You’re too intense, too high-strung, too artsy-fartsy, a drama queen, man up, face the music, no crying in baseball. Although sensitivity often gets a bad rap, without sensitive people, there would be little to no creativity, no cultural differences, no innovation, no social media, no art, and no scienc

            According to research psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, sensitivity is a temperament that we are born with it; it is part of our genetic makeup. Aron, who’s been studying this subject since 1991, believes that 15-20 % of the population in the United States is what she terms “highly sensitive people.” This includes people from all cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds and ranges from artists, teachers, writers, mountain climbers, politicians, judges and therapists to philosophers, scientists, inventors, athletes, chefs, entrepreneurs, musicians, social activists and conscientious citizens.  
           Biologically speaking, highly sensitive people (hsp’s) simply take in and process more sensory information than most people. They are neurologically primed to see more things, hear more sounds and are extra sensitive to light, textures, movement, and color.
Higher sensitivity levels also enhance the ability to perceive deeper meanings within day-to-day experiences both good and bad. With more information and higher processing speeds, hsps are able to pick up more nuances and spot unique patterns in their environment that most people would ignore. It is this way of seeing and being in the world that lays the groundwork for creativity and true innovation.

           Brain studies have also indicated that sensitive peeps also have more activity in parts of the brain associated with empathy and self-awareness, have a richer capacity for self-reflection which allows them to make deeper connections with others.  Research also suggests that on average, hsps fall in love harder and faster, are prone to intense childhood crushes, often put themselves last, and have an extremely hard time setting boundaries.

Highly sensitive people tend to suffer more

             Although there are many benefits to high sensitivity, the emotional flipside is that extra sensory intake can leave the super sensitive exposed to more intense levels of physical discomfort.  They also tend to have more difficulty with unpleasant odors, fluorescent lighting, loud people on cell phones, and even low levels of noises such as machines running, or a TV in the background can be very uncomfortable.  In addition, hsps are often sensitive to temperature and can quickly get over-heated or too cold and tend to deal with more allergies, fevers, rashes, insect bites, and distressing side effects from certain kinds of medication.
              On the mental health side, sensory overload can often lead to intense feelings including fear, isolation, loneliness, and a host of other psychological woes. For example, hsps can easily get overwhelmed, overexcited, overstressed and can shut down much quicker than the average person.  Its no wonder research indicates that our sensitive friends typically crave more downtime and solitude than most people.

 Sensitivity often fuels creativity and imagination

             So yeah, living with a wafer-thin sensory filter can make life a little more dicey, a tad darker and a lot more intense, and can also require an extra expense account for special lighting, softer clothes, and tastier foods. But the truth is, it is this suffering, paired with higher levels of curiosity, imagination and intuition, which can lead to an outpouring of creativity and personal growth as well as a more hopeful outlook on life and humanity. Dr. Aron shares a story about the super sensitive World War II Journalist Etty Hillesum who, when traveling in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz, scribbled her last words onto a small scrap of paper and threw it out the window.  The note read:  “We left the camps singing.” 
            Although our sensitive friends can be a little too much at times, without them the world would be much less spirited, less inspired, less surprising, less musical and definitely less magical.


Two4oneWednesdaysHOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR THERAPIST IS CRAZY? Tips For Finding a Good One 

Ever tried to shop for a good melon? Not an easy task, you gotta roll it, squeeze it, shake it, and thump it.  Well, looking for a decent therapist is similar, minus the thumping - which is definitely not recommended. There are A LOT of bad ones out there, some crazy-ass ones too, so it’s important that you don’t just settle for any Dr.Jill or Joe Schmo. So, how do you shop for a smart, sane shrink ? What do you look for? And how do you know if you’ve found a good one? After much research and pondering, here are some thoughts to factor in during your mental health & wellness-shopping spree. 



Mindfulness is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends and not just in LA, New York, and the mountaintops of Tibet. Indeed contemplative practices are being embraced by millions around the globe, across all cultures, and are often at the heart of many religious traditions. But thanks to behavioral science, there is growing interest in its potential mental health benefits. In fact, studies are now suggesting that mindfulness is a valuable treatment option for an assortment of mental disorders.

Although there is yet to be a universal definition of mindfulness, most experts agree it includes: a healthy amount of nonjudgmental self-awareness, a heaping of self-acceptance and a concentrated focus on staying present in the here and now. Perhaps the most widely accepted operational definition comes from John Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at U-Mass, and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness in Medicine. Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

A few key components in the mindfulness philosophy zero in on a specific style of meditation which involves the observation of one’s breathing, and paying strategic attention to one’s inner experiences, such as thoughts, emotions or behavioral inclinations. Other critical elements include; the refraining from judgment and the avoiding or pushing away of unpleasant thoughts, images, or feelings. In other words, while meditating mindfully, one learns to monitor her thoughts and feelings as they come and go. When the mind wanders back into the past (Did I leave my iphone charger at home?) or forward into the future (Pick up toilet paper on way home), she is encouraged to give labels to her mental content. For example, a future thought: “Order sushi before 6pm to get early bird deal” – would be labeled “planning” or a past thought “Wow, I acted like such an idiot in the meeting today” would be labeled “judgment”.

It is commonly thought, among a wide variety of therapists with an assortment of theoretical perspectives, that mind wandering run amok and can often increase the likelihood of anxiety and depression. By training a person to recognize and curtail one’s natural, automatic thoughts and tendencies during mindful meditation, i.e. not scratching, shifting around, or engaging in anxiety provoking rumination, (the official term for mind wandering) one is actually enhancing his capacity to focus his attention on productive goals, important values, and aspirations. It can also help the client to learn to not let the darker elements of life distract, detract or derail these goals and values.

Scientists have discovered that a regular practice of mindfulness can actually lead to a shift in what they call “reperceiving” which in turn can lead to healthier changes in behavior. They claim that this perceptual shift allows meditators to stand back and witness their own thoughts and experiences instead of being engulfed in them. This theory holds that by paying attention to the present moment instead of letting the brain react automatically and run wild with passing thoughts and emotions, the brain can literally re-wire itself.So, when flooded with a rogue wave of anxiety, instead of engaging in automatic behavioral patterns like drinking a 5th of vodka, eating a bag of caramel kettle corn, or yelling at the rude lady at the bank, the mindful meditator can take a step back, notice that an emotional state has risen and then just let it pass right on by. No food, no vodka, no drugs, no drama!

In the past 15 years, mental health professionals have added mindfulness to their tool kit for treating a number of psychiatrics disorders including anxiety, depression, personality disorders and even treating symptoms of schizophrenia. Many more people are drawn to psychotherapists that incorporate mindfulness into their practice and scientists have tapped into its most important why’s; People want a proactive way to tackle psychological or emotional issues, they are looking for ways to be more engaged and present…and genuinely want to show up for life rather than just phone or text it in. In this way, when mindfulness is mixed in the clinical process, it can allow clients to embrace and conquer distress and to create more psychological freedom. What better reason to give this modality some serious consideration?