Close your eyes for a minute and try to tune into as many sensations as you can. For me, I can hear my baby breathing softly as he naps. I can hear someone in the kitchen putting their dishes in the sink. I can hear that person walk away to the other side of the house. I can hear the ceiling fan squeaking in the next room. I can hear the blinds tap tightly on the window. I can hear the fan in my room turned on max to help drown out the other sounds. Despite closed eyes, I can see shadows through my lids. I hear people talking and laughing. I can hear my neighbor working in his yard. I feel the chair beneath me, the floor under my feet and my hands on my lap. I can feel my hair touching my face, neck, shoulders and back. I can feel a slight ache in my knuckles from wanting to be cracked. I feel and taste the sensation of saliva in my mouth, my tongue against my teeth and teeth against my cheeks. I can feel wind from the fan blowing against my face.
It is like this all the time for people who are like me. They have a term for it now; its called being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Basically it means that my nervous system is finely tuned, so much so that I lack a filter that many people use to bypass this much information. Highly Sensitive People process stimuli more thoroughly than most people. People who are HSP have difficulty being in crowds, as well as managing stress, physical pain and time constraints. Bright lights, loud noises, violent images, strong scents, and stimulants like caffeine are more upsetting for the HSP. We also don't do well with change.
My mother affectionately tells a story about how I refused to wear socks unless the inseam was perfectly across my toes. I would melt down into a pool over tears and overwhelming emotion because of the inability to block out the sensation that something was forever stuck in my shoe if the inseam curved around the underpart of my foot. I've never been one to drink coffee or sodas. When I used to work retail, every once in a while the bright, fluorescent lights would give me a migraine so strong I couldn't see well and became very nauseated. And I would be lying if I said I adapted well to big or sudden changes.
There is a plus side to being HSP. People who are HSP are more tuned into others. They can read body language, hear vocal tones and pick up on subconscious cues better than the average person. This allows them to be very empathetic, and excellent at building emotional bonds. They tend to be better at communication skills. They are deeply moved by things artistic as well as nature. I think that its possible to learn how to manage the negative side effects while still being able to enjoy the positive ones.
In Hypnosis, HSP is referred to as "hyper-suggestible". To hypnotize someone, you overload their message units and one way of doing this is overwhelming the senses. Someone who is so sensitive to their environment is overwhelmed easily. A lot of the time, they're walking in a hypnotic-like state half the time anyway. Utilizing hypnosis, you can strengthen the critical filter or build up some kind of barrier to help block some of the information that comes through. Then you can instill something of an -on-and-off switch so that you can still access it when its convenient for you. We do live in a fast pace, aggressive world. But there is a place for people who are HSP. Its just important to give them tools to protect themselves.