Monday, June 16, 2014

Give me some space please...

photo credit:http://www.wyophotos.blogspot.comLately I have been noticing something about myself. I need space, physical space, psychic space and emotional space. I don't know if it is because I am one of those highly sensitive folk, but I become physically uncomfortable around loud people, or anyone either in a vehicle or in person, coming too close. I tend to pick up on what others are feeling (tailgaters and their anger) and get easily distracted (clicking of someone typing on a laptop in class). Is this the ramblings of a mad woman? Is it because I am a country girl, and grew up with a big backyard and the woods in which to play? Or maybe it is a personality flaw, that uber sensitivity that allows me to keep others at bay (black flies don't count!). 

I think as a woman, my culture has taught me to be small, to take up as little space as possible. Look at the passengers in a  bus or a train, the men have splayed legs, taking up more space than allotted, and the women usually cross their legs, in effect, making themselves smaller. I have issues with anything or anyone that comes too close, be it a black fly (mean little suckers that dive bomb and attack in Spring) or the man standing behind me in the grocery line.  

Elaine Aron has written many books about the Highly Sensitive Person, approximately 15 -20% of the population who notice subtleties, is very intuitive, is sensitive to pain and to noise, among other things. Here is a list of traits on Elaine's website. When I took the quiz on this site, I came up overwhelmingly highly sensitive. It can be a hindrance (I am scared of car horns for what they do to my nerves!) as well as an asset. I can "read" people's emotions, and that can be very helpful, saving me from many scrapes. 

Personal space is a huge trigger for many people. On her website, Dr. Juith Orloff writes about how to cope with space invasion. "Why can personal space intrusions make our blood boil? Aside from being obnoxious, rude, dangerous, or unhealthy, they violate a primitive instinct that we’re not safe or respected. When we experience such violations, our brains actually react as if we were still back in 50,000 BC. Research shows that personal space disputes such as neighbor feuds about overgrown foliage are evolutionarily prompted responses aimed at guarding resources and ensuring survival." She  has a list of personal space invasions on her website. These include: telemarketers, loud cars, air pollution, tailgaters and graffiti. Knowing these triggers helps us to let them go when they pop up. Why do people get so close? Are we programmed or is it a personal issue?

Time Magazine answered the question: Why is so uncomfortable to be close to strangers? "Evolution seems to have programmed this discomfort via a brain structure called the amygdalae, a pair of almond-shaped brain regions deep within each temporal lobe that control fear and the processing of emotion. It's your amygdalae that keeps you from getting so close to another person that he could easily reach out, gouge an eye, and then drag your woman off by her hair." So we can blame it all on our ancestors, something we, as humans, excel at.

So I am a highly sensitive person that has a highly developed amygdalae. No one will be gouging my eyes out anytime soon, just please, if you see me driving, cute little blue shoe-sized car, don't honk. I am off to the woods.

No comments:

Post a Comment