The Highly Sensitive Person

Highly Sensitive Woman

Do you often feel "too sensitive", anxious or exhausted? 

Would you consider yourself highly emotional, intuitive or easily overwhelmed?

Perhaps you are introverted and need lots of alone time?  

If so, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), a genetic trait found in 15-20% of the population. Being Highly Sensitive creates an advantage of being able to live, love and feel deeply, but can often lead to feeling overstimulated and misunderstood. 

What is High Sensitivity?

According to research by Elaine Aron, High Sensitivity, or Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), is an innate trait equally dispersed among all gender identities. It is a variation that allows the nervous system and brain to process subtleties and details that most miss. This once lifesaving evolutionary tool has become an overstimulating burden in the modern world where there are high amounts of stimuli to process at all times. 


Highly Sensitive Man

How do I know if I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

High Sensitivity can manifest in many ways, but generally shows up as the following four characteristics that are present across the lifespan: 

  • Depth of Processing 
  • Overstimulation
  • Emotional Responsiveness/Empathy
  • Sensitive to Subtleties/Sensory Stimuli

Below are some common experiences of HSPs that you may relate to:  

  • Compared to others, you tend to feel events more deeply and for longer periods of time. Perhaps you are the first to cry during a movie or have vivid dreams that will linger with you for days.
  • You feel easily flustered or overwhelmed in many areas of your life. This could show up as general anxiety, chronic digestive issues, exhaustion, poor concentration or lowered immune functioning. Even pleasant experiences can be stressful such as transitioning into a new relationship or living situation. 
  • You experience a high level of empathy for others and perhaps even take on others’ feelings as if they were your own. 
  • You think deeply and often consider the long-term effects of your decisions before moving forward. You could describe yourself as conscientious and perhaps perfectionistic. 
  • Certain types of external stimuli bother you. This could include bright lights, loud noises, social stimulation, crowded buses, quickly flashing movie screens, strong smells and/or rough textures. You cover your ears when an ambulance or fire engine passes by, often cut the tags out of your clothing, and/or feel hyped from consuming caffeine or dark chocolate. 
  • You notice little details that others may miss, such as subtle body language or small changes to an environment. You are the first to notice if your friend gets a new haircut or if someone is upset. 
  • Small talk is dissatisfying and perhaps boring to you. Relationships are very important, so you dive in quickly and feel more connected with someone only when they get vulnerable or emotional.

Click Here to take the Highly Sensitive Person self-test developed by Dr. Elaine Aron.   

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HSP Blog

Practical tools & self-reflection tips to help uncover your Sensitive Strengths.

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