“You’re too sensitive! You feel way too much!”
If you’ve ever heard that from someone, then you may be interested in learning what it really means to be a highly sensitive person (HSP).
Let me start by saying being sensitive is not a negative trait. If others have belittled you for feeling “too much” or being “too emotional”, know that their perceptions were skewed. They may have been downright rude in judging you.
The term “highly sensitive person” was coined by Elaine Aron, a psychologist who has done a lot of research on the topic. She describes HSP’s as having higher “sensory-processing sensitivity” (SPS). Essentially, this means that it’s not a “personality flaw”. It’s actually a biology factor.
If you’re a highly sensitive person, you may:
Essentially, if you’re highly sensitive, your brain is wired a bit differently neurologically. It’s like your energy antenna picks up on signals that many others don’t.
For example, someone who is a HSP may pick up on a dog barking a few miles away, making it tough for them to fall asleep. Their partner may not hear a thing. Or the person who can walk into a room and feel dense, heavy energy that causes them to feel nauseous, while their partner doesn’t feel a thing.
According to Psychology Today, around 15 to 20 percent of the population identifies as being highly sensitive. To determine if you are HSP, Elaine and Art Aron developed a Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS) back in the 90’s that helps you identify if you are highly sensitive.
You can find it here: Highly Sensitive Test
If you or someone you know identifies as highly sensitive, know that you’re not alone. And, there are plenty of things you can do to manage life as an HSP, using it to your advantage. The more you learn about HSPs, the more you’ll be able to embrace your sensitivity level and adapt to it.
As with any personality trait, there are strengths and weaknesses. Let’s focus on the strengths and recognize that you have an uncanny ability to “sense” a lot of things others simply can’t.
It’s like your superpower!
Here are some valuable tips for navigating life as an HSP:
If you’re a HSP and you’re experiencing problems you haven’t been able to handle on your own, reach out for help. There are therapists that specialize in the HSP field, and they can help you learn how to navigate life in helpful ways. Do some research online to see if there is a specialist in your area, or look into telehealth options. Many therapists are offering therapy online via video chat these days, which is wonderful as this gives you more options.
If you’re a highly sensitive person, embrace this trait and celebrate your unique wiring. Learn more about how you can enjoy the favorable characteristics and manage any you deem as troublesome or negative.
It’s alright to be highly sensitive. Be uniquely you without apology.
Let’s end with an encouraging quote by Anthon St. Maarten:
“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.” Anthon St. Maarten
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May 25, 2022