Make me Sensitive to Your Voice

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?

Make me Sensitive to Your Voice

Last Updated on June 3, 2019

“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” ~Edgar Allen Poe

As long as I can remember, my hyper-sensitivity has been a running theme in my life.

When I was a child, I could easily pick up on the subtle undercurrents going on in my house. When the mood shifted from normal to tense, I was quick to notice it and quick to try to set things right. My mom called me “the little peacemaker.”

When things did get tense or volatile in my household, I felt overwhelmed with the intensity of the negative emotions whirling around me. It made me extremely anxious, and if I couldn't do anything to make things right again, I'd find a way to escape — through books or play or spending time with a friend.

If any of that tension or anger were specifically directed at me, I was quick to change my behavior or apologize in order to regain emotional equilibrium. I got my feelings hurt easily and was thrown off-balance when someone would say something biting to me.

I felt other positive emotions quite deeply as well. I felt intense love for my parents, became strongly attached to my friends, enjoyed hugs and physical affection, and was easily touched by moving stories, art, or music. I could sense someones' mood or needs and instinctively knew how to pull the right groups of people together.

As I grew older and lived on my own, I discovered other interesting sensitivities. I was highly sensitive person and more sensitive than most of my friends to medication, caffeine, crowded and noisy environments, and making life changes. And my intense feelings around conflict, arguing, and violence never abated.

But also as I grew older, I learned I had to adapt to a world that wasn't filled with equally sensitive people if I was going to thrive and be happy.

I had to manage my sensitivity where appropriate and learn new skills for reacting and responding to situations that turned up my emotional juice.

Does any of this remind you of yourself — or someone close to you? If so, you aren't alone. And you aren't crazy or weak or “too sensitive.”

Being highly-sensitive (also known by its scientific term as  SPS, Sensory-Processing Sensitivity) is a normal trait found in 15-20% of the population.

Dr. Elaine Aron is a psychologist, researcher, and pioneer in the study of the innate temperament trait of high sensitivity. She is the author of the books The Highly Sensitive Person. Dr.

Aron has found that not only is high sensitivity a normal trait, it is also innate. In fact according to Dr.

Aron, “biologists have found it to be in most or all animals, from fruit flies and fish to dogs, cats, horses, and primates.”

Related: The Problem With Having Too Much Empathy For Others

However, the brains of highly sensitive people actually work a bit differently than other people's brains. The sensitivity trait actually reflects a survival strategy of keen observation before action. Here are some other interesting facts about highly sensitive people listed on the Highly Sensitive Person web site:

  • You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.
  • You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.
  • This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.
  • Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don't be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.

Some of the traits of a highly sensitive person include:

    • feeling easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input
    • keenly aware of subtleties in my environment
    • easily affected by other people's moods
    • feeling very sensitive to pain, physical or emotional
    • needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place to have some privacy and relief from stimulation
    • particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine
    • easily overwhelmed by things bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by
    • enjoys a rich,complex inner life
    • feeling uncomfortable by loud noises
      • having a nervous system that sometimes feels so frazzled that you just have to go off by yourself

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    • easily rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time
    • readily knows what needs to be done to make it more comfortable in a physical environment ( changing the lighting or the seating)
    • quickly annoyed when people try to get you to do too many things at once
    • trying  hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things
    • making a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows
    • becoming unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around you
    • reacting strong when hungry, disrupting concentration or mood
    • feeling shaken up by life changes
    • noticing and enjoying delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art
    • finding it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once
    • making it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
    • feeling bothered by intense stimuli, loud noises or chaotic scenes
    • when competing or being observed while performing a task, you become so nervous or shaky that you do much worse than you would otherwise
    • as a child, being seen as sensitive or shy by parents and teachers

It was a great relief to read Dr. Aron's research and realize that my sensitivity doesn't make me an emotional oddball. In fact, being highly sensitive has many benefits, not the least of which is feeling the good, happy, meaningful things in life even more intently.

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But we sensitive types live in a world of people who don't necessarily understand or appreciate our strong feelings. If you are hypersensitive, here are some tips for living in a less-than-sensitive world:

1. Learn to manage the way you react to your emotions. Highly sensitive people should  allow extra time for feelings to pass before reacting to what others say or do if it feels hurtful or negative. Remind yourself that what sounds harsh or hurtful to you may not have been intended this way.

Related: 15 Reasons Highly Sensitive People Are Highly Valuable

This is especially true in work environments where overly sensitive reactions are not often appropriate.

2. Minimize exposure to chaotic situations or people who push your buttons, create drama, or have angry or volatile temperaments.

3. Get enough sleep and exercise regularly so you are properly rested and energized to cope with emotionally charged situations and to support emotional equilibrium.

4. Avoid too much caffeine and pay attention to medications and how they affect you. Also pay attention to how certain foods, your hormones, and the weather impact your mood, as you are bound to be more sensitive during these times.

5. Eat healthy meals regularly and prevent yourself from getting too hungry. HSP's need to keep blood sugar levels steady with a healthy diet to prevent irritable, edgy feelings.

6. Avoid or minimize your time in crowded, highly-stimulating environments crowded malls or concerts. If necessary, visit these places in off-hours or go to smaller, less-crowded venues.

7. Don't over-schedule your time or allow others to “steal” too much of your time. Feeling pressured and overwhelmed will flood your emotions and prevent you from getting anything done at all. Learn to say no or to delegate.

8. Practice asking for what you want. Highly emotional people are so sensitive to the needs of others that they fear asking for what they want or need because they don't want to “cause trouble.” But your built-up resentments over this will emerge in anger or sadness eventually.

