenges can cause you to beat yourself up for not being something other than who you are right now and a willingness or ability to take the next step.
“Often to some extent people dismiss the level of pain they feel from an experience in their life, telling themselves and others that they’re OK when this is not the truth of what they really feel.”
You can get this helpful PDF and audio package when you subscribe to the Sheep Dressed Like Wolves Member’s Haven.
More from Kaitlyn Mirison:
“Someone may have told you to “toughen up” and I’m asking you, “Please don’t.” Your innate way of feeling and processing things on a very deep level is a tremendous gift… And, the nuances and details you pick up on in life feed into your creative expression and find a unique way for the communication of meaning.”
From blog post “Don’t Toughen Up” January 19, 2015, on her site Create Beyond Limits.
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In her article What Causes an Anxiety Disorder?, Deanne Repich (Founder of the National Institute of Anxiety and Stress) notes “An anxiety disorder is caused by a combination of several factors working together over a period of time. Usually one factor alone does not result in an anxiety disorder.
“Several of the contributing factors are: Biological Factors; Stress Overload/Lifestyle Factors; Childhood Environment; Thought Patterns and Genetic Factors.
“We all have an inborn ‘fight or flight’ response designed to protect us from harm. When our survival is threatened, the fight or flight response creates physical and psychological changes that encourage us to act and protect our survival. These changes include rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, shallow breathing, and more. People suffering from anxiety disorders often have a physical overreaction to stress.”
Phobias and fears such as social anxiety disorder can limit not only our interactions with other people and life in general, but impact our creative expression.
Help to relieve anxiety
Fear and anxiety at the level of a clinical disorder may need medical treatment, but less intense or pervasive forms may not. Many supplements can help, and there are a number of articles about anxiety on this site.
Also see a variety of self-help, non-drug programs at Anxiety Relief Solutions.
French fabulist and poet Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695) once commented, “Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire.”
Maybe one way to ease up on ourselves is not to believe in our fears so uncritically. One conception of fear is the acronym: FEAR: False Expectations Appearing Real.
A physical attack or emotional abuse is real; the “threat” of speaking in front of a group is not so real, even though we may react as though it is.
We can find help from foods, supplements, counseling, medications, and changing our attitudes to tolerate more – and even enjoy – “threatening” crowds and situations. Even go play in the mud.
Article: Sensitive to Anxiety and Depression.
Dr. Ted Zeff notes that “Looking for happiness and trying to obtain a feeling of self-worth only from outside stimuli can create anxiety and tension for the reflective, sensitive person… If you know that a certain environment creates anxiety, either try to change the unhealthy, over-stimulating situation or remove yourself from the source of tension.”
article includes video: Being Highly Sensitive – With Anxiety
and more resources