Who is a Highly Sensitive Person? Aren’t we all sensitive?
Is it a disorder? Do we consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist when we find out that we are a highly sensitive person?
Too many questions might be running across your mind right now. Let’s get things a bit clear for you.
The terms SPS (Sensory Processing Sensitivity) and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) were coined in the mid-1990s by Psychologists Elaine Aron and her husband Arthur Aron in their book The Highly Sensitive Person published in 1996. This book is a must read for those who wish to acquire more knowledge about highly sensitive person, be it for yourself or for understanding someone close to you.
Carl Jung describes a highly sensitive person (HSP) as someone who has high sensory processing and “innate sensitiveness”. Neuroscientists from the University of British Columbia and Cornell University discovered that our genes (not always) influence how sensitive one is to emotional information one perceives from one’s surroundings. Researchers identified this certain genetic variation as ADRA2b.
Surprisingly, it is a natural trait occurring in about 15%-20% of the population but is not adequately understood.
Is this you?
- Are you driven by fair and equitable treatment for individuals more than personal gain?
- Has your natural, gentle openness been mistaken for weakness?
- Do you have a strong intuition?
- Do you recoil from conflict but lean deeply into creativity?
- Do you build alignments and encourage collaboration more than you seek to gain power?
- Have you been called too sensitive?
- Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
- Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
If you answer YES to most of these questions, you are definitely a highly sensitive person.
Now it’s necessary to get you a proper guide through the concept of high sensitivity. I will outline the work of Colleen O’Rourke, who is a Highly Sensitive Person himself, alongside to being a coach and an adventurer.
What is high sensitivity?
High Sensitivity, also called Sensory Perception Sensitivity, refers to people who process
internal and external stimuli much more thoroughly due to a biological difference in their central nervous system. Essentially, as information is received in the brain it is processed through filters
that provide insight and awareness to the environment around us. Highly sensitive persons simply have far more filters than other people.
This provides greater insight and awareness, yet is also consumes energy and takes time to process and decide on a course of action. And, although everyone can refine their abilities, highly sensitive persons cannot simply turn-off this trait anymore than someone else can turn it on.
Highly sensitive person/s may notice higher than average awareness of and sensitivity to:
• The 5 standard senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell)
• Medications, caffeine, alcohol, etc.
• Emotions, both their own as well those of others
• Subtle changes in the environment
• Intuition or extra-sensory information
This doesn’t mean highly sensitive persons have more acute senses, but that their brain refines the data into much more detail than other brains.
Given below are 20 traits that will help you identify yourself or someone close to you as a highly sensitive person:
1. A highly sensitive person has more than the average capacity to spot errors and differences in their surroundings. They can easily notice if there is any fall in the energy level around them, if someone is not in a good mood or if something is out of the place.
They hear nearly every sound, notice every movement, and process the expression on every person’s face. And that means that simply walking through a public space can be an assault on their senses.
— Andre Sólo, Everything You Need to Know About Highly Sensitive People
2. A Highly Sensitive Person does not have to be only an introvert but can also be an extrovert or an ambivert. According to the documentary Sensitive: The Untold Story, there are 1.4 billion highly sensitive person (HSPs) in the world (15-20% of the population). As Elaine Aron’s research has shown, 30% of that 15-20% of the HSP population are sensitive extroverts – or approximately 420 million HSPs.
3. A Highly Sensitive Person has a great ability to connect by listening and affirming, better at understanding others’ wants and needs.
4. A highly sensitive person has a highly imaginative mind and hence are very creative. They can bring about innovative and out of the box ideas to any required field.
5. A highly sensitive person is high on conscientiousness. These people are very serious about setting cautious, long term goals and are determined to follow them through with responsibility and solemnity. This is one of the less popularly known characteristics of an HSP.
6. A highly Sensitive Person gets affected too much and too deep when something pleasant or unpleasant happens with them or in their surroundings.
7. A Highly Sensitive Person takes everything personally, most of the times, by thinking or worrying too much.
8. A Highly Sensitive Person gets hurt too easily and often fails to let things go and move on in life. As they have a tendency to get deeply attached to things they are involved in hence moving on becomes difficult for them.
9. A Highly Sensitive Person may expect extra love, attention and care and dislikes to be judged for being a sensitive person or being an emotional one.
10. A Highly Sensitive Person, at times, may overreact to the silliest situations without recognizing the fact that the situation is a normal one or needs no reaction at all.
11. A highly sensitive person has an acute sense of justice. They are moral beings, who never give in to unethical activities like bribery, adulteration, violating laws, abusing etc.
12. A Highly Sensitive person often takes too much time deciding or planning out things, because they are calculating every before and after the effects of their decision. Making decisions is harder for them since they are weighing every possible outcome.
Sensitive people like a slower pace of life. We like pondering all our options before making a decision and regularly reflecting on our experiences. We hate busy schedules and rushing from one event to the next.
— Jenn Granneman
13. A Highly Sensitive Person is detailed-oriented, idealist and a perfectionist, in extreme.
14. A Highly Sensitive Person can also be more prone to possessiveness and insecurity, especially if they had a negative experience in the past.
15. Honesty for a Highly Sensitive Person is a very valuable virtue and they always stick to telling the truth, even avoiding white lies.
16. A Highly Sensitive Person is full of wisdom. They are insightful and wise beyond their age because of their sensitivity to stimuli around them. They experience, observe, learn and implement the lesson to their life.
17. A Highly Sensitive Person is peace lovers because they get frequently overloaded with sensations when they are around too much chaos,noise and confusion.
18. An HSP often gets easily distracted as their field of perception is wider and this creates problem for them to have sustained attention on a stimulus.
19. A highly sensitive person is invariably drawn to nature and the soothing, calming effect it provides them with. Nature acts as an absorber to the emotional overload that they have to go through the day.
Last but not the least…
20. Highly sensitive persons are motivated by meaning and purpose. They would never involve themselves in activities that do not serve for the betterment of humanity. They are driven by a purpose to serve the world.
To sum up..
A Highly Sensitive is an aware and conscious personality who can sense things around them and tell if something is not right because somehow they assimilate, consciously or unconsciously.
They receive signs and signals that give them some or detailed information about others. They are born-observers and spend a lot of time examining and noticing every change in the environment.
There are so many things that can upset a Highly Sensitive Person like violence (both in real life and in movies), dishonesty, lies, cheating, failures, betrayals, noise and commotion, unnecessary exhaustion, unfriendly gestures, even jokes if it’s disturbing and non-acceptable in any manner. They can’t take things lightly or casually and may take a lot of time to brush things off.
Highly sensitive people learned early in life to try to control the external world as a way to attempt to manage their inner one.
― Sheryl Paul