Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

[ 0 ] September 14, 2010 |

Your co-worker is a “Drama Queen.” Your husband needs alone time. You’re a bit more in tune with your feelings than most of your family members … You might be a Highly Sensitive Person.

Almost 20 percent of the population have the characteristics of Highly Sensitive People – meaning it is in their nature to “pause-to-check,” and not to rush into new or different situations, but rather to proceed much more cautiously than their Non-HSP counterparts. The trait of high sensitivity causes them to process and reflect upon incoming information very deeply. It is not that they are “fearful” or “afraid,” but that it’s in their nature to process incoming information so deeply. Highly sensitive persons may even sometimes need until the next day to have had enough time to process the information fully, reflect upon it, and formulate their response.

The trait of high sensitivity can be viewed as having both positive as well as negative characteristics. It is a valid and normal trait – not a “character flaw” or “disorder.”

Are you a HSP? Common characteristics include:

  • Needing alone time
  • Being very conscientious (sometimes to the point of being a perfectionist)
  • Having a heightened awareness of subtleties in their environment
  • Can become overwhelmed and need to “get away” to be by themselves seeking solitude, relief and comfort
  • May feel compelled to file and organize things and thoughts
  • Appreciate and enjoy simplicity and may become over stimulated and even immobilized by chaos, clutter or stress
  • Are very uncomfortable when feeling things are getting out of control
  • Have a deep, rich, inner life, are very spiritual, and experience vivid dreams
  • Are very intuitive and can usually sense if someone isn’t telling the truth or if something else is wrong
  • Become easily concerned and think or worry about things, and may have heard “You take things too personally,” “Why are you so touchy?” or “You’re too sensitive” throughout their life
  • May have also had the experience of “cutting people out” of their life
  • Are easily startled, and cautious in new situations
  • May have trouble sleeping
  • May be extra sensitive to pain
  • Don’t like crowds (unless they are kindred spirits)
  • Often avoid violent movies and TV shows to protect their finely tuned nervous system
  • Have a deep respect and appreciation of nature, music and art.

On the positive side, and there is a big positive side, highly sensitive people have wonderful imaginations, are often very intelligent, creative, curious, and are known for being very hard workers, great organizers and wonderful problem solvers. They are known for being extremely conscientious and meticulous. HSPs are blessed with being exceptionally intuitive, caring, compassionate and spiritual people. They are also blessed with an incredible aesthetic awareness and – as previously stated – have deep appreciation for nature, music and the arts. I highly recommend Dr. Elaine Aron’s landmark 1996 book The Highly Sensitive Person – How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You.

Many Highly Sensitive Persons resonate with this quote from Pearl S. Buck, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and of the Nobel Prize in Literature, when she said about the highly creative and highly sensitive person:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
To him…
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” — Pearl S. Buck

Now share with us: Are you a HSP?

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Category: Health, Stress Management

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About Jim Hallowes: Jim Hallowes is the founder of Highly Sensitive People® and, and former executive director of the WANT® Institute "Educators of Effective Communication Strategies." Jim is a certified WANT® coach and trainer, speaker, member of [...]
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