Top critical review
67 people found this helpful
on 14 October 2009
I don't like posting negative reviews but I cannot do otherwise in the case of this book. Firstly even the subtitle annoys me "how to thrive when the world overwhelms you" - a tad patronizing, I find, as well as urging us to conform, implicitly, to a world that is not sensitive, at least in its mainstream aspects.
Now I credit the effort the author has made to publicize in her own way "high sensitivity". But I think she misrepresents it or, at the least, overlooks some key features.
Drawing from my experience as a highly sensitive person, prone to philosophical thought and easily upset by confrontation and people's obtuseness and gregariousness, I think that the key element of being sensitive is emotional astuteness. Highly sensitive people are emotionally highly literate, they can detect stress, anger or insecurity in other people as easily as walking is for most people, to the extent that they can even predict what someone is going to say or when a given social situation is going to go sour. In addition, the sensitive people I know tend to be much deeper than non-sensitive people, simply because they are far more in touch with their emotions.
The trait has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it can help survival by avoiding dangerous, potentially lethal situations. It can also engender highly positive emotions and feelings, even memories, because our perception of good things is so much more acute. On the other hand, it can mean being, as the author points out, overwhelmed by other people's negative emotions or unpleasant facets of reality and, in effect, requires constant self-monitoring.
It is possible to be highly sensitive and have good self-esteem and confidence. I just think being sensitive requires putting more effort into managing stress than most people because negative or sad emotions are felt much more intensely in the case of sensitive people. No wonder do they often turn to theological or philosophical thought.
The author, however, offers scant or, in my view, unhelpful advice as to managing those kind of stresses and, without wanting to be offensive, is very stuck in her American, conformist mind-set.
The other thing I've learned and found wanting in this book is that the key to successfully managing sensitivity is by thinking-feeling our way through things as opposed to just thinking or just feeling - finding the right balance of thinking input and feeling input seems to me key to mastering this trait. "Think and feel" "Feel and Think".
Positive self-talk and indulging in what heightens one's well-being and avoiding that which unnecessarily exhausts, though a simple lesson, is something I've had to relearn time and time again, but each new time with added conviction. In short: know yourself, learn from the bad experiences and learn to interpret them in a happy-positive light.
In short, I think the author often confuses causes and symptoms and overlooks potential helpful coping mechanisms to turn high sensitivity into the blessing it really is (for the most part).