When you are a highly sensitive person, and noise pollution seems to make your life miserable, remember this:
You are not alone! What Dr. Elaine Aron, psychotherapist and book author, calls a ‘highly sensitive person’ (HSP), describes a personality trait that about 15-20 percent of the population share.
And being a Highly Sensitive Person is a gift. Okay, the HSP tends to be shy and introverted. But she is deep-thinking. And they are also good at reading other people, have a good handle of their intuition, and are empathetic.
But as most good things in life come at a price, handling of stress is often not the HSP’s forte. And being highly sensitive in an ever more noisy world can be frustrating.
But as an essay by the Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper suggests, ‘All life is problem-solving.’ Popper’s point is compelling and straightforward: We can and should live and control our lives consciously for the world’s universal betterment.
And according to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, this is our moral duty: the duty of all human beings of goodwill to advance ethical and moral progress.
So, here then is your curriculum (for that part of the complex you) as a Highly Sensitive Person:
First and foremost, keep all your wits about you.
Second, protect, grow, and share your gift by finding effective ways to cope with noise pollution.
Now, let’s have a look at how to go about this curriculum.
The Highly Sensitive Person and Noise Pollution – Accept Your Game
It’s not much of solace that, to a certain degree, everybody is sensitive to noise. After all, we are all born with the fear of loud noises. So, pump up the volume enough, and anybody would go cuckoo.
But for the highly sensitive person, pain from loud sounds or any noise is amplified. Noise can be overly invasive, extremely distressing, and extraordinarily overstimulating.
If that wasn’t enough, try to explain your discomfort from noise to the average extrovert, like somebody who is sitting in public space with default social media notifications on full blast on her mobile phone. At the same time, she is having a video chat with her friend without headphones. Before, of course, blasting off into the void of nuisance on her tuned motorcycle. Good luck.
Meanwhile, throwing a sound rage tantrum is not the right choice. You are the awkward one here. I mean, I, too, believe that there is a special place in hell for people continuously broadcasting their mobile phone cacophony into the world.
But look at the numbers how many HSP there are and how the world, deep sigh, is getting ever noisier.
Also, most people are not on and about to inflict evil on you. They are oblivious and or ignorant. Most people don’t even notice that many noises that can drive you up the wall: the faint chirping of a neon light, the closing of a distant door, the music from another person’s headphones, a colleague’s munching of food. The list is endless.
Use the Power of Acceptance Moving Forward
So, before taking any drastic actions that might land you in the funny farm rather than making planet earth any quieter: Accept that you are different. Acceptance is so good and liberating.
Most won’t understand your ‘condition.’ But in the game of life, it is your task that others don’t perceive you as a nutter. Even avoid that others may view you as ‘high maintenance’ or ‘fussy.’
You have a job to do. So prepare and shield yourself.
The Highly Sensitive Person and Noise Pollution: Protect, Grow, and Share
Half of the battle is accepting your heightened sensitivity to noise and that you, therefore, have to take appropriate steps in your life.
The changes you make will be ongoing, but this is also where the fun begins.
Make it a game. Keep track of your progress and give yourself points. Ten points for not breaking into a sound rage today. Five points for not wishing that the tiny mutant dog with the silly bark ought to meet its end as a sausage. Twenty points for letting the sound of the neighbor’s lawnmower wash right through you rather than hitting the wall of grief.
Gamification keeps you motivated and brightens up the frustration you feel over noise pollution.
1. Protect Yourself from Noise Overstimulation
Use as much help as you can to protect yourself from noise overstimulation. It makes the game more manageable because you will be less irritable and disgruntled with less disturbance from noise.
Use earplugs and noise reduction headphones in noisy spaces. Noise reduction wearables can help you sleep without interruptions from noise.
Listen to white noise, which can help mask bothering sounds from your immediate environment. Equally helpful is ‘nature music’ like the sound of the ocean, rain, thunder, a spring meadow, or night sounds. We perceive these sounds as calming as they immerse us into soundscapes from which we evolved. They also redirect our listening attention away from environmental noise and are, at the same time, soothing balm for our auditory sense.
And then there is your living space which you can prop with all kinds of gear to curb external noise: Installing noise insulation windows or soundproofing existing ones, apply soundproof curtains, there’s sound-blocking underlayment for flooring. Go in all the way and soundproof external walls. If you live in a condominium made from steel and concrete, any natural materials like wood, stone, linen, and blankets will have a sound-absorbing effect as well.
Any noise reduction, canceling, and isolation tech is your friend.
And any action you take will automatically make you feel better as you consciously work towards a resolution of your dilemma.
2. Plan, Prepare and Cultivate You Inner Calm
Highly Sensitive Persons tend to have a holistic outlook on life. As such, they enjoy the natural flow and are less inclined to spend a lot of time on planning. But not to plan rigorously is a big opportunity left unused.
Come to grips with planning. It does not mean that you lesson your drive for spontaneity or limit your creative nature. The contrary is the case. Knowing your timing and course of action safeguards your inner calm to unleash the potential of your sensitivity.
Part of any proper planning is taking regular breaks. Come to see resting periods as a personal obligation you owe to yourself. It is often in these moments of downtime that your gift blooms. On top of that, keeping regular breaks to guard your inner silence is a valid bet for your mental sanity during the frequent confrontations with external noise in your daily life.
To honor your intermissions, master the art of saying no. As the adage goes, a firm no, means yes to you.
Because you excel at tuning in with other people’s emotions, the tendency to overextending is a natural part of your personality. But you can say no to almost everything. And at times, you have to protect yourself to remain functional.
Make a reflected and firm ‘No’ the moat between your inner silence and the potential craziness and noise clutter out there.
Practicing Silence is Cultivating Yourself
And on your side of the moat, practice silence. The most apparent practice of silence that comes to mind is perhaps meditation. But the are so many options like yoga, walks in nature, drawing, painting, writing, any activity really that allows being entirely absorbed with a single focus.
Since noise is so encroaching and debilitating for you, hone your inner silence regularly.
We tend to think of a monastic lifestyle as rigid and limiting. But rhythm and boundaries cancel out a tremendous amount of noise from your life. As a result, you can entirely focus on your inner sanctuary.
3. Share Your Gift of Inner Silence
All life seeks balance. The life sciences call this homeostasis, which is the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements. Renowned neuroscientist Antonia Damasio has written extensively on homeostasis as the central regulatory mechanism in all life.
Humans can put up with only so much noise and havoc. And while the urge for balance is more robust in HSPs, eventually fulfilling this need is unavoidable for anybody.
According to Damasio, feelings are the mental expressions of homeostasis. Hence we may conclude that it is so vital for the HSP to follow her feelings to maintain balance.
For your gift to shine, you will need the right living environment and occupation. Don’t refrain from changing careers if you feel you have to. The Highly Sensitive Person and Noise Pollution don’t go together in productive work.
As a holistic thinker, you need meaningful work. You may need to experiment with finding the right job that allows you to blossom, And remember that you have something that few others have, so don’t hold it back.
The Highly Sensitive Person and Noise Pollution – Parting Thoughts
So, while the Highly Sensitive Person and Noise Pollution don’t make the best bed fellas, there is potential – lots of potentials.
Material progress is at times associated with noise. And often loud noise is a means to assert one’s power: the army firing canons, the juvenile male’s tuned motorcycle, people shouting.
It is for the HSP and people sensitized to the detrimental effects of sound pollution to call these fallacies. Silence is what helps deep introspection and creativity to flourish.
And if loud noises are to the HSP as vexing as they are, this is a do or die situation. And do it is, says your gift to indeed shine.