How Hypersensitivity Affects Your Paruresis (and Your Life)

bright lightsYour appreciation of art and attention to detail may blow people out of the water. But if you get too hungry, you may get distracted and cranky enough to want to blow someone’s head off. Sound familiar? These traits are common in people with hypersensitivity, which can play a role in your shy bladder as well as your daily life. 

Also called high sensitivity, hypersensitivity is a condition that can make you excruciatingly aware of your own steady stream of thoughts as well as the world around you. In other words, you may notice and be affected by just about everything.

Psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron reports 15 to 20 percent of the human population has a highly sensitive nature, as do most animals. Fruit flies, fish and felines use it as a survival tool, as it makes them highly observant before acting. It’s also innate and linked to genetics. You’re born with it. So don’t fret something you did, said or thought about back in third grade made you a highly sensitive person.

High sensitivity is not a disorder, nor does it necessarily have to be a curse. Knowing that you fall into the category can actually be a relief, and adjusting your lifestyle and habits can help you live in peace.

Hypersensitivity Symptoms

Not every single highly sensitive person will have all of the symptoms, and you may have other traits that aren’t even listed. The following lineup of symptoms comes from a hypersensitivity checklist on Dr. Aron’s website. Finding yourself identifying with a big chunk of the symptoms may indicate you fall into the highly sensitive category.

Mental Symptoms 

Highly sensitive people may: 

  • Be intensely moved by music or art
  • Enjoy a complex and rich inner life
  • Be acutely aware of even the subtleties in their environment
  • Be extremely conscientious or go out of their way not to forget things or make mistakes
  • Be thrown off when they have to do too much in too short a time or engage in multitasking
  • Notice when others are uncomfortable in their environment and may offer to do things like change the seating or lighting to make them more comfortable
  • Make a point to avoid violent TV shows and movies
  • Get really cranky or disrupted when hungry
  • Become very nervous, shaky and perform poorly when engaging in a task with others watching
  • Have been labeled “sensitive” or “shy” as children
  • Arrange their lives to avoid situations that can be overwhelming or upsetting
  • Be highly affected by other people’s moods 

Physical Symptoms 

If you’re highly sensitive, you may: 

  • Be bothered by loud noise, blazing lights or other chaotic stimuli
  • Become extremely wired on caffeine
  • Be very sensitive to pain
  • Become overwhelmed by strong smells, tastes, sounds or other potent sensory input
  • Get annoyed when there’s too much going on around you
  • Startle easily
  • Become angry, cranky, unable to concentrate or otherwise disrupted when extreme hunger hits 

Alone Time

Thanks to the annoyance or downright grief they may feel when your body and mind go into overload, highly sensitive people often get so frazzled they have to spend some alone time. That time is typically spent in a quiet, soothing dark room where they can find relief from all the chaos. It may not be uncommon for them to scurry out of a nerve-wracking situation just to nestle themselves in their beds.

Awareness of Hyper-Awareness

Knowing that you may fall into the hypersensitive category can actually be a relief. No longer do you have to think there is something really wrong with you if you’re not a big fan of violent movies or loud parties. You may simply be highly sensitive, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. You can even use it to your advantage or at least tweak your activities and environment to better suit the condition.

“When you know that you are highly sensitive, it reframes your life,” Dr. Aron notes. “Sensitive people have to live differently in order to be comfortable.” 

How High Sensitivity Links to Paruresis

High sensitivity and shy bladder can definitely be linked, as paruresis can stem from being super-sensitive about the environment, especially when that environment is a public restroom. An assessment of the layout, stall height and location of urinals and toilets may be an automatic habit when walking into any restroom for someone suffering from shy bladder. And an equally acute awareness of any noises, smells and presence of other people can be on the list.

Making changes in your life that help you live with your highly sensitive nature may, in turn, help lessen the symptoms of your paruresis.

Benefits and Detriments of Being Highly Sensitive

Yes, there are some benefits to being hyper-aware of your thoughts and the world around you. You already learned your art and music appreciation may actually be a deep super-appreciation, and your creation of art and music may be equally as deep. 

Write any poignant poems lately?

An acute sensitivity to your environment can make it very easy for you to size up a room’s mood in an instant, make other people comfortable if they’re not and notice subtle cues other people may miss. Attitude Magazine points out those subtle cues can help you make informed decisions, which may actually be super-informed decisions based on body language or other small nuances that give you the underlying scoop of what’s really going on.

On the downside of things, highly sensitive folks are typically more prone to asthma, allergies and skin conditions such as eczema. They can also start drowning in distress if they’re presented with too much information at once or exposed to sensory overload.

While you may want to address certain underlying issues that contribute to your shy bladder, you don’t have to run out and “cure” high sensitivity. It’s not something that you can typically change or erase. What you can do, however, is learn to live with it calmly, coolly and with as much serenity as possible.

Coming Soon: Tips for Living (Calmly) with Hypersensitivity


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