Have you ever been told that you just need to toughen up? If so, today’s book might be the one for you, as I join the blog tour for Sensitive by Hannah Jane Walker. Many thanks to Hannah and Octopus Books for providing me with a copy of the book and to Anne Cater at Random Things tours for inviting me to take part.
Hannah Jane Walker is a very sensitive person, along with at least a fifth of the population. Like many, she conditioned to believe this was a weakness and a trait she should try to overcome.
When she had her first child and realised that her little girl was sensitive too, Hannah decided to find out whether sensitivity might in fact be a positive trait. Her question led to some fascinating answers and ongoing research that suggests survival and thriving is not only limited to the fittest, but to the sensitive.
If you are someone, or know someone who sat on the edge of the party as a child, or waits to be sure about what you want to say only to never get a word in, or jumps at loud noises, or worries that you cry so easily at a beautiful piece of art, or that you just seem to feel so much (too much), this book reveals the strengths of these traits and also how we need to embrace them rather than be embarrassed by them.
People who are highly sensitive are highly caring, they are observant and notice new ways of doing things in difficult circumstances, they are able to follow their gut instincts (a real scientific thing), they bring teams together, they listen well and are fare more resilient than we’ve often been led to believe. The problem is that in today’s noisy world, they often suffer from lower self-esteem and confidence levels.
Like Susan Cain’s Quiet, which showed the power of introverts in an extrovert world, Sensitive overturns old cliches and stereotypes and suggests a new way of looking at a trait that people so often feel ashamed of but that has so much untapped potential.
I have spent much of my life being told that I need to toughen up or be more resilient, so when I saw Hannah’s book, I knew that I wanted to read it. That said, I found that parts hit incredibly close to home, and certainly in the earlier chapters, I found it quite hard to read.
Throughout the book Hannah refers to the work of Elaine Aron. One of my personal reading goals for 2023 is to read a non-fiction/self-help book each month, and by total coincidence, it is one of Aron’s books that I have earmarked for this month – I haven’t started it yet, but having read Sensitive, I am keep to get started.
There is a lot of very detailed information in this book and I think it will take more than one reading to fully absorb everything. It has certainly given me a lot to think about, and I think will help me be perhaps a little kinder to myself than I often am. As I moved towards the end of the book, I felt reassured that actually my sensitive nature could be a positive thing, and not something to be overcome.
While I was not a massive fan of the style of including conversations that read like straight transcripts of the interviews Hannah carried out while writing this book, it is clear to see that this is a book written with passion and a lot of hope for the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hannah Jane Walker is a poet, broadcaster and playwright from Essex. She is currently an artist in residence at Cambridge Biomedical Campus, collaborating with scientists on outdoor poetic visual art installations. With playwright Chris Thorpe she has written, performed and toured around the world The Oh Fuck Moment and I Wish I Was Lonely. Solo, she has made This Is Just To Say and Highly Sensitive. As a performance poet, she has gigged in theatres, bars, boats and festivals. Most recently, she has begun working in broadcasting with BBC Radio 4 and now with her own theatre poetry podcast Human Resources.
Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour.