Many years ago I read a book “The highly sensitive person” it resonated with me so much and helped me to understand many of my own traits, as well as my son who is also highly sensitive.
The author and national bestseller, Elaine Aron defines it as a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people. According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. “Sensitivity is anything but a flaw. Many HSPs are often unusually creative and productive workers, attentive and thoughtful partners, and intellectually gifted individuals. According to Dr. Aron, HSPs could contribute much more to society if they received the right kind of attention – and her national bestseller proves that this 15 to 20 percent of the population is eager to get off on the right foot in asserting their unique personality trait.”
HSP feel things more deeply than others, and this can work in positive and not so positive ways. While I have often wished I wasn’t so sensitive I am learning to honour and acknowledge the gifts 🙂
So approximately 20% of dancers have this trait… Here is a link to a self test, that will indicate whether this sounds like you!
I want to first acknowledge some of the benefits ive found as a highly sensitive dancer (this is from my own personal experience)
1) The ability to feel and connect with music intensely, and to notice a lot of the subtleties and changes in a composition (the down side of this is choreography can take forever as you may yearn to express so many of the nuances!)
2) Tendency to be more affected by the environment of a gig. So if it is a wonderful appreciative audience and a lovely high energy environment we feel that deeply! i have posted some images below of the most beautiful space I have danced in- all of the ladies that danced at that performance really felt how magical it was! I suggest being more choosy as to where you perform, and the universe will cotton on as to what you want 😉
3) highly sensitive people tend to be highly creative which is definitely a plus for dancers!
4) An ability to feel and connect deeply can work really well when dancing with others
5) Easily stimulated and intensely affected by the 5 senses.
This can have its benefits and challenges! here is an ideal example for the highly sensitive dancer that demonstrates this: say you are getting ready for a gig , you wear your favourite scent (which uplifts you), you wear your favourite costume that feels great and looks fantastic, you suck on our favourite lolly that tastes amazing, and you play your favourite music that gets you totally in the mood for a great gig. You are in control of how much and what type of stimulation your senses experience and this results in a positive outcome. However the flip side of this is you are often not in control of what your senses are bombarded with, and because highly sensitive people are easy overstimulated you can end up feeling frazzled and exhausted while others are having a grand ol time!
Here are some examples of how being a highly sensitive dancer can be challenging:
1) As i mentioned above, the vibe of an environment and an audience can either really boost you if it is positive, however if its a tough audience and a drab low energy vibe, this can also impact us a little more deeply than others. An environment is not only about how it looks on a physical level but how you ‘feel’ while in that space. In these difficult cases it is important to have internal strategies to remain centred and focused rather than feeling overwhelmed by what is happening around you. This takes practice!
2) Tendency to become overstimulated where the adrenals continue to pump long after finishing a performance or teaching a workshop. After a performance i have often found it difficult to sleep where the adrenaline continues to pump at low levels through my system for any where up to 2 days afterward. I have found strategies to manage this, so thankfully i am not as affected as i used to be. I remember when I was performing crazy amounts of gigs in a short period of time i was left feeling completely exhausted, so learning what your personal boundaries are also helps! One thing I have found helpful is to go for a walk after the gig and try to release the adrenalin. It is always important to have eaten food through out the day leading up to performing, as low blood sugar levels stimulate adrenalin.
3) highly sensitive people feel their own emotions and other people’s emotions more intensely than others. It is not uncommon for a highly sensitive person to walk into a room and immediately feel how other people are feeling and tune into where they are at on a deeper level. So for a highly sensitive dancer it is important to choose who you dance with wisely and to be observant as to how you feel around them. The vibe just prior to a performance can have a positive/negative impact depending!
I have found this trait really fascinating to learn about and I realise just how common it is after speaking with many people who can relate! There are so many children who are highly sensitive and a parent who is well informed can understand and also implement strategies to help their children to manage some of the challenging aspects of the trait, while honouring the gifts also.