The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide by Ted Zeff (2004)

Book review: The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide by Ted Zeff (New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2004)

If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you’re in good company. HSPs make up some 20 percent of the population, individuals like you who both enjoy and wrestle with a finely tuned nervous system. You often sense things that others ignore such as strong smells, bright lights, and the crush of crowds. Even the presence of strangers in your immediate vicinity can cause you considerable distraction. You already know that this condition can be a gift, but, until you learn to master your sensitive nervous system, you might be operating in a constant state of overstimulation.

As an HSP, the most important thing you can learn is how to manage your increased sensitivity to both physical and emotional stimulation. This accessible, practical guide contains strategies to help you master this critical skill. Build your coping skills by exploring the book’s engaging exercises. Then, keep the book by your side, a constant companion as you make your way through your vibrant and highly stimulating world.

  • Find out what it means to be a highly sensitive person
  • Take the self-examination quiz and find out whether you are highly sensitive
  • Learn coping techniques indispensible to HSPs
  • Discover how to manage distractions like noise and time pressure at home and at work
  • Reduce sensory-provoked tension with meditation and deep relaxation techniques
  • Navigate the challenges of interacting with others in social and intimate relationships

It feels rather sad, buying a book with a title like The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide, but as they say, necessity knows no law. When you have visitors and your stress levels go through the roof just because the fact that you can’t completely withdraw to recharge your batteries, you get desperate. As it happens, this is actually a good guide and not as cheesy as you might expect, judging from the title.

Ted Zeff has got Elaine N Aron to write the foreword, and to begin with, we get a re-run of the checklist of “are you a HSP?” as created by Aron. Then, he goes into different areas such as work life, sleep, relationships and the likes, and gives tips about how to deal with those situations. Most of the tips are along the lines of taking up daily meditation as a habit. It also suggests taking at least two nights a week where you relax, for instance by taking a bath. Good! Now I can totally justify my love for long, hot baths!

While not perhaps being revolutionary in its suggestions, at least it gives suggestions you may or may not have thought of  before. Anything to help you in your day to day life as a HSP is good.

I think I could connect with this book more than I could Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person. The latter focused a lot on memories of early childhood, which is something I don’t really have and therefore can’t relate to. How the frickin’ hell am I supposed to remember how I felt when I was two years old? I don’t even remember my first day in pre-school! (Let alone school itself.) This book didn’t have that. It talks more about the now, and that’s where we’re at, which makes the book work.

Not the first time I’ve been told I should meditate, but maybe I’ll try to do some after this. Worth a shot, right? Maybe some suggestions are better than others, but if it helps coping with the stresses of daily life you face when you’re highly sensitive, it’s all for the better. 4 out of 5 meditations.

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