9. Create a peaceful, relaxing environment for yourself in your home and office. HSP are especially affected by their surroundings. Make sure your living space, especially your bedroom, is a relaxing, harmonious space.

10. Disengage from the negative beliefs you might have around being a sensitive person.

It is hard for people who aren't highly-sensitive to understand the deep emotions and reactions of their sensitive friends or family members.

You can teach the people in your life that being sensitive isn't a flaw — it can be an amazing gift allowing you to experience life at a very profound level.

If you have a highly sensitive person in your life, simply recognizing how this trait is part of HSP's genetic make-up will help you understand why they respond the way they do.

You can enhance your relationship with your sensitive spouse, child, or friend by supporting their efforts to create an environment that isn't over-stimulating, and by being cognizant of the intensity of their feelings.

In general, hyper-sensitive people will be quite responsive to your moods and needs. But eventually this responsiveness drains their energy. Frequently ask the sensitive person what they need from you and be proactive in meeting their needs so they feel heard and respected.

Do People Accuse You Of Being Highly Sensitive? Click To Tweet

Are you a highly sensitive person or do you have someone close to you who is? What has been your experience and how have you handled any issues that have arisen as a result?

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Find Your Vocal Range and Voice Type| The Ultimate Guide

Make me Sensitive to Your Voice

There is a common assumption in singing the experience of nearly every singer that the voice does not move smoothly and evenly from the lowest note to the highest. We all experience a feeling of “regions” or “sections” within our singing range that operate differently than other regions. These areas are often referred to as “registers” of the voice.

These registers sit adjacent to each other over a spectrum from low to high notes, as if laid out on a piano, and, as such, will have a transition point located where we move from one register to the next.

There is no consensus on how many registers a voice has or what to call them and this is often a source of contention.

I will speak here from personal experience with my own voice and will use examples from the excellent book, “The Four Voices of Man”, by Jerome Hines.

Vocal Range Registers
Most of us have heard of the simple division into “chest voice” and “head voice”. This model usually has a section called “middle voice” that some call “mix voice”.

I prefer a more expansive model that divides the voice into six ranges,— extreme low, low, middle, high, very high and extreme high.

See further below for tables related to where these ranges typically fall by voice type.

Extreme Low Register
This range begins where we can first make tone of any kind and ends where we can just begin to sing. It is often referred to as the “Bass Fry” register. In academic research, it is referred to as “laryngeal mechanism 0”, or “M0”.

Extreme High Register
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the extreme high register, also called “whistle register” and “flageolet”. In academic research this register is referred to as “laryngeal mechanism 3”, or “M3”.

Characteristics of Extreme Low and High Registers
These two extreme registers are characterized by, a) the inability to sing (whistle is not singing!), and b) the inability to articulate words.

As such, they are part of our full vocal range, but not part of our singing range.

Since we are only concerned with our singing range in this exam, we aren’t going to measure where the extreme low begins or where the extreme high ends, only where they connect to the singing range.

The Four Registers of the Male Singing Voice

This range begins where we can comfortably sing a low note and articulate words. It is more of a small gray area than an exact point. This register ends where you encounter the passaggio to your middle voice. Men are most comfortable singing in this register.

This is a small range for men relative to women. It is the range that sits between our two main passaggios. This is sometimes called the “mix register” or “zona de passaggio” (the passage zone). The lower passaggio to this register is easier to navigate than the higher passaggio.

Our high range is where we sing our big money notes. For standard baritones, for example, this would be from E4 to G4, maybe to A4. This area is always under-developed in beginning male singers.

In the high range we can still enunciate well. For most men, considerable training is necessary to smooth out the passaggio at the start of this register so that our voice blends nicely from our middle voice to our high voice.

Very High
Not all men want or need to sing in the extreme high range. In this range we are unable to articulate as clearly as in the high register, though beautiful and highly emotional sound can be made.

The Four Registers of the Female Singing Voice

Very Low
This range begins where you can comfortably sing a low note and articulate words. This register ends where you encounter the passaggio to your low voice. Women do not usually sing in this register nor care to develop it. You may encounter some difficulties measuring down here.

This is a smaller register for women relative to men. Women are most comfortable singing in their middle and high registers and some will work to develop their low voice, too.

The middle voice for women sits between their 2nd and 3rd passaggio, though please note that because women don’t often develop their low voice, a coach may refer to these passaggios as the 1st and 2nd passaggios. This is the “zona de passaggio” for women.

In our model this is the top end of the female singing range. Women are most comfortable singing in their middle and high registers.

Register Divisions for Men and Women (Passaggios/Bridges)
Divisions between registers are called “passaggios” or “bridges”. You will take note of your own as you complete the steps below.

Passaggios are known as areas where a discomfort is felt, usually a build up of tension and pressure, requiring a change in singing posture.

Proper technique allows us to eventually navigate these passages with ease.

Conduct Your Vocal Range and Voice Type Test

You should now have all you need to conduct your own vocal range test. Please remember that this is not an exact science. Some voices are easy to classify and some are not.

Further, a beginning singer’s voice is harder to determine because they don’t yet have the technique necessary to sing well and false readings are possible. Different volumes, different vowels, etc.

, can make it seem as the passaggios move slightly up or down.

These measurements can be taken again from time to time. As your voice develops the passaggios become more obvious and easy to locate (even after you’ve blended your registers, because you simply become more sensitive to your voice over time).

As for your “voice type”, again, for some this will be more obvious than others. A good coach may be necessary to hear the characteristics of tone and timber needed to establish a type. However, the most determinant factor of voice type is still the vocal (singing) range and location of passaggios.

Use the table below to find your ly voice type the vocal range of your singing voice.

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