Have you ever felt like you are ‘too sensitive’? Perhaps someone has said that to you before, maybe when you were a child.
Do you find that you are easily moved by what is beautiful in the world as well as by what is sad? Perhaps you sometimes feel the need to retreat from all the demands and noisiness of the world?
If this sounds like you then you may be a Highly Sensitive Person. Read on to find out more.
What is a Highly Sensitive Person?
On a scientific level, being a highly sensitive person is someone who has an increased sensitivity to emotional, physical and social stimuli. In many studies, this is referred to as having sensory processing sensitivity (or SPS).
The concept of HSP was first suggested by Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron in the 1990s and interest has consistently grown around this personality trait since.
So how do you know if you are a Highly Sensitive Person? These common traits might give you a clue.
- think and feel deeply and feel that you have a complex inner life?
- sometimes feel overwhelmed in your senses, for example by noisy crowds or bright lights?
- avoid violent films, books, and tv programmes because they feel too intense for you?
- feel the need to retreat to a quiet place after a busy day?
- find yourself drawn to that which is beautiful – perhaps art and nature.
If so then you may be a Highly Sensitive Person and amongst the 15-20% of the population that is similarly wired. If you’re not sure then you can take Julie Bjelland’s Sensitivity Quiz here.
If you’re curious to discover your HSP Archetype after taking Elaine Aron’s test, you can take the HSP Archetype quiz here.
You may already be aware of some of the challenges that being a Highly Sensitive Person brings, but there are also many benefits too. Here are some of the key challenges and benefits of being an HSP.
The Challenges of Being a Highly Sensitive Person
Being an HSP can lead to some challenges in life. For example, you might find yourself avoiding certain situations that make you feel overwhelmed.
Stress is a common challenge for Highly Sensitive People. You may take things to heart that others more easily shrug off. As an HSP you may find yourself struggling when life gets busy. Juggling multiple demands can leave a Highly Sensitive Person feeling overwhelmed and needing to retreat.
As an HSP you might also find that you are more sensitive to other people’s needs and emotions. This can lead to a tendency towards people-pleasing. HSPs can find it very hard to say no.
The Benefits of Being an HSP
As well as some of these challenges, being an HSP also brings some significant strengths and benefits. For example, you may find that you have deep connections with others and make bonds that make your life more fulfilling.
As an HSP you are likely to be appreciative of the little things in life. Whether that is the beauty that surrounds you on your walk to work or trying a new food, as a highly sensitive person, you are able to experience the good things in life with that much more intensity.
Your sensitive nature means that you understand that life can be fleeting and so you savour, and are grateful for, all the good things that come your way.
Highly Sensitive People are in the minority and so at times, you may feel alone in your outlook on the world. Being an HSP brings some unique challenges but it also offers many opportunities.
Highly Sensitivity People live deeply, care deeply and really experience the world. If you are an HSP then welcome to the club, it is a very special place to be.