Self Test: Are You Too Out Or Too In?

Highly sensitive people can fall into one of two categories when balance is not present in their lives. Elaine Aron calls these categories “too out” or “too in.” Too out is when you push yourself out too much – overstimulating yourself with too much work, risk taking or exploring. Or you may keep yourself too in by overprotecting yourself when you really long to be out in the world like others. 

Which one are you? Take the test below to find out.

(Elaine Aron’s test from “The Highly Sensitive Person,” pg.50) For each statement, put a 3 for very true, 2 for somewhat true, or 1 for hardly ever true.

  1. I often experience the brief effects of being over-aroused, overstimulated, or stressed – things like blushing, heart pounding, or my breath becoming more rapid or shallow, my stomach tensing, my hands sweating or trembling, or suddenly feeling on the verge of tears or panic.
  2. I am bothered by the long term effects of arousal – the sense of distress or anxiety, upset digestion or loss of appetite, or not being able to fall or stay asleep.
  3. I try to face situations that make me over aroused.
  4. In a given week, I stay home more than I go out. (Take the time to figure this out carefully, adding up only the available hours, excluding sleep and a couple of hours for dressing, undressing, bathing, etc.)
  5. In a given week, I spend more time alone than with others. (Figure as above.)
  6. I push myself to do things I fear.
  7. I go out even when I don’t feel like it.
  8. People tell me I work too much.
  9. When I notice I have overdone it physically, mentally, or emotionally, I immediately stop and rest and do whatever else I know I need to do for myself.
  10. I add things to my body – coffee, alcohol, medications – to keep myself at the right level of arousal.
  11. I get sleepy in a dark theatre and/or during a lecture unless I’m quite interested.
  12. I wake in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and can’t go back to sleep.
  13. I don’t take time to eat well or to exercise regularly.

Add up your answers to all of the questions, excluding 4,5, and 9. Then add up 4,5 and 9, and subtract these from the total of the others. The most “out” score possible would be 27. Most “in” would be a 1. A moderate score would be 14. Especially if you scored 10 or under, do reflect on being “too in.” If you scored over 20, consider the negative effects of being “too out.”

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