Highly sensitive people
like to "pause to check" before entering a new situation, much like the
deer pictured here. One deer may pause at the edge of a grass clearing
and carefully check before entering. Another deer might charge into
the clearing, claiming the best grass or possibly getting killed by a
At an office meeting are you the one who says, "we should really think this over before we act on it" and ruffle the feathers of those who want to do something now. Or in relationship, do you need time to think things over, while the other person is ready for action? Perhaps you lie awake at night picturing the events of the day and noticing incongruities from the day. These incongruities cause you to review the picture over and over until you realize something happened, that until now escaped your attention. Perhaps you don't want to answer a complex question immediately because you want time to consider the information carefully.
"The automatic pause-to-check system" are the wonderful words Elaine Aron came up with to describe this coping system commonly found in HSP's. "It takes in everything about a situation and then automatically compares the present to what has been normal and usual in the past and what should be expected in the future. If there is a mismatch, the system makes us stop and wait until we understand the new circumstance. To me this is a very significant part of being intelligent." from The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron.
Sometimes people in our lives have trouble with our need to pause to check. It's really just the classic, age old push and pull between the warrior-king who is ready for action and the priestly-adviser who wants to take the time to make sure it is well thought out. Both are necessary.
How can you get respect in various relationships for pausing to check? First, make sure you appreciate this trait in yourself. Can you easily list what good things come from pausing to check? Some HSP's also have a strong need for action or desire to go-for-it. Does this part of yourself judge the part that needs to pause to check? First appreciate and make peace with yourself.
Now, do you appreciate the value of taking action? List all the good that can come from following the more active approach to an issue. Find your critic and voice the judgmental words you would apply to those that are faster to act. Again, if you are an HSP with a strong need for action, do you judge the part of yourself that needs to go-for-it? So, make sure you truly appreciate the need for action both in yourself and others.
Then, in calm moments when there is space to reflect, begin to have conversations with others about the role you play and the role they play. In work settings these can be brief conversations. Acknowledge the wonderful value in the role the other person plays and claim the value of your own contribution. These conversations, in times when stress is low, can build understanding. Then, when stress is high, with gentle reminding, each person's natural tendencies can be more naturally acknowledged and valued.