Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

I frequently come across people who state "everyone says I'm too sensitive" or "I think about things too much" or "sometimes daily life just overwhelms me". Whenever I hear these phrases I begin to wonder if the person in front of me might be highly sensitive or, to give the trait its scientific name, someone with Sensory-Processing Sensitivity.

High Sensitivity is a term coined by Dr Elaine Aron to describe an innate trait, found in 15-20% of the population, which affects both men and women. According to Dr Aron, the brains of those who are highly sensitive work a little differently, processing information and reflecting on it more deeply than others. This can mean that HSPs are more easily overstimulated or overwhelmed, perhaps needing more 'downtime' to recover from situations and circumstances that others seem to handle with relative ease.

Being an HSP also has many positive aspects. You may be more aware of how to help other people or have a greater appreciation of art or natural beauty. You might also be able to rely on your instincts to find solutions to problems that others have missed. However, if you are living or working in an environment where high sensitivity isn't understood or valued you may find it difficult to thrive or start believing that there is something wrong with you.

Understanding high sensitivity can be hugely beneficial for those with the trait. Dr Aron's website has many useful resources and a self-test for you to further explore the possibility of being highly sensitive. Working with a counsellor who understands this trait can also help with building appreciation for the many qualities of your trait and finding ways of living and working that best suit your temperament. 

Further reading for HSPs