Do you like solitary pursuits? Do you get overwhelmed easily? Do you hate small talk? Even if you do, how do you know you are a highly sensitive person?
Traits Of The Highly Sensitive Person
Highly sensitive people get the sense at a young age that they are different. They don’t fit in. They are often not interested in the same things that other people are interested in. They are not motivated in the same way.
This profound sense of being different is lifelong. It does not go away and can cause pain when the sensitive person’s difference is treated badly by family, peers, and early authority figures.
There are many reasons that the highly sensitive person will get the message that they are different:
- physical sensitivities like loud sounds, too much noise, light and tactile or touch sensitivity may cause discomfort or pain, which is not necessarily true for non-HSPs.
- a sensitive person often needs time to themselves to rest after interacting with others. Non-HSPs may recharge by being with other people or in socially noisy environments. (Note: some sensitive people are extroverts.)
- social interaction can be draining unless it is for a short time with a few people in a quiet setting. Non-HSPs (and some extroverted sensitive people) are comfortable with large noisy social engagements.
- the sensitive person hates small talk, something that non-HSPs enjoy more and thrive on.
- competition and sensitive people are often like oil and water.
- highly sensitive people are sensitive to the feelings of others and some absorb the feelings of others which causes them much discomfort and unhappiness.
- HSPs are known for their empathy. Empathy in sensitives is more than a feeling for others – it is an active way of knowing the world.
- HSPs seem to have abilities often associated with being right-brained.
- some sensitive people have strong psychic and intuitive abilities.
- HSPs generally dislike pressure, which non-HSPs accept more easily.
- many HSPs prefer egalitarian or communal social and work environments.
- sensitive people do not like someone standing over them.
- HSPs benefit from a simple lifestyle. Non-HSPs are more comfortable with busyness including multitasking.
- HSPs need stillness. Non-HSPs often avoid stillness.
- many highly sensitive people are introverts; about one-third are extroverts
- HSPs often feel a deep connection with nature and all the creatures in it.
- highly sensitive people can be deeply spiritual.
- many HSPs will have physical conditions and allergies of one form or another.
- some HSPs can form deep bonds with animals.
- harm and abuse of all kinds are harder for highly sensitive people to heal.
- many HSPs struggle with relationships and find them difficult because of differences in values, lifestyle and the sensitive person’s need for depth in a meaningful relationship.
- a highly sensitive person belongs in occupations that bring out the best in them: healing and creative occupations are among the best for HSPs. Most importantly is working in an environment that shares their values and lets them pace themselves appropriately.
- an HSP’s intuition and sensitivity cause them to have profound insights and has the potential over time to lead them to great wisdom.
Deciding That You Are A Highly Sensitive Person
Dr. Elaine Aron who pioneered the category of the highly sensitive person has written extensively about the highly sensitive trait. Her books are must reading for anyone wanting to know more about the trait. She estimates that 15-20% of people on the planet are highly sensitive. That is a huge number of people: more that 1 billion! Therefore it is highly likely that you may be sensitive or know someone who is.
There are many HSP quizzes online including the one on Dr. Aron’s site which you can take that can help you decide if you are highly sensitive.
However, in reading this list, you will notice how you feel around others: enhanced or drained, your relationship with nature and stillness, your values and attitude about competition and the type of environment that suits you the most. These are telltale signs that you are sensitive. If you are, you have an important journey ahead learning about yourself, and what you bring to the world.
Many see the highly sensitive person as vital to the changes we are making in the world, and I believe that it is true. The wisdom and empathy of HSPs is badly needed.
So although being highly sensitive has been treated as a curse, it is now starting to be seen as valuable as it should be. As our problems get worse and the need for wisdom and creativity rises, being a highly sensitive person will finally be welcomed in the world.