I am learning about the Highly Sensitive Person – a term coined by Dr. Elaine Aron. Wow – what a revelation! It completely reframes my perspective on life.
What is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? It is someone who is more aware of stimulation to their senses than the average person. About 20% of the population is highly sensitive. Another 22-27% is moderately sensitive whereas about 50% of the population is not sensitive at all.
How do you know if you are an HSP? Are you very aware of things like the temperature in the room? The lighting – either too harsh or too dim? How about sounds – do you notice things other people don’t notice? Or are you jangled when you hear a siren go by whereas others seem to tune it out? How about smells? Tastes?
Another aspect of the HSP is their “knowing” – they have strong intuition and part of their sensitivity makes them vulnerable to other people’s moods or “vibes”. An HSP can often tell instantly when someone is upset, even when the person pretends to be fine.
This is an excellent trait if you have it. It can also make life especially burdensome if you don’t understand why things bother you so much more than others. You might be considered the “party pooper” because loud music, lots of people and bright lights make your head hurt and you want to go home. You might not “fit in” with the rambunctious dance crowd at the club.
However, an HSP makes a great friend, a good partner and an excellent parent. Their sensitivity means they are more tuned into you and what you need. As a parent, they are attentive and can intuitively sense what a child needs. As a partner or friend, they can connect with you at a much deeper level than some of your shallower friends.
In some cultures, sensitivity is highly respected. In America, not so much. We value those that are loud, bold and ready to take on any challenge. Being out in the busy “marketplace” of ideas may be intimidating to an HSP, especially if they have to present them before a large crowd. So they are not often as acknowledged for their depth of insight and understanding. In the right positions though, they will flourish.
One of the key things I am learning about this trait is how much it can make everyday life overwhelming for an HSP. Being overstimulated by your senses really drains you. After a long day at work or even shopping can make you want to isolate and withdraw from all stimulation.
It’s important to know your limits and try to reduce the amount of stimulation you are exposed to before it becomes overwhelming. For some, this might mean changing their job or moving to a quieter neighborhood. It also means knowing when to say “No” in social situations – you don’t have to go to every party. Maybe meeting with just a few friends at home would be more enjoyable than a night out on the town with a crowd.
Pay attention to what drains you. Schedule plenty of “down time” and find out what recharges your batteries. Is it nature? Being quiet? Being alone? Figure it out and make sure you get what you need during each day or week. In time, this gift can really enable you to flourish. The first step is realizing you have it!
Are you an HSP? Take the test online
Wanna know more about this? Check out Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
Click the book cover below to find out more:
If you are an HSP, what do you do to cope? Feel free to comment below. You can also contact me privately through my website www.destinysfreedom.com.