Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life
by Ilse Sand
Translated by Elisabeth Svanholmer
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This book was first published in Denmark in 2010 and was just released in the United States last week (June 21, 2016). The author says that it is a book for highly sensitive people and delicate souls and that it may also be helpful for those who live or work with HSPs. (HSP is a term coined by Elaine Aron, another expert on the topic, to refer to highly sensitive people and, though Sand doesn’t use this term, I will for sake of ease.)
I found Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World to be a welcome addition to the relatively small body of work about HSPs. It is straightforward and simple to read, perhaps lacking a bit in personality, but more than making up for it with information to help the reader understand how being sensitive can affect so many areas of daily life.
Sand covers everything from how to recognize your HSP traits to how to work with them to create a life that is more comfortable in the home, at work, and while parenting. She addresses the importance of setting boundaries, of “vegetative” time, and of protecting yourself from what triggers you. She even provides conversation points to help you get the support you need from others. Some of the recommended statements may need to be practiced to be delivered in a friendly manner, but they could certainly facilitate open dialogue. She also includes throughout the book examples from HSPs of scenarios they have struggled with and succeeded with.
I recommend this book for HSPs, and the people who love them might want to flip through it as well. Some of the information you will have seen before if you have read other books on the topic, but there were plenty of new points made, especially in concrete examples of how sensitivity can present itself and how to work with it (or around it).
I’m sad that I avoided this book for so long. I misunderstood what it was. In the barrage of coaches pushing women to start their own businesses, charge more, grow a substantial email list… well, I saw the title Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead and thought here we go again. I'm not trying to be big, so I didn’t bother looking at it.
Then I stumbled across the book in the store while looking for a different title and, for whatever reason, I picked it up and read a few passages throughout.
Right in the introduction she spoke directly to me (and to you, too): "You are that fabulous, we-wish-she-was-speaking-up-more woman."
It wasn’t a business book; it was a soul book. Tara Mohr’s words were the exact words I needed.
The message isn’t about growing a business or becoming rich and famous. It’s about owning ourselves. Tara advocates getting in touch with our own wisdom, not finding mentors to pull us along through our work. She talks about dealing with fear and criticism. She talks about the language we, as women, tend to use that deflates what we are trying to say (“just,” “actually,” “I don’t know, but…”). She talks about callings: how to identify them, how to respond to them, and that they don’t actually have to be our source of income. And, just in case you’re worried your calling isn’t significant enough (for example, if you feel your calling to paint is frivolous because it’s not a calling to feed the hungry), she argued that all callings are significant (in the case of painting, you are adding beauty to the world which makes people feel good).
This book that I thought would be filled with the same old business coaching as every other book (I even found it in the business section of the bookstore), turned out to be so different. This is a book about women’s rights, owning your work, making your own decisions, and heeding your call even if you think you are unprepared.
Playing Big is an important book. I recommend it for adult women aged 25 to 100.