Reflections from the week by David Johnson. A letter head for my weekly newsletter. Black writing on a blue background with a drawing of a tree to the left

Monday May 27, 2024

Dear Friends,

It’s early morning here in Alentejo, the region of Portugal that our house is in. Outside feels fresh and cool, but that won’t last for long. After some cooler weather last week, summer appears to have arrived in Portugal and the days are heating up. Clear skies and sun. I have said it elsewhere, but there is a quality to the light here that I have not seen elsewhere.

Yesterday we said goodbye to our final visitor from over a period of almost two weeks. A post below speaks to the same. First it was family coming to stay, then we were up in Lisbon for Design Week, a huge interest of my wife’s, during which we met many people. One couple we met there came to visit us down in Alcacer do Sal, and while they were here another friend and her daughter came by to visit for the weekend. One post that I started and have not finished yet is about my experiences as a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) man.

The term Highly Sensitive Person was coined by clinical psychologist Dr. Elaine Aaron. High Sensitivity is not a condition but rather a personality trait that about 15-20% of the population have. HSPs are very perceptive and empathetic and that comes about through four qualities which are contained within the DOES model.

  • D - Depth of Processing
  • O - Overstimulation
  • E - Emotional Reactivity and Empathy
  • S - Sensing the Subtle

These traits do not happen by choice. They just happen. One can develop strategies for being with them, but they do mean that if there is a lot going on externally at some point the HSP needs some quiet time to settle and recharge. The HSP is not only dealing with the external situation but also reading and experiencing it on a deeper inner level. This meant that by the time that our visitors left, I was ready to stop, just be and engage in some reflective activities that nourish me.

For me this means a dance between enjoying myself, in this case with family and friends, while at the same time watching my energy levels deplete and the need to replenish. All of this aggravated by most around me not knowing of or understanding the trait. I am stronger now in speaking to and asking for that time, but it feels not always met with understanding. Since discovering that I am a HSP, life has been about exploring what that means, how to embrace the trait and educating others around me about what having the trait means…and what it doesn’t.

To help you explore if you are a HSP, Dr. Aron has some self-tests on her website.

This week’s posts are a mixture of photographs and writing.

Thank you, as always, for reading.